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Yes, unbelievably it’s Day 17 of my walking adventure and Day 8 of my jaunt along Hadrian’s Wall, so I thought I’d pop in and give a quick update.

I had hoped to update you on a daily basis as mentioned before, but oh my gosh, the most I could manage was to eat (not even every night), shower, repack Pepe, and then bed. And repeat.

As per the title, I’m now starting Day 17 of my adventure, and Day 8 of my walk across country from North Shields; Segedunum Fort to Bowness-On-Solway, along Hadrian’s Wall. What an experience it has been. I’ve taken hundreds of photos and will share some of them in due course when I get the time, and energy to write ✍ 😁😁….so….here I am

Relaxing in bed in Brampton, watching a stunning sunrise and thinking back over the last 16 days.. it’s been a truly epic journey.

When I first planned on adding the Northumberland Coast Path to my Hadrian’s Wall adventure, I never for one minute doubted I’d be able to do it. But I also had no idea of what lay ahead. If I had, I might not have been quite so confident. But now that I’m near the end, and with the easy stretches ahead, I’m astounded I managed to get this far, and certainly amazed I’m still standing…well at the moment I’m lying down 😁😁😁

But, geez, I never imagined I would do quite as much walking as what I have. It’s been epic. Every day has brought its own joy, and pain, and laughter, and lots of “OMG that’s amazing” moments; reaching the border with Scotland, the dolphins off Farne Islands, seeing that bridge in Berwick Upon Tweed, traversing the bloody Blythe River estuary πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ, visiting St Mary’s Lighthouse, the wonderful beaches of Northumberland, the many castles – all different and unique in their own way, reaching Tynemouth, the bridges of Newcastle, visiting Arbeia Roman Fort, discovering the first section of the Wall at Heddon on the Wall, seeing the ascent and then descent as I climbed the first ridge on Hadrian’s Wall (I truly do not know how I did all those), seeing the tree at Sycamore Gap from the top of the ridge and suddenly realising what it was πŸ˜„πŸ˜„, exploring the forts and carrying my backpack for 32kms on what was the hottest day of my whole journey…unreal.

I just wish I hadn’t been so tired at the end of each day, I’d have liked to write down the daily experiences…but it was all I could do just to upload some photos before crashing. I’m looking forward to calculating my distances. But one of the best aspects of this journey has been the many, many lovely people I have met along the way, especially on Hadrian’s Way…truly epic.

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Hi everyone, I’m still alive. Just such long days and soooo tired I just couldn’t face anything except bed.

But I wanted to pop in and say that all is well, I’m having a thoroughly good time. This country is amazing and I will have to share it all when I am not totally exhausted.

However I have to share today’s adventure which was totally unexpected…after I had visited Bamburgh Castle and Seahouses, I went back to Belford…

And then I set off along the next stage of the Northumberland Coast Path, from Belford to Fenwick… and enroute I ended up on a completely different adventure… All went well up until that pic with the gate…a sign that was meant to be there wasn’t and after a good 90 minutes of walking, and walking and wondering when I was going to see the next signpost, I ended up at a farm. I spotted a gentleman working on some machinery, so meandered over and said “excuse me, I’m so sorry to bother you  but am I on the Northumberland Coast Path?”….the answer was short and to the point “no”. Oh geez. Anyway after much discussion, he offered to drive me back to the gate where I was meant to turn off….and a teeny tiny plea from me “I don’t suppose you’d consider taking me all the way to Fenwick..only the last bus is at 6.45 ,and if I walk back, I’m going to miss it”. So blow me down if he didn’t actually drive me all the way!! It was quite thrilling actually, racing along the tracks at 60 kms per hour in a farm cart of sorts, scattering deer, and rabbits and pheasants as we went in my defence, he said that a signboard wasn’t where it was meant to be. So he took me all the way to the bus stop and we got there 5 minutes before my bus was due. The map shows where I ended up. In Holborn, and I should have been in Fenwick…which was miles away. When he dropped me off, I said “you Sir, are a true gentleman” to which he replied “I’ve been called many things, but never a gentleman “.

