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Last week I ventured into a different part of Croydon than I’d been before.

There’s some super cool street art that I could see. Dome days I wish I had more time to explore. The top 3 images are of The Hospital of the Holy Trinity founded 1596. Wowww. K thought Croydon was a ‘new’ purpose built town, but no, it’s got history going back as far as 960AD!!

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During my research of different pilgrimage routes in the UK and elsewhere, I came across this website http://www.greenpilgrimageeurope.net/ What interested me and encouraged me to read further was the mention of Canterbury.

Canterbury has been my final destination a number of times, it’s a fascinating city with an incredible history and I love visiting and exploring and especially passing beneath the West Gate at the end of my walks; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Way of St Augustine (In 597AD, St Augustine arrived on England’s Isle of Thanet upon the instructions of Pope Gregory to bring the good news of Christianity to Kent, as Queen Bertha was already a committed Christian) and The Pilgrim’s Way.

the west gate canterbury
the West Gate Canterbury

The 119-mile (192km) Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury has been trodden by pilgrims for more than a thousand years but the origins of the pathway date back much earlier, to 1800-1400BC. The route was probably used for trade but after the death of St Augustine of Canterbury in 604, pilgrims started coming to venerate his remains at the Great Abbey. Canterbury also became an important stop for pilgrims making the long journey to Rome; Via Francigena.

After Thomas Becket was canonised in 1173, his shrine at Canterbury Cathedral became the most important in the UK. According to Christopher John Wright, author of A Guide to the Pilgrims’ Way, Canterbury was ‘after Rome… the chief shrine in Christendom’, and drew pilgrims from far and wide. Henry II is also said to travelled this route – as part of his pilgrimage for atonement for the murder of Thomas Becket.

a choral evensong service to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom
a choral evensong service to commemorate Becket’s martyrdom 29.12.2018

Pilgrimage is one of the fastest growing movements in the world, with more than 330 million people going on pilgrimage every year.  The vision of Green Pilgrimage is that pilgrims leave a positive footprint on the earth, and that pilgrim places become models of care for the environment.

pilgrimage to canterbury
Pilgrims

Besides being the final destination for the walks I’ve mentioned above, Canterbury is often the starting point for those enroute to European Pilgrimage sites such as Santiago de Compostela in Spain and the Via Francigena to Rome.

I love what they say about the 7 stages of pilgrimage

Number 7 definitely resonates with me; although I’m not a religious or even pious person and believe in evolution rather than creation, I relish the challenges I face and find that yes, in ways that I sometimes don’t even notice immediately, I am always a different person at the end of each walk.

For me it’s the journey as well as the destination, and my stages of pilgrimage are:

1. Discovering a new pilgrimage that venerates a Saint I usually have never heard of and then learning more about them.

2. Researching and planning the route; usually gives me a series of headaches LOL but it is definitely enlightening.

3. Since I usually travel solo, my interactions are invariably brief and with strangers, yet each brings their own little story and memories of so many of these interactions linger for years, and I still think of certain people I met.

4. Understanding the story is usually where I am totally honest; I walk these routes because I love walking, adventure and discovering new places. If I’m not walking for a religious reason, does that make me less of a pilgrim?

5. For me this was about finding my ‘Camino’ eyes. A weird term until you realise it’s about suddenly realising you ‘see’ the signs along the way without having to search for them. This I have found on all my walks.

6. I definitely resonate with this; there is nothing I enjoy more than just looking around me and taking it all in – hence the number of photographs I take, and why my kms are way more than the stated distance – I have to explore.

7. I’m not so sure about the ‘should‘ recognise, but I definitely do recognise the differences. Sometimes they are emotional, or mental, but without doubt they include physical. With each walk that I do, along with the challenges they bring, I find I am more courageous and less fearful of what difficulties I may find along ‘the way’. I have overcome, and will continue to overcome the challenges.

There are so many different pilgrimages around the UK and Rep. of Ireland as well as Europe, and farther afield in Japan that I would love to do. I have added them to my vision board….and sent a telegram to the Universe.

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Hahaha, yes, after my blithe words yesterday about being pragmatic about plans changing…guess what??

Yeah…..that….can I bite my tongue?? 🤪🤪🤪

So after hours working out the route, checking the days/dates over and over to make sure they were correct and I didn’t miss any, calculating the distances to make sure the days are not too long, researching accommodation, then booking the dates, and double checking the dates, I got an email this morning confirming my booking but….

“Good afternoon,

Though most restrictions are lifted from 12th April, unfortunately for public who intend to stay in hotel for leisure are allowed only from 17th May. Till this time only key workers are permitted to stay overnight in hotels. Kind regards”

Don’t you just love a big old ‘but’? Although ‘butt’ would be more appropriate now, coz I’m kicking mine…😝😝

I understood from the government website that from 12 April Members of the same household can take a holiday in the UK in self-contained accommodation.

Couldn’t the government have been a little more specific and added “you may not stay in hotels “. For people like me 😁😁😁

Apparently hotels do not fall under that category 🤨🤨🤨 Who knew?? 🤣🤣🤣 I think I misinterpreted that little clause because I am fed up now with not being able to travel, and want to do my walk.

I know there are still Covid related issues, but seriously, the hotels and places like that are taking so many precautions and they are sterilising their premises and following guidelines for masks etc, that I think its quite ridiculous that we can’t yet travel locally. I get all the overseas restrictions and precautions etc, but the virus is invariably spread by close contact in enclosed environments, big crowds, or feckless people not taking precautions, and you’re seldom in close contact in a hotel. Especially the bigger chains.

So yeah, that’s my little whinge 😏😏😏

I have a headache 🤕🤕🥵 Ugh. I had other plans for today. Or maybe I shouldn’t use the word ‘plans’ for the foreseeable future.

Note to self…

I’m now in the process of reworking all my dates, because I have my actual work dates to reschedule as well.

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I guess my previous Walking the River Thames post would count as Stage 1 since that’s when I did more research on the river and the route itself….

