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Posts Tagged ‘project 101’

When I was planning the next stage of my Saxon Shore Way jaunt I noticed that the Isle of Sheppey was very close to the route. And so, since I’m still working on Project 101, I decided to keep this particular stage short, and visit the island while I was there.

The Isle of Sheppey

So to that end, I planned to walk from Sittingbourne to Swale then hop on the train to Queenborough Station and spend some time walking around the island and exploring.

I’m not going to write about the actual walk at this stage because I want to write up the other stages from when I started, so instead I’ll share my brief excursion to my 20th island and 66th bridge of some note.

I got a little more than I bargained for; a very hot day and a very well timed, albeit coincidental event.

I really wasn’t sure about visiting the island coz of reports I’d had from previous visitors, but an opportunity is to taken up at the time. I was pleasantly surprised.

Like most of the south east seaside towns, the spirit of the High Street has been lost and its mostly charity shops and cafรฉs and adhoc shops with a few interesting independent shops interspersed. But I wasn’t here for the shopping…so onwards

Sheerness-on-Sea High Street

The clock tower is very pretty and I enjoyed a lot of the architecture.

The Clock Tower
A church
Some lovely houses
Loved these

A bonus windmill

After a short excursion through Sheerness-on-Sea, I headed for the beach planning on first cooling my feet in the sea (my daughter suggested I strip down to my underwear and go for a swim ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช Don’t want to scare the locals!! Instead I just stood with my feet in the water…bliss!

Cool water blissful

And then because I’m insane and generally like punishing myself, I decided to walk along the promenade till it ran out and then walk inland to Minster-on-Sea. Why? Seriously. I do have some daft ideas. It was 25degrees and blazing hot, but I may never visit again, so….

The coastline is absolutely gorgeous, albeit mostly stones and little beach – ouch!!

I had planned on walking to that little promontory in the distance
Getting closer
But ultimately I walked much further. Was delighted to see this
That water was ever so inviting. I could quite easily have gone for a swim
Facing out to sea, in case the Vikings decide to invade the east coast again, they’ll be welcome ๐Ÿ˜€
Some pretty artwork where I turned inland

The bonus surprise came just before I left the Saxon Shore Way for the train station ๐Ÿš‰ to Sheppey. I was sitting on a lovely bench eating my lunch when I heard the warning signal and looked behind me. I noticed a section of the bridge being raised and then I saw the tanker making its way upstream…

The bonus

It reminded me of how Tower Bridge lifts when large vessels enter London Pool. Ever so exciting to watch these innovative feats of engineering. Lucky me.

My thoughts on the Isle of Sheppey? I loved it, and will return another day and spend more time walking, especially through the nature reserve.

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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 ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ and from here I can copy paste to dropbox. Of course if dropbox goes down…..๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

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 Newhavenโ€™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 43โ€“410), they built some 8,000 miles of known roads, and to this day many of them underlie our more modern constructions. The name โ€œFosseโ€ derives from the Latin fossa meaning โ€œditchโ€.

Hadrian’s Wall, England – https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/hadrians-wall-path/ The Hadrianโ€™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 Hadrianโ€™s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing through some of the most beautiful parts of England โ€“ from rolling fields and rugged borderlands to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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 Natureโ€™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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Its extraordinary to realise that Salisbury has had a twice weekly market since 1227!

I popped over yesterday to try find some avocado but unfortunately I didn’t find any nice ones. Instead I did find some local farmers free range eggs and promptly bought a half dozen. I avoid eggs as much as possible because I don’t know their provenance and I do know that the supermarkets ‘free range eggs’ are not truly ‘free range’. I had 2 for my supper and the first one I cracked had a double yolk ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

The market was in full swing when I got there, but not nearly as busy as I would have thought, but with Covid…its to be expected.

The colours on a grey day were a welcome sight, and although my time was limited, I did manage to whizz around and look at all the stalls.

I saw these delicious olives, and was tempted…maybe Tuesday

Yummy

Later during my break, I walked through enroute from here to nowhere in particular, and it looked bereft…hardly anyone about. I guess the weather doesn’t help.

