Friday, 31 December 2010

Back out on the road.

After a few too many turkey sandwiches and tasty beers I was starting to feel the urge to get my trainers back on and get back out there. So that's exactly what I did yesterday.

I wandered out to Woolwich and decided to start from where I'll be starting my grand walk in just a few short months...

The official start of Walk One of the Capital Ring
See more photos from the walk here

Not a terribly auspicious looking start as the Woolwich foot tunnel is closed until March 2011. Which means that I'm unlikely to be able to complete the circuit (except by ferry) until I'm walking for real. In a way, I rather like it that way.

So I set out and walked sections one and two, from Woolwich to Grove Park. With a bit of a detour when I got off track, that was about 12.5 miles. Maybe a bit more. I ache a bit this morning - I haven't been out for a proper training walk for a couple of months now. But I've got the hunger again, and that's what's important.

I'm looking forward to my next walk already. Although it may have to wait until tomorrow, when my hips might have recovered a bit.

So, anyway, Happy New Year everybody! The first half is going to be supremely busy, with training and planning, but I'm so excited. Hurrah for 2011!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

That traditional panic.

It has reached that point in the year when all those things you need to do just won't seem to fit into the time you've got to do them. For me, training consistently is one of them.

But I'm still doing the walk next year. I'm just going to take a couple of weeks off from this blog so I can sort out all the other bits of my life without feeling guilty about not writing here.

Back soon,
Kate x

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Here comes that guilt again.

I'm still not training and I'm feeling more guilty by the day. I've even started avoiding writing in here because it makes me feel worse.

A string of events have hampered my training. First it was the toe. Then it was a horrendous cold (which I'm still struggling to get over). Now horrendous wisdom teeth and a headache. And being busy. Don't forget being busy.

Writing it down seems like listing a string of excuses and, who knows, maybe I am.

In a bid to kick myself back into activity, I went to the gym on Monday morning. I have a happy relationship with my gym but I hadn't been there since before this challenge started and the walking took over. It felt good to be doing something different even though I know it can't be a replacement for long-distance walking.

This weekend I'm aiming to drop myself back into proper walking with an easy 8-miler. Then from Monday it's back on to the proper training. Perhaps a little lighter than I was doing while I find my feet, but definitely back on.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A different kind of training shoe...

Flamenco Shoes

After a month-long break from dance, I finally fitted my slightly misshapen foot into my flamenco shoe last night. And I danced. I danced without wincing or whining, and I danced with enthusiasm. It was great.

I'm definitely get back out with the proper training later this week. Although it's cold out, and it's far nicer to sit snuggled up on the sofa inside, I'm really looking forward to getting out there again. I've started to miss it - perhaps that forced break was a good thing?

Friday, 29 October 2010

183 days to go...I'm halfway through my year's preparation!

It's been 182 days and 378.05 miles since I announced my plans to walk those 78 miles around the Capital Ring. I've also acquired two pairs of trainers, one broken toe and gone through a hell of a lot of sports drink. So, I guess it's about time that I properly opened up my fundraising.

You can visit my fundraising page at

I'm not expecting everyone to rush out there and pledge, but there's an option to act impulsively if you want to. I'm sure I'll be plenty of other opportunities in the next 6 months!

Just a quick reminder about my chosen charity. The June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund was set up in 1997 to do each of the following:
  • Encourage and sponsor research into mesothelioma;
  • Contribute to clinical trials of novel drug therapies for mesothelimoa;
  • Raise awareness of the disease amongst healthcare professionals and the public;
  • Provide good quality up to date information and advice for mesothelioma sufferers and their carers;
  • Campaign for delivery of the Mesothelioma Charter.

Mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer, usually caused by exposure to asbestos, which attacks the membrane that covers most of the internal organs in the body, the mesothelium. The cancer usually develops in the lining of the lungs, the pleura, and it develops rather quickly. Treatment has limited sucess, and lifespan from diagnosis is short - we only had a few months with Dad before he died. You might have read a bit about the bleakness of mesothelioma when Malcolm McLaren died earlier this year, but there's more about malignant mesothelioma on wikipedia.

