Thursday, 5 June 2014

I’ve been everywhere man... like the great Johnny Cash... or Chris Addison. – 26th May 2014 – Dunstable to Dunstable, via Luton, Kinsbourne Green, Harpenden, Redbourn, Flamstead, Markyate and Kensworth

As is becoming a bit of a regular occurrence in recent weeks, I had been a bit ill on Saturday morning which I only discovered when I had gotten out of bed at 4am to do a training walk. As I nearly fell down after what had been a truly shattering week at work, Super Wife gave me a stern talking to and demanded I shelve the morning’s perambulation. So back to bed I went... which was glorious. Until about 10am when sitting in my living room I had felt like the biggest failure who had ever lived (or skived a PE lesson) ever... ever! Sunday wasn’t an option for getting out into the countryside to catch up on those missed training miles either. Super Wife works all day on a Sunday and Daddy has the responsibility of looking after little monkey face – whilst also attempting to pack up various bit and pieces in the house (as we were moving in a couple of weeks).
But I was not to be deterred... like Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, I was a man on a mission... but unlike Elwood and Jake my assignment wasn’t handed down to me by any unseen deity. Nope, my task was motivated by a deep desire to not appear to be a grade A, top of the class, cream of the crop whoopsie (and to not let valuable training days slip away when there was only a month left to go until the big one)!
So... on a chilly bank holiday morning... an early morning... 4:45 to be exact... I was already out of my front door dressed in a green Macmillan t-shirt, wearing a flat cap, a duffel coat, my worn out hiking boots (which had lost a couple of rusty eyelets that very morning), some Sealskinz socks and a pair of ripped jeans (that were so ripped in fact around the groin area that it looked like I was wearing vagrant chaps). I had talcum powdered the living hell out of my feet, but I had been forced to forego the gooey delights of having petroleum jelly smeared all over my inner thighs due to an issue with my restock request being misunderstood by my lovely assistant, Super Wife. That’s right! I was going out into the wild (well... the Luton area) without the protection of Vaseline. I could only hope and pray that some of those 5 shed stones had come from my inner thigh area otherwise it was going to be a pretty busy party in chafe town this afternoon!
Unsurprisingly, for anyone who knows me well, the ink situation in respect of my printer had yet to be resolved, so today’s adventure was again to be unchartered. I walked down Luton Road, past the Central Bedfordshire College’s relatively new motor mechanics centre, past the White Lion Retail Park, under the Duck Bridge and then left up Station Road.
It’s a good thing that I’m not a religious man... else I would have begun to suspect that the omniscient purveyor of retribution had gotten his (or her) ethereal knickers in a transcendent twist. Pour quoi? I hear you cry... the poxy, British weather, that’s why.

The weather had been pretty good up until that morning. Saturday would have been a lovely ambient stroll had I actually managed to get started, but today... today it was chucking it down. It wasn’t raining cats and dogs (more guinea pigs and gerbils) but there was a lot of it... constant and unyielding... so much so that within no more than 100 metres from the house I had managed to soak my jeans right through... well at least I had the world’s largest air vent to stop my under crackers from getting soggy eh? Even the temperature of the rain and wind was such to have a super efficient plum shrinking effect that left me wondering whether I would ever father another child whilst simultaneously wanting to try out the high notes from Let it Go from the Disney wonder that is Frozen... but I digress...
I squeezed through the ridiculously narrow barrier that prevents buggies, wheelchairs and fat blokes from accessing the path along the busway, but which incidentally does bugger all to deter the mopeds and crossers from doing so as they can simply cut through the tree line from the residential streets between Great Northern Road and Downs Road Park.
From there I walked along the footpath between the Paddocks and the park at the foot of Blows Downs until I reached the end of Half Moon Lane.
I then turned left and walked along the base of the hills along the stone and dirt track in the general direction of Jeans Way.
From there I turned diagonally across the open fields, where only a few weeks ago I had engaged in battle with my canine nemesis Trixie.