Intrigued by the date, I did a bit of research, and this is what I found. The market has been held in Salisbury since 1219 with the founding of the city, and the cathedral. At the time Salisbury was the largest city in the region and offered an opportunity for farmers and traders to sell their produce and wares.

In 1361, market days were formalised and decreed to be held every Tuesday and Saturday, a tradition that continues until today. In medieval times, the market was much larger than it is today, and even spread down side streets. The streets in the area reflect the types of goods sold during medieval times; Fish Row, Silver Street, Butcher Row and the Poultry Cross.

Poultry Cross
Butcher Row
Silver Street
Fish Row
Salt Lane
This intrigued me ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„ Chipper Lane..

I wonder, did they have the equivalent of today’s chippy…?

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many a market in towns around the country over the years, but even so, the amazement of the history never wanes.

Salisbury was a settlement in Domesday Book, in the hundred of Alderbury, mentioned in the chapters for Wiltshire and Somerset.

It had a recorded population of 102 households in 1086, putting it in the largest 20% of settlements recorded in Domesday, and is listed under 2 owners in Domesday Book.

For more information about Salisbury and The Domesday Book, visit their site

And if that’s not enough history for you….Salisbury Cathedral is home to a copy of the Magna Carta too ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Except for a very early morning walk, I didn’t do any serious walking on New Year’s day, or the 2nd January, and rather spent those days with my lovely family and some Granny time with my beloved grandson. But I got going again on the 3rd January and once again managed to get in a really decent amount of kms. Its brilliant walking early in the morning along the coast, I hardly ever see anyone about, and as a bonus, if the weather is fine, I get to watch the sunrise. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Sunrise – 3rd January 2021 Isle of Thanet

So here we go…stage 3 of the Alps to Ocean route…

I enjoyed some exploring in Twizel. It’s the largest town in the region which unsurprisingly triples in population during the summer period.

Alps to Ocean – Twizel ๐Ÿ˜ƒ what a name

The town is relatively young having been founded in 1968 to house construction workers on the hydro scheme. Clever town planning placed all the services and schools in the centre with housing surrounding the central hub. Pedestrian paths straight into the centre made it more direct for residents to walk instead of driving the looped roads to get to the same destination. When the scheme wound up 15 years later the local residents successfully fought to save their town.

To the south of town is Lake Ruataniwha, an artificial lake formed in the late 1970s as part of the Hydro scheme. The lake is fed by Ohau River to the west and the overflow discharged from Lake Ohau further west. At 3mi (4.5km) long the lake is open to water enthusiasts with activities such as sailing, water skiing and rowing. I chose to stand-up paddle board but those mountainous views and blue lake were spellbinding. I should’ve just sat on a boat and soaked up the landscape.

Since I was already dressed for water activities I ducked across the State Highway to a waterhole I wanted to swim in. As blue as Lake Pukaki was, this ‘no name’ waterhole was emerald green greatly emphasised by the reflection of the willow trees on the waterhole’s edge. There was a time when the swimming hole was part of the Ohau River before the nearby dam and artificial lake disrupted the river’s flow and greatly reduced its size in the east separating the swimming hole from what is left of the river. If you have a satellite view of the waterhole it looks like a big emerald green bath.

Back in the late 1800s when Ohau River had its natural flow, crossing it was done by wire rope and a cage. In 1890 they built, what is now referred to as, the Old Iron Bridge. It served travellers for the next 80 years until the Hydro scheme came into the area, built Lake Ruataniwha, realigned the State Highway and bypassed the iron bridge. The bridge is now listed on NZ Historic Places Trust. A small monument can be found near the lake in memory of a mother and child who drowned in 1879 whilst fording, illustrating the difficulties and dangers of crossing the Ohau River at the time.

There’s another swimming hole called, Loch Cameron, northwest of Twizel, worthy of a visit but if I hoped to get to my next destination sometime today, I had to get cracking with my journey.

Making my way out of Twizel via the southern edge of Lake Ruataniwha, I followed the trail along the west side of Ohau River to Ohau weir. The weir is a low head dam that was constructed with a siphon to maintain a minimum flow into the Ohau River but conversely may overflow restricting access to travellers. Not needing to concern myself with flooding, I enjoyed my travel along the shore of Lake Ohau reaching the village for some lakeside dining and background view of Ben Ohau range.

