Last Friday, we decided to have a day off and try for a much longer walk. This was for two reasons. Firstly, we had a long standing arrangement to go for a walk with some friends on Saturday the 5th February and they are not into really long walks, so John had just planned a short walk of approximately 5 miles. Although we were looking forward to doing this, we are really keen to keep up the momentum of doing long walks to maintain our walking 'level' and Saturday is normally the only day we can do this. Also, we felt so good the Saturday before that we were curious as to how much further we could really go! All week we were keeping an eye on the weather forecast for Friday as a really long walk in wet weather wouldn't have been pleasant but it couldn't make up its mind! In the end, we just decided to go for it!
After doing a quick shop over at Tesco (I just knew I wouldn't want to go later in the evening!), we started out at 8.40am and headed off up the Lea Valley tow path. It was very quiet, especially being a week-day, and almost straight away we were rewarded by a close encounter with the Grey Heron in the photo above. Such an incredible bird.
And, of course, almost every walk has an encounter with swans. They always think we'll have food for them but unfortunately are disappointed every time! In many ways, it is easy to take the bird life in our country for granted as you see such birds so frequently. However, they look so proud when they arch their wings in a territory display and they are totally fearless in seeing off the Canada Geese.
Mind you, our walks are not all 'back to nature' as we are never far from the presence of man! Just before St Margaret's, the tow path goes under the A414 road. This bridge is incredibly noisy and I wouldn't want to live in the homes that are nearby, even though they look like really nice houses. I guess this photo is for any civil engineers out there :)
Also, just past Ware on the way to Hertford, the A10 road passes over on a truely massive flyover/bridge. When you are in the car, you whizz over this part without really paying too much attention, but on the ground you can appreciate just how massive it is. I have no idea when it was built or how long it took but the whole area is a flood plain for the Lea so I could imagine it was a massive undertaking even though it can merely look like a massive concrete monstrosity.
The turning point for our walk was a place we've walked to before - where the New River meets the Lea just before Hertford. It was incredibly windy! I also don't know why I'm smiling! My right leg had started to complain a little by this point!
Below is a quirky photo I thought to include :)
Along some of the Lea at various points, some clearance work had been carried out on vegetation along the banks. For some reason, some of the tree stumps have had this criss-cross pattern sawn into them. John suggested this is possibly to encourage them to rot but the pattern appealed as an abstract image.
The walk back, especially the last 3 or 4 miles, I found incredibly tough! Not only was it really windy but my right leg started to seriously complain! I think I strained it and, after thinking about it, I think I may have set off today a little too strongly and didn't give my muscles time to warm up enough. I do hope this was 'all' it was! I did find myself thinking ....... if I can't do 24 miles, how on earth can I do 42? However, this is where I am thankful for doing this training with John. He has a far more sensible outlook! 'Just think ..... only a short while ago, we never thought we'd walk 14 miles and yet we did that easily the week before and some more! In no time, 18-20 will seem easy'. He is right of course :)
Back at home, I hobbled up the stairs quite a few times despite a long soak in the bath! Also, if I sat in a chair for too long, it would feel very stiff when I got up. Perhaps not quite a Walk Too Far ..... but one where warming up first needs to be seriously thought about!
Still, the total walk was 23.8 miles. Total time taken was 8 hours and 13 Minutes. Time moving was 7 hours and 22 minutes. Our average moving speed was 3.2 mph.