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And tah dah!!!! I’m done! I reached Stage 9 and the end of my Alps to Ocean challenge on 2nd February. Hoorah.

Finally here I am 180miles (290km) later, having travelled from the alps of Mount Cook, along multiple lakes, countless connecting rivers, past seven Waitaki Hydro power stations, various mountain ranges, through tussock grasslands, beside electric fences (do not touch) to arrive in the urban town of Oamaru on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Oamaru is the largest town in the region and renowned for its Victorian precinct. A commercial streetscape, the Neoclassical architecture is a result of Scottish architect and engineer, Thomas Forrester, who emigrated with his family to NZ in 1861. Arriving in Oamaru to supervise the construction of the Bank of Otago, Forrester stayed on and shortly afterwards was integral to the construction of the Oamaru Harbour. Taking samples from the harbour floor, he deduced that the seabed could be dredged permitting the development of a deep water anchorage. This in turn allowed large ocean-going vessels to safely steer in and out of the harbour. Forrester then changed direction and together with his business partner, over a period of three decades, designed and built the various commercial buildings that still stand today. The precinct bustles with cafes, antiquity shops, bookshops and galleries. Each year it conducts the Victoria Fete, a one day fundraising event with stalls, music, food and period costumes. The funds raised go towards the ongoing care and restoration of the Victorian buildings.

For steampunk enthusiasts, inside one of the Victorian buildings is Steampunk HQ showcasing a collection of quirky items in retro-futuristic sci-fi style whilst outside is a full size train engine spitting fire and billowing smoke. Promoting sustainability and recycling Steampunk HQ collaborates with like-minded artists on projects to continue expanding the collection. Wish you could join me for a steampunk-Victorian era inspired dress-up and for a time feel like we have been transported into an alternative 19th century England.

At the north end of the Victorian precinct is the oldest public garden in NZ. When the town was surveyed in 1858 an area of 34 acres was set aside as a public reserve. Eighteen years later in 1876, the Oamaru Botanical Gardens was opened. Besides the flower beddings, bushes and trees the garden is dotted with various attractions such as the Japanese red bridge, Oriental garden, croquet lawn, sundial, aviary, peacock house, an Italian marble fountain and the Wonderland Statue made by the famous Scottish sculptor Thomas J Clapperton which he donated to the children of Oamaru in 1926. Thomas also made the bronze soldier sculpture on the World War 1 Memorial in Oamaru and is famous for his Robert the Bruce sculpture adorning the entrance of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

As I stand on the end of the pier and look across the expanse and vastness of the Pacific Ocean, I wonder at its hidden stories, sunken ships and deep trenches. I wonder what Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan was thinking when in 1521 he sailed across the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean and was inspired to name it Mar Pacifico which translates as Peaceful Sea. It’s certainly questionable when you consider the heavy swells, the earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis that have battered many Pacific islands and sometimes obliterated complete towns. When I consider the depth and perpetual darkness of the Mariana Trench or the Pacific Rim with the highly active Ring of Fire, peaceful is not something that comes to mind but it is intriguing and fascinating.

This has been such a fascinating journey, it is indeed intriguing. I mean snippets like this are just awesome: Mar Pacifico which translates as Peaceful Sea, although I’m not too sure about the earthquakes et al.

Albeit a virtual journey, it’s made more exciting with the postcards and the information you receive as you reach each stage, and how much I’d love to see that train!! I’ve learned more about New Zealand than I ever knew, as well as from my previous challenges: Mt. Fuji in Japan, The Great Ocean Road in Australia, Ring of Kerry in Ireland etc They’ve all been so interesting.

So far I’ve completed 9 challenges which includes the Conquer 2020 challenge which was a sum total of all my challenges and more in 2020. My favourite so far has been Hadrian’s Wall and I never did get to blog about it…I only thought about sharing these challenges on my blog while I was doing Mt. Fuji because it was so fascinating. I’ll try to blog about the others, but I’ll stick with the shorter ones otherwise it gets too tedious for everyone….anyway, The Ring Road in Iceland is 1,332kms long and I imagine has lots of postcards LOL and the St Francis Way is 503 kms…so likewise.