This morning all was quiet, with only the percussive sounds of rain drops on foliage providing the soundtrack to the opening chapters of today’s ramble. The sound of rain and my own hearty rendition of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, that is. The rain slowly pattered out and I trundled on, singing away. I quite literally couldn’t care less, as a young lad burst past me mid chorus, decked out in his weekend clobber, dashing along in soggy shirt sleeves having clearly been caught in the downpour, and also obviously not enjoying his shivering shuffle of shame the morning after, what was no doubt, an “epic” evening to remember. I used to love the feeling of walking back from a cracking night out n the early hours of the next morning – be honest... no good story ever began “so... I was sat at home sipping a cup of tea and reading a good book...” As the young scallywag disappeared into the grey of the miserable morning to my left, I continued on up the hill and on to the reprise... “I’m... so in love with you... whatever you want to do... is alright with me-e-e-eee...”
Across the chalky pathways that meander around the Bulldog, rabbits everywhere disturbed by the sound of a chubby, pasty white, Lutonian’s rendition of seventies American Soul, I made my way steadily.
I did notice though, that not much more than a couple of miles in (probably not even as far as that) I had started to feel a distinct amount of bruising to my right heel pad – never good.
Evidently, my boots were no longer to be regarded as allies and could properly be categorised as hostile critics of my ongoing endeavours – I started to fantasise about hurling them from the top of the Bulldog comforted only in the knowledge that my swish pair of Scarpa II GTX Rangers (Gucci kit) were soon to arrive and relegate these little buggers for all eternity. Ladies and Gentleman, that sums up what I have become. A man who gets passionate (and borderline violent) about a pair of hiking boots!
I followed the path along to the end of Hatters Way and up the steps that lead along the ridge above the roundabout far below. In the past I have followed the path uphill that runs along a sort of ridge towards the tree-line in the general direction of Caddington Golf Course, but today I was striking out across the overgrown hillside in the direction of Luton. There is the faintest hint of a path to be found in the slight colour differential between the shades of grass but other than that, without a map, you’re on your own.
I walked directly across the hillside until I came to a section of fenced woodland blocking my progress further northeast. There was a style in the far upper corner of the open grassland and on the other side a choice of relatively overgrown dirt paths – one heading sharply uphill in what I would assume to be the direction of Caddington, and one heading downhill, in what I perceived to be the direction of Chaul End Lane, which was the way I had intended to go. Problem is, without a map it’s all guess work, and as I went deeper and deeper into the undergrowth I realised that I... may... have taken a wrong turn (knee deep in stingers and stood next to the carcass of a burnt out Fort Cortina that was in an implausible position considering the lack of ingress and egress into this deep thicket). I managed to scramble my way back up hill, dodging branches, brambles and stinging nettles as I went, bursting back out of the undergrowth onto the dirt track. Even then, I managed to get it wrong again, coming back through the stile and all the way down the hillside until I reached a fence that overlooked the busway below. So, I staggered back up the hill, almost clawing at the tufts of wild grass as I went, and having crossed back through the stile, took the last option available to me; the path that went in the wrong direction towards Caddington. So, I cursed away as I stumbled up the tree roots that littered the track, moving towards the light that was breaking through the overhanging branches until I emerged into open ground, where the path... suddenly turned left! Towards Chaul End Lane! You could have toasted a marshmallow off the embarrassed heat emanating from my flustered, sweaty bonce at that point!
I walked across another meadow, through a large iron gate onto Chaul End Lane, over the road and through a bit of woodland onto a large bit of open land that appeared as if it had been regularly used to race quads and crossers around it judging  by the wealth of tyre grooves all around me.
From there it was up a steep bit of dirt track along what appeared to be the boundary of the M1, before reaching a level and then descending down a set of steps.
At the bottom of those steps you come to a tarmac road of sorts that runs over a bridge that spans the M1 motorway. I say a road of sorts. There is a sign up that states only one vehicle, up to 3.5 tonnes, is permitted on the bridge at any one time, but if you look at the bridge itself it is massively overgrown and more to the point, has only a narrow footpath either end, so exactly where this theoretical lorry is supposed to materialise from is anyone’s guess.
