After some confusion as to which train I should be on (I really should not be out of the house before 9 o'clock!) I successfully met up with Adrian at Shenfield Station at the correct time. We arrived at Braintree Station about 10 minutes before 9 o'clock.
We hung around the station in the off chance that any of the other walkers were going to join us... but to the 9 o'clock chimes of a local church it was just the two of us that set off.
The plan: walk the "Flitch Way" from Braintree to Bishops Stortford (15 miles), stop for a quick bite and a fresh pair of socks, then head back to Braintree station (15 miles).
The outward segment of the journey wasn't bad at all. We passed a beer festival (yup - Adrian and I *passed* a beer festival) and was in relatively good cheer. We played "The Claire Game:" My name is Adrian and I come from Aberdeen and I have brought some Apples... and so on through the alphabet. We realised if it just the two of you, the one that starts gets Q, U and Y where as the second person gets X and Z... which are easier!
The weather was playing nice... a clear sunny day - but lots of cover on the path from trees.
We got a little lost when the old railway path ended (not really ended as such - more got very very overgrown) and we had to fight back through the trees to get on the path again. We were also left scratching our heads when the trail appeared to end in a foot deep river... until Adrian remembered he'd brought the pamphlet and we found our bearings again quite quickly. Walking through Great Dunmow we made plans on popping into the fish and chip shop and what we might eat on the move on the way back.
A picture of a church and Adrian after 19.7km... still looking cheerful and everything!
It was at the end of the track, and our half way point, that things started to go a bit pear shaped. The trail stops in the middle of nowhere.
The original plan was to get some extra supplies at the half way point... now we would have to wait until we got back to Great Dunmow - another 11km.
At least the weather was still being kind! It had got a little warm... but for about 80% of the trail we were covered by trees. It was with no small amount of irony then that it started to piss down just as we came to the most exposed part of the track. Adrian and I laughed heartily!
It was still pretty miserable by the time we got back to Great Dunmow. All thoughts of fish and chip shop faire had gone - so we popped into the "One Stop" and I got myself a very bland sausage roll and what turned out to be a very nice pork pie, plus a energy drink as I was feeling the need.
The weather cleared a little (as we got back under cover) and the tiny flies came out in force. Adrian and I had moved on from "The Claire Game" to "The Adrian and Katie Game" (which in all fairness is just a variation on "The Claire Game") where there is a category (we had fun with "car makes and models") and you have to name one beginning with every letter of the alphabet.
Adrian noticed (and kept repeating) how straight the path was. I was glad it was straight... the shortest distance between two points and all that. We also noticed how little wildlife we saw... but that probably had a lot to do with now much noise we were making!
The weather started to get worse again... and pretty much stayed terrible until we got back to Braintree. My mood was further dampened when I noticed we'd also already walked 30 miles, yet we hadn't walked past the beer festival yet - something Adrian had estimated to be a couple miles from our start point. His estimate turned out to be quite accurate (which pleased him immensely) - he was just 1/4 of a mile short.
It would have taken much more to cheer me up. Living up to my grumpy old git persona to the full it was difficult for Adrian to get much out of me at all.
Just before 20 past 7 we arrived at Braintree station. I was both mentally and physically shattered. I had acquired quite an enormous (at least an inch long) blister on the ball of my right foot (which has never happened to me before) and the soles of both feed felt like they'd been beaten with a baseball bat.
Map and stats for the trip:
That's a total of 53.2km averaging 5.57km/h there and 5.15km/h on the way back with a 21 minute stop in the middle.
For the old timers - that's 16.5 miles there and back (33 miles), averaging 3.45mph there and 3.19mph on the way back.
Tags: trailwalker 2011
Current Mood: sore
Current Music: Midge Ure - The Gift