But I’m starting the Mt. Everest challenge next, and then the Giza Pyramids challenge after I’ve done The Cabot Trail in Canada, so I’ll share that at the time. Of course I may just change my mind and blog about The Cabot Trail too πŸ˜‰ And here is my certificate. Seriously, within seconds of updating the app, the final postcard and certificate land in my mailbox. I’m going to make books from all of them for each walk….will be fun to look back on one day when I’m older, and infirm and unable to walk far….if I live that long LOL

Not too bad eh!! 5 weeks and not every day walked

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You have received a new postcard! πŸ™Œ its ridiculous how excited I get when I post a day’s mileage to my app and within seconds I hear the ping of a new email πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ I reached Stage 8 on 28th January, and

It’s with mounting excitement that I realise I’m nearing the end of my virtual journey on the Alps to Ocean route in New Zealand. I started off the challenge on 30th December 2020, and except for a few days along the Kent coast, the majority of my walking has been in the countryside of Throwley, near Faversham – still in Kent.

I’ve been hard put to get my kms in because I only get a 2 hour break each day and some days due to weather I’ve not been able to walk at all. I set my initial goal at 5 weeks but was hoping to complete the challenge in 4 weeks. However, that plan was scuppered when the booking was extended for 3 weeks. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” Nonetheless, I’m not complaining, I’ve enjoyed my stay in Throwley and with another 10 days to go till I leave (as of the 28th), I’m hoping to finish the Alps to Ocean challenge and start on the Giza Pyramids…meanwhile

Stage 8
Stage 8

The small farming-town of Duntroon is home to around 120 residents. It’s main economy is largely sheep farming and crop growing such as wheat and barley.

The town was bestowed its name by one of a handful of Robert Campbells that emigrated from the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand. It took quite a bit of unravelling and genealogical construction to discover which of the four generations of Robert Campbells was the relevant one associated with Duntroon. It seems that the name Robert was greatly favoured in the family.

The first Robert (#1) was a grand-uncle from Scotland who was the first merchant in the 1788 British colony New South Wales (Australia) and later a politician. Having built a private wharf at the time he is now referred to as “Campbell of the Wharf”. He had a son named Robert but his brother, John, also had a son named Robert (#2).

This nephew, Robert (#2), arrived in Sydney in 1806 and by 1818 he was the Director and afterwards the President of the first formal bank in Sydney, the Bank of NSW, today known as Westpac. Having also built himself a mercantile business on Bligh Street, Sydney, he became known as “Campbell of Bligh Street”. This Robert, unsurprisingly had a son also called Robert (#3), who was born in Sydney but chose to return to England and became a Member of Parliament from which he was unfortunately unseated threes month later. To distinguish him from previous Roberts’ he was given the appellation “Robert Campbell Tertius” meaning the third.

Finally the relevant Robert (#4), son of Robert Campbell Tertius, who was born in England in 1843, travelled to New Zealand early 1860s to either buy or lease land on behalf of the family. Robert became a successful sheep farmer, property owner and later politician. Together with his father, he owned a sheep station in the Waitaki District upon which they built a small town they named, Duntroon, a Scottish name possibly as homage to their ancestry and their ties to Clan Campbell of Argyll, Scotland.

Robert’s (#4) wife, Emma, bequeathed Β£6,000 to the parochial district with instructions to build a church for the benefits of Church of England members. The result was St Martin’s Anglican Church in a 14th century Gothic style, built out of limestone quarried in a nearby region. The side church door bears the Clan Campbell coat of arms. Sadly both Robert and Emma died childless and within a few months of each other.

By 1875 much of the acquired Campbell lands became plagued by rabbits that were imported in the 1830s and released for sport. Unable to curtail their rapid reproduction rate, by the early 1880s the pastures were depleted and hillsides eroded. This in turn produced lower quality wool thereby affecting the prices of wool. In the end, the devastation wrought in the region forced many sheep station owners into bankruptcy and the Campbell’s businesses in NZ were eventually wound up and ceased operating by 1920.

Just off the main highway is the Vanished World Heritage Centre, a fossil and geology museum that includes the fossils of two species of extinct genus of large penguins from around 27-28MYA. Known as Archaeospheniscus, the species is about the size of an Emperor Penguin. There was a third species, albeit a smaller one, in this genus that was discovered in Antarctica. These three species are the only ones currently existent in this genus.

Having left Duntroon, I’ve parted ways from Waitaki River which has been my companion since the Waitaki Dam and moved in a south-east zig-zag direction until I stopped at the Rakis Railway Tunnel, an old disused railway line. During the 1880s depression era the construction of the railway provided much needed unemployment relief. The 11mi (19km) line was in use from 1887 to 1930. Today the tunnel is only 330ft (100m) long and although it can be explored, a torch is needed because halfway in the tunnel curves cutting out all source of natural light.