The rain had kicked back in at this point and it was a dark and gloomy track through the woodland for the next 5-10 minutes. My heel had started to ache considerably more and purely to distract myself from this nagging soreness I found the Crazy Dave jukebox tuned into Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, the relentless bass of which sustained me in song until I finally emerged out onto the street by the Brache Sparta clubhouse near the end of Dallow Road.
I walked through the field past the Foxdell Junior School, to the kissing gate in the far corner where the walker is presented with two options – go straight on through a tunnel under the M1 or, as was my want today, turn sharply left down a dark alley that runs along the rear gardens of the houses of the Dallow Estate.
As I was walking along that track wedged between the houses and the motorway the section between slowly became wider and wider until, before I had even realised it, I was walking along a country path through a delightful combination of woodland and hills, the Dallow Downs.
This area, as I understand it, was pretty much unusable back in 2008 when a group of volunteers started working to clear the scrub from this area of grassland and mature woodland. The result of their efforts some six years on is well worth a look.
Why anyone would choose to walk along the tarmac of Dallow Road itself with its industrial estate and overloaded traffic system, when, on a sunny or dry day, it would be just as easy and a lot more pleasant to follow this trail from the top of Dallow Road to Farley Hill or into the Town Centre via Ashburnham Road, is beyond me.
That’s the route I was taking today, over the hill and down to the gate that leads onto what is technically Long Croft Road at the very top of Ashburnham Road.
By the time I walked out onto the tarmac I was again drenched from the waist down, a little bit cold, very bedraggled, freezing my exposed plums off and with condensation dripping from the tips of my straggly beard. Just what every resident wants to see plodding past their house first thing in the morning!
Ashburnham itself is a fairly long emulating road that leads into the heart of Luton, where I turned right into Adelaide Street.
I wandered past the Luton Police Station, which had an alarming number of squad cars and meat wagons parked behind it – the car park was quite literally rammed – and I couldn’t help but speculate as to how few officers there must be out patrolling on this overcast and miserable bank holiday Monday morning. I did consider taking a picture of the sea of vehicles, but my inherent fear and paranoia regarding the constabulary kicked in and I was overwhelmed by a real sense that I might be risking being bundled onto the pavement and detained under the Terrorism Act. So like a true coward, I stole a glancing shot of the front entrance of the towering fortress on Buxton Road over my shoulder as I waddled off into the mist of rain.
I traipsed off down Adelaide Street, then down Hastings Street, onto Regent Street, under the Chapel Viaduct and then down Chapel Street itself. As I splashed through the puddle streets, pausing only to take pictures under the confused gaze of two Eastern European window cleaners, I moved on to my second homage to the man dressed all in black, murmuring out the words to Walk the Line as I went, and only realising what I was doing when I stopped in the middle of Chapel Street to take a photo of my former home. I received an accusatory glare from a bin man cleaning the streets with a pick and a barrow as I pointed my camera in his general direction, but the focus of my lens was Pepe’s Piri Piri that stood behind him – my home as a student for 3 years – number 6 Chapel Street. The flat was absolutely massive, deceptively so if you considered how it looked from the front. When we had moved in the store below had been Oakley Bros, a cured meats and preserves shop with a beautiful tankard glass wooden framed shop front. By the time we moved on it was a Roosters Chicken and Chips shop. I would sit up on the window sill on a mid-week student night and watch the throng of clubbers emptying out onto the street from Space or @mosphere, hailing their taxis, sharing their philosophies, issuing challenges to each other and, of paramount importance, getting their kebab orders in a Efflers.
From the bottom of Chapel Street I looked across to the Mall, forever referred to by me as the Arndale, with its pink and white sign glowing amongst the gloom of a damp Luton morning.