He also said I wasn’t the first, and probably wouldn’t be the last!! Clearly he’s had people ending up at his farm before!

Where I ended up…Holburn. where I was meant to be…Fenwick

Other than that, I’ve been to Lindisfarne (yesterday) absolutely fantastic. Didn’t get lost walking back πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

And today I visited Bamburgh Castle – stunning place!! And the seaside town of Seahouses…so cute!!

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Well, without further ado, the time to set off is just hours away….it’s incredible how quickly the months have flown by.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on this plan and sincerely hope it all works out. I think I have everything covered and haven’t missed out on any sections of either the Northumberland Coast Path or Hadrian’s Wall.

I was looking at the guidebook map last night and I noticed that the route out of Newcastle on Hadrian’s Wall is somewhat different to what I’ve planned. So that might need some adjustment. But I’ve got a week to decide and while travelling between home and Berwick Upon Tweed, I’ll read through the guidebook and try to determine why it’s different.

But, that aside…here’s a brief summary of The Plan πŸ˜‰

Day 1 – travel to Berwick Upon Tweed, visit the castle, walk to the Scottish border and back, then walk the castle ramparts, cross the bridges, have supper and back to the B&B

Day 2 – visit Lindisfarne Island; the castle, priory, the parish church, and a few other places. Then back to the mainland and walk back to Berwick from Beal along the coast; basically the first stage of the official trail…

Day 3 – visit Bamburgh Castle, bus to Seahouses to explore, have supper and then walk to Fenwick where I’ll get the bus back to Berwick since I’ll have walked that section the day before.

Day 4 – bus back to Belford to drop off my backpack at the Guesthouse. Then bus to Seahouses and a visit to the Farne Islands then a meal in Seahouses before walking back to Belford.

Day 5 – bus to Seahouses, then walk south to Craster visiting Dunstanburgh Castle on the way. Bus to Alnmouth for overnight.

Day 6 – bus back to Craster, then walk south to Warkworth and visit Warkworth Castle, then bus to Newbiggin. Overnight

Day 7 – Bus back to Warkworth and walk south via Cresswell to Newbiggin and overnight. The official Northumberland Coast Path ends at Cresswell and the border between Northumberland and Tyne & Wear is near Hartley. From here I’ll be adding kms, but finished with the NCP

Day 8 – walk south from Newbiggin to Whitley Bay visiting St Mary’s Island and Nature Reserve. This is quite a long day in terms of kms, but I have the whole day, so just going to relax and take a slow walk

Day 9 – walk south to Tynemouth on the River Tyne and start Hadrian’s Wall walk with a visit to Segedunum Fort, official start of this national trail. Overnight Newcastle

Day 10 – metro to South Shields, visit Arbeia Roman Fort and visit South Shields lighthouse, then ferry to North Shields and walk back to Wallsend and walk to Newcastle. Overnight.

Day 11 – visit Newcastle Castle and Newcastle Cathedral; most northerly catheral in England. Then off to Heddon on the Wall visiting Benwell Roman Temple and various turrets along the way. Overnight Heddon.

Day 12 – walk Heddon on the Wall to Corbridge, visiting Vindobala Fort enroute. Supper in Corbridge, an authentic Roman Town, then taxi to Acomb for overnight. Not my favourite place for overnight but accommodation was scarce or very expensive.

Day 13 – Acomb bus to Chesters Roman Fort, visit and then following the Wall visiting Black Carts Turret, Temple of Mithras, a few milecastles, Sewing Shields Crags, a visit to Housesteads Fort depending on the time, then Sycamore Gap and finish at Steel Rigg Car Park where my host will collect me for overnight on a farm quite a way off the route. Again accommodation was a factor.

Day 14 – visit Vindolanda and possibly Housesteads if not visited day before and overnight again at Haltwhistle. Hoping the skies are clear because this is a designated ‘Dark Skies’ area and I’d LOVE to see the Milky Way and a few shooting stars.