It's a terrible cancer. But I think we can make some difference here, so if you want to give me a jump start on donations, please do!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Frustration strikes.

Lovely little boat on the Grand Union Canal.
More photos are in my Flickr set from the day

Sunday was a lovely sunny day, so David and I decided to venture all the way out to Greenford to take on the next section of the Capital Ring: Walk 9, Greenford to South Kenton. We left without maps as my printer was playing up but had faith in the signage that we've seen so far, confident that we wouldn't lose our way.

We did lose our way a bit, thanks to some confusing signs on the way into Harrow-on-the-Hill, and it wasn't the most exciting walk, but that wasn't what was troubling me.

What was troubling me was the ache in my foot, and the general decline in my fitness in the few short weeks that I've been off the proper training regime. As I reach an important milestone (more about that on Friday) I'm suddenly conscious that I have to start pulling out the stops.

So it looks like I'm going back to the gym, and I'm going back on the road, and I'm going to beat this. There is no way that I am failing.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The world has changed.

When I was last out walking properly, before the bone broke, I had only recently noticed that it was Autumn. Kicking up leaves and shuffling through conkers were a new novelty, and I was still switching between bare arms and my hoody.

I dropped back into a bit of light training yesterday morning and everything seems to have changed. It's cold. It's windy. It's a bit rainy. Frankly, it's not very nice. Wardrobe changes are needed, I think. And just when I'd got used to the shorts!

In other news, my friend Pippa and I went to the Wellcome Collection's Things show last night where we got to see my socks in a special cabinet. I was rather surprised to see that they had been placed along side a carved wooden puppet, especially as Luigi was featured in the online gallery. A rather fitting placement.

Socks + puppet.

You can have a look at other pictures from last night here.

Friday, 15 October 2010


The Wellcome Collection is one of my favourite places to visit. They always have amazingly interesting exhibitions and there's always something new to see in their permenant collection. It's one of those museums that perhaps gets overlooked a little too often. If you're in London, you shouldn't overlook it. You should visit it now!

And while you're there, you can go and see something that I've put in the museum myself...

Things is an endeavour by artist Keith Wilson to update Henry Wellcome's already eccelectic collection. Members of the public can gift or loan items they think should be displayed, and they will be catalogued online before being put in the gallery. Items are catalogued in a calendar of next year's dates. I managed to get mine put on 1st May 2011.

Inter-generational socks

This was my contribution. You can go here to read about my submission, but I'm also quite excited to see that they've been featured on the Wellcome Collection's blog.

If you can't get to the collection to see the Things for real (it's only on until the 22nd October) take a little time to explore what's been submitted online. Some of the Things people have donated are sad, some hilarious, and some just plain bonkers. But all of them worth a look.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Introducing Luigi.

This last week has been one of those glorious weeks that remind you how great life is. My week started with a quarter share in a substantial pub quiz jackpot and ended with a fantastic weekend away at the zoo where I was married for my first anniversary. These alone would have been enough to send me to smug and cause me to forget all my walking woes.

But on Wednesday I had dinner with my sister, George. This in itself was lovely enough, but towards the end of the evening she handed me a wooden box. Inside was a small carved wooden man, jointed and dressed in a tiny suit. He had a piece of grey fur for hair, blue eyes and painted on rosy cheeks. His tiny shoes had little leather heels and you can still just about see where the strings were when he was a fully strung puppet.

Luigi LuigiFully carved hand. Hand stitched lapels and Luigi's garish tie.

George was given Luigi, as we now know his name is, by Dad shortly before he died. Dad made him when he was about 8 and must have had him hidden away since then as neither George, my Mum or I can remember seeing him before. Mum does remember Dad telling her about him though, and that's how we know about his Italian moniker.

He's an incredibly detailed piece of work, of such a level that at first I doubted that it could be an 8-year-old's craftsmanship - I've got a bit of puppet making experience, but I'm pretty certain that I couldn't create anything quite like this even now. But then I know that Dad had far more patience in his work than I have ever had.