I walked up the pedestrianised Market Hill, strangely eerie in its emptiness, with two tenets of my working life standing proud at its head – the Luton Crown Court where I wile away my days now (from time to time anyway) and the Crown, formerly the Heights, where I worked as a barman for a year or so as a student under the mindful and sedate tuition of “Northern” Dave Upstone, Steve “Cookie” Cook, Gary & Maureen Thompson, Big Gay John, Little Scott, Damien “Damo” Blow, Jim “Jimbo” Watts and countless other quality friends... the stories that Dave, Cookie, Damo and Jim could tell you! Well... they’d probably get me disbarred!
From there it was a soggy stroll down Stuart Street, past the University of Bedfordshire (Luton University) where I spent one year with my good mate Bill Delve studying the law, then under the Park Viaduct and past the Edge, where many a night of intoxicating loud metal and liquors were experienced and onwards past the building where Adams Moore Family Law once existed, where I had worked for a couple of years before the bar.
Park Street was also my home for three years – 217a – where I lived with Lorna and my younger brother Dean, where many a party was had, many a dog was looked after and where we spent a summer digging tree stumps and building rubble out of the back “lawn” before relaying it, only to promptly move away to Colchester.
Park Street was also where we woke up one night to an almighty and thunderous bang that shook the very foundations of the house, causing us all to run down the stairs and open the front door to discover a Vauxhall Corsa had taken out the front wall, hedge, and a not unsubstantial telegraph pole coming to an abrupt stop against the brickwork to our porch at the front of our house. A mid-terraced house... nowhere near any turn or corner! Nevertheless the car sat perpendicular to the flow of traffic with a rather shocked looking young female driver looking out of her windscreen at a rather shocked looking young man, my brother, stood in his boxers staring back at her.
I carried on past my old hovel and turned up Cutenhoe Road towards Stockwood Park. By now the rain was absolutely lashing down and I was drenched.
Cutenhoe Road is a relatively steep residential road in Luton. Not very steep you understand, but it continues for quite a distance at a reasonably steady incline which can be quite difficult to sustain in the pouring rain when you’re suffering from a swollen and aggravatingly painful heel – but sustain the pace I did and soon enough I was walking towards Kidney Wood and the M1 slip road at the top of London Road with the shadow of Stockwood Park fading with each step behind me.
The motorway slip road is undergoing a fair amount of groundwork at the moment, with signs, cones and fencing littered everywhere – despite a distinct lack of human activity this morning. I was forced to play chicken with a National Express coach at this massive roundabout, but a hop, skip, jump and a “bloody hell that was close” later, I was safely on the other side
I waddled down London Road like a duck, soaking, sore, and truth be told not particularly in the right frame of mind for a big walk – but I resolved that it was at times when I was feeling this way that it was most important to carry on. If I am going to walk 1127.5 mles then it’s not going to be all sweetness and light. Sometimes you’ve just got to grit your teeth, fix your gaze at your boots pounding the ground below you and press on.
So that’s what I did... and I started to sing Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere Man” just for shits and giggles.
Soon I was passing the great wrought iron gates of the Luton Hoo Estate, which I hear is a truly magnificent spot for an afternoon tea in the presence of quality companions, but to which I have never been. That said some of the female members of my family were employed as staff there during the Second World War when I believe many a foreign serviceman was billeted there also, so despite my ignorance of its splendour, it will always be splendidly and intrinsically linked to my own family history, as it will be for many a Lutonian.
I crossed the road just before Gibraltar Farm, having inadvertently ended up following a middle aged woman in a wax jacket and rubber boots walking her spaniel for nearly a quarter mile and having crossed over the road at pretty much precisely the same time as her. I had no choice... I had run out of path!
I then walked for just over a mile on a narrow strip of tarmac completely encroached from either side by white flowered weeds and stinging nettles that came up past my chest and soaked me to the bone. I could not even see my feet for foliage. I couldn’t risk reaching down to my pockets to take out my phone or my camera for two reasons – first, I was afraid I might quite literally drown the devices and second, to put my hand anywhere lower than my armpit was to accept being stung repeatedly on my exposed skin. So instead, I kept my hands firmly gripped to the straps of my rucksack just under my armpits and strode on, hesitating only when stung through the saturating fabric of my jeans to curse before continuing.
It was rough.