In which case, getting it down on paper (so to speak) would be the next stage; Stage 2…and that I have done! Hoorah. I spent nearly all my free time yesterday setting up the spreadsheet, doing further research on the actual walk itself and planning my distances. It’s a good thing it was raining heavily so I didn’t feel guilty about not getting out to walk.

I found 3 amazing websites by people who have walked the Thames Path and written about it, and conveniently also posted images of the walk. The usefulness varies in as much as they say how far they walked each day, approximately how long it took, transport links, but not where they stayed. I also found 2 official websites; the Thames Path is one of 16 National Trails in the UK – they note the trail can be walked over 16 days, so I’m happy with my 19, 1 of which includes the section from Erith to the Thames Barrier.

Planning the distance and number of days has proved to be quite tricky because a lot depends on accommodation available. And it is NOT cheap. So far my estimates are £1300 for 19 days. I could do 2 caminos in Spain for that!! The accommodation is outrageously expensive and I am going to have to do some further research. I did find some nice places on booking.com and what’s useful about that is you have a decent amount of time, for a small price increase, to cancel if needs be. I’m ever so pragmatic about things like having to cancel trips…because you know… Covid and things like that.

One of the most useful aspects though of walking in the UK is the transport links. Albeit very pricey, if you have any accidents it’s easy enough to get home. Also there are numerous little towns along the route, so I won’t have to carry my weight in water…LOL I remember in Spain the constant daily fear of running out of water… although it only happened once and I managed to convey my need for “aqua por favor” to a delightful little old Spanish couple, who reprimanded me soundly…although I didn’t understand a word they said, their tone and expressions made it very clear 🙂 But they filled up my bottle. It was one of those days when it was scorching hot and I sent my water bladder ahead with my backpack by accident…

So the spreadsheet is up, the dates/days are estimated, the travel costs are determined, the food costs will be like I did on the camino….I existed on fruit and sandwiches and occasional bowls of soup or omelettes, and the accommodation has been identified and priced (ouch) and 75% booked. I’ve mostly booked all the places I found via booking.com and then do a further search on airbnb. Either way, I have to make a final decision before month end on dates etc.

Also, besides the 1st stage from Erith to the Thames Barrier planned for 21/03, I’m also going to do stages 2 & 3 on separate days; namely 15/04 & 18/04 and travel back home. It will be cheaper than overnight stays and means I can take a few days break between each stage before the big push which will begin from Hampton Court on 24th. I’m also planning on spending the day in Hampton Court and hopefully meeting up with my family and visiting the palace on the 23rd.

Of course, like all plans, it is subject to change, but once I make the bookings, that’s it…..Cindy travels again. I’m really excited about this walk and also a little trepidatious because my body is 2 years older since I finished the Pilgrim’s Way (talking of which, I really need to finish those posts!!) and not as robust as it was 4 years ago when I walked the Camino. I haven’t hoisted my backpack onto my back for nearly 2 years!!! I think I’m going to travel light!! LOL

Be that as it may, I shall keep walking as long as I have life in me old legs. So I’ve listed the websites below that I discovered in the event they are of interest to you dear reader.

  1. I enjoyed reading about Jason’s journey, although he started at the source, and I was excited to discover someone else who had walked the Saxon Shore Way https://www.macadder.net/walking/thames_path/stage01.html
    He also mentions Offa’s Dyke and The Fosse Way, both of which I’m interested in. Jason does mention the distance walked and his figures more or less correlate to mine…whew! I’m looking forward to reading all his other days; 13 in all. I was well impressed to note that he has done 28 walks!! That’s quite extraordinary. A couple of them are familiar to me, and a few piqued my interest. I guess I’ll just have to add them to the list LOL I mean who wouldn’t want to do the 1066 Country Walk, or St Swithun’s Way, St Michael’s Way or the Strawberry Line Path (I so love this one) – anyone say ‘cheese’?

2. Then there’s Brian’s Walks – he appears to have walked the same direction as which I am going to; from sea to source. http://www.brians-walks.co.uk/thames-path-cricklade-to-kemble.html Brian did this walk over 9 days so I suspect he put in some serious distances each day; as in roughly 35kms…which I do not plan to do. My maximum distance before it gets unbearable is 28kms, and I only have 2 days when I will walk that distance. His blog is amazing in that he lists his daily statistics (of which I shall make careful note).

3. With this site I was unable to find a name (perhaps as I read further I may discover it) but I loved the name of the blog http://www.tamesis-fluvius.co.uk/index.php I was highly amused by his comment “During the course of the two weeks, I took well in excess of two thousand photographs and a selection of them are included on each page“. Oh my goddess, if that doesn’t sound like a kindred spirit then I don’t know what does. 🤣🤣🤣 I am a demon when it comes to taking photos and I invariably only share possibly 5% of the photos I take on each walk. They did the walk over 15 days, so my already 19 days is not too bad.

I also stumbled upon what appears to be an ‘official’ website. https://www.thames-path.org.uk/thames_cricklade_source.html I found quite a lot of useful information here as well as transport links….especially for the upper reaches of the Thames near the source.

The National Trail website lists all trails in the UK and if I had enough time and money, I’d do them all…don’t you just love what they have to say about the Thames Path – it sounds so romantic…

“The Thames Path is a long distance walking trail, following England’s best known river for 184 miles (294 Km) as it meanders from its source in the Cotswolds through several rural counties and on into the heart of London. On its way the Trail passes peaceful water meadows rich in wildlife, historic towns and cities and many lovely villages, finishing at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich just a few miles from the sea”.

Can I go now please ☺☺☺

I’ll be following the Cabot Trail virtual challenge while walking the Thames Path coz its very conveniently 299.4kms which is almost the same distance…although I’m sure my kms will be more than what they suggest it is…294kms.