My own interests mean that Luigi's appearance makes me feel as though I've had a little chat with Dad - a little shared experience. But it's strange to learn something new about your Dad, four years after he went silent. Good strange though.
In walking news, I managed 2 miles last night. I could have continued but I was pushed for time and the foot was starting up its dull ache. I think it's telling me that I'm going to have to take it slow and steady to get back to my usual routine, so the first marathon will have to be postponed until November.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Letter to my grandmother.

Dear Gran,

I know you worry about me out walking in the dark, so this week I bought something I thought you might appreciate.

Can you see me?!

Yeah, I don't think you need to worry about me not being seen now...

With love,

Katy xx

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Champions and miracle healing.

One of Ian Bull's photos. Thanks Ian! See the original size here.

That photo was taken just after lunch on the Green Chain Megawalk last Saturday. You can see me grinning away second on the right and Ian, who did a great job of leading us bunch of walkers, is in his snazzy high-vis jacket at the front. We were all looking quite cheery at that point as we were nicely stocked up on hot tea and sandwiches and had not yet met the real hills of the route...

Anyway, I have some minor foot news! I'm pretty certain that I'm going to be back out training next week. I've been getting a lot less pain in the last couple of days and I'm limping less often. Most importantly, my toe seems to be setting straight! Hurrah! I'd hate to have a wonky toe.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The verdict is in...

Ah oops. My first ever broken bone.

You might not be able to see it too well but the toe next to the little toe, just across from where the cursor is pointing, is fractured. A nice little diagonal break.

That toe is now getting nice and cosy with my other toes as it's been strapped to the ones either side. I've been told that after a few days rest I can start training again so long as I keep everything straightened and tied together for at least 4 weeks.

I have to say huge thanks to the staff at Lewisham A&E who were, as usual, brilliant at getting me in and out of there in no time at all. Also, thanks for not laughing at the woefully chipped nail polish on my toes.

It doesn't seem as though this little set back will have a huge hit on my training, but it will be a bit of a dampener on another commitment I have - I won't be able to dance in the flamenco performance I'm meant to be involved with this Wednesday. I can't even imagine squeezing my foot into a high heel right now, let alone stamping it once it's there. Feeling a bit down about that as I haven't performed for well over a year.

Still, I must remember that I had a lovely day out yesterday before all this idiocy happened. I only took a few pictures from the day, but I've put them in my Ward Walks London set of Flickr. Here's my favourite shot, taken at the end in Erith.

View across the Thames at Erith

Finally broke that magic 20 mile barrier! But may have broken something else too...

I walked an easy 21.5 miles of the lovely Green Chain yesterday. It was really rather beautiful and I'll post some pictures later. Big thanks to Carla and Michael who joined me, making sure that there was conversation all the way along the route. It turns out that helps make the miles go by rather nicely.

This morning this post finds me sitting in my front room with my foot propped up on a bag of frozen peas. I think it's likely that I'm going to need a trip to the hospital as one of my toes is not lying quite the right way. It looks like I may have dislocated it, but a major fear is that it's broken. Did I do this walking? Er, not quite.

You see last night, after the walk, I went out to see Matt Berry perform at my local. He's the chap from the TV who's in the IT Crowd and Darkplace and the Mighty Boosh. The evening was quite lively, and I had my best friend down from Sheffield for the occasion. I was in high spirits.

And it was those high spirits that suggested that I needed to place a postcard of Mr Matt Berry in the bed of my best friend whilst she was in the bathroom. Knowing that both speed and stealth was needed, I ran along my landing on tip toes. Unfortunately, I bent one of those toes around a balustrade sending it in completely the wrong direction. I was laughing so much at the time it took a while to realise that something was wrong.

This morning something is still wrong. Oh dear.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Trying something new.

Apart from the occasional stroll with David, I'm a lone walker. It's not that I don't want to walk with others, but the opportunity isn't there all that much.

This weekend, Walk London are organising guided walks across the capital. Focussing on a particular route, area, or history, there's bound to be something to suit everyone. And there are loads that are under 5 miles.

Have a look at all the walks here. They're all absolutely free and all you have to do is turn up on the day.

Presuming all is well with my hip, I'll be joining the formidable sounding Green Chain MEGAWALK: 21.5 miles from Crystal Palace to Erith. Why not come and join me? :)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Losing to yourself totally sucks.

