For anyone who’s just stumbled across this, I’m Will and I’m preparing to walk 100km in 3 days for the Army Benevolent Fund in October. This event, called the Frontline Walk, will follow the last 100 days of World War One, covering the final advance of the Allied armies that brought that terrible conflict to an end. In so doing I am trying to raise about £1,500; if you would like to donate please go click here
So yesterday was what I’m thinking of as a medium range test; a bit like taking an experimental aircraft up and hoping the wings don’t fall off the first time you put it into a roll, I was aiming for about 17km / 10.5 miles – roughly half the distance I’ll need to cover each day on the walk itself. I need to know where I am and what training I need to do still.
I very carefully set up an account on an App called ViewRanger which gives you online access to every OS maps for a flat yearly fee, and then lets you plug in routes of your own devising which you can then retrieve and follow on your phone. God I love living in the 21st century; I may not have a flying car but this is a proper nerdgasm. Anyway, I drew my pretty lines plotting a circular route from Winchcombe in the Cotswolds. My navigation skills are…..limited. So to minimize the chances of me accidentally winding up in Carlisle a week from now, I made sure the route followed things called National Trails – without wishing to mansplain this to anyone they’re well maintained footpaths that should be a piece of piss to follow as they’re sign posted all over the place. The problem is they all go to places and I was deliberately trying to find my way back to where I started. So I had to take a fw in, and the detail on the map is ok but the drawing tool isn’t that great so 17k became 18.8km on the ground. One lives, one learns, one gives thanks to the lovely people at le Chamaeu for making a very serious bit of foot wear.
My two intrepid companions, Monica and Andrew, had rather sweetly volunteered to keep me company (I think mainly because they know I’m totally inept and wanted to make sure I didn’t become a headline in the local paper as The Man Who Disappeared On Easy Cotswold Walk) – so early ish on Sunday we met up at St Peter’s Church and set out. The M&A collective are experienced walkers and I had discovered on our previous jaunt that a hip flask was encouraged, and a selection of nibbles most welcome. I have some quite specific memories of my early childhood, when I was dragged on indeterminably long walks, often conducted into the teeth of driving rain, gale force winds and increasingly desperate statements of “well isn’t this fun!” despite convincing evidence to contrary. These were often done for the purposes of a “picnic” or as I though of them at the time – eating in the freezing sodding cold for no bloody reason. Anyway M&A had reminded me that actually you need to refuel on these walks, and you might as well make it civilized, so I found a couple of mini bottles of Cote du Rhone in my local supermarket along with, rather wonderfully, pre-divided Camembert – a sort of Dairy-Lee for adults, some sun dried tomatoes* and a small loaf of bread. I also had to include a couple of packets of Walkers Ready Salted crisps because…well I don’t know. I remember them always being present during the nightmarish “jolly” excursions as a child but now I come to think of it, I don’t remember ever eating them. Maybe it was to drive off the evil spirits or something. Suffice to say we also failed to eat them so they’re pretty well travelled, and a bit crushed now
I digress. We covered the distance pretty well, including a couple of 20-30 minute breaks to enjoy a swig of wine and some bread, the whole thing took us just over 5hours, which is pretty much what I was banking on – which is great. Better still my feet weren’t too fucked, the mud did cause me to put some odd pressure on my toes in a couple of places and my right heel felt a bit worn when we stopped, but otherwise I was pretty pleased.
I think the trick from here is going to be trying to do this on a regular basis; I was worried that I’d feel it today but actually it’s been OK, I have very slightly stiff calves but that may be as a result on my decision to go to the gym this morning; I’ve been working out at Crossfit Cirencester for a while now, and although I can’t claim to be “fit” exactly I am OK. It’s pretty pleasing, as Monica pointed out, to know that the hard work we put in there has a pay off. So if you’d asked me yesterday to continue for another 15km I probably could have – that said the beer I had yesterday evening, and the mammoth take away I ate, were extremely welcome and I slept the sleep of the dead
Right – onwards and upwards. I’ve got a job to do and the people I’m raising money for by doing this have a far tougher time of it day to day than I had yesterday
*look I am terminally middle class. When presented with certain foods, I can do no other but obey the laws of my people and buy them.