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Posts Tagged ‘walking solo’

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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I’m not sure if I mentioned this before πŸ€”πŸ€” but I’m walking the Thames Path for my birthday…its a milestone birthday in as much as according to the government I can officially retire!!!Β  πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ if only.

Initially I really wanted to walk from source to sea, but have not been able to find a good relevant guide book. The Cicerone books are excellent but they only had a sea to source guide, which has been irritating me.
So I’ve been pondering how I can turn this around so I can enjoy the walk instead of feeling like I’m doing it the wrong way around…

And I just had an idea πŸ’‘ ping the oldΒ  🧠 woke up….I shall pretend I’m an explorer πŸ˜πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ who has just stumbled upon this great river, and now I have to follow it to find the mysterious source hidden in the jungle….in reality it’s in a barren field and the stream is mostly dry,πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ but who’s checking πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ€·β€β™€οΈ this is my adventure and if I say it’s a jungle, then it’s a jungle πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ†πŸ…πŸ¦πŸ˜πŸ¦’πŸŠπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

Sometimes it helps to be on the verge of senility, you can make up all sorts of πŸ’©πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£

Thames Path…I shall πŸ‘€πŸ‘‰ in April well that’s the plan anyway…the PM may scupper those plans once again, unless I go incognito.

Walking the Thames Path has been a dream of mine ever since we lived in London, and I’m actually quite excited that finally I can bring my dream to fruition πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Hoorah

Gravesend
The O2
Bermondsey
City of London – Commemorating the 1666 Great Fire of London in 2016
Westminster
Chelsea
Richmond lock
The Great River Race 2016 Richmond
The Gloriana processing along The Thames during the Tudor Pull near Teddington
Teddington Lock (during my 3 Days in London days)

Over the years I’ve walked sections of the Thames Path from Gravesend to Hampton Court and I initially toyed with the idea of skipping this section, which will take me 3 days of solid walking at approximately 20/5 kms per day, BUT I know myself too well…I won’t feel as if I’ve ‘actually’ walked the whole Thames Path unless I walk the whole route.

So, according to the guide, the path starts at the Thames Barrier, so that’s where I shall start my adventure…

The Thames Barrier

Did you know that the River Thames, a tidal river, is considered to be part of the English Coast right up until Teddington Lock ….

All I need now is for everyone to 🀞🀞🀞 that we don’t go into another lockdown before 20th April…thank you πŸ˜‰

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I reached this stage on 19 January, so not too far behind the last stage…either I was walking a lot more, or the distance to this stage was shorter. Of course all I have to do is check the details on the postcard!! In real life, from 1st January to the 19th I’d walked 128km which is just over 80 miles. Not too bad.

And doesn’t that water look amazing. Reminds me of the sea along the Thanet coastline when the water gets cloudy from the chalk after a storm…

Defined as “a populated area less than a town”, Otematata is more of a holiday town nowadays when it’s small population of around 180 explodes to 5,000 during the summer season. With easy access to both Lake Benmore, downstream Lake Aviemore and nearby hiking trails (known as tramping in NZ), holiday makers swarm to the area for camping, water skiing, boating, fishing, swimming and cycling among other activities.

Stage 6
Stage 6

Otematata sprung up in 1958 as a base for construction workers of the Benmore and Aviemore Dams. Within a year the population grew to 450 and at its peak it was as high as 4,000 residents. Built by the Ministry of Works the town had all the necessary facilities and services such as schools, clubs, pub, cinema and mall. The 1,500 strong workforce of engineers, builders, electricians, concreters and truckies spent seven years building the dam. Once the dam was finished, as it often happens with these kind of projects, the town was slowly dismantled. The houses that were trucked into town were years later trucked out and moved to Twizel for the next project. Benmore Dam is the largest earth-filled dam in NZ and the largest of eight in the Waitaki hydro scheme. As the second largest hydro station in the country, Benmore generates sufficient electricity to cover nearly 300,000 NZ homes.

Leaving Otematata, I travelled north on a sealed pathway alongside the Waitaki River until I reached the massive Benmore Dam and stood atop it with a bird’s eye view of the lake to the north and the river to the south. When the lake is over capacity, the floodgates open to release the water down a spillway and to prevent erosion a lip was inserted at the end to deflect the water. The spillway can handle ten times the normal river flow thereby allowing it to cope with severe flooding.

I skirted around the shore on a narrow sealed road to Deep Stream Track on Lake Aviemore for a walk along a flooded canyon. The deep green water was quite inviting for a swim but I settled for a picnic under a shaded tree enjoying the tranquility of this location and the reflection of the hills on the water.

A little further I crossed the Aviemore Dam back onto the State Highway and was relieved to be travelling on an off-road path beside the main road all the way to Waitaki Dam. Aviemore Dam was built in 1968 and the construction was on uneven ground because the Waitangi Fault runs beneath it. Although at the time of construction the fault was considered inactive, in the 2000s the fault was upgraded to dormant and as such the dam was reinforced against earthquakes and potential landslides. Because of the fault the dam is a mixed structure being part solid rock topped with concrete on the north side and earth-fill where the fault line runs beneath on the south side.