If I hadn't recently started developing this competitive streak, I seriously wouldn't have given two hoots to what happened to me yesterday. But right now I'm seriously annoyed at having to abandon my 20 mile walk 5 miles before the end.

Everything was going well to start with. I bounded off towards the Thames and bounced along the Southbank. Even as I headed up through to Angel and onto the Regent's Canal tow path I had a bit of a spring in my step. I took a phone call from my husband 2 3/4 miles from Limehouse, and proudly proclaimed that I was on course for an early finish, but by then the ache in my hip had already set in.

By the time I'd left the canal and was heading onto the Thames path near Westferry I was talking to myself (OK, swearing to myself) but had made a pact that I'd keep going whether it hurt or not.

And then I passed a tourist who was looking at me with a look of bafflement across his face. I don't know whether he was trying to translate some of my choice language, or whether he genuinely questioned why I was continuing to hobble on when I was clearly in some pain, but he helped me get some clarity on the issue.

I looked awful. I felt awful. It was time to quit and get some help.

I tearfully jumped on the DLR at Westferry and went home. I'm going to be having a chat with a physiotherapist sometime soon to see where I'm going wrong. I felt, and feel, like an absolute loser, but I'm trying to comfort myself with the reminder that this was just one walk. There are many many more 20 miles to cover over the next 8 months.

Oh crikey, I hadn't thought of that.

Monday, 13 September 2010


When it came to sports at school, I always lacked any sense of competition. Bar two spectacular sports day prizes (blue ribbon for 3rd place sack race in year 4, red ribbon for 1st place egg and spoon in year 6) I've never really felt motivated to run a little faster or jump a little higher. In short, it was a struggle to get me to do anything beyond the minimum.

I walked home from work this evening, and I think I found my competitive nature.

I usually allow myself 2.25 hours for the 8 mile walk. I guess that makes me a little slow, but I'm usually tired from a day in the office and I never feel too bad about relaxing on a mid-week walk.

Tonight I put a little more effort in. I don't know whether it was because I had a fairly relaxed weekend, or whether it was the extra caffeine I had in my drink, but I kept the pace rolling throughout. As I hit the final stretch, I knew I could do something extraordinary. I knew I could get back well within time. And instead of relaxing and accepting my usual speed, I pushed on. Worked harder. Walked faster.

I walked through my front gate 1 hour 58 minutes after setting off from work, breaking both my personal record and the magical 4mph. It's only a little thing but I'm so proud of myself and, more importantly, I'm super eager to get back out there and beat that new time.

I can't believe that I've been missing out on this competition thing for so long. It's great!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Off track.

Training was derailed this weekend when I ate something dodgy at a barbecue (yes, my own barbecue. It was my own fault.) which knocked me off my feet and housebound for three days. Three days!

During those three days, I was meant to walk 16.5 miles. Given that I was triumphant when I managed to shuffle to Sainsbury's on day three, 16.5 miles was not exactly an option.

So the training plan was stalled until this morning.

Now I've never really followed a training plan before, so I'm struggling with what to do when you've set a target and are steadily walking towards it and then 'WHOOMPH!' suddenly you've fallen over. Do you change your target date? Do you plough on through? Do you just sit on the sofa and lament that little piece of barbecued chicken you ate?

Cautiously, I'm going to attempt the ploughing on through option by slightly modifying my training plan and attempting to avoid all illness and injury until the weekend of the 16/17th of October when I'm aiming to walk my very first marathon. After that painful 20-miler I'm a bit nervous.


For those who are interested, I have been using's 19 week marathon plan. It's been quite useful so far, but now that I'm getting dangerously close to target I'm going to have to start thinking what the training looks like after I've hit the magic 26.2 mile mark...

Sunday, 29 August 2010

20 mile verdict.

First up I would just like to say that although I logically know that 20 miles is an awfully long way to walk, the comparative ease with which I completed the 18 miler back in July may have meant that I set off with a slightly cocky bounce in my step yesterday.

Like before I chose to use to plan my route for me. A big circular route through and around London stretched out in front of me as I left the house just before 8.30 yesterday morning.

