It had finally come. The day that we had all be planning for many weeks.
I wasn’t expecting just a walk in the park…far from it, but the experience of walking the equivalent of a marathon with a very heavy 70 litre back turned out to be far harder than I could have imagined.
I was picked up at 4.30am by a smiling Jacko pulling up outside my house in his noisy jeep. Before I was able to see how many of the neighbours were awoken by the vibrant engine I had thrown my gear in the back and we headed for his house where we’d meet the guys before starting our journey by taxi to Farnham (the very start of the North downs)
At Jacko’s house we met the cab (John who works for Jacko – doing a bit of moonlighting) he’d already picked up a weary Smithy (30 mins early to Smithy’s delight). I had already had my first nightmare as the hydration pack (3 litre water bladder) had leaked in my bag overnight causing a bit of a panic. Jacko came to the rescue as he had a spare one. Up on his flat, Millsy was still walking around in his pants (not a nice site) packing his gear into his pack. After 10 mins of messing about we were off.
On the way we stopped off at a petrol station to use the loo and to load up on last minute rations. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what Millsy was purchasing. He was cradling a sandwhich, 2 large bars of chocolate, 2 types of cheeses and a drink. A packet of jelly babies and other goodies – I suppose a Man’s got to eat!
We got to Farnham at 7am, had a quick group photo and started the first of our 140 mile walk. It’s funny how as a group there is a real cheerful atmosphere at the beginning of a big challenge. After 2 miles, I could feel a blister forming on my heel. Bollocks not already. How can this happen so soon? We stopped and out came the electrical tape. Having carried out a thorough wrapping We were off again.
Our first pit stop was two hours in. Energy bars – mine was a bounce bar. It looked like a compressed mushy squirrel shit but was pleasantly nice.
Millsy was tucking into his feast 🙂
The sun was now hitting us from a great height, making the walk that much more difficult. I was down to my running vest, Jacko and Millsy were down to first layers and Smithy was still wearing first layer and waterproof jacket. Was he going to suffer later!!
Our second stop was 4 hours into the walk. We sat down under a shaded area as the sun was still beating down from the clear skies above. We all took on water. Millsy was tucking into chocolate and baby-bell cheese – really?
10 minutes later we were off. Smithy still expecting rain that was never going to arrive.
Our next stop was for lunch. We were now 6 hours into our walk and over half way to our destination West Humble (or that’s what we thought).
Off came the boots to give our feet a deserved cooling off. The layers came off and Smithy undid his jacket. The self heating meals came out. Mine was a chicken tikka with rice. Once I had worked out how to heat it up, I consumed the lot. It was lovely. The boys had pretty much the same and Millsy also tucked I to another bar of chocolate and jelly babies.
From the corner of my eye, I could see Smithy flapping the top of his jacket to catch some cool air. what I couldn’t understand was, he was sitting in direct sunshine. Our journey continued info the afternoon without too much happening. It was so hot and we were all struggling a little. Maybe that’s why Millsy was feasting on his chocolate. He didn’t want it to melt!
We walked through the afternoon without too much happening until we got to West Humble. The problem was, we were in the wrong town for the B&B. we found out that we should have been in Dorking (2 miles back up the hill) We had passed it en route. We decided to find a pub to rest over a pint only Smithy went into melt down. His body temperature dropped at an alarming rate due to wearing his wet suit on the driest, and warmest day of the year! A bag of nuts and a pint sorted that out. We found our B&B and got off to sleep by 9.30pm
Tomorrow we tackle 30 miles arghhh………
– From Ian, Millsy, Jacko and Smithy