Today will be by far my longest route of this entire journey, hence writing this letter on one of my rest stops. I look forward to rolling into my final destination, Oamaru.

Interesting information provided…..and therein lies the foolishness of history. You can’t just import alien species into a country for whatever reason and expect it to have a happy outcome. If you read history, you’ll discover that there were dozens of similarly stupid and foolish mistakes made by the invaders (of the people kind, not the animal or plant kind) of these islands as well as in Australia and various other countries around the world; the British Empire!! Geez. Well I have to admit that I have no sympathy for the unfortunate Campbells, shooting rabbits for sport – how cruel…and talk about a lack of imagination. With the huge variety of names on offer, could they not come up with something a little different…I mean I like the name Robert on the whole, but surely a little variety wouldn’t have gone amiss?

I do like the Elephant Rocks though and the Vanished World Heritage Centre, sounds like an awesome place to visit.

Anyway…. I’m rapidly reaching the end of my Alps to Ocean NZ challenge!! I always feel a little sad really when they reach the last few miles…..they become friends eventually LOL Okay, okay, don’t say it…I know, it’s daft.

Didn’t take any photos of the area this day because, seriously I have so many already, but I did spot that gorgeous iris hiding under a hedge and the snowdrops are in bloom. So pretty..I love this time of year when the first snowdrops appear…

And because I didn’t faff around too much taking photos, I managed to clock up 11.44kms in 2.5 hours πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜

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Last night, after standing outside looking up at the starry starry sky….I thought for sure we would have frost this morning…🌠🌠🌠🌌🌌

I went to sleep in Kent and woke up in Narnia ☺☺☺ its beautiful and magical and β˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈβ˜ƒοΈ

I went for a short walk up and down the road……

The Nothing….

I’m hoping to get out for a proper walk during my break coz my kms are lagging behind now. Although the visibility at road level is good, I fear the surfaces are a tad slippery, so I’ll have to walk with more caution and less zeal πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

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I’ve started reading the book my daughter gave me for Christmas; ‘Walking Home – Clare Balding.’

In the very early pages Clare talks about how she was taught to ‘walk mindfully’; to feel her feet hitting the ground, to hear the birds or background sounds, to feel the wind on her face. So today on my daily perambulation, instead of rehashing the same self-talk that goes over and over around my head (mostly coz its unresolved), today I practised mindful walking….

I felt how my feet scrunched on the beach, I observed how my poles felt as they supported me over the rocks or sank in the sand, I really listened to the seagulls, felt how the wind ruffled my hair and sneaked down my collar (I forgot my scarf at the b&b🀨🀨), and in particular I listened to the songs of the sea…it changed my whole mindset. I felt uplifted,  invigorated and tingled from the cold icy air, and barely noticed that I was soaked from the softly falling rain. What a difference.

My issues are still unresolved, but I can breathe…and I got in 10.26 kms by the time of the real downpour, which spoilt my plan to sit on the bench in Broadstairs to eat my croissants… instead I ran for the bus (the driver kindly waited for me πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ) and took the quick way back.

It was dark when I left the b&b, the streets were quite deserted and I only saw 4 people enroute. I got to the harbour just before 7am.

Town centre at 06:55
Still and quiet at 7am

It had started raining but I barely noticed it until looking at the lights shining on the rain.

Oh…its raining πŸ˜„

By then I was quite wet, so I sat under the shelter at the Royal Victoria Pavilion and watched the sky lighten…

A blue sky
My view from under the pavilion

Debating a return to the b&b to dry out, instead, as soon as the rain eased off, I meandered down to the waters edge and collected some more sea glass – found some lovely pieces.

Sea glass and pottery pieces

Then turning my head north for Broadstairs watching the sunrise while I listened to the seagulls and the incoming tide I walked…..as I walked the colours of the sky changed and depending on which way I was facing, was either that early morning cold blue or the golden colours of the sun cracking through the clouds…

Passing through Broadstairs I phoned ahead to order my almond croissants from The Old Bakehouse and stopped to photograph the boats in the little harbour – I never tire of seeing them

Pretty wee boats in the harbour

A few dog walkers and early morning strollers passed me by and suddenly, or so it seemed, I reached my turning point at Stone Bay.

A good place as any to turn around

How far I’ve come….