Leaving Lewisham, I walked familiar roads up to Southwark Park, then along the Thames' South Bank before crossing the Millenium Bridge to St Paul's, then... Well, then I got a bit lost. My walkit route tried to take me through a locked gate and I became rather flustered as I tried to find a replacement route. Even though I know the area well, it threw me. I got back on track eventually, walking through the edge of Angel before heading onto Regent's Canal.

Regent's Canal is fast becoming my nemesis. A mile or so along the towpath and I started to hurt. Unlike last time it was my left hip rather than my knees and, also unlike last time, it was a sharp stabbing pain rather than a dull ache. My bouncing stride soon slowed to a hobble as I limped along the canal. I was certain that I would have to stop. I made plans on how to get myself home. And then, right when I was at my lowest, I looked up and saw this:

Regent's Canal, Canary Wharf glistening in the distance

The sight of the towers of Canary Wharf glistening in the distance almost brought that bounce back into my step. I felt a boost from knowing that I was on the home straight, albeit one that was going to last for at least another 6 miles.

At that point I decided that I must carry on. I knew that I had to beat this pain.

And I did. I arrived back home 20 miles and 6 hours 2 minutes after setting off. My hip was so painful that I could barely walk through the door, and had to crawl up the stairs to the cold bath that was waiting for me.

Today, I'm still uncomfortable. Should I have carried on with an injury? Possibly not. Am I proud to have beaten the 20 miler? Definitely. Am I ready for another week of training? Ask me when I come back from my 4 mile walk tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

It's moments like these that I realise it's all starting to get serious.

I just audibly squealed when two parcels were delivered to work for me. This is what I opened them to find.

New trainers!  New milkshakes!

I knew that's what was inside the boxes and I was actually excited about them...that's a worrying thing.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Walking is attempting to take over my life.

Today I had to do one of the hardest things I've had to do in this journey so far. I had to hand back my allotment plot to the council.

I've known that this was coming for a long time, but still found myself staring at the screen, unable to click send on the email to the allotments officer for a good few minutes. But the truth is that although the walking is the reason for giving up the plot at this time, we had found it hard to get back into working the land after the break for our wedding and honeymoon at the end of last year.

Although I feel sad that I'm having to give up things that I love (I've already had to postpone a course I wanted to go on) it almost gives me an extra kick to know that there's not much in the way to stop me now. I have less excuses, less guilt, and that can only be a good thing.

Besides, I've asked to be put back on the waiting list for another plot sometime in the future. In the meantime I'll have to make do with veg pots in my garden.


This week sees me taking on one 4 mile, two 8 mile, and one 20 mile training block. I am apprehensive, but undoubtedly excited.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Still walking...

I've been quiet the last couple of weeks. That's because I took two weeks off work, offline and, yes, off training. I didn't really mean to, but I moved house in those two weeks and became rather preoccupied with unpacking boxes, visiting IKEA and exploring my new kitchen.

But the time off made me hungry. I managed to beat my usual 4.5 mile training walk by a minute this morning (which doesn't sound like a lot, but that extra minute has been annoying me for a long time) and am itching for the 8 mile walk home tomorrow evening.

I've got about 8 weeks left until my first marathon. And I can't wait.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Big training.

I can now tell you what 18 miles feels like. It mostly feels like a sort of dull ache, with a touch of sunburn, and a whole lot of sleepiness.

I set off this morning on this route - another big loop of London made up of sections of paths I've walked before. That really helps as, theoretically, I don't lose time or pace checking a map every five minutes.

It was quite warm out, but not as oppressively hot as it has been recently. I stuck to shade where I could, and set off at a good pace. It was at about mile 12 that my knees and thighs started to ache a bit and they carried on aching from there. My hands and wrists decided to swell quite heavily, which was funny but not particularly helpful, and yet somehow I've still escaped any kind of painful blister. I feel lucky.

The best moment of the day was towards the end of the long drag along Regent's Canal, which is very pretty, but even pretty views get boring after several miles. I was really tiring at this point, and wondering where Limehouse Basin had hidden itself, when I looked up and saw Canary Wharf looming over the buildings in front of me. It gave me such a grin on my face and a spring in my step that I bounced my way down that last mile to the Thames Path.