The Waitaki Dam is steeped in NZ history. As the smallest in the Waitaki hydro scheme, it is also the oldest having been built in 1935. Being the first dam to be built on the South Island, it was also the last to use pick and shovel. These archaic tools were retained because politicians wanted to reduce the unemployment rate during the Depression Era.

The building of the Waitaki Dam inadvertently played a major role in the birth of the social welfare system. In 1928, the Waitaki Hydro Medical Association together with the Waitaki Hospital Board developed a scheme to deduct monthly fees from wages in order to provide medical and ambulance services to the workers. When two politicians, one a doctor and the other a reverend, took office in 1935, they based the social welfare scheme on the one developed by the dam project.

From here it was a 5mi (8km) journey into Kurow. I heard the Waitaki Valley, which begins in Omarama, is a young winery region with a flair for developing good pinot noir and pinot gris. I’ll be sure to sample some after a hearty meal. I’m thinking fish and chips at the nearest pub.

I could live with fish and chips!! And do my journey continues. Seriously though, reading these emails makes me really really want to walk this route for real….

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I’ve had some amazing walks the last few years since moving to the east coast. The scenery along the Thanet coastline is really beautiful, especially at sunrise on a clear day, and then sunset. You can catch a gorgeous sunrise from Broadstairs or Ramsgate, and if it’s a good day, an equally gorgeous sunset from Pegwell Bay or Margate. I’ve been known to rush over to Margate to catch the sunset or a quick walk to the cliffs above Pegwell Bay.

Sunrise in Broadstairs
Sunset over Pegwell Bay

I’ve always loved walking. As a young girl, in my 20s’ when I lived in Hillbrow Johannesburg, I used to spend the whole of Sundays just walking around the suburbs for hours on end. I used to walk to work every day, up the hill and down the other side….right up until I was 8 months pregnant, and then my boss wouldn’t allow me to walk anymore and insisted one of the staff take me home by car and collect me the next day.

I lost my walking after my daughter was born and my husband bought me a car. By then it wasn’t that safe to walk alone anyway and I got lazy.

When I arrived in the UK, my love of walking was reignited. I lived in Dublin, Rep. Of Ireland for 6 months and my sister, brother-in-law and I used to walk everywhere, especially on weekends when we’d head out to DΓΊn Laoghaire or Glendalough and the Wicklow mountains. In fact we travelled to so many places, I’ve quite forgotten all but the most memorable. I do remember though being able to walk home from Dublin to Monkstown late at night and never feel unsafe….and my love walking,  freedom really, was reborn.

I remember one weekend when we walked across country from Waterford city to PassageEast in the County of Waterford, took the ferry across the River Barrow to Ballyhack Lower in County Wexford, then walked to Arthurstown and onto Duncannon…and in reverse the next day. One of the many fun excursions from my 6 months there.

A walk across country in Rep. Of Ireland

On most of my overseas trips since, I’ve invariably planned a 10 day stayΒ  and walked….everywhere, and included a day trip to another destination. When I visited Venice I literally walked around all the accessible islands and usually started at 8am and walked till late at night exploring every nook and cranny. Actually, after Ireland, Venice was my very first trip to Europe and albeit terrified, I loved every minute.

I’ve since walked 80%+ of the streets in the City of London….much of my free time was spent exploring every court, lane and street, and I walked a fair amount of the City of Westminster too. When we still lived in Richmond, I often walked along the Thames riverbank, either downstream to Kew Gardens or upstream to Kingston and even Hampton Court. Even in the snow πŸ˜‰

When we moved to Broadstairs we used to walk along the beach to Ramsgate. I always thought it was quite far, but its actually only just over 3kms. Now that I frequently walk in excess of 20kms and occasionally as much as 35kms, it seems absurd that I thought 3kms was far 😁😁

During my last stay, I walked along the beach from Ramsgate to Stone Bay and back, and one morning I enjoyed a sunrise walk to Viking Bay…of course I stopped off at The Old Bake House and bought a take-away coffee and my favourite pastry; an almond croissant then sat on a bench on the promenade to enjoy my treat.

Its such a stunning section of the coast and offers much of interest to see. Stretch your legs and walk to Margate… fantastic route, especially along the beach.

No hardship walking in this environment

A few weeks ago I decided to walk to Sandwich (for the 3rd time) in order to increase my mileage for the Conqueror 2020 Challenge.Β  Somewhere along the way I hatched the insane idea of walking the whole of the English coastline….I know…bring on the strait jacket. I blame it on the moon 🀭🀭🀭 I’ve walked as far as Dover so far. Of course Covid-19 has held back my horizons, but I’m hoping to get out more frequently in 2021.

Crossing the White Cliffs of Dover

I love walking and one of the benefits of my job is that I get to travel all over England, often times to places I’d never heard of…and then I walk…

Old disused railway line in Lewes

But my walking got a real sense of seriousness when I started training for the Portuguese Camino in 2017, and started following the #walk1000miles challenge in 2016. That really got me going. I struggled at first to get into walking daily, bought my first pair of walking poles (still have them πŸ˜„), a decent pair of walking shoes (asics) and I’ve never looked back, now I find it difficult to not get out for a walk on a daily basis and get quite tetchy if my walking is interrupted ….πŸ˜‰

Stunning coastline between Deal and Walmer.

Show me a path and I’ll walk it….

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