Looking back across Stone Bay

One last photo of Viking Bay

Viking Bay, Broadstairs

Having phoned ahead earlier, The Old Bakehouse kept 2 almond croissants aside for me 😊😊πŸ₯πŸ₯. As I left, the rain I’d seen crossing the channel reached our shores and the heavens opened…🌧🌧🌧

There comes the rain…

I drank my coffee, then made my way quickly up the High Street towards the bus stop. Suddenly down the road…the bus approached. I ran – fast!! The driver (bless his heart) waited for me. πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

Then it was back to the b&b for tea.

Brilliant walk: 10.26kms. And thus ends my holiday/Christmas/New Year break. Back to work tomorrow and limited time to walk for the next 2 weeks. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” I’m hoping the area I’ll be working in has some interesting walks. Meanwhile, I’ve reached 20% of the Alps to Ocean NZ virtual challenge and got my 3rd postcard of the route.

I’ve started uploading the Mt. Fuji postcards and information and will post those asap and then I’ll get the Alps to Ocean postcards uploaded and share those too. The organisers have done an outstanding job of creating the postcards and the relevant information. It’s totally impressive

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I have lots of crazy ideas, and this is definitely one of them..

I don’t always put my crazy ideas into action, but after consulting with myself while walking from Sandwich to Deal, we – me, myself and I πŸ˜‰ decided it would be a fun (crazy) idea to walk the full England Coast Path.

Since I had already started, and had walked from Ramsgate to Sandwich, and was now walking from Sandwich to what turned out to be Walmer and not Dover, we figured it would be a fun goal to have….

And so the decision was made to walk the full English coast…or should I say “attempt to walk” 🀣🀣🀣

The map is from wikipedia

When I look at the map above, I know for sure it’s a crazy idea, but other people have walked the entire UK coast, so why not….

I started doing some research and discovered that England has 12,429 km or 7,723 miles of coastline excluding islands.

Which means that if I walk an average of 20 kms a day it will take me 621.45 days to walk the entire coast. But if I walk 3 days per month it’ll take 207 days….or something like that. I’m pretty sure my calculations are skewed πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ and it will actually take me 5 years or so to complete. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

But so far I’ve walked from Ramsgate to Dover over 3 days, so let’s see.

The challenge has begun!! Which brings me to the virtual challenges I’ve signed up for…

I’m currently walking the Inca trail and since its only 42kms I’m sure I’ll be done within the next 10 days. From there I’m going to do the Ring of Kerry, although to be honest, I’d much rather be walking that route in real time….its eminently possible that once we’re free to travel again, I may just walk the route in Ireland…why not.

So for now, here’s a link to the England Coast Path for you to peruse.

And if you’d like to join me on these virtual challenges, you can sign up here via my link.

This is not an affiliate link and I don’t make any money from people signing up, but you get a 10% discount on any walks you sign up for and I think a 10% discount as well….which is a moot point really since I’ve already signed up for all the walks I want to do πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

Here’s to walking…..my favourite hobby despite the pain πŸ˜‰πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

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A few nights ago ITV aired “Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100”, as voted for by more than 8,000 walking enthusiasts. If seeing these walks didn’t convince you that the UK is a most stunning country with every kind of landscape and terrain you could wish for or imagine…then you weren’t watching πŸ˜‰

I had initially tuned in to BBC1 to watch Winterwatch so only changed channels part of the way through; wow, what fantastic walks and the scenery is astounding and breath-taking. Watching snippets of all these fantastic places made me want to set off immediately with Pepe and Gemini and just walk….never mind walk 1000 miles, I could quite easily just walk forever.

porto to santiago, padron to santiago, osprey tempest 40 mystic magenta, walking the camino, nordic walking poles.

my trusty companions; Pepe (backpack) and Gemini (Nordic walking poles) – 10.166 km to Santiago

To my delight, after gasping with envy and drooling my way through the last 50 or so walks, after the programme ended I clicked through to one of the links provided on twitter and was astonished and delighted to note that #100 featured The Stacks near Margate….after closer investigation, I found that not only is this a walk I’ve done dozens of times, but the day before the show aired I had in fact walked from Broadstairs to Ramsgate and onto Cliffs End a couple of days before and I had walked from Broadstairs to Margate just the day before πŸ™‚Β http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

My first question is how did I miss them filming this? And why didn’t they just ask me? LOL I could have told them all about this walk…one of my favourites!!

I frequently use both those routes for my Camino practice walks, they’re manageable distances and the scenery is absolutely stunning; it never gets boring.