On arriving home, I sat on the sofa for long enough to eat a sandwich and drink a milkshake (thanks for the advice, Clairey) before retiring to the bedroom and promptly falling asleep for an hour and a half. It was quite possibly the best nap I've ever had.

I woke up with a slightly clicky right ankle and a nice lobster pink glow to my legs. No idea how I'm going to feel in the morning, but luckily it's a rest day.

Next walk is 4 miles on Monday. I don't think I'm going to dread that one anymore.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wow. Just Wow.

I'd been dreading it for weeks, but my marathon training schedule has just thrown up my first mid-week 8 mile walk. This is more a question of logistics than distance, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also a little nervous about the prospect of clocking up 34 miles of training this week.

Anyway, all this was put into perspective yesterday when I found out about Matt Green, a man who is walking from one side of America to the other.

This awesome journey from New York to Oregon, which he started in March this year, will cover 3100 miles. He is aiming to complete it in 9 months (this includes plenty of rest days) and will be relying on his tent and the kindness of strangers along the way.

I am completely in awe of Matt, and just a little bit jealous. I became even more impressed when I discovered that his challenge is self-directed by his search for adventure. There's no charity, no world record, just a chap who wants to walk. And explore. And document his journey with some intriguing photos as he goes.

If you want to be just as stunned as I am, and also see some great photos from his journey so far, I strongly urge you to go and take a look at Matt's site:

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A little help for my friends.

Since I started all this walking, and since the weather started making it more pleasant (before summer was stolen from us again), I've started hearing friends making noises about starting to walk more often themselves. I, of course, think this is a wonderful idea so I thought I'd give anyone who was interested a little insight to planning the perfect walk. I'm going to apologise in advance that this might be a little London-centric.

For A-B walks and circular walks
For a lot of my walking activity, I use to plan my routes. It's great for finding A-B routes and will tell you how far it is, an approximation of how long it will take you, and a whole host of other stats. You can also choose less busy routes which will take a bit longer but keep you away from the traffic.

Recently they launched a circular route finder, which I find really useful for weekend training when I don't really have to walk anywhere in particular. Circular routes are chosen by start point and how long you want to be on your feet - anywhere from 15 mins to 4 hours - and can be adapted according to how fast you walk.

They're not quite country-wide yet, but they cover a good number of cities across the UK. I particularly love Walkit for short trips - it's saved me a lot of tube and bus journeys over the years.

For longer walks and to find out just how far that walk was
When I've gone off on a bit of a ramble with no fixed route, or when I have an idea of where I want to go and want to plot something around a number of fixed points, I use either or good old Google Maps.

This method takes a bit longer, but there's a lot more flexibility to the route as you're building it yourself. Both will give you a running (or, er, walking) total of how far you will be or have been travelling so, if you're wanting to reach a certain distance, you know when you can sit down.

However, it's worth noting that will only let you print out maps if you have a paid subscription with them.

For London Walks and footpaths
Without I would not be doing this challenge. For a start, I probably wouldn't have heard of the Capital Ring and I almost certainly wouldn't have had the maps to guide me around it.

But it's much more than just the Capital Ring, there's also the Thames Path, and the Jubilee Walkway, and the Green Chain, and the and the and the. There are great PDF maps and guides to download on each of these. If you're London based or bound, I'd really suggest that you start exploring this site.

For almost London Walks
I bought this book when my distance training started going beyond 8 miles and I decided that I'd quite like to get out of London occasionally.

All of the walks are within a short train ride from the city and are graded according to difficulty. What's nice about them is that they've been written by a keen occasional walking group (the Saturday Walkers' Club) so they're already tested.

The Saturday Walkers' Club also have a website. There are lots of free walks on there, and you can even join them on a ramble if you like. Their site is the one that provided our Walton-on-the-Naze to Clacton walk a couple of weeks back (Walk 52, reversed)

For long walks anywhere in the UK
The Long Distance Walkers Association keeps a list of long distance paths and walks in the UK. Just so you know, a long distance path is a path over 20 miles in length. They also host group and challenge walks for members.

I haven't used the LWDA much yet, but imagine that I will be very soon.