Just for fun, and because I’m totally interested in finding out more, I did a Google maps search of Twizel and Lake Pukaki, then looked for images. OMG…its is breathtakingly beautiful!!! That water and the landscape… wowww. I’d probably end up wanting to stay ๐Ÿคญ๐Ÿคญ๐Ÿคญ

After this my wings were clipped, so to speak, and I started a new booking on the 4th January so my real time walking has been limited to 2 hours a day, weather permitting, which of course impacts my distances. Too sad.

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Immediately after finishing the Mt. Fuji challenge, and without further ado, I started my next challenge: the Alps to Ocean route in New Zealand on 30th December 2020.

This brought me to the end of the year and helped me to reach my Conquer 2020 goal of 2,020 kms.

And off we go….from one mountain on an island to another mountain on an island…

Imagine crisp alpine air, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, milky lakes and starlit nights. The training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary’s climbing skills in preparation for Everest. The legendary story of Aoraki and his three brothers. These are just some of the highlights of Mount Cook.

Stage 1

At 12,217ft (3,724m) tall Mount Cook is located on the South Island and the tallest mountain in New Zealand. It sits within the Mount Cook National Park which runs 37mi (60km) in a southwest-northeast direction. Home to more than 400 flora and fauna the national park is part of the Te Wฤhipounamu South Westland World Heritage Site. The park is also home to 35 species of birds, including the only alpine parrot called Kea.

When I was looking into Mount Cook, I was wondering about the 98ft (30m) height discrepancy between different written sources. Further investigations revealed that in 1991 an avalanche of 350 million cubic feet (10Mmยณ) of snow and rock followed by twenty years of erosion had shrunk the mountain’s elevation by 98ft (30m).

Of the twelve largest glaciers in New Zealand, eight of them are within the park with Tasman Glacier being the longest at 15mi (24km). The glacier terminates in the Tasman Lake which up until the 1990s never existed. The lake was formed due to rapid glacial melting whilst the glacier itself continues to recede annually by as much as 2,697ft (822m). It is anticipated that within a few decades the glacier will be completely gone and the lake fully formed.

The lake’s primary outflow is the alpine braided Tasman River which flows south for 16mi (25km) through the Tasman Valley and into Lake Pukaki. The glacier, lake and river were named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who in 1642 was the first European to sight the northwest coast of NZ’s South Island.

My journey begins at the base of Mount Cook, northwest of the river. Needing to cross the river to connect to Rotten Tommy trail, I took a short helicopter flight. The aerial view of this glacially-fed river and Mount Cook was a sight to behold. From Rotten Tommy, I took a southward bound route alongside the Tasman River. Although part of the route was quite rough and I had to cross several creeks, eventually the track changed to gravel road and made it easier to navigate towards my first overnight stop. Being a clear and sunny day, I had the treat of seeing Mount Cook in the distance rising above the lower snow-capped peaks in the National Park.

Before I go let me tell you about the Ngฤi Tahu legend. The story goes that once the “Gods existed in the midst of a great sea of nothingness” and Raki, the Sky Father and Pokoharua-te-po, his wife had four sons, all living in the heavens. Raki left his wife to be with Papatuanuku, the Earth Mother, and together they created the world. Aoraki, the eldest son of Raki, along with his three brothers came from the heavens with a canoe in an attempt to persuade their father to return to their mother. Upon seeing him together with his new wife, the brothers knew Raki would never return. The brothers decided to go home but unfortunately their canoe wouldn’t rise and following strong winds and rising seas, the canoe overturned tipping the brothers into the water. Climbing atop the upturned canoe they waited for help. As time passed with no help coming, they eventually turned to stone. The canoe became the Southern Island and the brothers became the Southern Alps with Aoraki (Mount Cook) being the highest peak.

