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Posts Tagged ‘walk1000miles’

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

Yeah…..that….can I bite my tongue?? πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

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 πŸ€•πŸ€•πŸ₯΅ 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 Β£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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ₯΄πŸ₯΄πŸ₯ΊπŸ₯Ί 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 πŸ€ͺ 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 πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‘£πŸ‘£ 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 πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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I arrived home last night, after a 4.5 hour journey, from a week’s booking in Salisbury. As much as what I really enjoyed exploring the city, and learning more of the history and her green spaces, it was wonderful to be back home.

You cannot underestimate the sheer joy of coming ‘home’ to your own place. It may not be much, but it’s got my stuff in it, and I’m home.

My own duvet…magic

After I’d dropped my bags off, I grabbed my walking poles and immediately set off for a sunset walk to the harbour

Absolutely stunning
A Royal harbour
Can you see the moon?
The sun setting in front of me

and then along the lower promenade

The snow moon rising behind me

before climbing up to the clifftop and a walk to Pegwell Bay.

View of Pegwell Bay from the bottom of the cliffs
From halfway up the path to the top of the cliffs

It was quite dark already by the time I reached the hotel, so I stopped there for a few photos and then walked back along the clifftop.

View from Pegwell Bay hotel
A bit of fun with the moon and the hands and molecules sculpture
One lone boat still has its Christmas lights on

A magical walk with no pressure to get back within 2 hours, and 9.9 kms added to my 2021 Conqueror virtual challenge.

I’m going to start the Ring Road Iceland virtual challenge on Monday 1st March. I’m so looking forward to the postcards, should be amazing. My daughter and I had a fantastic 4 day trip to Iceland in 2014, so I’m really keen to see the information that comes with the postcards.

The Sun Voyager (Icelandic: Sólfar); a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason

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When I got back from my Throwley booking earlier this month, I decided to take a walk along the beach to get some kms in since I’d completed the Alps to Ocean challenge and started climbing Mt. Everest πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ—»πŸ—» (also completed while in Salisbury).

BUT!!! To my horror I found that most of the beach has been stripped away by the storm. As far as the eye can see, used to be beach…its now mostly stones and rocks and the sand has been stripped right down to the chalk bedrock. I genuinely could not believe my eyes. I can see just beneath the waves there’s still some beach, but not sure how far it extends.

The beach where I used to take my grandson to play is now just a rocky morass.

To give you an idea of the power of the sea, this great big chunk of very degraded concrete was washed up and dumped onto the beach almost halfway up towards the Royal Pavilion
Quite awesome to see the pure chalk bottom though…just think….this is billions of sea creatures solidified into chalk from millions of years ago.

Unreal, the power of nature. I’m saddened too because it’s one of my favourite places to walk. But a local said the wind and sea will likely blow it all back when the winds blow from another direction. Meanwhile…πŸ˜”πŸ˜”πŸ˜” no beach walkingπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ for me atm, I’ll have to try catch it when the tide is out.

Meanwhile, I shall have to head southward and visit Pegwell Bay again.

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I had to concede defeat today and had my first Covid vaccine jab. I’m not happy about it, but when you start hearing things like “have you had a test recently, or when will you be having your innoculation?” from prospective clients et al, along with talk of vaccine passports, you know the writing is on the wall. We are but a commodity.

So I just said, to hell with it  and booked an appointment. So many people are still totally ignorant of Covid and its transmission. Having the vaccine is not going to stop me from inadvertently passing it on to someone else in the event I come into contact with it. Its seems that some folk think it’s a magic wand, and once you have the jab you’re safe. You’re not. You’re just less likely to get really ill, and even then it’s no guarantee. Even the scientists are not wholly in agreement about the efficacy and what it means. Ugh. Anyway, it’s done. I can’t afford to not work.