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I noticed earlier on my weather app that tomorrow and Thursday were going to be rainy days, so since today was simply gorgeous I had a look on Google maps to see where else I could walk to besides Lloyd Park and spotted a windmill.

Post Mill Windmill is located in an area called Shirley and on the other side of Coombe Park from where I am currently located.

So just after 2pm I set off to find a windmill. And I was not disappointed. Its beautiful, and even though Google erroneously says its open, it was in fact closed – which I expected.

It was quite a walk at 30 minutes and OMG, asphalt does kill my feet 🥴🥴🥺🥺 but worth it to find this beauty.

I also spotted these beauties in one of the gardens on my route back

crocuses in spring
lilac crocuses in spring

When I got back to the house I did a bit of research and with thanks to wikipedia: The post mill is the earliest type of European windmill. Its defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind. All post mills have an arm projecting from them on the side opposite the sails and reaching down to near ground level. With some, as at Saxtead Green, the arm carries a fantail to turn the mill automatically. With the others the arm serves to rotate the mill into the wind by hand. The earliest post mills in England are thought to have been built in the 12th century.

Then I had a look on Google to find out more about the Post Mill windmill in Shirley and find that they have a dedicated website and are open for visits at various times of the year…just not today 🤪 https://www.shirleywindmill.org.uk/

I’ve discovered and visited many a windmill over the last 13 years and when I was up in Nottingham a few years ago, I bought some freshly milled flour for my son-in-law who bakes delicious cakes.

One of the prettiest windmills I visited was in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight managed by the National Trust

bembridge windmill isle of wight
Bembridge windmill Isle of Wight

and in Rye, East Sussex (converted into a gorgeous but pricey B&B)

rye windmill
Rye Windmill

I love visiting windmills and find them absolutely fascinating, and no matter if I’ve visited numerous windmills already, I still enjoy another visit to the next discovery. I guess that I shall have to plan a visit out this way again sometime in summer and see if I can visit this one.

Meanwhile I got in another 6.1kms towards my 2021 virtual challenge of 2,600kms and another stretch of the Ring Road Iceland (1332.5kms) under my belt…or should I say feet 🚶🏻‍♀️🚶🏻‍♀️👣👣 which are not very happy atm. I think I’ll have a shorter walk tomorrow – weather dependant. But on the plus side, I’ve completed 474.2kms since January 1st on the 2021 challenge, and 56km of the Ring Road Iceland challenge…only 1,276.5kms to go 😄😄😄

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Right then, after years and years of thinking about it, I’m now in the actual planning stages of walking the Thames Path – from sea to source.

Edit: 09/03 – I realized I should have titled this post as ‘Walking the Thames Path’, not river…I don’t have the right shoes for walking the river 😉

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was keen to walk it for my birthday; that comes up in April. So since the government have decreed (at this juncture), that from 12th April: UK domestic holidays away from home permitted….I’m off!! I’m also grateful to note that hairdressers will be opening too….I really need to chop my hair off, it’s working on my nerves, mostly because it has no style due to the fact that I HAVE been chopping it off for the last 15 months!! LOL

Anyway, back to the Thames Path. When I finally decided to do this walk, I bought the book and immediately started reading. Unfortunately the guide takes us from sea (almost) to source and not the other way around. So to that end (as mentioned in said earlier post), I have decided that I shall temporarily, purely to suit the occasion, reinvent myself as an adventurer who has stumbled across this great big river and want to find the source….a bit like Levison Wood except in reverse…and he of course explored the Nile….at 6,650kms, that’s a different kettle of fish (no pun intended). The Thames’ 346kms is just a Sunday stroll in comparison.

So, what is the River Thames!? According to Britannica: “River Thames, ancient Tamesis or Tamesa, also called (in Oxford, England) River Isis, chief river of southern England. Rising in the Cotswold Hills, its basin covers an area of approximately 5,500 square miles (14,250 square km). The traditional source at Thames Head, which is dry for much of the year, is marked by a stone in a field 356 feet (108.5 metres) above sea level and 3 miles (5 km) southwest of the town of Cirencester.

However, there is some dispute, and apparently, “some think a tributary, the River Churn, has a better claim to being the source; it rises near the village of Seven Springs (700 feet [213 metres] above sea level), just south of Cheltenham”.

Seven Springs features in the long-running argument over the true source of the River Thames. Two plaques at the site read “Hic tuus o Tamesine Pater septemgeminus fons” (Latin for “Here, O Father Thames, is your sevenfold spring”). Seven Springs is further from the mouth of the Thames than the medieval-preferred source at Thames Head near Kemble. In 2012 Coberley Parish Council posted a notice, on site, that “Seven Springs is certainly one of the sources of the River Thames and is held by many to be the ultimate source.” ref wikipedia

So, I guess I shall have to visit both…or shall I walk there? Hmmm. I think I’ll decide closer to the time depending on how footsore and weary I am after walking for 14 days – with a backpack. It’s an extra 33+kms which will add an extra 2 days to my journey, and the River Churn on google maps looks quite small, but after visiting google earth last night I determined that there are pathways pretty much along the whole length, barring a few farmers fields, some roads and a the odd house that appears to border the river….If I decide at the time to walk that extra 33kms (20.6 miles), then I’ll just go and deal with whatever confronts me when I get there – pretty much like I do on all my walks….just go! Of course that sometimes requires detours etc, but it’s the journey…

Meanwhile, I’m putting in loads of walking by following my Conqueror Challenges, and reading up on the route. There are loads of fantastic villages and towns along the route, some of which I have already visited and of course as mentioned in that article I have walked a large section of the Thames Path, the tidal section between Gravesend and Teddington Lock and further afield to Hampton Court.