It all sounds absolutely amazing. I’m really going to have to seriously consider planning to walk these routes for real as part of my Project 101, especially if I want to see that glacier before it disappears completely – I’ve got just over 4 years to saveโ€ฆ

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Or Stage pre-2 ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

Oooopps, it seems I missed a stage on my Mt. Fuji virtual walk, and frankly it’s a pretty awesome stage, so even though I missed the email (found whilst tidying up my mailbox last night), I thought I’d share it anyway. So here it is; the correct Stage 2…

Mt. Fuji – Aokigahara Forest

Aokigahara nicknamed Sea of Trees and at times infamously referred to as Suicide Forest, is a dense, moss-covered forest that sits within the Hakone Izu National Park. Registered as a National Natural Treasure the forest was born out of an eruption from Mount Fuji about 1,200 years ago, when new trees started sprouting from cooled lava. Because the forest is formed on top of dried magma, trees are unable to grow their roots deep into the ground. Although the thickness of the soil is only 10cm, the forest is filled with evergreen conifers, Mongolian oak, Fuji cherry and maple trees.

Hiking trails have been paved in the forest for visitors but anyone veering off the designated path can easily get lost and be difficult to rescue. Plastic tapes can often be seen rolled out to mark the path and assist visitors to find the way out. Then there are times when people have no intention of coming out and getting lost is a means to ending it all.

When I entered one of the trails on Aokigahara it was with the intent to find Fugaku Wind Cave and Narusawa Ice Cave. The trail was wide, well-marked and well-maintained with sunlight streaming through the canopies of the trees. I needn’t worry that I might get lost.

Fugaku Wind Cave was a 659ft (201m) long lateral cave accessed via a staircase. Due to its natural ventilation and year-round average temperature of 37ยฐF (3ยฐC) the cave was used as a refrigerator during the 17th to early 20th century to store the eggs of silkworms.

Narusawa Ice Cave was a looped 492ft (150m) lava tube that maintained the same temperature as Fugaku and was also used as a natural fridge during the pre-electric refrigerator era. A small section of the cave was only 3ft (91cm) high where I needed to walk sideways in order to see remnants of trees from a thousand years ago. Ice pillars begin forming over the winter period here reaching their maximum size by April. They can grow up to 10ft (3m) high and as thick as 20in (50cm) wide.

Leaving the forest, trail and caves behind, I proceeded to trek through urban areas to Lake Kawaguchi.

Doesn’t that description just make you want to go there right now? Imagine all the cool photos you could capture!! I’d spend a whole day there if I could, besides being described as the Suicide Forest, it looks so invitingly peaceful and calm.

I’m sure if we stayed still long enough, and looked hard enough, we’d see faeries.

And as for those caves…..oh my gosh, bring it on!!!

If you missed the start of this (my) challenge, click here to read Stage 1 of the Mt. Fuji Conqueror challenge

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After a brief walk this morning, to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after being indoors yesterday due to icy roads after the snow, I updated my kms to the Conqueror Challenge app and voila, another postcard arrived into my mailbox ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ I get really excited when these cards arrive…its fun to see where I’ve been travelling virtually while walking in reality.

So stage two:

Having left the alps and peaks behind, the town of Omarama marked the halfway point of my journey. Although a small rural town, mainly a service centre for locals and nearby residents, Omarama had a few surprises up its sleeve.

Disney’s 2020 movie release of Mulan was entirely shot in New Zealand with scenes filmed at the Clay Cliffs just outside of Omarama.

In 2009, NZ pilot Terry Delore set a new world record in his 87ft (26.5m) wingspan glider. Taking off from Omarama, Terry travelled 1,491mi (2,400km) up and down NZ for 15 hours reaching speeds of up to 93mph (160kph) before landing back in town. Omarama has strong gliding conditions making it a popular destination for gliding pilots. Omarama hosted the 1995 and 2007 World Gliding Championships of which Kiwis took first place in the 1995 open category and third place in 2007.

For the weary soul like myself, a Hot Tub soak the night before to rejuvenate my muscles and unwind was just what I needed. The Hot Tub was located outside in a private setting within a tussock and rock landscape. The tub was filled with fresh mountain water without any chemicals added. The business reuses the water for irrigation. A submersible firebox allowed me to adjust the water’s temperature. As I settled in, I watched the Milky Way appear and spill across the night sky with its millions of stars.

