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]

Monday 29 March 2010

Day 8 - Uxbridge to Berkhamstead

29 March
Distance: 21.25 miles
Number of small-but-highly annoying flies: about 2 billion (that may be an under-estimate)

Our starts seem to be getting earlier and earlier, so at 6.15 this morning we were standing at a bus stop waiting for the first of two buses that would take us back to Uxbridge, having spent the night with Vic and Juan in Hounslow.

That saw us back at yesterday's end point for a reasonably timed start, although we did tarry a while for a hot breakfast.

Eighty-one miles to Braunston (where we are due to arrive on Thursday) said the first milepost we passed after finding our way back to the canal. As we counted them down, we repeatedly verified that we were walking consistently at a smidge over 3 miles an hour.

Within a short distance out of Uxbridge (on the veritable mud-fest of a tow path (so much for setting out with clean clothes this morning!)) the surroundings became surprisingly rural, often with great bodies of water on one side of the canal or other (sometimes both). The problem with those lakes (coupled with the lack of a breeze) was that everytime they were alongside we were plagued by millions of little flies.

When the flies weren't driving us to distraction, it was proved that not all canals are dull, with there being things aplenty to gawk at. Between Uxbridge and Rickmansworth in particular the variety and quantity of boats and houseboats was fantastic. Once again there were structures akin to Portakabins on rafts, but there were also lots of other craft of a huge number of designs and covering the whole spectrum of condition from pristine to sinking.

There was bird life aplenty too (probably saw our last parakeets of the trip though - I don't think they've yet spread much further north than Uxbridge), with more varieties than I could name (Mick even saw a kingfisher).

Although it did rain on us a couple of times, that rain was light and short-lived, so given the forecast, we again considered ourselves lucky.

Having not paused for lunch until Hemel, the afternoon was short, which (given my desire to sleep after a meal in a nice warm pub) made the day feel better.

At 4.23, precisely at the time we had estimated, we walked into Waitrose's car park where Simon had arrived to transport us back to his house for another comfortable night in good company.

We've been rather spoiled these last few days, but it's back to Wendy for a night tomorrow (just in time for the wintry weather's forecast return).

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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