Archive for July, 2011

Female walking record

July 31, 2011

5am outsidePatchway Community College

I wasn’t going to see off Matthew Hall and Tracy Darch yesterday, because 5am is too early for me, but we had grandchildren to stay, so I had a human alarm call at 4-23, just the right time to get down to Patchway. As far as I know, they are the first from the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) to have a go at the Green Man Challenge, so I was keen to see haw they would get on and had reglar updates by text during the day. They started off strongly, but Tracy picked up a knee injury on the way up to Dundry which caused problems for the rest of the trip. Consequently, it was past 9pm before I set out for the appropriately named Travellers’ Rest (or the Hungry Horse) in Patchway to see them in. The good news was they had Greene King IPA on special offer at £2-20. The slightly less good news was it was music night of the kind that attracts middle aged blokes. Matthew and Tracy were footsore and weary when they appeared round the corner shortly before 10 with a time of approximately sixteen hours forty five minutes. Tracy is the third woman to have finished the Challenge and her effort also sets the walking record for women.

The first person I know to have completed a circuit of the CFP was Bristol artist, Richard Long, who did it in about sixteen hours in 1998. The current walking record is 11 hours 35 mins set by Rob “Strider” Burrows in April 2010.

The Long Way Round

July 6, 2011



Karl and John outside the Deer Park

John Carr and I were first introduced to the Green Man through Chris Bloor during our hashing nights with the Bristol Grey Hounds. John has always been a keen walker and outdoor person and has recently completed several long walks with Karl as well as recently qualifying as an instructor for the ‘World Challenge’. John was clearly keen to attempt the Green Man and was keen to get others interested. My thoughts were that I had completed some previous events, the longest being 35 miles on the Malvern’s but, you do forget, time flies and that would have been some 30years ago!! I wasn’t sure about 45.

Anyway, John was keen and Karl and I were up for it. John, who is a great organiser, decided on the date, Saturday 11th June. We were not going to run it but aim to complete it by walking it within the 24 hrs. So, John’s plan:  Bring a packed lunch, plenty of water/drinks, try and keep to the schedule he had worked out, walk at the pace of the slowest, take more short breaks as opposed to a few longer ones, bring a change of shoes and socks, we will try and get a few friends to join us at certain points, we will start at 03.30. and ENJOY yourself. This seemed an OK plan to me. My thoughts were that no matter where we were on the route, if there was a problem, a lift home was no more than a phone call away.

At 02.40. I was up, light breakfast and round to Karl’s to pick up the lift. Karl appeared on time and then off to John’s house. As said before, John is very organised, so you can imagine our surprise to find John’s house in complete darkness. We were unable to raise anyone even after ringing on the bell and banging on the door. Did we have the right day?? A quick phone call revealed John had overslept, (thank goodness it wasn’t one of us!! We would have been in trouble!) It was interesting to see John struggling down the garden path trying to put on boots, rucksack and coat all at the same time! The first part of the plan, slightly behind schedule!

Off to Ashton Court. At that time in the morning we could not get through the gate and so climbed the wall. A quick photo before we entered the deer park, only two in the frame though, not easy to find a passer by at that time to oblige with the camera. We were on our way, a few minutes late!! Heading down-hill past the house and on to the Dovecote, first stop Dundry. At this point, John’s mobile phone alarm went off, no wonder he overslept he had not catered for British Summer Time! The first part of the walk was very familiar, although I was pleased that John was doing all the navigating and map reading, it made life for Karl and I very easy, something I appreciated greatly at various stages of the walk. At that time of the day it was quite cool and the dew was thick on the long grass in many fields and this meant everything from the waist down was sodden. As we arrived on Dundry it was getting lighter and the sun was well on its way up and there were some wonderful views back towards Bristol and Ashton Court, our starting point. No time to waste, we were into our stride and after a quick snack and a drink, we were back on our way.