I’ve kinda toyed with the idea of ‘maybe’ skipping out the tidal section since I’ve ‘been there, done that’, but it doesn’t feel right somehow…so I guess I shall just have to plan to walk the whole thing. I often read about people who do some walks, like the French Camino, in sections over the years, but I just know that’s no good for me…I likely won’t get back to finish off. There’s always something else to do. Mind you having said that, I did finally manage to complete The Pilgrim’s Way, but only because I made a spur of the moment decision to just do it….or else it would still be outstanding….which is was… outstanding that is 😁

So a little more about the River Thames:

The River Thames is England’s longest river at 346 kms (216.25 miles) – (albeit disputed coz of the tributary) the River Severn at 354km is the longest in the United Kingdom. So if they did add the River Churn’s 33kms (20.62miles), the Thames would indeed be the longest.

The River Thames flows from the source at Thames Head near the hamlet of Kemble in an easterly direction and after 366.4 kms (229 miles) it flows into the North Sea into the Thames Estuary near Southend-on-Sea. Now, kindly note that I am not about to walk from Southend-on-Sea as this adds on an extra 20km which would require ANOTHER 2 days….and I don’t have all the time in the world. I’ll simply add that section to when I walk the Essex coast (which as a matter of interest is 560 kms (350 miles).

The River Thames flows through 8 counties: Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, and Kent.

Besides all the smaller towns, the River Thames flows through or alongside: Lechlade (where you can find the famous Father Thames sculpture), Oxford, Reading, Henley-on-Thames (famous for the annual regatta), Maidenhead, Windsor (where the Queen sometimes lives) and Eton (famous for it’s posh totty school), Molesey (near Hampton Court). Including the smaller towns and villages…26 in all.

In Greater London the Thames passes Hampton Court Palace, Surbiton, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington (where the tidal Thames ends at the lock), Richmond, Kew, Chiswick, Barnes, Hammersmith, Fulham, Putney, Wandsworth, Battersea (where my paternal grandfather was born) and Chelsea.

Continuing through central London: Pimlico, Lambeth, Vauxhall, it then passes the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye amongst many other landmarks of the City of Westminster, then between The City of London and Southwark till it reaches the world-famous Tower of London.

Into the lower reaches: the river passes through some of the most historic areas: Bermondsey, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Rotherhithe (from whence the Mayflower carrying pilgrims to the New World set sail), Millwall, Deptford, Royal Greenwich (where Henry VIII was born – the Palace of Placentia as were his daughters Mary & Elizabeth, while his son was born at Hampton Court Palace) and home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, then Blackwall, Charlton and Silvertown and finally through the Thames Barrier – which is where the Guidebook starts the journey, and onto the the sea. The Thames Barrier is the largest moveable flood barrier in the world.

The River Thames is crossed by over 200 bridges, 27 tunnels, six public ferries, one cable car link, and one ford. There are 30 bridges from Tower Bridge to Teddington Lock – arguably the most famous of those being London Bridge (the first bridge to cross the Thames built by the Romans in 50 AD which was a wooden structure), and Tower Bridge (often misnamed as London Bridge).

There are around 180 islands altogether on the Thames, 45 of which are inhabited – some of the islands have animal, bird or food names; Monkey Island, Frog Island, Lower Horse Island, Buck Island, Swan Island, Heron Island, Raven’s Ait, Ham Island, Eel Pie Island (I briefly lived in a gypsy caravan on Eel Pie Island in Richmond in 2011), there’s even a Pharoah’s Island and Queen’s Eyot, and the famous Magna Carta Island.

The Thames has frozen over at least 23 times between 1309 and 1814, and on five occasions the ice was strong enough to hold a fair on the river, the first known ‘frost fair’ on the River Thames was in AD 695. There are a few famous paintings depicting the frost fairs on the Thames in London from the 17th century.

The River Thames is also known as the River Isis in Oxford.

Many species make the River Thames their home; birds, fish, eels, seals (Thames estuary)and even dolphins

A number of famous painters have depicted the Thames in their paintings: Turner, Monet, Canaletto and Whistler, amongst others.

The River Thames began its life in the Jurassic Period – between 170 and 140 million years ago, has changed it’s course over millenia and once flowed into the River Rhine in Germany. Courtesy of wikipedia: For most of the Early Pleistocene the Ancestral Thames was the main river with, at its maximum extent, a catchment area that extended into Wales alongside the Chiltern Hills, through southern East Anglia and finally into Doggerland (now the North Sea), where it joined the ancestral Rhine.

I’m still dithering about whether to start my journey at The Thames Barrier or from Gravesend. If I do start from Gravesend it will mean adding on an extra 2 days, whereas I could rather add on those 2 days at the end to follow the River Churn to Seven Springs. I’ve already walked from Southwark to Gravesend when following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route to Canterbury…..so, I need to make a decision and soon… my start date is 19th April!!

I’m really looking forward to discovering more about the places along the river from Hampton Court onwards to the source.

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A couple of days ago my phone had a bit of a ‘moment’ and wouldn’t switch on!! My heart almost stopped because besides my photos, most of which thankfully are in dropbox, are still in camera memory waiting to be transferred, but as well as that I have dozens of Samsung notes with information on all the walks I plan to do…depending on how long I live of course.

So in order to avoid the stress of losing the information if the phone needs a factory reset, its time to transfer them elsewhere. So why not here. It sets my intention and let’s the universe know I’m still wishing for a sponsor to pay for them all 😉😁😁😁 and from here I can copy paste to dropbox. Of course if dropbox goes down…..🤪🤪🤪😱😱

For starters: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jan/13/how-intention-turns-a-walk-into-a-pilgrimage-5-british-walking-pilgrim-trails

Anyway, here goes. In no particular order as they say on Strictly Come Dancing…..or should that be ‘strictly go walking’…

The Viking Trail, Kent : Cliff’s End to Reculver, Kent, Isle of Thanet – 32 mile (51.4km) / 2 days route on the Isle of Thanet. I’ve already walked the coastal route over various excursions, some of it a number of times. This trail takes you on a coastal walk from Cliff’s End off Pegwell Bay where you can see the Hugin Viking Boat replica, passing through Ramsgate, Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs, Kingsgate, Margate, Westgate, Birchington on Sea to Reculver, where it then heads inland….the inland section I have not yet walked, but I have walked St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury via Minster which is on the route.