Eastward bound, I left Omarama refreshed and ready to tackle the next half of the journey. The trip was relatively easy and short when compared to previous days. The first half of the trail was off-road running parallel to the State Highway on the right. Crossing at Chain Hills to the left of the highway I began my descent alongside Lake Benmore, the largest artificial lake in NZ.
Lake Benmore was created in the 1960s as part of the Benmore Dam construction. The lake is split into two arms. The largest is fed by three rivers, Tekapo, Pukaki and Twizel plus the Ohau canal with Waitaki River flowing right through the lake, whereas the smaller arm is fed by Ahuriri River.

It is this smaller arm that I travelled along to Pumpkin Point, a grassy beach area, for a break and a splash in the lake, then onto Sailors Cutting where the off-road trail terminates and I join the highway for the rest of today’s trip. Not the most relaxing part of the journey as I braved the high-speed highway with an upward climb to Otematata Saddle. The views of Lake Aviemore and the valley beyond was a lovely compensation until I continued on the busy highway downhill all the way into Otematata.

Hmmm. The more I’m reading about this, the more I’m thinking I should add this route to the itinerary for my pending trip to Australia in a few years time. I’ve included a trip to NZ but only to visit the main attractions as well as a friend and her daughter (if she’s still living there at the time and not somewhere else in the world, as she is wont to do ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ). The route is approx 290kms and would take about 12-14 days to complete. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

Where I actually walked this morning
Where I ‘virtually’ walked

If you’d like to join these challenges, here is my link https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474 – I don’t get any money from anyone joining, but you get a discount and I get a discount on any future challenges. However, I’ve already signed up for 15 challenges (8 completed in 2020), so I think I need to put the brakes on for this year ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ™ƒ๐Ÿ˜†

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I’ve often seen posts where people do a round up of the places they’ve been in any particular month or year, so I thought I’d do a first quarter round up of the places I’ve been since January 1st. I saw in the New Year in front of the telly at home with my daughter and future son-in-law LOL Although I used to love going into London to watch the New Year fireworks live, since they introduced the ยฃ10 admittance fee and having to queue for hours before getting in, I’ve decided….no more!

As part of the #walk1000 miles challenge for 2018, I’ve kept note of the km’s/miles covered on my various excursions, via mapmywalk. Some of the walks look like a drunken spider has been let loose! But what fun to look at the maps afterwards and see the places I walked through.

January 2018 – walked 41 miles

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London’s New Year fireworks on the telly. Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales and Chirbury, Shropshire

February 2018 – walked 48 miles

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Nottingham

March 2019 – walked 63 miles

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Chester

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a walk along the Chester Canal to Christleton, a Domesday Book Village

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Quex Park and a tour of the towers

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Fordham, Wicken, Soham

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Ely

ely, ship of the fens, exexning, domeday book towns, explore ely, project 101, Exning; birthplace of St Etheldreda and home of Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni

Exning; birthplace of St Etheldreda and home of Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni

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Ely Cathedral

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Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely

And there it is; my first quarter round up of places I’ve been in January, February and March of 2018, and 152 miles from 01/01/18-31/03/2018 – I’m slacking and need to get out more if I want to reach my 1000 mile target. I had thought I’d stretch myself this year and aim for 2018 miles (LOL – yeah right) but most of the jobs I’ve had so far haven’t been conducive to much time for walking. I haven’t kept track of every step I’ve taken, and only count #bootson walks where I specifically set off to ‘have a walk’. My pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury in August/September will add at least 133 miles to the total, but even so…..

I wonder what April, May and June will bring. I know that most of May will be spent at home, what with my daughter’s impending wedding and everything involved with that, as well as which I’ll be flying in a Spitfire from Biggin Hill for my birthday later on this month….watch this space ๐Ÿ™‚ I wonder if I can add ‘flying’ to my miles hahaha. I’m also planning a walk from Broadstairs to Folkestone later this month and a trip ‘up noooth’ for 3 days which will add a substantial mileage as I explore the city, however I shall have to motivate myself to get out more inbetween times.

 

 

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I spent a couple of days in Chester last week and finally got to see the Eastgate Clock.

I’ve often seen photos of the clock on the internet; on instagram and travel sites, but didn’t realise at the time that the clock resides on the actual Roman city walls.