I moved on to my next Cash classic, “When the Man Comes Around” as I pootled along through the foliage. “There's a man goin' 'round takin' names; and he decides who to free and who to blame; everybody won't be treated all the same...” SPLASH! A lorry flew through a bloody lake of a puddle in the road which sent an 8 foot wall of grimey water diagonally up and over my head, running down my face, my beard, down the nape of my neck. My initial reaction was one of pure rage... I opened my mouth to curse only for an Audi to come hurtling past, again creating a 6-7 foot arch of water to fly up at me. I tilted my head this time, my flat cap protecting my eyes and mouth. I felt the anger beginning to subside. I looked up the stretch of tarmac ahead of me, which ran as far as the eye could see. I saw the glint of light on the murky water of a literal trough that ran the entirety of the length of that stretch on my side. There was no path on the other side. The outcome was inevitable and was likely to be repeated again and again. I sighed, was instantly grateful that this wasn’t the usual Monday morning rush hour traffic, and with the feeling of grubby water trickling down the crevice of my gluteus maximus, I plodded ever onwards. “There'll be a golden ladder reaching down...” SPLASH! “...When the man comes around.”
I wandered through the weeds and before I knew it I was back on clear path and passing the Fox, just on the outskirts of Kinsbourne Green... well I say Kinsbourne Green. I past a sign that proudly exclaimed entry into said village but then, very shortly after, there was another sign pointing off to my right suggesting the village was up there. Shortly after that I came to The Common, but again, the pretty and well crafted signpost didn’t say Kinsbourne Green but Harpenden – plain and simple.
I ambled ever onwards past The Bell public house in Harpenden, day dreaming of stopping for a pint of Guinness and a mixed grill as I did so.
That’s another good thing about the big walk – once I’m on it the dieting goes out of the window. If I’m lucky enough to pass a little pub on the Pennines and they have a cow-a-saurus steak and a basket of chips the size of my head on offer – that steak never had a chance... and of course it would be rude not to sample each of the speciality ales on offer!
Quicker than expected I was at the bridge carrying the Nickey Line over Luton Road in Harpenden, ominous and looming in the downpour, and then I was storming up Park Hill and onto the Nickey Line itself.
The Nickey Line itself was pretty abandoned. I passed pleasantries with an old lady walking her small dog in the onslaught of drizzle that had by this time persisted for a couple of hours. It was about 8:30am and as I tramped onwards, my right heel determined to put me onto my arse, a sudden realisation swept over me. I had seen several cyclists, a few old people walking dogs and a couple of lady joggers (who incidentally looked like they had run a phenomenal distance judging by their game faces – grit and determination or what!). What I hadn’t seen any of... at all... were pretentious, professionally kitted out, rude and obnoxious male joggers – the kind that had plagued my sun drenched walk a couple of weeks before – the kind that had repeatedly bumped me or tried to force me from my path as if they had some sort of unspoken priority on the footpaths. Not one out in the pissing rain however. Not one busting a gut like the ladies come rain or shine. Don’t get me wrong. I saw an old boy in shorts and a jumper slowly making his way down Cutenhoe Road earlier and I passed a young lad in sweats and a hoody on the London Road in Luton who I presumed was a young boxer putting in his road work – I’m not having a pop at people who jog generally. I’m having a righteous dig at the middle class, middle aged, pencil necked, uber-thin twonks dressed in high performance materials which clings to their scrawny frames – but much more importantly knocking into people, pavement and path hogging, ignoring the cheerful hellos of those around them and tutting at people as they narrowly sail past. Those people are... in my opinion... pricks.
The rain let up for a little while so I took the opportunity to sit down for 10 minutes and fill up my water bottle from the reserves in my pack, rest my feet (as my heel was throbbing like mad) and inhale a banana. I was sitting there I had to have a serious word with myself. I was absolutely ready to pack it in for the day. If there had been any buses running on the bank holiday I would have been sorely tempted to hop on the 34 from Redbourn. I was sitting there giving myself a pep talk when an elderly couple walked past with a couple of massive hairy spaniel eared dogs. The old lady looked at me with a massive grin on her face and tunefully sang out a good morning, to which I replied. Only after they had disappeared into the woodlands did it dawn on me that I was sitting there with my elbows resting on my knees, legs apart, with a massive hole in my crotch area! I had been sitting there with my boxer pouch exposed legs akimbo cheerfully and chirpily greeting anyone who passed with a good morning!