Starting off from Broadstairs Harbour, I either turn right and walk to Ramsgate and Cliffsend or left and walk to Margate.

broadstairs, viking bay, isle of thanet, english coast, seaside towns of britain

a winter’s sunrise – Viking Bay, Isle of Thanet

On a good day and if the tide is out, there is nothing better than striding along the beach from Viking Bay, past Louisa Bay, Dumpton Gap and onto Ramgate Royal Harbour.Β If the tide is in then I walk along the concrete promenade from Viking Bay to Dumpton Gap, then up to the cliff tops and walk through King George VI Memorial Park then down the steps leading to the promenade, past the Ramsgate Tunnels and onto Ramsgate Harbour.

100 walks uk, walk 1000 miles, broadstairs to ramsgate, dumpton gap, isle of thanet

Dumpton Gap – clifftop walk when the tide is in

Sometimes I walk further onto Cliffsend where you can see the Hugin Viking Ship and from there it’s a short walk down to Pegwell Bay.

100 walks, rileys ramsgate, walk 1000 miles, 100 walks uk, not just a granny, walk uk, broadstairs to ramsgate, england coast path

Ramsgate to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay

100 walks, rileys ramsgate, walk 1000 miles, 100 walks uk, not just a granny, walk uk, broadstairs to ramsgate, england coast path

The Hugin Viking Ship, Cliffsend

If I’m planning a walk to Cliffsend and Pegwell Bay, then I usually stop off at Rileys in Ramsgate first for a hot chocolate with lashings of cream and marshmallows for sustenance.

rileys ramsgate, walk 1000 miles, 100 walks uk, not just a granny, walk uk,

Hot Chocolate with cream and marshmallows at Riley’s

If I decide to walk to Margate there are two options:

a) if the tide is out, from Viking Bay I walk along the beach to the far end of Stone Bay, up the steps to Stone Road, turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay where I again descend to the beach and round the cliffs to Kingsgate Bay (you can walk along the beach but this particular area is very rocky and I don’t enjoy walking across this section). On the top of the cliffs at Kingsgate Bay is the Captain Digby Pub where I always stop for a pot of tea on the terrace. From there I head back down to the beach and walk through or around the Kingsbay Sea Arch and past the Stacks to Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. Always be aware of the tidal times….the tides come in very fast along these stretches.

100 walks, rileys ramsgate, walk 1000 miles, 100 walks uk, not just a granny, walk uk, broadstairs to ramsgate, england coast path

Broadstairs to Margate

b) if the tide is in I walk along the promenade from Viking Bay to Stone Bay, up the steps to the cliff tops turn right and walk along the North Foreland Road to North Foreland Lighthouse, past the fields of crops to Joss Bay and instead of descending to the beach I follow the pedestrian path next to the golf course, then cross over the road where it ends and follow the road past the Kingsgate Castle complex and along the cliff top to the Captain Digby Pub, then follow the path across the cliff top alongside the golf course, past the folly ‘Fort Kings Bay’ to Botany Bay, and staying on the cliff tops I follow the pedestrian path pastΒ Botany Bay, Palm Bay, Walpole Bay, and so to Margate Bay. The views are fantastic and on a clear day up until Joss Bay you can right across the English Channel to Belgium, and once you round the corner and head north you can see across estuary of the River Thames to Essex. Once your’e in Margate you can see as far as Reculver, and if you time it right, you can see some of the most magnificent sunsets.

100 walks, rileys ramsgate, walk 1000 miles, 100 walks uk, not just a granny, walk uk, broadstairs to ramsgate, england coast path

Sunset at Margate

If you happen to walk along the beach as you near Margate, there is the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

100 walks, rileys ramsgate, walk 1000 miles, 100 walks uk, not just a granny, walk uk, broadstairs to ramsgate, england coast path

the Antony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which is located on the chalk bed of the shoreline in front of the Turner Contemporary. The sculpture invites the observer to “reflect upon the fundamental experience of being human, of inhabiting a human body… To bear witness to what it is like to be alive and alone in space and time”

Those are two of my favourite walks on the Isle of Thanet.

I’ve also walked to Sandwich during my Camino 2017 training

my camino; the journey so far

28.06.2016 Broadstairs to Sandwich

and completed the Way of St Augustine in July 2017

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

The Isle of Thanet and the Wantsum Channel.

I travel quite comprehensively around the UK and make the most of my travels to walk in new areas…..follow me on instagram for images from around the UK.

For more about Britain’s favourite walksΒ http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/ramsgate-to-margate-kent/

and as they say on their website:Β Remember to prepare properly before heading out on any type of walk or outdoor activity. Tell people where you are going and what time you are expected back. As Wainwright saysΒ β€œThere’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.

 

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