Friday, 13 September 2013

Day 6 - Chertsey to Putney (25 miles, 11.5 hours)

Friday was the penultimate day and I had 25 miles in store. The forecast wasn’t good but I had tried to stay optimistic and when I looked outside things looked promising. One thing I knew for sure was that had the weather been bad during the first few days then I would never have made it, but I was close enough now, and the path was well enough maintained that I’d cope OK.

I was back at the Kingfisher pub by 06:30am and began the slow trudge onwards. The first mile was now taking me close to 30 minutes and this was the part of the day that I really dreaded, this and the last hour which mostly just dragged.

I hit a nasty setback very early. At Shepperton the river splits. On one side the path continues straight on, but if you’re stuck on the wrong side of the lock you need to get a ferry across. Turns out my map pointed this out (see below) but I was there at 07:30am and it had just begun to rain. I had a choice between a hefty detour of around 2.5 miles, or sitting in the rain for half an hour. I took the hit and began walking.

I was cheered up by a call from my old friend Rhonda out in New Zealand, and made it into Walton by 09:30am when I met my friend Zoe. Bless her, she’d come all the way out to walk in the rain for several hours and got me when I was perhaps at my grumpiest, although the bacon sandwich she brought cheered me up a little. 

The pain was bad today, and the rain made everything heavier and I was not particularly enjoying myself. I’d let myself relax the previous night and now I wasn’t mentally prepared for 25 miles in the rain.

At Hampton Court and looking just like Henry VIII
We did however, pass some really lovely areas again, Hampton Court being the main one, and it was still nice to see these places which I’d never been to and I promised myself I’d go back there one day when I was walking normally and the sun will be shining.

We reached Richmond by 1pm and had lunch at the Pitcher and Piano with an old colleague Ben Fryer and my friend Katie Owen who was going to replace Zoe for the afternoon. We were 15 miles down with ten to go.
Looking sharp in the Pitcher & Piano in Richmond
The afternoon was a real struggle and I began to feel really queasy. Thankfully the rain eased off but I was still not in the best of moods and it seemed to take forever to reach Putney Bridge. The friendliness and general interest of strangers had totally disappeared as well. For the previous five days I’d been regularly asked what I was doing and why, but once into London the interest disappeared. Nobody said hello as we passed anymore and, the staff in the pub aside, nobody gave a damn. It was slightly depressing and began to get me down as my legs throbbed and I longed for Putney to come into view.

It did eventually and I reached the house of Sharpey and Sarah at 6:30pm, who again looked after me brilliantly with an almighty portion of lasagne and Sarah giving my shin another painful massage. I spoke to a few people about the final day and was due to meet everyone at 07:15am at Putney Bridge, but having come past the bridge to get to their house we agreed that Sharpey would go and meet everyone as I could swing around the corner to the river to avoid backtracking.

Craven Cottage...Putney can't be far now can it?
There were now just 19 miles to go, I was excited but still incredibly tired and yet again I struggled for sleep as every time I rolled over everything from the waist down hurt. Since Tuesday I’d been having to physically lift my legs up with my hands to actually move them once I’d stopped walking and the painkillers had worn off, so sleeping on an airbed made things interesting! I actually wish someone had filmed me trying to stand up and turn off the lights, it took me about five minutes to stand up and take three paces! But the end was actually in sight this time – and I was quietly satisfied.

Facebook Status: “This morning was unadulterated misery. Shepperton Lock caused a massive detour, rain made pack heavier and my excitement of being nearly finished was tempered very quickly. Huge thanks to Zoe Farquhar for braving the rain, and Peter Sharpe & Sarah Cummins for sorting me out tonight. 7:15 tomorrow at Putney Bridge folks, I'll probably be sending a representative! 168 miles successfully trodden.”

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