The Eastgate Clock in Chester

The Eastgate Clock in Chester

When I arrived in Chester on Wednesday, the first thing I did was walk into the city to see the clock. It was quite late and already dark, so all I managed to do was take a couple of very dark images.

The following day, at the Tourist information office is when I discovered to my delight that it was situated right above the city walls, and a walk around the city walls was on my list of things to do.

How amazing it was to not only see the clock up close, but to be able to walk along the beautifully preserved walls, along which Roman soldiers had once tramped in their leather sandals.

Roman city walls in Chester

Roman city walls in Chester

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I’m totally in love with Chester. I may just move here ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š It’s been a real mixed bag of weather starting with rain just after I arrived, sleet at about 9am yesterday, then rain which soaked me to the skin (I eventually dried out). Besides the weather it’s been an awesome stay with a fantastic walk around the city and perambulation along the Roman city walls when the skies cleared. What an extraordinary city.

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Dewa – Roman Chester

I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to walk along ancient streets, the galleried balconies of The Rows, and strolling along walls along which Roman soldiers and King Charles I amongst many other historical figures have walked. So exciting.ย ย ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Ancient streets, The Rows, city gates

So today I took a walk along the canal and ended up in a village called Christleton. To my delight it turned out to be a Domesday Book Village. I started early (08.05) and since it was such a gorgeous day and my last full day, I decided to make the most of it and walk a short way….well a short way turned into a few miles and by 9am I was in Christleton.

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Chester Canal

The canal was stunning with a number of locks, a few small humped bridges, lots of colourful canal boats and a number of fabulous canal-side properties.

christleton, chester canal

canalside properties

Although I had not been my intention to walk that far, I’m absolutely thrilled that I did. I explored the village and the little church that literally opened as I got there, then stopped for tea and toast at the Ring O’Bells pub; so cosy I could have stayed all day…

christleton, domesday book village, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Christleton – Domesday Book Village

but I had a city to explore, so jumping on the next bus to Chester, I arrived shortly after 11.20.

Since I had alighted near to the fantastic Church of St John the Baptist, I stopped off there first and was just in time to hear the 12noon chimes. This church is extraordinary with a history that stretches back to the 7th century. Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time. Founded in 689 AD by Aethelred King of Mercia, it was enlarged by Aethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great and her husband in AD 907. This is one of those churches where if you don’t go in and do research afterwards, you regret not stopping. It is stunning.

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Church of St John the Baptist, Chester

With Norman architecture and pillars adorned with not only Mason marks but ancient frescoes amongst which is a 13th C image of St John the Baptist, memorials from the 17th century, a wooden Jacobean screen, an organ built for the Coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey, rebuilt and installed here, Saxon and Viking stones dating from 900-1100 and examples of medieval tombstones including the grave slab for Agnes de Ridley wife of a sheriff of Chester, and so much more, you could stay for hours.

church of st john the baptist, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Mason marks, medieval paintings

In the grounds surround the church are some amazing ruins of the older church, one of which contains a very bizarre object; a coffin shaped hole in the top of the wall. Very bizarre. This church too suffered at the hands of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops.

church of st john the baptist, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Chapel of St John the Baptist, Chester

From there I revisited the Roman Amphitheatre “When he saw the blood, it was as though he had drunk a deep draught of savage passion. He fixed his eyes upon the scene and took in all its frenzy ….He watched and cheered and grew hot with excitement” St Augustine Confessions 6.8 Having followed The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury last year, finding this link was quite exciting.ย  Chester’s amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain and could seat 7,000 spectators; a powerful symbol of Roman supremacy on the edge of the empire. I walked right around the amphitheatre, imagining I could hear the cheers, jeers, shouts and screams and the roar of the crowds ringing in my ears. I wonder what it must have been like in Roman times…brutal I should guess. The spectacle that the crowds could see in the arena wild beast fights, public executions and gladiatorial combats, were not just bloodthirsty entertainment, they were rituals that expressed Roman values. While I was there a Roman soldier followed by a gaggle of noisy schoolchildren entered the arena and soon there were full-blooded cries echoing off the walls. What a terrific way to learn history!!! I think I must go back to school…in Chester!

chester roman amphitheatre, chester, city of chester, things to do in chester, explore chester, cities of england

The Roman Amphitheatre, Chester

Leaving the amphitheatre I walked through the Roman Gardens located right next to the city walls where you can see various artefacts as well the ruins of Roman baths, one of the most impressive buildings of the Chester fortress. Here again was a Roman soldier putting a gaggle of children through their soldier paces….with fierce screams and stamping feet. Too much fun!!

