Sunday, 18 January 2009

Harpenden (circular) – (Hertfordshire) – 18/01/09 – 8 miles approx – 9kg – IVC.

These days a trip for me to St. Pancras station, means a trip to visit Helen. Therefore I had to remind myself not to hop onto the East Midlands Sheffield train, but instead get the First Capital Connect one to Flitwick (getting off of course at Harpenden). Given that they run at four an hour on that line, I even decided to get on the one fifteen minutes in front of everyone else, purely for no other reason than I could. Anyway today was something of a first for me, as it was the first time I have dared to come on one of these IVC walks with a weighted rucksack. I am sufficiently confident now that I am not going to take the skin off my feet (despite that large blister on the 22nd December). That said for the entire day my right calf muscle was grumbling away, and gave the impression that it did have the potential to pull at a moments notice. This is a very old running injury, which immediately revisited itself on me during my abortive 3 week running comeback in 2007. However I have noticed in the last few weeks of my ‘rucksack walking’ that it has made its presence felt again, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it does pull at some stage (as in the past, that means sitting it out for the three weeks or so it takes to get better), but we shall see.

Now this was not a particularly long walk consisiting of four miles to the pub and then four miles back to the station by a slightly different route. Although the weather felt more chilly than I had dressed for at the start, once all twelve of us were on the move, things warmed up nicely. Shortly before lunch we made our way along the ‘Nickey Line’ for a short distance, which is a former railway line that linked Harpenden, Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead. Lunch itself was in a fairly quiet pub where you could have anything you wanted to eat, provided it was a roast dinner. I opted for the roast chicken, which looked very similar to other people’s roast lamb and roast beef, not least because they were all covered with the same unappetising gravy. The chocolate gateau afterwards was a bit more like it, but caused me some confusion when it came with five grapes. Once off again we passed Redbournbury watermill, and finished the walk relatively early in the afternoon, after passing through Harpenden Common.

There was a moment early on in the walk when we were making our way across some rolling farmland, where I had a sharp intake of breath and thought to myself that it is views like this that really lift the spirits and make country walking so enjoyable. Unfortunately that was easily as good as it got, as most of this walk consisted of walking along lanes where the countryside always seemed to be on the other side of the hedgerow. That said it was fresh air all the same, and a chance to get out of the city. However as a comparison it was nowhere near as interesting or enjoyable as the IVC walk the previous weekend. Now that was a walk ………… !

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