Tuesday, 26 April 2011

A Whole Series of Firsts!

(The above photo was taken by John in the Lea Valley Park on 22nd April ..... but more of that later!)
On Saturday 16th April, our training walk encompassed several 'firsts'. It was the first time we walked what will be the end part of the sponsored walk route between Stansted Mountfitchet and Saffron Walden and also the first time we have seriously walked with anyone else. We did this last part of the route with Father Stuart and a friend of his. Stuart keeps up a cracking pace! So cracking that taking photos was out of the question!! This section of the route is also the most challenging in my opinion as it covers uneven paths going across fields and a couple of steepish hills and slopes. So, at the end of this walk, I was a little apprehensive about how I will cope with the end, mostly because walking over uneven ground plays havoc with any blisters!

Anyhow, the stats for that walk were:
Distance: 12.5 miles
Total Time: 3 hrs 59 min
Total Time Moving: 3 hrs 46 min
Average Moving speed: 3.4 mph

Still ...... once again I found myself pondering how to deal with the blister problem and I think the only way I am going to do it is by switching to some sandals for the end of the walk since at around the 28 mile spot, I seem to have a blister burst and then I can't really walk in my boots. A friend recommended Karrimor walking sandals and I found a pair on the Internet for a very good price. These arrived last Wednesday and we decided to have a brief walk over the Lea Valley Park in the evening. The sandals are brilliant! Also, what totally made my day ...... another 'first' ...... the first ducklings of this year. They were so tiny that they can only have hatched within the last day I would think. They were darting about catching insects and were just so cute! I couldn't photograph them as the light levels were just too poor and they were moving about too quickly. Also, one other 'first' ...... we heard the first cuckoo in our neighbourhood ...... we jokingly decided this is the 'Cheshunt' cuckoo :)

John's Satmap wasn't playing ball, but I would guess the following for this walk:
Distance: 5 miles
Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins

For Good Friday, we did something we've often talked about doing but never actually got around to. Namely, to get up really early to see what birds and other wildlife we can see over the Lea Valley Park. So, another 'first' for us, we got up at 4am and were out by 5.15am! In truth, the dawn chorus was already well under way, so we should have got out earlier. Still ...... it's a great thing to do! Witness John's atmospheric photo at the top of this blog entry showing the sunrise through the pylons. There was a certain amount of mist around that added to the atmosphere and seeing our first baby Brent Geese through the mist was another magical moment. We continued our walk by going south towards Waltham Cross, just north of the White Water centre built for the Olympics and just north of there, at about 7am in the morning, yet another 'first' ....... a barn owl flew silently across ahead of us. Who would have thought to see a barn owl in Cheshunt! John did try to take a photo, but the light levels were just not good enough. Still, seeing that ghostly form silently gliding past us is not something I will forget in a hurry. We carried on by walking up to Broxbourne Mill. In the meadows by Broxbourne Mill, there were lots of warbler-type birds and one in particular came very close. John took several fantastic photos and the following is the one I like the best.

By carefully looking over my bird books once we got home, we thought it was a Willow Warbler. However, John has already posted this photo on a photographers blog he is active on and someone else thinks it is a Sedge Warbler. So ..... opinions gratefully received! However, although I realise most bird watchers like to categorise what they see, I have to say I really don't care! I just love watching birds and what they get up to and this one was a delight to watch as it flitted up and down the reeds, singing beautifully!!

I did all this walk in the sandals, wondering whether I could do all the sponsored walk in them. However, they really don't provide enough ankle support as I could feel my ankles starting to ache. On the way back home, we did a quick shop in Tesco and were back home by 10.30am ........ and then went back to bed :)

Anyhow, John's Satmap was again not playing ball, so I worked out the distance from the OS maps, giving the following stats:
Distance: 13 miles
Total time: 4 hrs

On Saturday 23rd ...... St George's Day ....... and also our 28th Anniversary ....... once again, off we go walking!! That in itself is a 'first' for us, I guess, walking on our Anniversary :)

We got the train to Harlow Town and then walked almost all of the end part of the sponsored walk. The only difference being that we diverted at the end to Audley End to get the train, rather than walk into Saffron Walden. It was incredibly hot on Saturday! Although we took a lot of drink, we ran out and I think I can say we were getting dehydrated towards the end with nowhere to fill up or buy extra drink, apart from at Audley End station itself.

Here's a couple of photos from the walk.

A fantastic horse chestnut at Bentfield Green where we stopped to have lunch.

I'm afraid there is an awlful lot of oil seed rape in the fields between Stansted and Saffron Walden. This may look a spectacular colour but it is not particularly pleasant to walk beside!

At one point, my ankles really ached so I swapped to the sandals and felt much better for doing so! A blister on my little toe did subsequently pop and hurt like crazy, causing me to hobble a little. However, unlike with the boots, after about 5 or 10 minutes, this eased off and I could continue walking normally. So ..... the sandals are hopefully going to be my secret to doing this, blisters or no blisters!

Stats for this walk are:
Distance: 26.3 miles
Total time: 9 hrs
Total time moving: 8 hrs 20mins
Average moving speed: 3.2 mph

On Easter Sunday, after Church, we went to our friends in Bicester, Oxfordshire as their younger son was 18 on the 23rd and they were having 'open house' for family and friends. We had a lovely time, not getting home until about 10.30pm ....... at which point John suggested getting up even earlier on Easter Monday to get out before the dawn chorus really got started! I agreed ....... which possibly could indicate that I was still dehydrated and not quite in my right mind :)

Still, it was worth doing as the early morning really is magical! We got out by 4.30am and saw yet more baby ducklings ...... and our final 'first' in the Lea Valley Park as two kestrels swooped round above our heads. We didn't stay out too long, getting back by 6.30am and going back to bed :)

Stats for this walk:
Distance: Approx 5 miles
Total time: 2 hrs

At this point, we will be taking it easy for the rest of this week until the actual sponsored walk this coming Saturday 30th April.


joy said...

my goodness elaine, what a lot of walking, and what a lot of firsts too.
cant tell you about the warbler, but my mum would be able to, she's a lifelong twitcher.
good luck with your walk this coming weekend - just think how much money you could have raised if you'd been sponsored for your training walks!
joy xx

Elaine said...

Thank you for your good wishes Joy.

I have just done a tot up of all of the walks I've recorded on my blog as training walks. We have walked a staggering 405.8 miles since we started training back in September last year!! Gulp!

However, regardless of how things go on Saturday, I've enjoyed the challenge of seeing whether or not I can do it and this in itself has been quite amazing as I don't see myself as a 'sporty' person.

In truth, I think the stumbling point for me (literally!!) is going to be the dreaded blisters that form on my little toes and not my fitness. However, I may have just about sorted a way of coping with them, so I remain confident :)

Rachael said...

Wonderful photographs, I especially like the little bird...whatever it is. Congratulations on the walking too...I am sorry that you suffer so badly with blisters and aching ankles; It really must be distracting for you at times.
Thanks for visiting my Blog too Elaine.

Elaine said...

Thank you Rachel. I'll pass your comments onto John re the photos as he was the one who took them.

The blisters are the main bug bear! However, I will be doing my utmost to finish the 42 miles!!

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