The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Day 1 - Along the canal

1 April (0740-1600)
Distance: 22 miles
Fitbit steps: 48500
Weather: cloudy morning, sunny afternoon, warm
Number of tiny ducklings seen: 2 broods

We stepped out of the front door this morning, onto ground significantly wetted by last night's rain, took a suitable start photo, and off Mick strode to the north. That may have seemed entirely reasonable and appropriate given that we're headed to Scotland, but I called him back and re-directed him south, for a slightly shorter route to the canal.

The canal was the overwhelming theme of the day, as we followed it all the way to its end, where it meets the River Trent (which will be our main theme tomorrow).

The notable points of the day were:

1) My vision issues! After faffing around with my contact lenses and switching them from eye to eye, trying to work out why my left eye was blurred, I gave up at elevenses and resorted to my glasses. I'm still none the wiser as to what's awry with the left eye, but I do hope it sorts itself out! In all my years of contact lens wearing, I don't recall ever having such an issue before.

2) There were plenty of craft about, as I've noted to be the case on my canal walks over the last couple of weeks. We seem to have hit the start of narrow-boating main season.

3) Not sure how the craft got on with the lock which was under repair. It was one of two places where we met barriers today, although happily there were no closure notices and there were Canal and River Trust (as British Waterways now is) staff there to halt the works and see us past the machinery.

4) Lots of bird-life too, including the first ducklings we've seen this year (absolutely tiny, they were).

As you may notice from the stats, it was quite long, as first days go. There were two reasons for the length, the main one being that it brought us to a campsite (although there were plenty of places on the way where we could have stealth-camped). Tow-paths are always hard on the body, I find, as their flat-and-level nature means your feet always land in the same way, but my limbs were quite happy until lunchtime, which was only 7.5 miles before the end of the day.

The last 3 miles were more of an effort - so much so that we called a cake-break with only two-thirds of a mile to go. It was a lovely sunny afternoon for sitting around, and we had plenty of time to get to our destination.

Arriving at the campsite just a few minutes before 4pm, Susie* was pitched for her first outing in 2 years. It will be an interesting night tonight, as we have with us two untested pieces of kit: the new quilt and my new Thermarest X-Therm. I'm hoping I don't come to regret not even testing the latter for leaks before we set off. The quilt is a complete unknown. I'll report back tomorrow.

(*For those unfamiliar with our tent collection, Susie is a Terra Nova Voyager Superlite (2008 model))

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  1. Well done! Looks like a good start was made......see you in Scotland - eventually! Enjoy!

  2. I'm loving this already! See you soon-ish!

  3. I'm sure the quilt will be fine. Hope Mick has taken a sleeping bag.

  4. Well done! But you still have to convince me that this is an actual trip and not some sort of April 1 hoax giving you an excuse to lie in bed for weeks on end and post photos from your extensive library in pretence of an actual trip...

  5. Carol - lancashire2 April 2014 at 13:14

    Nice to see Suzie has had an airing. great blog as per usual.

  6. Mike Knipe sent me over to look at your blog. I'm trying to work out where you started from, some of it is familiar to me. Last year I walked from Burton on Trent, where I was born, to Burton on Stather, where I live now, along the Trent. You mentioned a missing bridge. When I passed that spot they were errecting the new bridge, I had to take the detour. Will carry on reading.