This is when it all started…
As lockdown progressed we tried to go out for daily walks, mainly around the
ghetto estate. That sort of turned a bit boring so we started going for walks in nearby villages and woods.
Me being me, walks of four to five kilometres really didn’t feel like a challenge so I thought that I could add a bit to it.
If I were to go for longer walks I also needed some kit, that’s how it works. Right? Said and done, a day pack and a larger backpack for multi-day excursions had soon arrived. Followed by walking poles, a new sleeping bag, a bivvy bag and a tarp. Plus some extra stuff.
All the kit and not a clue where to go. Sums it up quite nicely.
For some reason I thought that a loop wouldn’t be as much fun as getting dropped off somewhere and then walk home. Not sure where that came from, but that’s what I decided on.
Having had a look at Komoot I decided to start in Streatley and follow the suggested route home. So one morning I found myself dropped off in Streatley, with a full backpack and no way to back out.
Most people that rides a bicycle around this region have heard of Streatley Hill, and quite a few from far away too. Since I wasn’t going up that one - I was going in a different direction - I thought I’d be fine. Was I fuck.
I might have headed off in a different direction but the first climb I had to do was up a grassy field with a very sharp incline. I have to admit - it was only the shame of having to call for a pickup that made me get up that hill. I was breathing through my arse most of the way up. There was several stops on the way up, leaning on my walking poles who were my new best friends. I knew I was out of shape, but that was horrible.
The full backpack didn’t help but I can’t blame that one, the biggest reason was my total lack of training since I started commuting to and working in London. In all honesty - I might have neglected that for quite some time before that change too.
Once up the hill I realised how focussed I had been on the climb. I was among a herd of cows, hadn’t even noticed them. I spent some time on the ridge. I was of course admiring the view, nothing to do with trying to get control of my breathing and heart and talking myself into continuing the walk.
A nice view across towards Goring, with some of the stealth cows
The route of the walk took me across the Streatley golf course - no golfers harmed on the way - and then up a lane that turns into the Ridgeway.
Ridgeway sign post - I don’t think I’ll bother with Overton Hill or Ivinghoe Beacon today
This part of the Ridgeway is nice and wide and quick to walk. Unless it’s going uphill of course
Now that I could breathe again I started to enjoy my walk. Tootling along the Ridgeway was a nice way of spending some alone time and get some thinking done.
After a while my planned route diverted off the Ridgeway and onto some different tracks and paths.
Diverted off the Ridgeway, into the unknown
For a while, this is what the majority of the walk looked like. Tracks and paths on or near farmland
The route kept being undulating and across various fields and through some wooded areas until it started going downhill and I ended up in Blewbury. From there on to home there wasn’t much in the form of altitude change.
Blewbury came up with some surprises. In the past I’ve only gone through on the main road. This time I ended up going through more of the village and found some water features that I never knew existed. Proper exploration.
Previously unknown, to me, water feature in Blewbury
After Blewbury I quickly went through Upton, quickly followed by West Hagbourne. Sadly there was no sight of the sea (pond?) monster that sometimes are visible in the pond in West Hagbourne. Maybe next time.
A monster free pond in West Hagbourne
From West Hagbourne it was more or less a jump, skip and a hop home. Well, more of the less really. By this time I had started to feel that I had done some proper exercise for the first time in quite a while.
As you can see from the route and stats in the picture below, I did cover a bit of ground.
The route and stats of the walk
That evening, and the next day, I had some aches and pains in muscles and other parts of the body but that was just to be expected. It had been a long time since I had experienced that good feeling of having pushed myself a bit and come through it the other end.
One thing that I had started to notice though was that my hiking boots might not be fully up to the job. Something that would become a bit of a pattern over the next couple of walks.
The next couple of walks I say? Yeah, this was tough but it had made me realise how much I had missed being out in nature as well as getting a good workout.
Being out there and having some solitude and time to think about everything and nothing had felt good. I wanted more of the same.
Some more photos from the walk…
A view across from the Ridgeway, shortly after having left the Streatley golf course for some proper nature
You find random wells as you trek across the countryside. Not sure if the grill is there to keep people from falling in or climbing out
More views across from the Ridgeway
The start of the downhill trek into Blewbury
Another view of the water feature in Blewbury
About to cross under the old, disused, railway in Upton on my way to West Hagbourne