Thursday, 12 September 2013

Day 5 - Cookham to Chertsey (22 miles, 10.5 hours)

Ted dropped me back into Cookham at 7am and once again the first mile was incredibly slow. It was going to be another very hot day. I passed Boulters Lock and Bray Lock which were in stunning settings, and moved on towards Eton and Windsor.

I saw a cool plaque by the river at Boulters Lock which read as follows:

“Old Father Thames goes gliding by
As ripples run he winks his eye
At Cotswold cows and Oxford dons,
Nodding to Windsor’s royal swans,
He bears our nation’s liquid crown
By lock and weir to London town.
May all that know and love his banks
Pause here awhile to offer thanks.”

Poem by Ian Miles at Boulters Lock - I paused, and offered thanks
It was around this point when I saw a duck waddling along quietly minding its own business. All his mates had already gone into the water so I gave him a little "quack" and off he went to join them. At that moment I realised that in the last few days I had mooed at a cow, baaed at a sheep and now quacked at a duck. Clearly, I was going a bit nuts; but I did spend the rest of the afternoon hoping I might find a pig to snort at. 

As I approached Windsor I was met by my friend Phil Burdekin who is himself in training for a 100km walk -all in one go - on the 14th of September. Phil stayed with me for most of the day and was a real bonus bit of company as he only decided to come at short notice and I’d had a couple of cancellations. Although this would turn out to be the shortest day of my journey so far, I was worried at how slow I was getting so having someone set the pace a little really helped. 

Arriving in Windsor
As soon as I had accepted the offer from Mrs Ted to stay in Bray the previous day, I decided I would also take up another offer from my old buddy Ian to stay with him tonight, so I opted to walk a little further than I’d actually planned and go on to Chertsey, rather than Laleham which was the original stopping point.I guess that the extra five miles the previous day had actually helped me out a little.

We passed through Windsor and took lunch in a Harvester in Old Windsor at 1:30pm which was about 15 miles in, and then went under the M25 and I began to feel that home was not all that far away.It was however, absurdly hot. Pushing 30 degrees and my pack felt horribly heavy. Thank God Phil had turned up with a BLT to help me along as I went, and to give me something to help absorb the painkilelrs.

At the M25 I began to feel like I was approaching home
We came into Staines at about 4pm and Phil left to catch the train. As he turned to go I told him that the connection was pretty good and he’d be back to Clapham Junction in about 45 minutes. We joked about how I live in Clapham Junction and so could also be home in less than an hour…and then that was all I could think about for the remaining 90 minutes of my day.

I also passed the house of my old Tristan where I had spent many a summer when I was younger and quietly wished his parents still lived there. Much as I was looking forward to seeing my mate Ian later, there is something comforting about returning to a place from your childhood where there was always a ton of food and comfy chairs and sofas. I remember the beds in that house as the most comfortable I've ever slept in.

A former hang out just outside Stanes
I passed Laleham and arrived at the Kingfisher pub in Chertsey at 5:20pm. Here I was greeted by a bar girl who, when I said I was walking the Thames, said: “You’re nuts Rather you than me…oh…and you’re going to get soaked tomorrow.” That was particularly nice I thought, she might as well have kicked me in the bollocks. 

Ian picked me up and we went back to where he and his wife Ange live. I didn’t last long and was in bed by 8:45pm, but was hugely grateful for yet more hospitality. I knew I was coming towards London now and that things would begin to change from here. I was in considerable pain and was actually scaring Ian a little I think. My feet and toes were swelling up, particularly on my right foot, and putting any pressure on my right shin was agony, while my left knee was really very swollen and I struggled to bend or straighten my leg so I spent most of the evening with ice packs on both legs. 

Despite that though, for the first time I could see the end and started to think about finishing. I was in a great mood, and after a question about mango from Ian I couldn’t get that stupid advert out of my head about mangoes, which amused me considerably. I didn’t realise at the time, but I was actually lullng myself into a false sense of security, I had 44 miles to go, and that is still quite a long way in the grand scheme of things, but for the most part, I felt pretty pleased with myself.

Facebook Status: 22 miles in 10.5 hours today (total now 144). Slow going but Holy Lord it was hot! Huge thanks to Phil Burdekin for joining for most of the day-would've been much tougher without you pal. Right now, for the first time, I feel like Buck Rogers...I think I'm gonna make it.


  1. Plus, I almost gave myself a hernia picking up Alan's pack in The Kingfisher, half dragging and half lifting it to the car - and I'm not exactly a seven-stone weakling.

    I had even more admiration for Alan's amazing achievement after that little episode.

    And yes, Alan. I was indeed sorely afeared for your progress. If you lurched into the Thames with that pack on, we'd never find you.

  2. Well done mate, great work for Charity. I am enjoying the story, from my comfortable desk!

    Next challenge, they say the River Severn is longer!

    If you are ever in the west end, give me a shout, I will buy you a beer you deserve one!