Last summer the Spitfires had a Summer Challenge run from Winchester to Woolston on the Itchen Navigation. John asked me if I’d lead a walking group, as there were a few people who didn’t feel up to running the fifteen miles but didn’t want to miss out. Obviously I jumped at the chance and we all had a tough, but amazing day. In fact, it was such a success John decided to do it all again this year. On Sunday, Commando and the fast boys went on a reconnaissance mission. Today, CJ and I did the same. Continue reading A reconnaissance mission
Garnier Road was always going to be the tipping point of my plan. As we stood looking over the wall beside Meadow View Cottage, I was frantically trying to decide which way to go. The water of Lockburn Stream tumbled through a sluice below us. The pretty little house perched precariously close, looking as if it might once have been a mill. Continue reading A little more history than we bargained for
So far there have been no proper walks this month. The most I’ve done is trot up and down to the village, walk around town or stand on the sidelines at the RR10. Today was going to be all about walking though. Some time ago John mentioned he was thinking about a Summer Spitfire Challenge, a run from Winchester to Woolston. The Itchen Navigation would make up the majority of the route and he knew I had walked it many times. He asked if I’d lead a walking group for those who were recovering from injury or felt fifteen miles or more was a run too far. When I agreed it seemed like an easy distance. Now, with my fitness compromised by laziness, I wasn’t so sure. Continue reading The Spitfire Summer Challenge, Winchester to Woolston
The beginning of May 2013 and, in time honoured tradition, I stood on Tun Bridge looking down at the water wondering what to do. I couldn’t really see the authentic barge man’s path so I was none the wiser and I left the bridge making towards the car park to St Catherine’s Hill still undecided. As luck would have it, as I passed the Footpath sign I saw a man disappearing along the waterside trail. Maybe he knew something I didn’t? Then again, he may have been just about to run into trouble. Either way it made up my mind, I’d take my chances with the barge man’s path. Continue reading Shawford bound, the easy bit… – first published 3 May 2014
When Keats wrote to his brother and sister in law of his daily Winchester walks he ended at ‘the most beautifully clear river,’ the Itchen, probably where it crosses Five Bridges Road. In his letter he said, ‘now this is only one mile of my walk I will spare you the other two till after supper when they would do you more good,‘ but he never mentioned it again. Even so, it stood to reason he hadn’t just turned around and walked back the way he came and I had a good idea of the route he would have taken. The clues were all there in the final verse of his ode To Autumn. Continue reading Where are the songs of spring?
Poetry is something I’ve always been fond of so having to learn poems by heart at school was never a hardship. Long before I met Commando and acquired a poetic surname, one of my favourites was John Keats, To autumn. The fact that it was written as he walked a trail through the water meadows in Winchester makes it all the more special and I’ve long been meaning to follow in his footsteps. Today, with the words of the poem running through my head, CJ and I did just that. Continue reading Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Before Commando broke his leg he was scheduled to run as a pacer for the Winchester Half Marathon. It was an event I’d been looking forward to because it would give me a couple of hours to wander around Winchester while he was running. Of course the injury meant this wasn’t to be. Then, a couple of weeks before the event, I was asked if I might like to be a tail walker. Of course, as soon as I found out no running of any kind would be expected, I jumped at the chance. With Commando’s recovery well under way he decided to tail walk with me. Continue reading Last over the finish line at Winchester
Sometimes Commando likes to take me on magical mystery drives and surprise me. In January 2014, after his ten mile marathon training run and my very short walk around Hum Hole, he had a plan to make sure I got my full quota of walking in for the day. He took me to a familiar place for some very different views. Continue reading A Sunday Surprise – first published 19 January 2014
Early in December 2013 Pete, who runs Care For a Walk, happened to mention he’d walked the Itchen Navigation and there was a new, metal bridge at Withymead. Of course that meant I could, in theory, walk the whole Navigation. I say in theory because, in December, the chances were the stretch from the White Swan to Eastleigh would be too boggy to walk at all, if not actually flooded. Of course I was itching to go and have a look but, with the last fraught weeks at work and Christmas, I hadn’t found the time. Once Christmas and my job were behind me though I finally had my chance. Continue reading Winchester walking, ice and mud – first published 29 December 2013
So there we were on the Itchen Navigation somewhere between Shawford and Compton Lock with a bull blocking the path ahead. Just as we were about to turn around and walk back to Shawford to catch the train home the bull took a few steps, reaching for some more succulent leaves. Suddenly there was a gap between his huge posterior and the edge of the path. It wasn’t the widest gap and, being mostly filled by bull, it looked a little dicey but it was now or never.
I turned to CJ and said, “let’s go. Quickly but don’t run.” Continue reading The final miles