On the 16th June (I know it's a bit late) Adrian, Claire, Khan, Peter and I planned to walk stages 5 and 6. Things did not go smoothly.
Peter was in a meeting and couldn't get away in time. Adrian, Claire, Khan and I left work in good time to get to Victoria and get our tickets (including Peters so he could get straight on the train.) This was a good plan except I ended up on the train (just!) with Peter's ticket. He called us just after we'd pulled out of the station.
We agreed that we (the four on the train) would set off at a reasonable pace and Peter would "catch us up". This was a heroic undertaking on Peter's part as the next train was an hour later!
The train journey south was through the most horrific of weather! There were many worried looks and talk of getting the next train back.
When we finally arrived at Amberley the rain had stopped and the sky was bright. We found the footpath to connect to the South Downs Way and I called Peter with instructions that were obviously sub-par.
You can see where we didn't quite follow the track as I had programmed it (in pink)... this is for two reasons:
1) We got a little lost
2) I think I didn't program the right way-points.
The hills really took it out of me this time. I am not sure if they were any worse than the other stages I've done, or if I was weaker than previously, but there was a couple times when I thought I was going to die, and that seemed like the preferable option.
Peter did arrive an hour after we did... and set off using the instructions I gave him, missed the South Downs Way and headed off in the opposite direction. Whoops. After a phone call - and some confusion about which bridge he had crossed we sorted that out and Peter walked back the way he had gone and got on the track. By now he was an hour plus an extra mile behind us. He wouldn't stay that far behind us because I was suffering from hillitus and generally slowing the team up to the point that Claire and Khan disappeared into the distance and Adrian cheered me up with quips about the Caladonian Challenge
, delirium, and memories of a special moon.
We caught up with "the kids" after a nice long stretch of trail that didn't have much in the way of ups and downs and I had pretty much got my breath back. We found a seat carved from a fallen tree and stopped for a quick photo op:
When we wandered off the planned path (about 12k in), we ended up walking a heavily forested path that was so steep there were steps carved into it. It was twisting back and forth so just when you think you might have climbed the last bit - another steep climb sprung into view.
At the top the boys had a quick "pit-stop" while Claire bounced about on a fallen tree - apparently the "mountain" (as she put it) we had just climbed hadn't fazed her in the least.
Walking towards the A24 we missed the official trailwalker route that misses crossing the A24... so we risked life and limb and crossed the busiest road on the route. Straight after the road was another unending hill... and by now Peter was only about 15 minutes behind us (he did have the benefit of not taking the wrong route!)
Claire and Khan had disappeared off into the distance again, and as we walked along another relatively flat section of the trail Adrian and I could see something vaguely Peter shaped striding from the horizon toward us.
Once Peter had caught us up... and we had caught up with the kids (not because we got any faster... but because they had stopped) we walked the final 5 or 6 kilometres to Botolphs... which is a two horse "town" in the middle of exactly nowhere.
I called the taxi firm I had looked up the day before, and got an answer machine. This wasn't quite the way it had been planned... but luckily Peter's wife was in the area, came and found us and gave us a lift back to the station.
Tags: trailwalker 2011
Current Mood: exhausted
Current Music: La Roux – Bulletproof