8 April 2011 – putting in the miles

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This morning I got up nice and early today to start my walk. For this first time this year it was warm enough to leave the parka at home, so I just wore my jeans, Moonwalk t-shirt and a fleece. There were a few swans on the river but the little ducklings I saw last week were no where to be seen. I zipped along the river to Woodmill and then on to the White Swan where I saw one of my swans but no cygnets. It was very pretty along there today with the morning sun glistening off the water and very quiet too at that time of the morning.

Mansbridge was pretty quiet too but the morning flights were going in and out of the airport by the time I got there. The road works are still going on and the crossing has moved yet again. It looks like that part of the work is nearly done though as they have put the pedestrian crossing lights in but they’re not working yet.

By the time I reached Eastleigh there were more people about and I popped into the Swan Centre to use the loo. This time I made sure I took the Twyford Road when I walked through Eastleigh instead of going into a dream and ending up in Chandlers Ford by mistake like my last really long walk.

Going down Allbrook hill it occurred to me that I would have to walk back up on my way back, which didn’t seem such a good idea, especially as I would be pretty tired by then. Pondering on this I pressed on, under the railway bridge and away from the houses into the countryside. This was where I caught up with the River Itchen again, briefly, and there were a family of swans on the water.

After this it gets really pretty, little hedgerows and big flat fields and pastures, some of them even have the odd horse in. The few houses there are are more like mansions than houses really. Must be really nice to live out this way but a bit of a pain if you run out of milk.

By now I wasn’t really sure where I was, until I came to the road sign for Colden Common. Shortly after that I passed the mobile home park where my cousin lives, then the path ran out. The verges were pretty rough going and there were a few nettles. As I was wearing cropped jeans it was no joke. The long grass and bumpy ground slowed me down quite a bit and where I could I walked on the road. At about eight miles I passed the sign saying I was leaving Colden Common. I was now on Twyford Moors.

At 9 miles I turned round and began the long walk back. Although I’d hoped to do ten miles the grass verges had slowed me down quite a bit and I didn’t make as good time as I’d expected. When I set out I allowed myself five hours and didn’t really want to be any longer because I wanted to spend some time with Commando in the garden before he went to work.

I was right about the Allbrook hill. It was tough going going back up it, I was on about twelve miles by then and I must admit it was a bit of a push to get up that hill. Quite a relief to get to the top though and back on level ground. By the time I got back to Eastleigh I was feeling a bit tired. I stopped off at the Swan centre agian to use the loo and pick up another bottle of water, knowing I was at least on the home straight.

Now I was really counting the miles and my speed had dropped a bit. Instead of averaging four to four and a half miles an hour I was down to three and a half to four and each mile seemed to take a long, long time. At the airport I knew I only had about three and a half miles to go but my feet were feeling it a bit by then.

Back at the White Swan, with two and a half miles to go I stopped by the river and sat on a bench to take my trainers off and apply a couple of blister plasters thinking if I put a plaster on where my feet felt sore it would make them feel better and stop the blisters from coming out. It was tough getting back up off that bench and starting to walk again I can tell you. I only sat there for about a minute, if I’d stayed any longer I think I’d still be there now.

The slope up from the park to The Triangle had my thighs protesting as it’s quite steep but once I was that far I knew I only had a mile left before I was home so I pushed on. What a relief to get back indoors, take my trainers off and slip into my Birkenstocks. All in all I walked just over eighteen miles in four hours fifty eight minutes. Not the best of times but I guess I’m bound to slow down as I get tired and that is going to happen on the actual Moonwalk too.

After a nice BLT sandwich I sat with Commando on the loungers in the garden all afternoon. I think I earned it.

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