Friday 22nd June marked the beginning of a gloriously sunny walking weekend in the Cotswolds for a group of 18 from Guildford. The weekend, and perhaps the wonderful weather, had been arranged once again by George Cranstone, to whom the whole group is indebted.
George had thoughtfully planned alternative routes for each of the three days. The shorter routes were of around three miles whilst the longer ones were around five miles. The occasional “wrong turn” might have modified the total distance slightly but added enormously to the fun! The maps were full of errors, honestly.
Frances Allen had suggested that our walks could form part of the “Share the Journey” campaign which aims to promote the rights of people on the move, encouraging people to walk in their support; she invited us to contribute the miles we walked towards the target of 24,900 miles – equivalent to walking around the globe. Whilst our contribution has yet to be officially counted up, a rough estimate suggests that the group collectively clocked up in the region of 150 miles towards the global target.
It was very pleasant to see Una and Tony Corning on the Saturday - they made the 20-minute journey from their Cotswolds home to join us at lunchtime.
Our dinner together on Saturday evening (which, for those who had chosen it, included a curry of quite remarkable potency) gave the opportunity for George to address the group and discuss possible destinations for 2019, and for Howel Lewis to offer thanks to George on behalf of the group.
Thanks to Elizabeth Lewis for capturing these moments on camera:
The longer walk on Sunday consisted of following the Thames Path from the village of Ashton Keynes for a couple of miles, then making a loop before re-joining the path to return to the village. In this section of its length the Thames is a small river of the clearest water, rippling happily over beds of pebbles, illuminated for us here and there by patches of sunlight filtering through the overhanging trees.
All was going well until the sole of one of my boots decided to separate itself from the rest of the boot… the resulting flapping was not conducive to rapid progress, so emergency repairs were called for. A more experienced walker suggested securing the miscreant sole by means of the boot lace – a technique which proved successful and enabled us to proceed. John Mercer told me that he would pray for my sole, which had us all chuckling as we set off again.
But we had another setback when, turning from the metalled road we were now following, the projected route took us into bushes, nettles and thistles of waist-height and above – which was head-height and above for the most petite member of the group. Encouraged by our intrepid GPS-enabled leader Simon Learoyd, who manfully beat down a path for us, we progressed at a modest pace until we found ourselves approaching a new housing development, and indeed entering the land around one of the new homes via its rear garden.
Our relief at being free of the mini-jungle was short-lived, however, as we then found ourselves hemmed in by a steel fence which enclosed the building site on the other three sides. The pressure was on, because the England-Panama World Cup match was due to start soon, and would be shown in the pub where we were to meet for lunch. When one of the ladies enquired of her husband “How are you?” his reply was simply “We are going to miss the kick-off”!
We managed to find a way around the fence and then our speed picked up as our trek took us back via much easier terrain towards the now-familiar Thames Path.
We were indeed about ten minutes late – long enough though to have missed the first goal, although the disappointment of this was offset by the five further England goals yet to come!
Thanks are due to the whole group for being great company throughout. Here's to next year!