Day 15 – back to Steel Rigg Car Park, then follow Hadrian’s Wall again passing Cawfield Quarry and visiting Great Chesters Fort and the Vindolanda Roman Army Museum, Thirlwall Castle and onto Gilsland for overnight

Day 16 – walking Gilsland to Brampton and visiting Birdoswald Fort and Pike Hill Signal Tower and Banks East Turret before heading off the trail again to Brampton for overnight.

Day 17 – visit Lanercost Priory and then picking up the path again from Hare Hill and passing Newtown enroute for Carlisle where I’ll be staying for the next 5 nights.

Day 18 – walk Carlisle to Burgh by Sands and bus back to Carlisle, visit Carlisle Castle and cathedral.

Day 19 – being a Sunday the transport is sketchy, so I’m going to rest and relax for the day. Maybe explore Carlisle City.

Day 20 – bus back to Burgh by Sands, then walk to Bowness on Solway and the end of the Hadrian’s Wall national trail, where I get my final passport stamp at the Promenade πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ then bus back to Carlisle.

Day 21 – train to Gretna Green and Lockerbie. Two separate journeys, but both a must do. Final night in Carlisle.

Day 22 – relaxing morning in Carlisle and then train home.

So there it is. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination going to be a walk in the park, and some days are longer than I desire, but accommodation was very tricky and I had to completely change my schedule for a few days due to lack of, or expensive accommodation. One thing is for sure, this is not Spain where you can get reasonable accommodation for reasonable prices. Some of the places I looked at are extravagant with the relative exorbitant prices.

Will I complete both trails? Who knows. I’ve tried to plan reasonable days with fairly reasonable distances, but until you actually walk the trail, you simply have no idea.

I’m going to make sensible decisions if necessary and I’m not hung up on the semantics…if there’s any section/stage I can’t do for any reason, then like I did with the Pilgrim’s Way, I’ll go back at some stage and complete it. Of course the logistics will be somewhat different due to distance, but I have 6 other trails I am planning on walking over the next few years, so one way or another…I’ll complete the walks.

So from me, it’s goodnight. I’ll do my best to blog as I go, but if you don’t hear from me, it’ll be because I had a tough day and I’m sleeping 😴πŸ€ͺ🀣🀣

Meanwhile, wish me luck πŸ€ and 🀞 it all goes well. Frankly, I think I must be absolutely bloody insane to even contemplate this, never mind actually do it…😁 but it’s there, it needs to be walked.

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Walking is the best…

The official Northumberland Coast Path starts in Cresswell and heads north to Berwick Upon Tweed, whilst the Hadrian’s Wall route from Wallsend, Newcastle Upon Tyne in the east heads west to Bowness-On-Solway in Cumbria, although a lot of people recommend starting in the west and heading east because then the prevailing wind is at your back and you don’t have the late afternoon sun in your eyes.

But because I usually like to do things in order (whatever order I decide on on the spur of the moment), it seemed like a good idea to buck the trend and walk from north to south on the Northumberland Coast Path; Berwick Upon Tweed to Cresswell and then continuing south to Tynemouth and west to Newcastle for the start of my jaunt along Hadrian’s Wall from east to west.

Thus, I shall be walking north to south and east to west….seems good to me πŸ™‚

However, if you look at my daily plan for the NCP, I am doing a bit of north/south, then south/west, then west/east, and back again east/west, then south/north, and for a few days I’ll be going south, after which for a day I’ll be heading north, after which I go south again and then east to west. Confused yet? Imagine how I felt trying to organise all that!!!!

A little bit of zag and a lot of zig…it’s going to be really interesting looking at my daily route at the end of it all…

It’s been quite a lot of fun, and a certain amount of stress making sure I cover every mile of the NCP, but when all is said and done, I do believe I will 😁😁

When I started researching and organising my walk along the Northumberland Coast Path, I looked for accommodation that wasn’t too far apart. Ultimately I managed to find suitable Airbnb locations, at prices that won’t break the bank, but it meant I had to do a fair amount of back and forth that involved buses.

And just to be sure I didn’t miss anything out, I listed every single place from Berwick Upon Tweed in the north to Tynemouth in the south, including rivers and burns, car parks and caravan parks, a couple of cottages and a convenience store πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

After that I worked out my distance per day, and ticked off each place once I had decided on point a and z or b…

After that I got onto the bus services to schedule my trips from end to start, and start to end.