The process itself was painless in all respects, and the system was smooth and flowed easily. Because of previous negative responses to a flu vaccine, I stayed institu for 25 minutes after the jab, just to make sure I didn’t just keel over and die πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ and then I was away…the staff were friendly and well organised and I was impressed with the efficiency of it all. I still, 9 hours later have had no ill-effects. In case you’re wondering, I had the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”

The good thing that came out of it is that I had an unexpected trip to Deal. After the jab, I set off for a walk to Walmer Castle. Its amazing how close the 2 castles are to each other…25 minutes brisk walk. But first I had a most delicious curried vegetable pie from Al’s Bakery on the High Street…totally recommended. If I’d known it would be so yummy, I’d have bought 2.

A quick walk along the pier as well, then back on the train…which remarkably, considering the delays caused by the land slip near Folkestone, arrived at Deal and stopped at exactly 14:32 (I was watching the clock) – even a Swiss train would be hard put to match that!! πŸ˜‰

It’s a very long pier

Oh, and see that arrow pointing to the land in the distance in the next image… that’s the White Cliffs of Dover and last year I walked from Walmer to Dover via the cliffs…awesome walk and really beautiful

Deal Castle
Walmer Castle

Deal is an incredibly historic town with some amazing old houses

Carter House

Although it was wet, cold and blustery, I really enjoyed my walk and as usual could have just kept going….as soon as lockdown lifts, that’s exactly what I’m going to do…

I love these cycle path signs….tempted to follow them one day πŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈπŸš΄β€β™€οΈ

I love this little square

And of course, you can’t visit a seaside town and not stop to look at the boats

A pretty fishing boat

And finally, one of my favourite signs

The Acorn – symbol of the National Trails – England Coastal Path

And today’s walk added another 8kms to my Mt. Everest virtual challenge and takes me to nearly half way through the challenge πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Both Deal and Walmer are mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book :

Deal was a settlement in Domesday Book, listed as Addelam, in the hundred ofΒ CorniloΒ and the county ofΒ Kent. It had a recorded population of 31 households in 1086, putting it in the largest 40% of settlements recorded in Domesday, and is listed under 5 owners in Domesday Book.

Julius CaesarΒ reputedly landedΒ on the beach at Walmer in 55 BC and 54 BC. It is only one possible landing place, proposed judging from the distances given in his account of the landings in hisΒ Gallic Wars.Β However, recent archaeological research and digs have found that he landed at Pegwell Bay. Walmer is probably the settlement Wealemere listed in the Domesday Book.

As I mentioned….loads of history, and both castles are well worth a visit

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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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Nearing the end of my virtual journey, with just 46 miles/74 kms to go…this postcard and story about the route, popped up on 26 January….

Summer fruit orchards and wineries seem to be the economic backbone of Kurow, a small town that in the 1920s was the base for the construction of the Waitaki Dam.

Kurow sits within the Waitaki Valley, a rich limestone region with a cool maritime climate. With warm summers and long, dry autumns this region is a wonderful environment to grow grapes for wines such as pinots noir and pinot gris. The first vines were only planted in 2001, making this valley a very young winery region. I can imagine it took passionate and dedicated viticulturists to have the courage to explore new grounds and experiment with different plantings. Small scale, family-run vineyards are now dotted through the valley creating bespoke, boutique wines.

Stage 7
Stage 7

Just outside of Kurow is a family-run orchard growing summer fruits such as peaches, apricots and cherries. Conscious about fruit that is rejected by supermarkets due to imperfections, the family built a commercial kitchen and went about turning rejected fruit into a range of products such as jams, sorbets and baked goods. With a half dozen box of summerfruit tarts under my arms, I was ready to leave Kurow.

Joining the trail alongside the Waitaki River, I marvelled at its characteristics. This 68mi (110km) braided river begins at the confluence of Pukaki, Tekapo and Ohau Rivers with Lake Benmore atop it. The river acts like a link between the lower lakes by running through and connecting Lake Benmore to Lake Aviemore to Lake Waitaki before it freely and swiftly flows the rest of the way into the Pacific Ocean.

