WHW PhotosWe were very lucky with the weather on w/e 2/3 March. It was dry & there was little wind! Heather, Janine & I met in Pewsey Co-op car park at 6.15am. It was already beginning to get light, so luckily we did not have to mess about with head torches. The first leg was rather a long slog, climbing up out of Pewsey & onto the Imber Range Perimeter Path, along the edge of the danger zone on the Salisbury Plain. The going was generally quite easy, but the ‘metalled’ road was quite hard going on the legs. We were due to meet Christoph, who was standing in for Mark at the first check point at around 10.00am. But as always when you start a long walk, there is quite a bit of faffing around, taking clothes on & off, taping feet etc etc. We eventually got to Urchfont at 11.30am, and were greeted with welcome smiles & hot coffee. What a star Christoph! After a quick break we left Heather with the minibus & Janine & I headed back up to the Salisbury Plain.The second leg was another big hike continuing on Salisbury Plain. We had a great view of Dauntsy’s school as we walked up above Market Lavington & West Lavington. Most of the afternoon we were bombarded by Chinooks and helicopter gunships, at times they appeared over the hill almost on top of you. Janine had been suffering with an SI injury all the previous week, and despite the best efforts of the chiropractor, and her dogged determination, she made the sensible decision to call it a day when we reached the second check point at Bratton, where we were met by Trevor & Mark, who had given up his whole w/e to man the minibus between checkpoints. Having spent most the week driving up & down to London, Trevor was keen to walk, at 6’2″ I had no option but to pick up the pace – no time for weary legs. This was rather a frustrating leg, we seem to spend a lot of time criss-crossing in front of the hill at Bratton & only got to see the White Horse by standing above it!

Once down off the ridge we started to head northwards. there were lots of styles, which zap the energy in your legs at the best of times, but even more so when your lanky partner just pops over them with barely lifting his legs! Trev did get his come-uppance though when he leapt nimbly over one such style, and landed nearly up to his knees in murky stuff. I was not very supportive & could barely stand for laughing! Most of this leg was completed in the dark, and despite running low on energy, we did have further humorous moments, the most notable when we were chased by some rather frisky cows. We only just made it out of the field before they caught up with us! At 8pm we met up with Mark & the mini bus. Heather & Neil joined us for the final leg of the day. This was meant to be a short walk of just over 3 miles from Poulshot to the B&B in Devizes! Two hours and 5+ miles later, despite good local knowledge, we managed take the long route to Roundway & the B&B, arriving at 10pm, having walked for 16 hours and 38 miles!

I was extremely well looked after by my hosts Robert & Ann at BYDE-A-WHYLE B&B . They waited up for me on the Saturday, and were up before 6.00am to cook me porridge & poached eggs the next day, providing much needed energy for another long day. Heather, Neil & I walked away from Devizes, past our first white horse of the day. We made good time, and despite loosing Neil (who wan’t feeling too good) before the first checkpoint, made it to Cherhill on-time. We were accompanied for part of the way by a beautiful Barn Owl. From Cherhill Heather & I walked up-to Broad Hinton. This was the most disappointing of all the white horses, as it was barely visible. At Broad Hinton Heather joined the minibus, and I was partnered by the lanky Trev again. Luckily the previous day had taken its toll on his long legs, and the pace was a bit more civilised! From Broad Hinton we trekked across to Hack Pen, where we got a great view of this horse, as we approached it across the valley. It was then a straight forward walk up onto the Ridge-way and down into Marlborough. We met with Mark in yet another pub car-park before walking through  the grounds of Marlborough College, where we met Steve & his flat coated retriever Lily. Steve, whom we had never met before, kindly donated when he got home! From the College we walked by the gallops & training grounds of Manton Stables. Then as the light fell we entered Westfield Woods. We spent quite a long time trying to locate the path in the woods, being attacked regularly by the brambles, who did there best to drag us down! We had arranged with Mark to put in an extra checkpoint on the A345 above Pewsey, as both Trevor & I were struggling a little. And at 7.30pm we decided to call it a day, having walked for near on 14 hours and 32 miles! I had walked this section of the trail in a reccie walk before Christmas & knew the remaining 7 miles would take at least another 2.5 hours. Over the w/e I walked for 27 hours, and completed 70 miles, including the reccie walk, this totalled 85 miles. You can see the full route HERE. People have been extremely generous supporting my fundraising for the Trussell Trust. I set myself the target of £500, and to date we have raised just over £800! Thank you so much.

As ever, these events don’t just happen. I had huge support from Neil, Heather & Trevor from Wessex Outdoor Training. We were meant to have a number of other walkers, supporting me for different legs over the two days, but typically at this time of year, quite a few people suffered from the flu. Without Heather & Trevor who each walked about 50% of the walk with me, we could not have completed it. Janine, who has always supported me lots, and was up for walking the whole event. She kept me company for most of day one & provided me with extra rations! Christoph & Mark, who gave up their w/e to spend long hours driving a minibus round Wiltshire – they always greeted us with a smile & offered much needed encouragement. And finally John, who kept family life on track back home, ferrying the kids to school, matches etc.

My next challenge this year is the Reading half marathon on Sunday. I don’t think I will be setting any PB’s, as my training has been limited & I have not run this distance for over 25 years!