After weeks of working the plan again and again it is complete and I am satisfied I will have reasonable days with transportation to and from my accommodation locations and walking inbetween.

I’ll write up another post with my daily schedule in the next day or so…

Meanwhile…it’s now just 3 days before I leave….I treated myself to 2 new pairs of my favourite double thick socks. Time to go for a πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈalong the NCP!!!

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Am I going walking next week? βœ…
Am I prepared?βœ…
Is everything organised?βœ…
Am I fit enough?βœ…
Did I have a full-blown panic attack at 3am?βœ…βœ…βœ…πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

No matter how well prepared I am, just before I set off on a long walk, I have a mini crisis
Am I excited? Yes I am!!! πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ
Will it be exhausting? βœ…πŸ₯΅
Will it hurt? βœ…πŸ˜ͺ

But oh my gosh, the places I will go, and the things I will see makes it all worthwhile. πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

This is by far away the longest distance I have ever walked on a continuous day to day journey.
But I’m going to fulfil a long-held dream of not only seeing Hadrian’s Wall, but actually walking the route; a journey through history.πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

As well as which, I’ll be adding to a newer dream (2020 to be precise) of walking another section of the English Coast πŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆβ€β™€οΈ

Prepare for frequent posts to say how excited I am as I countdown till 01.09.2021 😁😁

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With just over 2 weeks till I set off on my epic (😁😁) walk along the Northumbrian coast path and Hadrian’s Wall, I decided it was time for another test of my mettle.

I had already scheduled a walk into my diary for Monday 16th; the penultimate stage of the north-east section of the Saxon Shore Way, from Rainham to Rochester, so it was an easy decision to take Pepe along, fully loaded except for water supply, and check out how we got along.

We had a brilliant day, it was overcast and cool (I even wore a cardigan), perfect for walking but not so fantastic for photos.

I headed back to where I left off a few weeks ago, and not finding any signs to direct me, and considering it’s a residential area, I decided to just follow my nose and my intuition. After all, it’s a ‘shore’ walk, and the general direction (useful) is along the shore heading north/east…πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

I found the first sign 5 kms in, pleased to note I was on the right path.

Saxon Shore Way
Useful 😁

I discovered what a teasel is…I’ve seen this fascinating little flowers/plants all over the place but hadn’t idea what they were…now I know πŸ˜‰

I came across a funfair and was reminded of one of the most terrifying fairground rides of my life…I took my daughter (8 years old) and sister on one of these many years ago in South Africa. It went wayyyy higher than I knew and she nearly slipped off the seat and under the rail. O was holding onto her and my handbag that contained my whole month’s salary in cash. 😳😳

Pirate swing
The funfair

In all it was a very successful walk, I frequently forgot Pepe was on my back..ergo, its comfortable and not too heavy, which was my main goal – how comfortable will it be? Fortunately I’m now aware of those little straps that work loose, so checked them every time I stopped for a break (every 5 kms) and pleased to say the corner of the bag didn’t dig a hole in my hip like it did on the final stages of the Pilgrim’s Way.

Enroute is an island near Chatham; St Mary’s island that I simply had to visit; its there, how could I not? And for good measure, and totally unnecessarily, I walked virtually the whole perimeter thereby adding over 2.5 hours and 4.42kms to my journey πŸ™„πŸ™„ But now I can add that to Project 101…another island done and dusted. Saw a gorgeous sculpture

St Mary’s island
St Mary’s island
The Mariners
And saw Upnor Castle…didn’t realise it was so close

I did however find the history of how the island came to being rather disturbing. Built on the backs of 19th century convict labour from desolate Marsh wasteland, the convicts lived on rotting hulks on the shore and were marched daily, 1000 strong chained together, to work on building the island. Ghoulish history.

So, I had a very comfortable 22.46km walk on Monday with very little discomfort except for the usual spots, which I’ll resolve with fleece.
But the weight is good and as with the Camino and Pilgrim’s Way, I mostly forgot it was there. Although I was tired without doubt from 16km onwards, and ready for bed.

