With a little over 2 weeks remaining to our Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge, in support of Alzheimer’s, it was high time we put in a few extra miles to see how far we have come. Training for this challenge has been a bit chaotic to be fair. We had started to hit some decent mileage but then lockdown happened and we were needed in the office and warehouse rather than out on training walks.
How far is the furthest you have ever walked in one day? This is a question Charlotte asked me last week, as we sat down to plan the final few weeks training before the big day on Saturday 5th September. Given the challenge is 40km, I had to admit it was nowhere near that distance and might even be less than 16km. A search of local walks came up with some nice suggestions one being a 62km brewery walk to all pubs in the Donnington Brewery portfolio – a pub crawl with a difference. But we decided to take on a slightly easier walk to Oxford from Abingdon along the Thames path, the app suggested this was 13km each way.
We Started at Abingdon cricket club and walked the Thames path taking Abingdon Weir before heading out into the countryside.
Some of the scenery was stunning along the way and something you don’t get to enjoy in a car or on a bus to Oxford. The next stop was Radley Boat House
We aimed to complete this walk in 5 to 5 1/2 hours so needed to maintain a steady pace of 5.5kph. The first part of the walk was quite heavy as rain on Wednesday had made the paths slippy and muddy. Eventually we hit a proper path which was designed for cyclists to use into Oxford. This was probably the biggest challenge as the sped along at such speeds, with a ring of their bell the walkers were expected to jump out of the way, as they cyclists were not for slowing. At one point, Charlotte jumped into a nettle bush to avoid being taken out be 2 cyclists.
Social distancing was another challenge we had to encounter as narrow paths and bridges ensured the 2 metre rule could not be observed. Charlotte and I formed single file during any encounters with other walkers/cyclists, it was a shame the people in the other direction didn’t observe the same principals….Don’t You Know There Is A Pandemic Going On? It was the walk from Sandford Lock, past Isis River Farmhouse at Iffley Lock on to The Head Of The River in Oxford where my heart rate hit it’s peak and it wasn’t because of the pace of the walk but the ignorance of other people using the path.
My rage had hit it’s limit by the time we had reached The Head Of The River, that I was in no mood to stop for the scheduled pint as a reward. We hit the half-way point at exactly 2 hours 30 minutes so we were on schedule for around 5 hours. So, we turned round and started the return journey.
The weather was sunny but we had a nice cooling breeze as we battled our way back through the ignorant pedestrians who were on their way to Oxford. I remembered happy times as a kid, playing in the river under Donnington Bridge with my brother and sister, many years ago as we walked back for a pit stop at the Isis River Farmhouse. This was slightly unplanned but after 3 hours beating the path we needed a toilet break and one of us sampled one of the many local ales on offer. (I thought it rude just to use their toilet)
It was only a 10 minute stop but already my legs and back were showing signs of immense pain and fatigue. But we weren’t on a bus route and this was a training walk so, on we marched……..As we passed Iffley Lock Charlotte must have felt pretty sprightly as she moved some 30 metres ahead as I struggled with my aching calf muscles.
As we approached Radley Boat House my garmin watch decided to rapidly run out of battery so I saved the walk so far. We had by this point walked 21.56km in 3hr 53mins at a decent 5.63kph. I restarted the walk for the final 6.36km just in case the battery lasted.
This final stretch was indeed, very difficult but great training for our walk to come in 2 weeks. Although this Thames path walk had very little elevation, we managed it at a good pace and the going under foot was quite heavy at times. The final section was completed slightly slower but, probably because Charlotte chose to keep waiting for me to catch up, we did the 6.36km in 1hr 10mins at a pace of 5.47kph.
The pain in our legs was testament to the length of walk at 27.92km almost 2km further than the the app had suggested. Cricket will be a challenge this weekend, I am sure.
If you would like to sponsor Sportsballshop on our Yorkshire 3 Peaks walk then we would be very grateful for you support. My own fundraising page can be found below as we aim to raise over £1000 for The Alzheimer’s Society