Well lets face it, February was hardly a vintage walking month for me, especially as regards this blog. A combination of: dental and plumbing appointments (cancelled and actual), the early month’s snowfall which was followed for me by a bout of flu, and then finally a recognition that I cannot totally ignore cycling as a means of exercise, meant that since my last blog entry on 27/01/09, I have managed just 5 rucksack walks (2 x Four milers and 3 x Six milers).
Anyway following my umpteenth (and Helen’s second) traverse over stages 6 & 7 of the Capital Ring in January, me and Helen finally moved onto stage 9. So what happened to stage 8 I hear you ask ? The answer of course is that we completed that stage some three and a bit months back in November. Now this walk was meant to include stage 10 as well as 9 (catching up you see), but for reasons to be explained later, that was postponed for another day.
So after assorted tube, bus and coffee interconnections we set off from the Greenford start point on a sunny, but with occasional chilly gusts, day. A quick skirt round the edge of Paradise Fields Wetlands and we soon found ourselves on the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal. Very nice too, as apart from the occasional duck there was nothing to disturb us as we carried along there for about a mile. Having come off at Ballot Box Bridge we gradually began the long climb up to the top of Horsenden Hill. The steepness of which was a little unexpected, and proves that walking in London isn’t as flat as one might assume. Thus having reached the summit we were able to take in the view, which according to the information boards scanned: Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. I must admit that to me, the view seemed little more than looking down on a series of industrial estates and houses. However we did have some additional entertainment with a particularly small and yappy dog, and a jogger who couldn’t seem to decide whether he was going up hill or down.
Back down through Horsenden Wood (part ancient), we found ourselves listening to some Woodpeckers communicating with each other, over the sounds of some nearby builders. However we then found ourselves back out on the roads, and actually passing the café at Sudbury Hill where we had our coffee an hour and a bit earlier. Thus apart from a small off road track that took us part of the way up Sudbury Hill, this was where the green and country part of this walk started to all but disappear. Helen however was able to get a bit more from this urban part of the walk then me, as we passed by where one of her oldest friends used to live.
Following the main roads our next main reference point was to be Harrow (public) school. However a slightly ambiguous part of the written instructions, meant I took us both off the correct route and downhill on a very narrow lane. However after ten minutes or so of head scratching we retraced out steps and got back on track again towards Harrow school. Following the instructions precisely this time, we were allowed to go through the actual playing/sports grounds of the school. Wembley Stadium which had been popping up at various points on the walk, was very close at this point. Thus nearing the end of the stage we then passed along and/or through Northwick Park: hospital, golf course and park, (encountering a young fox briefly coming towards us) before reaching the stage 9 Capital Ring finish which is the subway of South Kenton station.
With the time nearing one thirty, the idea was to get lunch in the Capital Ring marked pub, and then set back off again on stage 10. However the pub was basically empty, and they told us they didn’t do food. However they did point us in the direction of one that did that was just down the road (in the event a good mile). So having finally found that we were cheered somewhat (well I was anyway as I was buying lunch) to see you could have fish and chips twice for a mere seven quid. All well and good except for the fact that 50 minutes later there was still no sign of it turning up. Helen went off to retrieve the situation with the manager, who to her credit both gave us our money back and a few moments later the fish and chips as well. However by the time we had polished that off, it was now three o clock and given the long trek home required on the tube, we decided to save stage 10 for another day.
Returning now to my opening paragraph from here on in, I think it will be a useful stat to list any rucksack walks I have done since each previous blog entry. So running from the start of the year it reads as:
Rucksack walks (not on this blog) from the start of the year up to my last blog entry (3 x Four milers and 2 x Six milers).
Rucksack walks since my last blog entry (2 x Four milers and 3 x Six milers).