So pretty…seen in Rochester

I slowed down quite a lot in the last 6kms.

Seen in Chatham
Seen in Chatham
Seen in Chatham

Feet no worse than usual,  in fact, better than usual in recovery, hardly any pain in my heel, just a couple of twinges and no blisters. My 2 toes on my left foot as usual were red and sore, which is totally bizarre since there’s loads of space in the front of the shoe and no obstruction. My right foot toes never have the same issue… weird πŸ₯΄πŸ₯΄

So all good. Ready to go 1st September. I even got to test my poncho. Conclusion: it kept the rain out = waterproof. But…my arms got wet coz the sleeves are so short, and I’ll need to finesse the hood so it stays snug around my face instead of either covering my eyes, or blowing off the back of my head πŸ™„πŸ™„

In all a pleasing day.

I will of course give this stage of the Saxon Shore Way a proper write up when I do those articles, but I’m well pleased with my progress so far.

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I took my precious BooBee on an action packed adventure today. He’s so much fun and an absolute joy to be with.

He had ice-cream on the beach, jumped and did head rolls on a trampoline, rode on a merry-go-round, went on a pirate swing boat, jumped on a bouncy castle and played a game of table tennis πŸ“

We stopped for lunch and rested a bit. Afterwards we walked through the harbour and to the beach where we built a stone pile and paddled in the sea before covering him up with sand.

We then climbed the cliff path and stopped on the way to look for dinosaurs in the chalk and draw his and my name with chalk

From there we went to the funfair where he enjoyed a pirate stage show and a couple of rides on a bouncy slide.

A fantastic day all round and we (read me πŸ‘΅πŸ») covered 9 kms…most of which he was sitting on my shoulders. Entered my kms to the Conqueror Kruger Park challenge and boom πŸ’₯ another post card!! πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Kruger National Park

Having left Hluhluwe my first stop was the Manyoni Private Game Reserve.  Privately owned and one of the largest reserves in Kwazulu-Natal, Manyoni was established in 2004 when 17 landowners dropped their fences and opened up their lands to create a protected area for wildlife.  One of the main drivers was to create a release site for a founding group of black rhinos as part of the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP).  

The project is a collaboration between Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).  Their aim is to transfer black rhinos from provincial and national parks where they are at capacity to privately and community owned sites where they can continue repopulating under protection.  Black rhinos once roamed much of Africa and had a population of 100,000 as late as the 1960s.  Over the next 25 years the population diminished by 97% leaving a mere 2450 rhinos that were under protection in small reserves putting them on the critically endangered list.  

However, with the aid of BRREP and sites like Manyoni the population is slowly growing.  Manyoni has also reintroduced endangered cheetahs and African wild dogs whilst also focusing on conserving the landscape and ecosystem. 

The next location is the Zimanga Private Game Reserve.  Originally known as Hlambanyathi Game Reserve, the game on site were nearly all wiped out due to neglect and poaching.  All that was left was 7 zebras, 1 wildebeest and some impalas and warthogs.  In 1998 Charl Senekal, a sugar cane farmer, purchased the estate the reserve was a part of.  He rebuilt the game reserve, fenced it and expanded the land.  Over a period of time he reintroduced animals that were historically present in the area. Today it has 80 species of mammals including giraffe, buffalo, rhino, elephant, waterbuck, wildebeest, zebra, kudu, nyala, hippo, cheetah and lions.    

The final reserve in Kwazulu-Natal was the Pongola Game Reserve.  This 31,000 hectares reserve is over a century old and the first proclaimed reserve in Africa.  Within its reserve is the 15,000 hectare Lake Jozini (aka Pongolapoort Dam).  Besides typical game species, the reserve also has four of the Big Five: elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard.  

The lake primarily used for irrigation is fed by the Phongolo River which runs right through the Pongolo Reserve.  Dammed in 1973, the lake is home to the pink-backed and great white pelicans, the Nile crocodiles and hippos.  The dam also supports more than 350 bird species such as Pel’s fishing owl, the green and red Narina Trogon and the red-beaked, black and white Saddle-billed Stork.

