WB 01: The First Steps
Progress has been good this week, and I have hit each scheduled daily endpoint. In fact, I am 6 miles ahead of schedule. I have travelled from Tower Bridge, London to Harty, Isle of Sheppey covering 121 miles.
Well the weather was not exactly kind to me right from the off, with Storm Eleanor hitting the first night, bringing heavy rain and 50mph hour winds. During the actual night it didn’t overly affect me, as I had found a good pitch well protected from the wind on two sides. It was on day two that the affects really hit; it was hard at times even walking in a straight line, the path was steadily getting more waterlogged and as the day progressed the path was getting washed away into the Thames at places. At this point only two days in I was thinking what am I doing!
Being let down for accommodation on the rest day, only a couple of days before it arrived. This required a lot of last minute admin which is not easy to do when walking most of the day. This ended up with me having to elongate the 6th day by 6 miles making it almost 30 miles long. This was far longer than I had wanted to walk in the first week, and as it was also a very windy day it was extremely tough.
Both the hardships above have had positive outcomes in the end. Safely pitching a tent in a storm, and getting though two extremely tough days (2nd & 6th), has given me more confidence going forward. By the person letting me down for rest day accommodation, I ended up getting a very generous offer of free accommodation thus saving money. On top of this completing 6 miles extra, means I’ve got a bit of spare mileage in hand that I can use at any time.
There has also been the occasional blocked path and even some cliff erosion blocking my way, but these have been fairly easily overcome.
I had expected to feel quite strange and have very mixed emotions at the start point. But due to the fact that my brother walked half the first day with me, and then the anxiety about Storm Eleanor, I had no time to really get bogged down in the emotions and have actually quite quickly got used to the process of getting up each day and walking and as hoped am enjoying most of it. There are obviously moments where I have felt lonely, anxious or fed up with the weather but these have been greatly outweighed by the positives.
This week has been a big learning curve. Because though I had done lots of planning and some practice walks. I had not used a lot of the kit in the field and had done no heavy pack walking.
Regards kit I have now got very efficient at packing my backpack, and can pitch my tent in about 5 minutes. I am also quickly learning what quantity/type of clothing to wear in different conditions both to stop me overheating or getting to cold. So far I have only found 2 things that I forgot to bring, cutlery and washing cloth.
The electrical sides of things has taken some getting used to. Carrying a small laptop, cables, camera etc. in driving wind and rain requires some very careful packing and being meticulous every day. Regards writing the daily diaries, especially when in my little tent, requires quite a process. Firstly, I transfer photos from my camera to my laptop, as my camera is old it has a large SD card so have to put into a USB converter to attach to my laptop. I also have to transfer photos from my phone to laptop (when it might rain my camera is in backpack) using a USB cable. Then I type up the account of the day. Then I have to tether my mobile to the laptop to get internet, so I can upload the stuff to my site, before formatting it, adding maps and finally posting it. Quite an achievement for a technophobe.
Please click links below to find out more detail about each specific day:
- Day 1: Tower Bridge to Erith
- Day 2: Erith to Cliffe
- Day 3: Cliffe to Grain
- Day 4: Grain to Rochester
- Day 5: Rochester to Lower Halstow
- Day 6: Lower Halstow to Harty
Specific thank yous:
Lodge Guest House, Grain – thank you for not complaining about my muddiness and allowing me to use you own kitchen to cook my dinner.
Green Farmhouse, Lower Halstow – thank you for providing a complimentary room and a packed breakfast for me to take when I set of very early.
The Ferry House Inn, Sheppey – thank you for providing a complimentary room for both nights of my rest day.
Also thank you to everyone who donated last week, over £2000 raised last week alone, and all the kind messages that I received.