And that's my list of useful resources for now. If I discover any more I'll be sure to share them.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Ward Walks Home*

* Er, actually, I'm not fit enough to do that one yet. London to Southampton is about equivalent to the distance of my challenge next year. Not ready for that!

I went back to Southampton this weekend to spend an evening with my mum (although I'm sure she won't mind me saying that the main draw was seeing Jim Moray and Cara Dillon at the Eastleigh Music Festival on Friday really...) and took the opportunity to take my training to my home city.

Or rather, around my home city.

Saturday afternoon was spent walking 15 miles which took me around Southampton Sports Centre, Common, town centre, marina and docks. I took some pictures to stop myself obsessing about the oppressive heat and worrying about blisters.

As usual, you can see them nice and big (and with a few little stories in the descriptions) on my Flickr.

It was an afternoon with some pretty intense memories and sometimes I just wanted to stop and reflect for a bit. I don't like stopping, but I allowed myself a few moments to do just that at the boating lake on Southampton Common.

Back in 2003, I spent the first term of the last year of my degree on Southampton Common. I mapped every square based on memories and discoveries and it became It wasn't an entirely successful project, and I wince at some of the spelling mistakes on there, but it did provide me with many happy memories.

One day in early November, I took Dad to the boating lake to sail homemade boats just as he had done when he was a boy. The only difference was that he had told me stories of beautiful balsa wood constructions, and I had provided two tiny paper ones.

We cycled from our house to the Common and cautiously launched our crafts. Then we spent a good hour or so sitting on a bench nearby laughing ourselves stupid. Our boats had sunk almost immediately and a big motorised boat came along and stole the limelight.

Afterwards we went home and had a number of cups of tea at the kitchen table and laughed some more. It was a good day.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Ward Walks Clacton...

This weekend we went for a little mini break to Clacton-on-Sea after deciding that we'd had enough of the hot inner city weather of London. We needed coastal breezes!

We started off the weekend with a 7.5 mile walk from Walton-on-the-Naze to Clacton. It's a really lovely stroll of easy walking right along the water's edge pretty much all the way. I have to admit that, although I've added it to my log, we didn't take it as seriously as a usual training walk. I don't usually use the word 'stroll'. Or stop halfway for an ice cream. *ahem*

Anyway here are some photos from the trip, including one illustrating the perfect ending to a walk. No, not a pint. Paddling.

Walton PierCOCKLES!
Clacton Pier in the distance
As usual, further photos can be found on Flickr.

Usual training will resume this week with 3 sets of 4 miles and one mammoth 16 mile at the weekend. I'm rather hoping that the weather cools down for that.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Battles with heat and temptation.

Cor blimey! London's a bit warm at the moment. And whilst that may be fine for sitting under parasols, drinking Pimm's and watching England being rubbish at sport it's not entirely fun to be out walking in it.

So it was with some reluctance that I marched myself out of the house late yesterday afternoon to walk 14 miles.

I picked up my circular route from which took me from my home in Lewisham, up through Greenwich, under the Thames at the Greenwich foot tunnel, through the Isle of Dogs and onto the Thames path at Westferry. Then along the Thames path to Tower Bridge where I crossed the river once more and doubled back to go east on the southern Thames path to Rotherhithe. Then back towards home through Surrey Quays, New Cross and a tiny corner of Ladywell.

It was no where near as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, OK, so I was pretty pink and ridiculous looking and I could see my knee muscles twitching in the last couple of miles but it was fine. Utterly uneventful, really. I managed to complete it in 3 hours and 50 minutes, which isn't too shabby.

The only bad part of the walk was stepping off Tower Bridge to find a Pimm's stall and a tapas festival directly in front of me and knowing that I still had to walk to Lewisham. WOE!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

First milestone.

I've now walked over 100 training miles since I announced this project. That seems to equate to somewhere around 29 hours of my life which, I guess, is rather a lot in two short months.
EDIT: Actually, it turns out that this was only from when I started specifically training for the marathon in September, so that's just since 17th May! Go me!

Last week my training took a bit of a kicker when my iPod went missing from work. I had been using music as a pace keeper and various podcasts as a way of giving my mind something to concentrate on when walking familiar paths.