The Space for Elephant Foundation are also working at the Pongola Reserve aiming to create a habitat for more than 1000 elephants and re-establish an old migration route.   Baby twin elephants,  Dingane and Shaka were born at Pongola in 2014.  Twins are extremely rare, as little as 0.5% of elephant births worldwide, making these twins extremely special at Pongola.

I’ve now completed 94 kms of the Kruger Park challenge

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I finished my latest booking today, so from 3.30pm my time is once again my own – for 6 days πŸ€ͺ

When I got home, after unpacking my suitcase I had a quick sleep and then I popped Pepe onto my back and took us for a practice walk.

We need to start becoming seriously reacquainted now coz it’s less than 3 weeks till we do some serious walking. It’s good from a few aspects; I test all the pressure points from the weight, I test the pressure points of my feet…where does it hurt? What needs strapping up – like my little dislocated toe on my right foot…I’ll have to strap that. Where on my heels? Etc. And testing my distance vs time.

I walked via the harbour, then up the hill…immensely pleased to not even break stride, or huff and puff.

Ramsgate Royal Harbour

Pushing myself the last 16 days has paid off big time πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ From there I walked along the clifftop past the fairy woods where I saw an orange egg with feathers and a funny face, to my favourite sunset spot overlooking Pegwell Bay.

Fairy woods
English Coast Path above Pegwell Bay

I was too early for the fireworks, but it was still beautiful.

Pegwell Bay
Looking back towards Pegwell Bay

Then back down via the harbour again and past ASDA where I bought myself a packet of my favourite crisps…which I haven’t had for 16 days and I think after all my hard work I deserve it 😁😁

I just got home and my stats are 7.83kms 2 hours 4 minutes at just over 13 minutes per km. I’m on track πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Pressure points: right hip – on checking Pepe I found one of the smaller shoulder straps had worked loose, so the backpack was unbalanced (note to self…check the straps every morning before walking).

Left foot – I have very high arches, and the top of my foot on the bony area is painful from rubbing against the tongue and laces of my shoe, so that needs looking at, albeit not a new problem, walking for 26 kms is going to make it a real problem, so I must sort that before I go.

The little dislocated toe is not happy. So that will definitely need looking at.

Other than that, just my right knee was complaining, but I think that’s from the pressure of the unbalanced backpack pressing on my hip.

I’ll go out for another test run tomorrow night and see if the tightened strap makes any difference.

The bonus is that I’m still very comfortable with my gorgeous ‘Osprey Mystic Magenta Tempest 40’, and it’s like we’ve never been parted…it’s so comfortable on my back that I forget it’s there.

I’m walking another section of the Saxon Shore Way on Monday from Rainham to Rochester; approximately 16-20 kms, so that will be another good test.

Tomorrow I’m taking my grandson out for the day, and on Sunday it’s my daughter’s birthday so we’ll be going out for an early supper.

Onwards…the seagull says I did good 😁😁

And now I’m off to bed. Already missing the peace and quiet of the countryside…

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So my lovelies, the time is almost nigh!! At 10:07 on 1st September; 3 weeks from today (whoop whoop), I’ll be on the train heading North. Destination Berwick Upon Tweed.

I start walking the Northumberland coast path that same night, albeit staying in Berwick for 3 nights…I’ll explain later.

Then in exactly 1 month from today, I start my official walk along Hadrian’s Wall. 4 years to the day from when I started my Portuguese Camino 😊😊

So bloody excited. I can’t tell you πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ = my happy dance.

So wow, suddenly it’s only 3 weeks to go and I’m on my way.

The dates have been identified, there and back travel tickets booked, all accommodation is booked, Airbnb hosts contacted and confirmed, the routes identified, daily kilometres from here to there measured (repeatedly πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ), what to see noted, where to go planned, what to do listed, ferry trip booked, where to get my passports stamped noted.

Pepe is packed, Gemini and I have been practicing like mad – getting fit, which shoes to wear decided on, budgets calculated and as much planning as I can possibly do, done!!!

