15 April 2011 – disaster ridden twenty one miles

Woodmill

Woodmill

I set off quite early this morning planning to walk twenty miles but things didn’t turn out quite how I expected. On the way to the river I dropped into Tesco Express to pcik up a bottle of water (yet again I’d left my water bottle in the kitchen Doh!). Tucking it into my bum bag I walked down to the river. About half way along the first straight I thought I’d open the water. Got it out of the bum bag, fumbled and dropped it, only to watch it roll down the steep slope and into the river! Felt a bit bad about littering but there was nothing I could do short of having a quick swim with the swans.

The fluffy ducklings were nowhere in sight again today but there were lots of other ducks and swans. I even saw some goldfinches in the trees. It’s a long time since I saw a goldfinch. Had to check in my bird book when I got home to be sure. The river bank was very quiet but it was only about 7.30 so I wasn’t too surprised.

I headed off towards the airport and then on to Eastleigh, where I picked up another bottle of water and then set of in the direction of Winchester. I was walking along Southampton Road, just before the turning to Highbridge Road when a car pulled up to ask me directions. When I explained that I was walking from Southampton so didn’t know the area the woman passenger told me I was mad. At that point I was only about six or seven miles from home, little did she know how mad I am!

Just before I turned onto Highbridge Road and carried on, a car passed going in the same direction as me and beeped the horn. Later I found out it was my daughter in law on the way to work in Winchester. She is surprised she has never seen me before as I walk that way quite often she said I was really going fast.

Again I crossed the river Itchen, no swans today, and carried on towards Colden Common. When I came to the end of the path today I used a different strategy. Instead of trying to walk on the overgrown grass verges as much as possible, I walked on the road and only got onto the verge when I saw a car approaching. Luckily there is not that much traffic along there so I made fairly good speed. About then I started to get a bit hungry so I ate my first fibre bar.

This time I got right through Twydord Moors and onto the road that leads between Fair Oak and Winchester. Once I had crossed I had paths to walk on again which was quite a relief. Very soon I came to Tywford High Street, past the sign that told me I was three miles from Winchester. I reached the ten mile mark just after I passed a sign that, ironically, said Tripps End.

As I turned to walk back I still felt pretty fresh. It wasn’t until I was struggling up the steep start to Highbridge Hill that I began to tire. By then I’d done about fourteen miles or so so I grabbed myslef another fibre bar and slowed my pace a little for a while. By the time I got back to the Swan Centre I was looking forward to a loo stop so I strode out towards the toilets there but I was met with a sign that told me the toilets were closed and to use the toilets in MacDonalds. All very well but I had not idea where MacDonalds was!

I had an Idea I’d seen a giant M on my travels and set off in the direction I though it was. Frustratingly, I got to the end of the road only to find there was no golden arch to be seen so had to stop someone and ask. Typically I had been going in completely the wrong direction so had to walk back the way I’d come and then on about the same distance again. All in all I added another mile to my walk, hence the twenty one miles. With great reilef I found the loo and, as a reward for all my extra walking bought myself a small chocolate milkshake. I’m not a great fan of MacDonalds but I do have a certain fondness for their milkshakes, plus I thought there must be some milk in there somewhere so it probably had some protein making it almost healthy.

On my way back towards the airport I sipped my milkshake. It was delicious and really hit the spot. I was surprised to find it was only 225 calories when I checked it out in the food diary and as I burned 1792 on my walk I think I can afford it.

From the airport to the White Swan was a bit tough. My legs were beggining to really feel it. By this time I’d done around seventeen and a half miles. For a few minutes I sat on a bench by the river and stretched my calves before I took on the last few miles. There were some children feeding the ducks which made me smile and a small boy in a canoe with his mum walking along the river bank watching him. By now the runners were out in force and there were a few cyclists. Luckily the path is divided into two lanes, one for walkers and one for cyclists so I was in no danger of being run over.

When I got the the town end of the river my legs were really feeling tired and my speed had dropped to about three and a half miles an hour. When I saw a pair of swans doing a courtship dance it made me feel better though. They were twining their necks together and making heart shapes with their beaks pressed together as if they were kissing, then they took turns to dip their heands into the water. It really was like a dance to some unheard music. It spurred me on to pick my speed back up and I struggled up the steep slope to the Triangle with a big grin on my face.

The last mile to my house seemed to take about an hour and I have never been so glad to walk down my front path and fit the key in the door. I kicked off my trainers, slipped my feet into my Birkenstocks and sank gratefully onto the sofa only to hear Commando call out, ‘Are you making a coffee?’ What a lovely welcome.

The whole walk took me five and three quarter hours. Not bad considering.

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