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The Roman Gardens, Chester

Chester was known as the Roman Fort of Deva and there is a charming little exhibition that you can visit – the Dewa Roman Experience; experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Chester.ย ย Just offย  Bridge Street, I popped in for a thoroughly enjoyable ‘quick’ visit. Absolutely worth the time, the cost of the ticket minimal and less than 2 cups of coffee.ย  The kids will love it.

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Dewa Roman Experience, Chester

http://www.dewaromanexperience.co.uk/experience.html

After whizzing through this delightful exhibition, a brisk walk took me through the centre of the city and onto the cathedral where I joined the FREE ground floor tour at 1.30pm. Wow, I wish I had a photographic memory or at least a tape recorder. The guides ply you with so many fascinating and interesting snippets of information, it’s quite overwhelming. Suffice to say, it is well worth the hour and it’s free. Times: 11:00 13:30 15:00

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Chester Cathedral

After this fascinating hour tour I joined the 60 minute Tower Tour at 3pm (ยฃ8) a very well spent ยฃ8 and 60 minutes; fascinating history and stunning views -we walked up along the narrow passageways around the church looking down onto the floor and up close and personal with the stained glass windows, stopped off in the ringing chamber, had a look at the fantastic bells, and then onto the roof for stupendous 360 degree views of Chester and as far as the Welsh mountains. I stood on the spot where Charles I stood during the Civil War and nearly had his head blown off….after which he ‘forsook the city and made haste elsewhere’. The views outdoors were just as fabulous as the views indoors and being up close to the ceiling was amazing, they are so beautiful. All too soon the tour was over and we returned to the floor of the cathedral. Absolutely fantastic.

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Tower Tour of Chester Cathedral

After a quick cup of tea and cake (included in the Tower Tour price) I made a dash through the streets to the Chester Museum and entered with like 10 minutes to spare, so all I got to see were the Roman exhibitions, which were amazing. It’s so exciting to see items that were made nearly 2,000 years ago and I guess I shall just have to return to Chester for a 2nd visit ๐Ÿ™‚

chester museum, roman chester, things to do in chester, visit chester

Chester Museum

Talking of which, I was scrolling through my photos and was reminded of a walk that was of interest; The Two Saints Way – a 92 mile walk from Chester to Lichfield…I’ve ordered the book and started planning hahahaha.

two saints way chester to lichfield, walks in england, saints of england, chester cathedral, things to do in chester

Two Saints Way – Chester to Lichfield

After my quick visit I headed over to Spud You Like to see the remains of a Roman Hypocaust…wowwww. Now that was seriously impressive. I had to plead and beg and ask very nicely to go in as they had actually just closed for the day, but the young lass on the door heeded my entreaties and let me walk across her nice clean floor and run downstairs to have a look; so just a couple of very quick photos and a touch of the stones and my visit was over. I was disappointed as I had planned on having supper there LOL. Oh well. Sadly I was also told that they were closing as of end March as the lease had run out. What a shame.

chester, roman city of chester

Roman Hypocaust, Chester

And that brought my visit to Chester to a close. I walked back towards the Town Hall looking for something different to eat and ended up at Blackstock’s Fish and Chips. I ordered the battered fish and a portion of chips and mushy peas. Very very disappointing. For a higher price, I got perhaps a 1/4 of the amount of chips I had at Adam’s Fish and Chips and although the chips tasted nice they were not a patch on the ones I had at Adam’s. The fish was tasty but small and to my utter dismay the mushy peas were not only tasteless and vinegary, but they were served in a polystyrene cup and plastic cutlery. Not good enough. When you visit Chester and fancy a cone of chips and fish…try Adam’s Fish & Chips on Bridge Street. ๐Ÿ˜‰

After my meal I strolled through the city, sad to be leaving so soon I felt I could have stayed another day. I will seriously have to go back…perhaps when I do the Two Saints Walk.

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