Saxon Shore Way, Gravesend to Hastings : http://www.kentramblers.org.uk/KentWalks/Saxon_Shore/153-mile (246 km) / 14 days – as with The Viking Trail, I’ve walked a number of sections of this trail, but now that I’ve bought the book and see the whole route, I’m keen to walk all the way in one go…..we’ll see. The sections I’ve walked are from Gravesend to Faversham when I walked Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route (I diverted inland to Canterbury from Faversham) and from Ramsgate to Dover (this section I’ve walked over a few days in 2020 as part of my quest to walk the entire English Coast). What surprised me when I bought the book, is that the trail goes inland near Margate to Sandwich. But if you’re aware of the Isle of Thanet, then you’d realise that in fact the route did follow the coast at the time, when Thanet was actually an island and cut off from the mainland by the River Wantsum. The route also goes inland from Folkestone to Rye. The ‘historian’ is treated to the “Saxon Shore” forts built by the Romans at Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lympne, to the landing place of St. Augustine and of Caesar (Pegwell Bay) and to defences of more modem times against Napoleon and Hitler.

Celtic Way, Cornwall : https://www.cornishcelticway.co.uk/ 125 miles (200km) / 12 days – from St. Germans to St, Michael’s Mount. There’s a guide book and passport that goes with this walk…I guess I’ll just have to do it “sigh”.

Coast to Coast Britain : 182-mile (293 km) St Bees (west) to Robin Hood’s Bay (east) : passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park. Long Distance Walks This is probably going to be one of those walks that I maybe never get to do; it’s almost a 3 week walk….but hey, add it on.

After reading the book The Salt Path (a true story), I found I was suddenly very keen to walk the South West Coast Path as well, so I’ve added it to my list https://m.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walk-coast-path/south-west-coast-path-national-trail/SWCP-itinerary/

Southwest Coast Path, England : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/south-west-coast-path/ 630 miles (1008kms) / 56 days – this is a walk I would plan to do over a period of time for sure and incorporate it into my quest to walk the entire English Coast.

South Downs Way, England : https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/south-downs-way/ 100 miles (160kms) / 10 days – I’m well keen to walk this route ASAP. Winchester to Eastbourne; follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs.

The Egrets Way, East Sussex, England : https://www.egretsway.org.uk/route 7 miles (11.2kms) / 1 day : from Newhaven’s Riverside Park the Egrets Way follows the course of the River Ouse north to Lewes passing close to the villages of Piddinghoe and Southease. I’ll tie this in with the South Downs Way when I do that route.

The Fosse Way – a Roman route from Exeter to Lincoln, England : https://britishheritage.com/travel/roman-road-fosse-way 240 miles (384kms) / 21-28 a number of days!! I suspect this is going to be one of those walks that I do in sections. I’ve already walked a very tiny section of the ‘way’ in Shepton Mallet last year. During the Roman occupation in Britain (AD 43–410), they built some 8,000 miles of known roads, and to this day many of them underlie our more modern constructions. The name “Fosse” derives from the Latin fossa meaning “ditch”.

Hadrian’s Wall, England – https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/hadrians-wall-path/ The Hadrian’s Wall Path is an 84 mile (135 km) long National Trail stretching coast to coast across northern England, from Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria on the west coast. The National Trail follows the line of the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing through some of the most beautiful parts of England – from rolling fields and rugged borderlands to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle – with dozens of fascinating museums along the way. An absolute must do, I’ve got the dates pencilled in and plans are afoot.

And then we have the 4 pilgrimage routes I’m still keen to walk. I’ve already walked The Pilgrim’s Way 153 miles (244.8kms) and planning to walk St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way in August, but I’d love to walk some of these others as well. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/britain-best-pilgrimage-routes-walking-holidays-uk-b485539.html

Old Way Pilgrimage, England : https://britishpilgrimage.org/old-way/ Southampton to Canterbury a 250 mile (400km) 21-28 days journey. This is quite a lengthy pilgrimage and would require careful planning.

St Cuthbert’s Way, Scotland/Northumberland : https://www.stcuthbertsway.info/ 62.5 Miles (100kms) / 7 days : Melrose in Scotland to Holy Island, Northumberland and onto Berwick-on-Tweed I’m planning this for August 2021

St Oswald’s Way, Heavenfield, Northumberland : https://www.stoswaldsway.com/ 97 miles (155.2kms) / 10 days : Heavenfield from/to Holy Island and onto Berwick-on-Tweed I’m planning this for August 2021 and plan to walk the Northumberland Coast as well https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/

Two Saints Way, Chester, Cheshire West : https://britishpilgrimage.org/portfolio/two-saints-way/  92 miles (147.2 kms) / 9 days : Chester to/from Lichfield

Peddars Way, Suffolk to Norfolk : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/peddars-way-and-norfolk-coast-path/ 49miles (78.4kms) / 5 days : Knettishall Heath Country Park, Suffolk to Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. I’ll tie this in with my plan to walk the entire English Coast (in time) for when I reach Norfolk: Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea; Norfolk’s heritage coast 87miles (139.2kms) / 9 days

Pendleton Hill Witches Walk, Lancashire : https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/The-Pendle-Witches/ 4miles (6.4kms) – a one day circular walk

The London Martyrs Way, London : https://britishpilgrimage.org/portfolio/london-martyrs-way/ 8 miles (12.8kms) / 1 day I’m planning on following this route in April 2021 when I walk the Thames Path. I’ll overnight in London enroute and do the walk, then continue.

And walking in Scotland is a must do…

West Highland Way, Milngavie to Fort William, Scotland : https://www.westhighlandway.org/the-route/  96 miles (154 Km)/10 days. I had planned to walk this route in September 2020, but we all know what happened then!!!