We all seemed very happy and glad the first section was under our belt. We made good time on the next section and it was nice to see the huge viaduct which signaled that we were not far from our next stop, Pensford. Over the bridge at Pensford, a quick stop on the bench for John to change his ‘wet’ boots for a pair of trainers, for him to unleash his walking poles and to grab a quick drink and snack. Also, that familiar question, “How many miles have we done?” This question soon turned into “How many left?!!”

Next stop Keynsham. This was a lovely part of the route. Nice countryside, some nice views and at this point all of us were feeling comfortable and upbeat. Pleasant conversation and well on schedule. At Keynsham, we stopped by the Lock Keeper and it was my turn to discard the boots and put on trainers, it was a pleasant change. All of us at this point also discarded some of our attire as it was turning into a lovely warm day. We had a quick recharge of our batteries, snacks and drinks, before commencing the next stage.

Along the river and heading for the Warmley cycle path. When we got to the cycle path we stopped at the Station Café and both John and Karl settled for a coffee and bacon and egg roll. I went for my packed lunch. At this point I was not sure if sitting down was a good option, rather worried about stiffening up. A little longer break this time, although walking on the cycle track, though rather boring and dangerous due to ‘speeding bikes’ it was easy going and we were making good time.

It was good to leave the cycle track and get back onto some country paths, now heading for the White Horse at Winterbourne. During this stage, I felt we all seemed to be quieter. There seemed to be a determination to get on with it and for myself I was starting to feel tired and theWhitehorsecould not come quick enough. The ‘Half-way House’ on the Kendleshire golf course was a welcome quick stop for refreshments and we were clearly seen as not being ‘Golfers’ and were kindly reminded several times where the  footpath was. We finally made the White Horseand as we walked round into the car park, it was great to see two friends, John.H and Paul with two goldenLabradors. They were going to join us for the next part of the walk. They were enthusiastic and keen to know everything about our day so far. What had it been like? Did you get started on time? How are you feeling? Any problems etc etc…. Not sure if we had enough energy to answer all the questions, but it was great to have fresh faces, even the four legged ones! It was also good to lighten our loads as we dispensed of many items we did not need, empty lunchboxes, bottles, boots, coats and extra layers of clothing into John H’s car. After our break, it was off again, with a fresh, rejuvenated feeling.

The next stage started well with our new quests and with the return of conversation it took our minds off the distance left and the aches and strains that were starting to develop. It was good to get through Bradley Stoke, across the M5 and back into the countryside. Even with friends joining you, you do slip back into that quiet determination to ‘Keep Going’. Karl was feeling tired and took over John’s walking poles and was supported by Paul who walked with him at the back. At this stage we were all starting to slow. I had to stop and taking off my trainer revealed a very bad blister. No worries, John Carr had the duct tape, and with a little bit of first aid, we were back on track and moving. John.H and Paul, plus the four legged friends left us by Clifton Rugby Club and after a quick group photo, we were back on our own and heading for Blaise.


 Karl had phoned his wife, and had arranged to have his trainers brought along to Blaise. As we walked into the Blaise Estate by the house, Karl’s wife was waiting. I think Karl had a welcome change of footwear and after a few snacks supplied by Karl’s wife, we were off on the home straight. At this point, we all felt this was familiar country and even though feeling very tired and behind schedule, what ever happened, we would be able to finish. We fell into our familiar formation of John leading followed by me and then Karl.

As we ascended the foot path byMariners Driveup to theDowns, we were all wondering why on earth we had not started from our own houses, we could be on our way home now. We all live within ¾mile of where we were. If only!! Across theDownsand heading for the conservatory. Although tired and sore, spirits started to lift, as they do when the end is insight. Karl must have had a second wind and took the lead at a steady stride. Across the bridge and on to the finish with a great sense of achievement, accomplishment, satisfaction and most of all at this point, relief that it was all over. JOB WELL DONE! We were fortunate enough to find a passer by who did oblige with the camera to get three tired but very happy people in the frame. 17hrs 20mins.

Job done!