Between Kurow and Duntroon, I had to ford three rivers and I was grateful they were not flooded permitting me to travel beside Waitaki River and admire the mountain range behind it, instead of using a trail next to the highway. I’m also glad I read the instructions to not touch the fences along the way as many are electrically charged and not necessarily marked for information. Might’ve added an element of excitement I wasn’t really looking for.

Just before reaching Duntroon, I stopped at the Takiroa Rock Art Shelter to see the Maori art on the limestone rock that dates back to between 1400 and 1900AD. After the rock art site, I carried on through Duntroon’s Wetlands into Duntroon straight to the local pub for a feed and more Waitaki Valley wine sampling.

Seeing those grapes reminded me of when I was in Portugal on the Portuguese Camino coastal route to Santiago. The path invariably goes inland at some stages, and one day it took me through a vineyard. I shouted “Ola!! Buenas dias” to an elderly couple amongst the vines cutting down bunches of purple grapes. The lady and I got to chatting (her English was way superior to my Portuguese), and it turned out her daughter was at that time, living and working in London πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ How cool is that. So after a long conversation, she gave me a big fat bunch of the MOST delicious, juicy, aromatic grapes you could imagine…the flavour was like heaven.

I strolled along eating the grapes with relish, and shortly afterwards met the one and only snake in my entire Camino. 🐍😱😱 It was lying there, on the path, looking for all the world like a skinny stick, and as I was hesitating, thinking “is it, or isn’t it ” – the bastard moved. 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣😱😱😱😱

It still cracks me up when I think about that…3 things happened simultaneously : I discovered that I could indeed run if I needed to, I lost most of the grapes, and peed my myself 😜😜😜😜 of course the bloody snake slithered off into the grass with an evil grin ‘gotcha’. 😬😬 not funny.

Of course, encountering that snake, thereafter put a slightly different perspective on my walk, and I never looked at a stick in quite the same way again, or crept off into the bushes without trepidation 🧐🧐🧐

Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my Alps to Ocean virtual challenge across New Zealand. And I’m now seriously considering actually doing this route when I visit the island. It might mean postponing my trip down south to Ozzie land for a year to save more funds, but it would be totally awesome. And of course, if I did, and since I’m going that way, I’ve pinned my ‘intention’ to my metaphorical board of walking the Kumano Kodo in Japan. I mean seriously, how awesome would that be!!

Like the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is designated a UNESCO heritage site and would slot in nicely with my Project 101 https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html

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I got back yesterday after working away for 5 weeks and opened my vast pile of post….

It’s like Christmas really πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

And in the pile were my last 4 Conqueror medals πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

In order of completion, from left to right

Great Ocean Road, Mt. Fuji, Conquer 2020 and Alps to Ocean which I completed this month. Awesome πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

My target for 2020 was 2,020kms and I reached that on 31 December 2020

I probably walked wayyyyy more than that, but I mostly count ‘boots on’ mileage and if I’m stuck indoors at work and unable to get out for my break on any particular day, I count my indoor walking, which extraordinarily sometimes amounts to 12kms between going on duty at 8am to 2pm when I take my 2 hour break. Mostly I try to get out to walk, but sometimes like these last few days, I get snowed in, or its pouring with rain….ergo, no good for walking if you don’t have the right gear.

I first started these virtual challenges on 26th March 2020, and the Alps to Ocean is my 9th challenge completed. I have 5 to do this year, as well as the Conquer 2021 challenge which is a compilation of all challenges walked during the year. Of course they may well introduce more…in which case 😁😁😁 and ‘boots on’ and getttt walking!!!

Also in the mail were my next two Cicerone books: The Thames Path, which I’m planning on walking in April for my birthday. Its something I’ve wanted to do for years, and years, and of course I’ve walked many miles along the River Thames between Hampton Court Palace and as far as Greenwich – not all in one go, but different sections over the years, and right along the whole length between Rotherhithe and Lambeth, also at different times.

And of course the South Downs Way is a desirable walk for this year too.🀞🀞🀞 because so many factors affect that possibility.

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