Great Glen Way, Fort William to Inverness, Scotland : https://www.scotlandsgreattrails.com/trail/great-glen-way/ 78 miles (125km)/10 days. This was also planned for 2020; a back to back walk of the 2 ways…but you know…Covid ???

The Rob Roy Way, from Drymen to Pitlochry, Scotland : https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/uswalks/robroyway/index.html  79 miles (125km) / 12 days. Features along the route: Killin. Falls of Dochart. Lochte Tay and Oban lost railway. This walk follows the tracks and paths used by Rob Roy MacGregor in the 17th & 18th centuries as he worked fought and lived the life of Scotland’s most notorious outlaw (I recently read about Rob Roy in Neil Oliver’s book ‘The History of Scotland’).

And then there are these… https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/dec/28/10-best-winter-walks-uk-2019

Of course I’d have to do a Welsh walk or two

Aberglaslyn trail from Beddgelert, Snowdonia, Wales : https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/craflwyn-and-beddgelert/trails/cwm-bychan-and-aberglaslyn-pass-walk 5.7 miles (9.1kms) / 1 day Lovely views of snow-capped Snowdon along the way.

Anglesey Coastal Path, Anglesey Island, Wales https://www.visitanglesey.co.uk/en/about-anglesey/isle-of-anglesey-coastal-path/ 130 miles (200km) / 14 days – I’ve long wanted to walk this route as it would add to my islands for Project 101

Offa’s Dyke, Wales : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/offas-dyke-path/ The 8th century King of Mercia built this mighty earthwork to keep the Welsh out, and it still roughly marks the present England-Wales border, runs coast-to-coast and links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow on the banks of the Severn estuary with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the shores of the Irish sea. 177 miles (285km) / 18 days I’ve walked parts of this route when working in Montgomery.

Follow a river or two…

The Thames Path – Thames Barrier to Cricklade ‘the source’ : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/thames-path/ : 184 miles (294.4kms) / 14 days I have this planned for April 2021, but we all know how fickle Covid is, and how much our government dithers, so although I’ve ‘planned’ to do this walk, a long held dream since I lived in London, I’m not holding my breath!!

The River Severn Path, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Powys, Shropshire, S Gloucestershire, Worcestershire : https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/show_path.php?path_name=Severn+Way 224 miles (360km) : this would require careful planning and I suspect that I would also walk this over 2/3 sections at different times.

Let’s throw a few islands into the mix:

Isle of Wight, England – https://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/walking/coastal-path approximately 67 miles (107.2 kms) 5/6 days : I’ve walked quite a bit of this coastal route already, but I’m very keen to actually walk the whole perimeter in one go…over a period of days of course

Anglesey Island, Wales – as above…. https://angleseywalkingholidays.com/routes/ approximately 140 miles (224kms) / 14 days  The Coast Path is a  circular path around the whole Isle of Anglesey. This is a walk I’ve seen other people do on instagram and I’ve saved the photos!! It looks amazing. I’ve only been on this island twice since arriving in the UK and both times it’s been on a bus in-transit from Ireland to England and visa versa…time to put my feet on the ground and walk.

Isle of Harris, Scotland – Hebridean Way https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/hebrideanway/walking Over the course of 156 miles (252km) / 14+ days : the route goes through 10 islands, crosses 6 causeways and includes two stunning ferry journeys. It is a route of astonishing variety – one day you may be walking on an exquisite deserted beach, with silver shell sand stretching far into the distance. The Hebridean Way walking offers keen hikers a unique opportunity to walk the length of this spectacular archipelago.

And then we have the canals…there are 2,000 miles of canal towpaths you can choose from! Not going to get bored then…these are my 4 favourite routes that I’d love to walk.

Kennett and Avon Canal – London to Bristol : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/kennet-and-avon-canal 87 miles (139.2kms) / 7 or 8 days This is one of my must do canal routes

Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, Somerset : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/bridgwater-and-taunton-canal 14 miles/22.5 kms / 1 day

Leeds & Liverpool Canal, England : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/leeds-and-liverpool-canal 127 miles (203.3kms) 14 days This route includes a World Heritage Site; Saltaire.

Royal Military Canal, Kent : This 28 mile (45km) regal waterway, which was built as a watery defence against Napoleon, runs from Seabrook near Folkestone to Cliff End, near Hastings in Sussex. I’ve walked a small section of this canal near Hythe and it’s beautiful.

How about a viaduct…. or two

Glen Ogle Viaduct, Scotland : http://www.walkscotland.com/route96.htm – I love that the old disused railways have been turned into walking trails. 5 miles/8km I could do this in 2 hours LOL

Avoncliffe Aquaduct on the Kennet & Avon Canal : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/avoncliff-aqueduct

Disused railway walkshttps://www.mountainwarehouse.com/community/spring-time/top-15-rail-trails I especially love the look of The Strawberry Line: Somerset and The Cuckoo Trail: East Sussex and then right on my doorstep The Crab and Winkle Way: Kent I may well investigate these as easy walks to do with my grandson.

Monsal Trail, Peak District, England : https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/trails/monsaltrail The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.

High Peak Trail, Peak District, England : https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/58518/PDNP-White-Peak-Trails-Map.pdf17.5 miles (28 kms) 2 days

Tissington Trail, Peak District, England : website as above 13 miles (20.8kms) / 1 days these 2 trails connect at Parsley Hay (that name alone would make me want to do the walk).

And what about these for good measure….https://www.kent-life.co.uk/out-about/places/waterside-walks-in-kent-1-6674762

Lands End to John O’Groats, Britain : I’m still not sure about this walk…..I may just save it till I run out of ideas for long distance walks and pilgrimage. https://www.landsendjohnogroats.info/route/ 1,111 miles/3 months LOL I may just drive it

Other countries:

Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail, southern Cape, South Africa – https://www.tsitsikamma.info/listing/tsitsikamma_mountain_trail Beginning in Nature’s Valley and ending at either the Storms River Bridge or Village 38.9 miles (62.3km) / 6 days.

