The thing I loved most about being a boy scout was hiking. And camping. Getting out in to the countryside and walking the hills and valleys and villages. I spent many happy days walking in the Brecon Beacons and the Welsh Borders, and the West Country. Of course one cannot remain a boy scout for ever and soon real life came along and walking took a back seat to cars and girls, and working in order to pay for cars and girls.
I may have been a bit hasty in declaring that all the ugly parts of the walk were behind me at the end of leg 3. Leg 4 had its share of derelict buildings and demolition sites. But these were mitigated by a number of landmarks, two river crossings (one above, one below) and a pub lunch. The latter was sufficient to tempt Russ to get his boots on and join me. Continue reading S2S Leg 4: Beckton to Wapping→
There is a reason that the official Thames Path only goes as far east as the Thames Barrier, and the reason is this: Dagenham. Oh, and Tilbury. No offence to the good people of this part of Essex but there is so little of the Thames that is accessible in this area that a river walk becomes a walk along busy A-roads. But that’s my choice and in future legs there will be less roadside, more riverside and countryside. There will also be more cafes, ice cream vans and pubs. I’m sure it’s coincidental, but as soon as the latter was mentioned Russ became interested in joining me on the next leg. Continue reading S2S Leg 3: Tilbury to Beckton→
A country park seems an odd way to honour the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Or perhaps a recreational and educational facility to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone free of charge is emblematic of how far we have come since the dark medieval days of serfdom. But the Wat Tyler Country Park is not just about the revolt, but about many areas of history and nature. On another occasion I’m sure I could spend an interesting few hours here. There are historic buildings, sculptures and nature trails. They even have “Educational Toilets”. Unfortunately they were out of order so I didn’t learn anything there.
Southend to Pitsea. Well, Benfleet as it Turned Out…
A lone fisherman and I were the only passengers on the first train of the day to clatter its way up Southend Pier. On the way I read a poster about “the longest pier in the world” (1.3 miles) and began to doubt the wisdom of starting my walk at the wet end. But it is a good marker and it did feel like I was standing where river and sea meet. At 9am I tightened my bootlaces and headed back towards dry land. When I had left home three hours earlier it had been cold, frosty even, but as I walked west along the seafront the sun was out and the temperature was fighting its way upwards. The promenade was becoming busy with walkers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists. Continue reading S2S Leg 1: Southend to Pitsea→
Early in 1977, in a classroom in Maidenhead, a callow youth raised his hand in response to a question from the Head of Upper School. Along with some of his classmates he thought it sounded like a good idea to attempt the Lyke Wake Walk. Just a 40 mile walk across the moors in less than 24 hours and you could get a badge shaped like a coffin. How hard could it be? Along with his classmates he embarked on a training regime. But being teenage boys, the training regime consisted of a single 40 mile walk. That completed, they were ready. But for reasons long forgotten the attempt was cancelled. But the callow youth did not forget. Unlike his classmates, Noel Churchill – for it was he – kept the Lyke Wake Walk alive in his mind. And annoyed other people by talking about it.
Some decades later, 3 men arrived in Osmotherly. The callow youth had grown into a broad-shouldered mature gentleman. OK… he’s a fat old man. But the dream is still alive and his brother-in-law, Russ, has listened to his whimperings and organised the trip for him. In the Queen Catherine, Russ knocked back a couple of pints of Tetley’s and a plate of lasagne and said let’s go. We made our way to the car park at the top of the reservoir, girded our loins and grouped ourselves by the Lyke Wake Walk stone.