And just because, after weeks of planning and noting the route each day on the Northumberland Coast Path with the relevant distances, yesterday I only decided to rejig days 4-7 and fiddled about with the distances. But now it is a lot smoother, with one day shorter and another longer.

I confirmed yesterday that I can use my senior bus pass on all the bus routes that I need to use between end of day’s destination and return the next day. I’m going to be doing quite a bit of bouncing back and forth due to accommodation on the NCP.

I’m copying everything into an old-fashioned method of keeping records – a notebook 😁😁

Northumberland Coast Path here’s looking at you, and finally 🀞🀞 after a whole year of waiting Hadrian’s Wall…I see you!!

Now it’s a waiting game; 21 days and counting.

As for you Covid-19 with all your variants…..you know what you can do…πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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When I bought the Kruger National Park challenge in March I had it in mind to honour the memory of my brother Arnold, who should have been 66 years old today; 08/08/21. He died in his mid-20s nearly 40 years ago under very sad circumstances.

Kruger National Park virtual challenge
Kruger National Park virtual challenge – starter bib

So I figured I would hold it till 1 August before starting the challenge and try to walk 66 kms by his birthday. As well as which, I was born in South Africa and one of my most enduring childhood memories was a visit to the Kruger National Park when we were teenagers…probably about 13 or 14 at the time. My Dad, his 2nd wife, me (the eldest) my brother (6 months younger than me – adopted by my Dad when he remarried), my sister 3.5 years younger than me and my much younger brother who was a baby at the time.

As we drove along the very long narrow dusty road heading towards the gates of the camp, after a long day of driving, my little brother threw up all over my older brother…I was wearing a very fancy patterned two piece pant-suit; a mini-skirt length top and bell-bottoms at the time, blue with coloured squares (I think I wrote about this some time back under a different context)…anyway, my brother had on a bright orange shirt and khaki trousers, which now had vomit all over them. A quick stop at the side of the road and we progressed with everyone affected cleaned up and my brother wearing the pants of my suit and looking both sheepish and colourful.

I can’t recall the name of the camp, but I do remember that we had a fantastic view of a massive waterhole from the dining room. We had a fantastic time and managed to see a lot of game on our drives, as well as in the compound when the animals from outside the fence decided to join the animals inside the fence!!! But of all the exciting things we saw, that episode with the clothes and the eggs we had for breakfast are my best memories.

And so I kicked off on 1 August and got my first postcard

Once again, the amount of information they provide with each postcard is amazing, and so fascinating. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have

On the southeast coast of South Africa and bordered by Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique is the province of Kwazulu-Natal.  Known for its beaches, mountainous region and large savannahs with big game, this province is also home to the Zulu nation.  Kwazulu-Natal is made up of two separate provinces, KwaZulu and Natal, that merged in 1994.  KwaZulu was a semi-independent area intended as a homeland for the Zulu people whose ancestors were part of the Zulu Kingdom.

The Zulu Kingdom was a monarchy from 1816-1897 which grew to prominence under the leadership of Shaka Zulu, the illegitimate son of Senzangakhona, the Chief of the Zulu clan.  Senzangakhona had 14 sons, 4 of them ruled as kings.  Although Shaka was the oldest, due to his illegitimacy he did not have any claim as successor to his father.  When Senzangakhona died in 1816, his legitimate heir Sigujana took over but his rule was short-lived as Shaka had him assassinated and became king.  He in turn was killed 12 years later by another brother, Dingane who 12 years later was overthrown by his brother Mpande, who ruled for the next 32 years.  Mpande’s son, Cetshwayo, succeeded him in 1873 for the next five years.  

Cetshwayo was the leader during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.  Fought over several bloody battles between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom, the war lasted less than six months.  The first significant battle was at Isandlwana in January 1879 where 20,000 Zulu warriors attacked the British forces of less than 2,000 soldiers.  Defeating the British, a contingent of Zulu warriors broke off from the main force and proceeded towards Rorke’s Drift, which would become the second main battle on the same day.  Having been pre-warned of the Zulu advances, the British were prepared for the assault.  Vastly outnumbered with guns blazing, the British held their position.  After 12 hours of fighting, the Zulu warriors retreated.  Several more battles were fought over the coming months until the British moved into the royal village where they inflicted the final defeat.  By August, Cetshwayo was captured, deposed and exiled.  He was the last king of an independent Zulu nation.  Today Cetshwayo’s descendant Goodwill Zwelithini is the 8th reigning monarch of the Zulu nation.

