It was hot, again. Really hot. And we had a crowd.
Last night, as this blog was being finalised the crew from Frank Hirth arrived in the hotel bar. All ten of them. Suffice to say the blog was posted but your author arrived late to his bed.
Today we set out from our hotel, the Best Western Grosvenor in Stratford upon Avon with twenty, yes twenty, walkers. Frank Hirth’s finest ten athletes plus a surgeon, an osteopath, a journalist with partner, an employee, his mother and my brother. Not forgetting the main three walkers. We got back on the canal for the first part of our walk and once we were clear of Stratford we hit farmland. This meant stiles and fields, nettles and brambles, pollen and allergic reactions.
This was more than made up for by the wonderful, charming, rolling English countryside, at its best on a hot summer’s day during a heatwave. We were very excited and grateful to have been invited to Sir Andrew Watson’s property for tea. As it turned out this included Pimms. An explanation is needed here. Sir Andrew is the President of the Warwickshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, one of the charities we are supporting. He had insisted we stop by for refreshment after which he would join us for 6 miles of our walk. Thanks to John Wareham of CPRE for organising. We had a fantastic stop providing respite from the Walk, followed by a lovely tour of this particularly beautiful part of Warwickshire – Shakespeare’s country.
Sir Andrew took us to a shady glade called Wagtail Spinney where we sat and ate lunch and massaged aching limbs. Soon after he bade us a hearty farewell. An amazing man who, in his eighties, still walks many, many miles. Last year it was the Coast to Coast to walk, just 194 miles. Respect.
Our walk continued, mostly on roads, as we headed to our destination, the Cherington Arms in Cherington. As the afternoon wore on it seemed to get hotter and hotter, but the landscape remained the same – wonderful rolling hills, fields, churches and gorgeous lost villages. After a while we reached a field and noticed, as we started to cross, that there were a large number of cows (or bulls) in the far corner. As we entered the field they spotted us, and whether through boredom or hunger, decided to charge over and say hello. Cue some very nervous minutes as the majority of the group retreated leaving our guide and core walker Roger to stand, alone, in the face of the oncoming herd. Big credit here to Roger as he calmly waved an arm to mesmerise (or so it looked) and guide the excited animals to one side of the field. This did not stop a couple of our walkers walking the full length of the field in the other direction to clamber over two gates and then walk back again to join us, What fun!
The only real stress of the day came when a rumour rippled through the walkers that the pub at the end of the walk was shut. Imagine our joy when we got there, and it was open.
Big thanks to the team from Frank Hirth for their enthusiasm, energy and chat on our Day 22 and their Day 1. Funnily enough no one volunteered to come back tomorrow.
One other walker deserves a mention: Mr Simon Jordan, a Consultant thoracic surgeon at the Royal Brompton Hospital. We have him to thank for making Kate better and we are very grateful that he gave up a precious Saturday to walk with us. Thank you Simon.
Today miles: 18.5
Walker miles: 376
Total Walker miles: 2763