Kumano Kodo, Japan : https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html – specifically the Nakahechi trail 19 miles (30 kms) / 2-3 days. I’d love to do this walk in spring over my birthday, then I can see the cherry blossoms too which has been a dream of mine for decades….I may well plan this for 2025 when I visit Australia and New Zealand.

St. Francis Way, Italy : https://www.viadifrancesco.it/en/# 344 miles (550kms) / 28 days a pilgrimage route from Florence through Tuscany, Umbria and Assisi to Rome and its seven pilgrim churches. I’ve purchased this walk via the Conqueror Virtual Challenges and plan to follow this while waking St Cuthbert’s Way & St Oswald’s Way and Hadrian’s Wall in August/September.

NORWAY https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-worlds-northernmost-pilgrimage-route-is-in-norway-and-almost-no-ones-heard/amp?__twitter_impression=true

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this website, but if I ever go walking or camping in Belgium it will be very useful https://welcometomygarden.org/explore Is a brilliant concept. I just wish we had something similar here in the UK.

And finally….”Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…” Wilferd Peterson

I have no idea if I’ll get to do all these walks, but so long as I have life in my legs, I shall give it a damn good go…meanwhile, perhaps my list have given you some ideas of walks to do. I’m going to tie in 4 of my Conqueror Challenges with the 2021 walks I have planned, and I have no doubt that they will come up with a few more that I can add to my itinerary for 2022.

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And finally…I did actually push myself today and managed to finish this challenge

On the border of Nepal and Tibet (autonomous region of China), standing proudly at 29,032ft (8,848m) is Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world and crown jewel of the Himalayas. First summitted in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Everest has since been summitted by over 5,700 people a staggering 10,000+ times. Of course like any high risk activity, accidents and deaths do occur and in the last century just over 300 people have lost their lives on Everest. Although Everest has 17 different routes to the summit, only two of them are primarily used: the North Ridge route from Tibet and Southeast Ridge from Nepal.

As the air continued to thin the remainder of the climb was done with supplemental oxygen, using a full face mask with a rubber tube that connected my mask to a metal cylinder that held the oxygen tucked inside my backpack. The cylinder had a regulator on top that controlled the flow of oxygen.

Heading out from Camp 3 at sunrise I made my way up steep terrain for about 500ft (150m), traversed to a strip of limestone known as Yellow Band, across a stratified (layered) rock-ledge and up a 200ft (60m) at 40 degree angle stepped rock cresting the Geneva Spur. Following a rocky path I arrived at South Col (Camp 4) and had my first view of Everest’s peak. The true summit wasn’t visible from here but I could see most of the route to the South Summit (the secondary summit).

South Col was a waypoint for the final stretch at an elevation of 26,000ft (7,925m). Here I ate what little I could ingest as my appetite waned (a common problem at high altitude as the body no longer metabolises food efficiently), rested and waited for the night to roll in. Most climbers will depart for the summit between 10pm and 2am and take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours to reach the summit.

Wanting to catch the sunrise just before 5am, I checked my gear, put my headlamp on and headed across a broad plateau before ascending the steep 40 degree Triangular Face to the Balcony, a resting platform at 27,500ft (8,380m). Many of the early climbing teams including Edmund Hillary, put in a higher camp here in order to give them a shorter time to the summit and more time to climb in the warmth of the sun. Nowadays it’s rarely used. I took the opportunity to change my oxygen bottle, rest, eat and hydrate.

Once I crossed over 26,246ft (8,000m), I was technically in what is known as the “Death Zone”, where the oxygen is so thin that it is unable to sustain human life. Up here the oxygen level is 33% of what is available at sea level. At this altitude the body uses up its oxygen stores faster than it can replenish and without supplemental oxygen the body deteriorates and shuts down. That is not to say that experienced climbers haven’t succeeded in reaching the summit without supplemental oxygen. In 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first climbers to summit without bottled oxygen. A mere 0.02% have succeeded to summit without oxygen since.

From the Balcony the route took a slight left on gentle terrain till the route moved north and I was met with a 200ft (60m) slab of steep rock and snow terrain. Clipped into my fixed line, I pulled myself up using a jumar (ascending device) and in some exceptional steep sections my crampon points were precariously placed on jutting rock, strongly hoping they wouldn’t slip. It didn’t end here. When I made it above the slab, I was met with an even steeper section with a 60 degrees incline but thankfully it was shorter at around 100ft (30m).

Cresting the South Summit, I stopped for a short hydration break and a snack. From here the next section was a 20ft (6m) vertical drop, followed by the Cornice Traverse, a knife edge-like ridge-crossing to what was once known as Hillary Step. The Step was a nearly vertical rock face of 39ft (12m) and a technically difficult climb but it was destroyed when the region was struck by an earthquake in 2015. What was left were snow steps at 45 degree angles. It was debatable whether this was an easier way to climb but the real loss was the “Hillary Step monument”, a testament to Hillary and Tenzing’s success as the first summiteers.

With the end in sight, it took a further 20minutes to reach the pinnacle of the world. Adorned in prayer flags the summit at 29,032ft (8,848m) was a breathtaking 360 degree view of mountain peaks, glaciers and valleys. I watched the sun rise, casting an orange-red hue across the diminishing night sky as I reflected at the magnitude of this journey.

In Edmund Hillary’s words: “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

And on that note, I’m reminded that for me its about the adventures I have with my walking and over the last 4 years, I have truly conquered quite a lot, albeit not Mt. Everest, I’ve climbed my fair share of mountains – both actual and metaphorical.

Done and dusted

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mt. Everest, and even though it sounds absolutely amazing, I’m still not in the least interested in actually climbing Mt. Everest…I’ll leave that to someone else 😉🧗‍♀️🧗‍♀️🧗‍♀️

Onwards.

