Sunday 1st May 2011
Well, we did it!!
Despite the atrocious weather forecasts for Saturday, it turned out to be just perfect – mostly warm and sunny with a lovely light refreshing breeze too.
We got up just after 5am to give us time to have a good breakfast (kedgeree prepared the night before), and we were off and out of the house by 6am.
By time we parked up in town and walked to Winchester Cathedral, it was exactly 6.30am and we were ready for the off, but at such an early time, there was nobody else but us about, so I had to take the first picture.
The first hour and a half passed quickly, but felt a little demoralising because we were still in Winchester as the first part of the Clarendon Way takes you along the water meadows, up over Whiteshute Ridge, and through parts of Oliver’s battery before finally linking up with near one of my favourite daily walks around the southern edge of the Royal Winchester Golf course.
Now we felt we were really on our way, and I was soon allowed off my lead for a proper sniff around at my own pace! And boy, did we go at some pace? Trevor and Ceara were really stepping out at a romp as they were keen to get to their coffee stop on time.
By 9am we had reached the Farley Mount Monument, and that was a good feeling, then it was only another hour and fifteen before we dropped down through the farmer’s fields into Kings Somborne, where Sam, Friends of the Family project leader, meet us with treats for me and coffee and cakes for the humans. Fully refreshed and a few photos later, we were off up the hill and out of the valley again, heading towards Haughton.
This was a fun part, as I got to have a splash in the lovely crisp waters of the River Test - it was beginning to get quite warm by now. We passed the pig farms next, but I was made to go back on the lead here as I was a bit tempted to go and play with the cute little piglets. Our next stop was at The Grey Hound, a lovely dog-friendly pub in Broughton which specialises in Italian food. They dined on pasta and I had a long drink and some delicious doggy treats, and was just about to settle down for a nap, when it was time for us to be off again.
The next stretch was quite difficult – with no rain for a few weeks, the ground was solid and we could feel every bump and groove of the earth which was baked hard with no 'give' in it at all. We had a long rise up a steep hill out of Broughton, and along Buckholt Lane, which seemed to go on for miles! I was beginning to think I was never going to have a good bird chase when all of a sudden, just before we approached one of the Winterslows, I spotted a hen pheasant and decided to go for the chase. Great fun, but a bit short lived, not only because the silly bird decided to give up and fly off, but also because I ended up in somebody’s garden, for which I was told off! Never mind, just a few minutes more and we had an ice lolly and drink stop, where a very kind lady who lived near the village shop offered me a drink from her outside tap.
I could tell that Ceara was beginning to tire at this point, but Trevor and I were fine! However, we kept on going, and after a little bit of a mistaken turn into a field too early, we were soon dropping downhill again into the Wiltshire village of Pitton. By now, we were all quite hot, tired and thirsty and Trevor was looking forward to a refreshing pint of real ale and Ceara, a calf massage. I devoured another of the special doggy chews Sam had brought for me earlier, and settled quickly under the table for a snooze. But the poor old humans had to go without their drinks as the pub was shut!! Ceara was worried about our water situation as she was counting on the pub landlord filling up our bottles for us, but we were rescued , yet again, by another kind villager who offered to take our bottles home to re-fill.
It was now coming up to 5pm, and we knew we wanted to complete this marathon walk within twelve hours, so we didn’t hang around long before we were off down Slate Lane on our way to Clarendon. This part of the route we had only just practised the weekend before, so we knew it was a pleasant walk and not too taxing. Good job too, as Ceara’s blister on the base of her foot was causing some discomfort, but me, being a Border Terrier and bred for the course and prickly ground shrubs of the heathland, my paws were doing very nicely, thank you. I had a bit of a pick-me-up at this point too as I found a tatty tennis ball and managed to chase and play with it for nearly a mile! (Trevor will tell you that I LOVE a tennis ball, and it will keep me entertained for hours!). We passed the ruins of the old Clarendon Palace, and there, right in front of us on the path was a HUGE hare! It stopped dead when it saw us (or me for that matter) turned immediately and ran, so I did too! I don’t know where the sudden burst of energy came from, but the hare soon got away and I resolved to coming back and joining the other two for the rest of the walk. We began the descent into the valley where Salisbury lies, and a welcome sight met us when we saw the magnificent cathedral spire rising ahead – Ceara tried to capture it with her rather basic camera phone, but the sun was too low and still strong, so the spire did not show up in the photo. But we knew we were nearly there, and that gave us a boost to keep going and try to make that twelve hour target.
The sun was still shining for us, we’d had not a drop of rain, and apart from a few stiff joints and a closed watering hole, all had gone very well to plan. We had the Cathedral right in front of us and all we had to do was cross one more road and enter the Close through a gate in the wall, when all of a sudden there was a shriek from Ceara! Her blister had decided to burst just at that moment, so, in the last three minutes to half past six in the evening, we crawled at hobbling pace to the Cathedral for our final photograph, and made it just in time. We found a kind visitor to take our first photo of the day of all three of us, and this person just happened to be a semi-professional photographer – what luck!! It was the best photo of them all (perhaps Ceara’s camera phone isn’t so bad after all??)
So, we’d managed to cover 25 miles of the stunning and undulating Hampshire and Wiltshire countryside within twelve hours, and all we had to do now was to catch a train home back to Winchester. Luckily for us, this was one weekend when there were no track works happening, so we had an easy journey, and I was quick to settle on the floor and enjoy being rocked to sleep by the train movements.
Since coming home, we’ve all slept a lot, and had lots of people telling us how well we’ve done, but, to be honest, I don’t know what all the fuss is about! After all, I’d do it again because going for ‘walkies’ is my favourite thing in the world, apart from tennis balls…………. and roast chicken…………… and snuggling up on mum and dad’s bed in the morning……………………… and carrots………………………….and chasing birds…………………and...zz...zzzz...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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Many of you who know me, know that I am often called a puppy because I am small (for a Border terrier) and very cute. But I will be three years old on St George's Day (hence my name, Georgie) and so I want to prove to everyone once and for all that I'm now a 'big girl' and can do a properly long walk! SO, I've persuaded my owners, Ceara and Trevor, to come along with me because they really do need to get fit, and because I didn't think I'd be taken seriously if I did this one on my own.
We're going to walk The Clarendon Way, which is a mere marathon of 25 miles from Winchester Cathedral to Salisbury Cathedral. We've walked most of it twice already as I've been dragging the humans out on training walks and checking out our route every weekend for the past month or so. But on April 30th, when most other people will be recovering from their post royal wedding parties, we'll be up before the sparrows, and on our way from Winchester Cathedral towards Kings Somborne, and onwards to Salisbury ALL in just one day!
So I had the idea of doing this BIG WALK, but then Ceara and Trevor thought it would be silly to walk all that way in one day withot making it a charity walk. This is where I become famous, because soon everyone in Winchester will know my name, AND Winchester's Friends of the Family get some money too. We've chosen this charity because Ceara is one of their volunteers, and she's keen that the charity should have enough money to keep doing all the good work they do for more years to come.
(By the way, being a Border Terrible, I am very ready for this as I was bred to 'follow a horse'. My vet says I'm fit enough - not so convinced about the old folk coming with me though!)
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