So... having rested up for a bit I trundled onwards down the Nickey Line, over the roundabout at Redbourn Lane, then along the path that passes the traveller site and onto Waterend Lane.
I know that I have probably come across as a real grumpy old man this week, and this next section will probably do nothing to alleviate that criticism, however...
I absolutely, positively must tell you guys about an incident that occurred on that stretch of path. I had a male jogger come trottiing towards me as I walked up a set of steps next to the boundary fence... you know... the quality kind. I nodded at him, stepped very slightly to the side and said quite loudly “good morning.” This fella looked me straight in the face and made eye contact. He wasn’t wearing earphones and he wasn’t sprinting. He frowned slightly, barely deviated his course and I swear he made a tutting noise as he narrowly missed my left shoulder.  I was about ready to boil over but managed to keep it in. Less than a 10 count later I heard an almighty thump, the scatter of leaves and stones and a bit of a yelp. I turned and took a few steps back along the track to find the happy jogger face down on the track having clearly misjudged a protruding tree root. In my mind, this happened...
But outwardly I maintained my stoic demeanour and raised my voice to ask him if he was alright and needed any help. The miserable git got off of the deck, grunted “no” and then carried on trucking down the track.
As terrible as it sounds, I had serious trouble not laughing and the inwardly held mirth kept me going for a fair while – by the time I stopped giggling to myself I realised I’d got as far as The Bull Inn on Redbourn High Street.
I struggled onwards up the Dunstable Road along the footpath that leads to Redding Lane. At this point I’d only clocked up about 16 miles but I was certainly feeling it.
I followed Redding Lane over another bridge that crosses the M1 towards Noringtonend Farm. The mental Dave jukebox was now onto Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt” which was strangely cathartic and seemed to occupy my emotional state enough to at least partially distract me from the pain.  “I hurt myself today... To see if I still feel... I focus on the pain... The only thing that's real... The needle tears a hole... The old familiar sting...  Try to kill it all away... But I remember everything...” Having belted out at least one entire rendition of the song my brain seemingly hit repeat and I started all over again.
I trundled through a gate that leads the foot path through someone’s front garden. You literally feel like you are trespassing but you’re not. What I later realised I was doing however, was pottering through someone’s garden singing away at full volume, and not just any song... “What have I become... My sweetest friend... Everyone I know goes away in the end... And you could have it all...  My empire of dirt... I will let you down... I will make you hurt.”
Pretty worrying to the innocent bystander. Ah well, I’m just trekking on through!
I won’t go on at length about the rest of the walk as I’ve already waffled on for a fair old time.
Essentially, I wandered through some fields between the farm and Flamstead, past some randy horses that followed me like stray dogs across their sizeable paddock, and attempted to nab my last banana from me.
I then walked through the most non-existent stony footpath that I’ve ever seen through a field of crops over a serious amount of rubble underfoot and under the constant threat of rain.
I cracked on through a bit of woodland on the outskirts of Flamstead where I, now seriously tired and not paying proper attention, managed to bang my head hard off the bottom of a low hanging branch, causing my head to snap back viciously making my neck crack loudly as it did. Luckily I didn’t knock myself out sparko but I was a bit spacey until I reached Friendless Lane on the other side of Flamstead.
Between Flamstead and Markyate my route took me through several open fields of rapeseed where I came across a bloke who looked at me, stood there soaked from the chest down, and said to me “looks like we won’t be lucky, it’s going to rain I reckon.”
I managed to just say yes with no trace of sarcasm whatsoever and squelched on past him and his two black poodles.
I wandered through a completely empty Markyate – either everyone was having a serious lie in that day or they’d all chipped off to another town for an adventure because, short of three people, there was no one there and no signs of life.