My journey begins in the town of Hluhluwe.  Located in the north of Kwazulu-Natal between iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, this small town is known for its big game, national parks and production of 95% of South Africa’s pineapples.  It has a population of less than 4,000 residents, yet it is considered a travel hub for Kwazulu-Natal. 

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is a major attraction for the big 5 game: elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.  Located southwest of Hluhluwe, the park is the oldest nature reserve in Africa consisting of 96,000 hectares.  Established in 1895 as a park, the area was originally a royal hunting ground for the Zulu Kingdom.  The reserve was setup to protect the endangered white rhinoceroses and now has the largest population in the world (approx. 1000).  The park is also the only one in Kwazulu-Natal where all five big game animals can be found.

Located northeast to Hluhluwe is the 1,270sq mi (3,280km2) iSimangaliso Wetland Park.  The park is rich in fauna and flora due to the β€œdifferent ecosystems within the park, ranging from coral reefs and sandy beaches to subtropical dune forests, savannahs, and wetlands”.  A wonderful array of animals co-habitate here both on land and in the ocean such as: elephant, leopard, rhino, buffalo, hippos, whales, dolphins, leatherback and loggerhead turtles and crocodiles. The park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

The park also contains the 140sq mi (350km2) estuarine Lake St Lucia.  It was named in 1575 on the day of the feast of Saint Lucy.  Nearly 2,200 plant species have been identified in the lake’s system such as the Sausage-tree, bearing sausage-like fruits 1-2ft long (30-60cm) and purplish-green flowers. It is also an ideal environment for mangrove trees, six different species have been recorded.  Other delightful flora are the Prickly Tree Hibiscus with its yellow flowers, Maputaland Cycad with its red flowers, Impala-lily with its delicate pink flowers and the Cape honeysuckle.

And so, over a period of 7 days I managed to achieve my goal of walking 66kms; 1 for each year that he would have been…had he lived.

I miss my brother, and although we were not blood relatives I adored him and he me. We got up to a lot of mischief as children and one of the few photos I have of him is when there were just the 5 of us; my cousin Yvonne, me, my cousin Brian, my brother Arnold and my sister Susanne. My family expanded a lot after this photo was taken, what with remarriages and another 4 sisters and 1 brother.

family and relationships
me, my brother, my sister, and cousins

The rest of the challenge will be completed during my jaunt along the Northumberland Coast Path and Hadrian’s Wall, both of which are long enough to ‘possibly’ allow me to complete this challenge before I return home. Although I have to say that the temptation to buy a 2nd Hadrian’s Wall challenge and complete the virtual walk whilst walking the actual wall is VERY strong!! LOL… I’ll decide by the 09th of September before I start my actual walk…it will all depend on how many km’s I manage to complete before then since the Kruger challenge has to be finished by 30/09/21 because the organisers changed the medal and made the route shorter. But I want the original medal, so…onwards into the breech dear friends, onwards!

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for me, I’m kicking up dust in the Kruger National Park… πŸ™‚

Here are some of the scenes from my 7 walks

walking the kruger national park
Day 1 Sunday 01.08.2021
walking the kruger national park
Day 2 Monday 02.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 3 Wednesday 04.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 4 Thursday 05.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 5 Friday 06.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 6 Saturday 07.08.21
walking the kruger national park
Day 7 Sunday 08.08.21

Day 3 I ended up hip deep in a ditch sky-high with brambles…still not sure how I got out, there’s a long story behind the cows on day 4 and there’s one particular scene that I just love and photograph it every day when I walk that route. The houses in this area are stunning…and I get house envy when I see some of them, and I love that quote from Day 1.

The above scenes are round and about the farmlands of Faversham. They recently harvested one of the fields nearby, hence the tractor and the harvester.

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