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Yesss…..I know!! I said “no more challenges” – don’t criticise me please 🤪😁😁

But I signed up for not one, but TWO of the new Conqueror challenges….how could I resist…I mean seriously, just look at that medal. Is it beautiful or what!!! 🧡🧡

Mount Kilimanjaro https://www.theconqueror.events/kilimanjaro/ can you just imagine what the postcards are going to look like! 🏔🌄🐘🐘🐘 I’ve been hoping they would produce another short-distance challenge that I could squeeze in somewhere this year, and this fits perfectly 97km.

and please don’t tell anyone 🤫🤫🤫but I’ve also signed up for the Kruger Park challenge – since I have visited the Kruger National Park a couple of times in my life, this was a MUST DO. I’m going to do this challenge in memory of my brother Arnold who died when he was in his late 20s from a ruptured ulcer. He would have been 66 in August of this year…. One of my fondest memories of him is on our 1st visit to the Kruger National Park. We were in our mid teens, when my father took us, his 2nd wife, my baby brother Kevin and my younger sister Susan to the KNP. While we were driving there my baby brother threw up all over Arnold’s trousers…..so instead of walking around in his underpants, my father made me give him my bright blue psychedelic bell-bottoms (1970’s fashion) to wear…the top fortunately was long enough for me to be wearing a very short mini-skirt 🤭🤭 It wouldn’t have been quite so bad, except that Arnold had on a burnt orange stripped shirt…paired with bright blue psychedelic patterned pants…not so cool. And that is my over-riding memory of my 1st trip to the KNP. I’m sure we saw lots of animals, but mostly my memories are of that, oh and the breakfasts…I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! The breakfasts were sumptuous.

The pink outfit in this image is pretty much what it looked like, except blue with multi-coloured patterns. If I recall correctly, it was a suit my Mother would have made for me since she was a seamstress and made most of our clothes growing up.

Kruger National Park https://www.theconqueror.events/kruger/ these postcards are going to be amazing!! Looking forward to the information that comes with them.🦓🦏🐘🦒🦛🦁🌅

Anyway, they’re the very first African themed challenges so of course I simply HAD to sign up – Mt. Kilimanjaro whoop whoop Of course my reason for signing up for this one is that my sister and her husband have in fact climbed the REAL Mount Kilimanjaro. I wonder if maybe one day I too will climb it…..??? I got my race bib!! #29 I’m getting closer and closer to #1 But! to my utter dismay, the internet was very slow in my area today and so my race bib number for the KNP is #87 too sad!! 🥺😪😪 damn

This will be my 3rd mountain challenge 1. Mt Fuji 2. Mt. Everest and now 3. Mr Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Kruger National Park

My other race bibs were St Francis Way #149 / Giza Pyramid #178 / Mt Everest #218

If you’d also like to walk these challenges, you can find the details here https://www.theconqueror.events/all-challenges/#hw_card This is not my affiliate link….I’ve already had 39 people sign up under my link which is just crazy….so I’m not using it anymore.

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In the real world, on 22nd of February I was traipsing through the meadows and fields of Salisbury, marginally warmer I’m sure, and a heck of a lot easier 😁😁

With the Himalayas towering on either side of the trail, I trudged on and I say trudged because as you may well imagine fatigue, high altitude, low oxygen level and the constantly changing terrain was having an impact but as you may also imagine the desire to climb Everest was even greater and gave me the impetus to carry on.

The terrain morphed from tundra with low level shrubs to rocks and boulders. It was rugged, remote and massive. Rounding the bend at Dughla, a small hamlet and resting point, I was confronted by a pile of rising rubble where high up on the hill at 16,100ft (4,900m) is the terminus of the Khumbu Glacier, the highest glacier in the world. To the right I could see the glacial meltwater as it was making its way down the hill into the Lobujya River flowing southward as the Imja River and into the Dhudh Kosi.

The next hour’s climb was a steep 656ft (200m) trek to Chukpi Lhara. Set atop a large plateau, Chukpi Lhara is Everest’s memorial ground. Monuments made of stone or cement, some covered in prayer flags were built to honour climbers and Sherpas who lost their lives on Everest. It was a sobering and reflective moment.

Located at the foot of the Khumbu Glacier to the east and the soaring peak of Mount Lobuche East to the west sits the seasonally busy village of Lobuche. The village is the second-last stop for overnight lodging before base camp. Mount Lobuche has two peaks and is differentiated by calling it East and West. Permits are required to climb the mountain with East (20,075ft/6,119m) being classed as a trekking peak, whereas West (20,160ft/6,145m) being classed as an expedition peak. The two peaks are connected by a long and deeply notched ridge with sheer drops on either side making the West peak inaccessible from the East but it can be climbed via the southern shoulder.

I didn’t stop in Lobuche, I pressed on to Gorak Shep the absolutely last place to stay in a lodging. The village was buzzing with trekkers and climbers either coming or going. At an elevation of 16,942ft (5,164m), Gorak Shep was located at the base of Mount Pumo Ri on the edge of a frozen lakebed covered with sand with Khumbu Glacier to the east and Changri Shar Glacier to the west.

The village was completely barren and devoid of vegetation but the peaks were ever-present from every angle. The summit of Kala Patthar on the south ridge of Pumo Ri was a major landmark for any trekker who wanted a clear view of Everest and Nuptse’s peaks. Because of Everest’s structure view of its summit from base camp is blocked by Nuptse. Climbing Kala Patthar was another great way to acclimatise. With an elevation gain of 1,270ft (390m) it was a short-two hour return trip. After a hearty lunch of curry potato and paratha bread for dipping, I was ready for the last trek of the day.

And here I thought I did good climbing halfway up Mt. Snowdon!!! And no, I still can’t do a decent selfie 🤪🤪

November 2017, Mt. Snowdon. My hair was still pink after my Camino in September 🤪🤪🤫

It all sounds absolutely amazing, and the curry potato sounds yummy, but as for the rest of it, I get tired just reading about it and once again I’m ever so glad this is not something I ever have to do 🥶🥶🥶😰😰 it just sounds exhausting.

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