I cut across the playing fields on Cavendish Road walking along the track that leads down to Lynch Hill on the outskirts of Kensworth.
By the time I had reached Lynch Hill I was utterly spanked having by this point done about 19.5 miles (about 18.5 of those with an incredibly bruised right heel).
Inexplicably I then decided to climb the hill up a footpath that cut through the crops to the brow of the hill before descending down the hill and out on to the A5. It had achieved absolutely nothing in time or distance savings but it did mean I didn’t have to pound the pavement for the equivalent distance past the Packhorse.
Then it was the long trudge along the A5 past Turnpike Farm, past Manshead, past the new Holiday Inn and onto Southwood Road.
It was soaking.
The rain hadn’t held up for a moment since Markyate. I received a text from the brother-in-law checking that I would still be about to help him move some fencing later that afternoon. My heart sank as I was spanked, my body felt like it was in bits, but on I plodded, back along the base of the Blows Downs where I had been about 7 hours previously.
From there it was out onto Station Road, back under the new Duck Bridge, back up Luton Road, down Ridgeway Avenue and then onto Western Way.
I slumped down onto the front lawn directly upon arriving at my house. I didn’t care if it was wet. I didn’t care that it was still raining.
I didn’t care that both of my dogs came running out to revive me by licking me to death.
I had however just completed 23.5 miles of walking by about 1pm. Not bad considering that I’d had a painful heel for the majority of those miles. Not bad considering I’d wanted to give up today after only about 10 miles. Not bad considering that I’d managed, on a bad day, to do more mileage than I would need to do on the big one.
Just to wrap this blog entry up – I did go and load the brother-in-laws van with fence panels and concrete feet later that afternoon. To be fair he has done himself a serious injury to his back and I got to borrow a lawn mower and a large tractor tyre out of the deal as well – not to mention it was a cracking upper body workout as well.
The next day I managed to get down to Storm Gym over in Luton opposite Wardown Park for 6:30am to put in an hour and a half session with Amir – a man forged out of iron! He had me doing laps of the fighting mat (probably about 20 metres a lap or thereabouts) carrying a 10kg bag for 10 laps, a 15kg bag, a 20kg bag and a 25kg bag each for 10 laps... and then the same again! Then it was onto the leg raise extension weight machine, raising the weights 9 repetitions at 9kg, 14 at 14kg and so on and so forth until I got up to 64kg. Then it was onto the cycle for 30 minutes and about 10 miles. Finally, onto the leg squat machine to do 64 repetitions at 64kg. And that was it... for the morning.
I was back at Storm Gym for my second session later that evening at 7pm – where I was straight onto the treadmill, starting at 6.1 mph on the highest incline possible. That lasted all of about 4.5 minutes! Seriously concerned that I was about to come flying off the back of the treadmill I then went on to do 30 minutes at 3.6 mph at the highest incline possible. I was quite literally ringing with sweat after that. Then it was onto the rowing machine for 5 minutes, then the stepper for 5 minutes, the cycle for 5 minutes and then stepping up and down from a weights bench for 5 minutes – after which I wouldn’t have been able to kick my way out of a paper bag!
So there you have it... with only 26 days to go until I set out from John O’Groats - despite coming down with tonsillitis – that’s what I’ve been up to. Training, training, training... working... training, training, training... so that I won’t let you guys down! I’m going to smash this walk – I only hope that we manage to smash our fundraising target for these three amazing charities – the MS Society, Macmillan Cancer Support and Help for Heroes.


  1. Hi big Dave!
    I'm also starting a Jogle at the beginning of august! A day and a half after you, with my dog Alfie, we'll have to keep in touch mate! I'll check your blog it further when I get the chance and link your blog up on mine!
    Catch you later
    Andy..... Rushing to work!!!

    1. Hi Andy (and Alfie), good to hear from you mate! I leave on 30th June so I'll be about 30 days ahead of you but it's great to know someone else is mad enough to take it on! :) Have you finalised your route as yet? Feel free to contact me on or add me on Facebook (

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