If I’ve been counting right, I’m up to 736 miles now, having walked all the way to Redditch, where I’m now enjoying a day off doing as little as possible – and I’ll be doing the same on Monday. I haven’t had a full day off in almost two weeks, so I’m making the most of this one, especially as I’m getting to use my own computer for the first time in almost two months.
Anyway, I’m now at least two-thirds of the way through my trip, as I think there’s only about 300 miles to go, and it really does feel like it’s all downhill from here. Coming down one of the last stretches of the Pennine Bridleway on Sunday, just before it reaches the High Peak Trail, I reached the top of a hill to see the Midlands laid out before me and rejoiced in the sight of hills that could be climbed in about five minutes rather than five hours. Added to that is the fun of going through Birmingham, which gave me the chance to do lots of walking along canals (for those of you who haven’t heard that most famous piece of Birmingham trivia, it has more miles of canal than Venice).
It’s not all been easy, of course. Those of you in the Midlands may have noticed the heavy rain and thunderstorm that passed over on Thursday morning. I certainly did as I was walking from Lichfield into the centre of Birmingham during it and got thoroughly soaked by it. Before that, just getting into Lichfield was an interesting experience as I found my first route blocked by a road turning out to be private and behind a locked gate then the path I was taking instead being clearly visible, just surrounded by very tall nettle bushes, helping to turn my thoughts of ‘oh good, I’m almost here’ to a further two hours of walking and map examination.
But, I can’t stay here forever, and tomorrow I’ll be walking down to Broadway (not the one in the US – you can tell the difference by the fact that one is filled with American tourists and the other one’s in New York) then when I set off again on Tuesday, it’s down the Cotswold Way and hopefully I should get to Bath for the weekend.
Things are still looking good for me to be finishing on Saturday October 7th, and if anyone fancies coming down to Cornwall that weekend to cheer me over the finish line and celebrate afterwards, then you’re more than welcome to. For those of you in the Midlands, there’ll be a celebration party/fundraising night at the Woodland Cottage pub here in Redditch after I return on Friday 13th. After that, it’s back down to Colchester and real life, but I think I might organise some sort of gathering (AKA a bunchof bloggers and assorted others in a pub) if anyone’s interested in living up to all those promises to buy me a pint when I finish.
And while I’m here, don’t forget to donate if you haven’t already. We’ve now into four figures with the amount raised online, and with what’s coming in offline, I should be close to my target by the end, but I don’t just want to reach it, I want to beat it! And if you’re not confident about donating online, then get in touch and I can give you an address to send cheques to. Also, we’re planning on having a raffle and auction at the fundraising evening on the 13th, so if you, or your company, want to donate anything to that then get in touch as well.