But losing the music has opened my eyes to what's around me.

This last week I've taken the training slowly so that I can stop and look at my surroundings. Two of my regular short walks follow well-trodden tourist paths, passing some of the most famous views in London, so I've started off by photographing those. The few pictures below are from my walks from Covent Garden to Limehouse and Covent Garden to Canada Water.

Lovely sunny ThamesPub on the Thames, decked out for the World CupThe Globe TheatreTower Bridge and City Hall
(I've put the rest of my pictures from these walks in my Ward Walks London folder over at Flickr.)
I've started noticing smaller, less noticed things too. I think I'll take the time to stop and photograph them in future and add them to my building picture of London.
I guess I'm lucky to live in a city so many people travel across the world to see. I should remember that every time I'm tempted to tut as I pass a group of slow moving tourists. But I'm not promising that I will.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Something was missed...

So, apparently it was Fathers' day yesterday. I don't think I ever really celebrated it when I was growing up (sorry Dad, you missed out on years of crappy homemade presents!) and, of course, I don't really observe it now. But I thought that I'd make a little Dad post for today to acknowledge it.
I reckon every kid goes through a stage where they're fascinated by ancient Egypt. Whether it's the gruesome mummification process or the awesome architecture that provokes interest, I reckon it always surfaces at some point.

My fascination seemed to go on longer than most. I was given books about Egypt, and taken on trips to museums to see exhibits about Egypt. I practiced writing my name in hieroglyphs and I remember asking my Dad to make me an ankh several times. My own crafts were predominately Egypt flavoured, including a board game based on the afterlife and a foam headed stick puppet of Tutankhamun. As you can see I was fairly solidly obsessed for a good number of years, even thinking that I might like to be an Egyptologist at the point I went to secondary school. This faded pretty quickly after my interests rather dramatically widened.

Some years after the main appeal had subsided, Dad and I visited Egypt together. It was the year 2000 and I was an awkward 17 year old who was not dealing well with the heat. But the trip was still incredible. I keep meaning to dig out old photos from the time where Dad is dressed like an archeologist from the 1920s. Not a costume, just the way he liked to dress on holiday.

After the Egypt holiday, although I can't quite remember when, Dad gave me a little blue plastic jewellery box, with the pixelated image of an Egyptian woman stuck to the front (I know Mum must have helped with that bit, he had no idea how to work a computer). On opening the case I found this:

My lovely ankh

It was the ankh I had asked for all those years previously! Carved out of a piece of mahogany and wrapped with silver wire, it's beautifully simple.

This didn't come out of the box very often for some time after I was given it, but I've been wearing this necklace quite a lot recently. It reminds me of Dad's enormous creativity, and the shear surprise I felt on opening the box. I like to imagine him working away on it in the garage, chuckling to himself over how long it had taken to get around to making it. I hope he knew just how much I adored both the sentiment and the necklace itself.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

It's been one of those weeks...

This week I've learned just how much you use your arms in walking and how a seemingly unrelated injury can set you back when it comes to training.

At the beginning of last week I had a bit of an achy wrist from too much gardening. By the end of the week I had been told that I'd damaged the tendons in my arm and should avoid using it for two to three weeks or risk serious damage.

Not using your primary arm for any length of time is a pretty big task, I think, but I've been trying really hard to limit my movement. Yes, this is all being typed left handed. It's tricky, but I didn't think it would be more trouble than that.

So setting off on my 12 mile walk on Sunday I was resolute that I'd finish it in stonkingly good time, full of energy and triumphant.

It didn't quite go like that of course. Shortly after setting off I noticed that it was hard to keep my arm from swinging along by my side as I took each step. Then I needed to adjust my rucksack which, of course, I couldn't do without using my right hand. Then as the walk continued my hands began to swell. This always happens in heat, but this time I couldn't really do the flexing exercises I usually do to get rid of it and this time I noticed that my wrist had begun to swell as well. It was pretty hard to ignore.

Towards the end of the walk my concentration went for a wander and so did I, getting hopelessly confused and having to retrace my steps. I finally finished tired and late.

The wrist distracted me and it slowed me down. But I'm warning it, that better be the last time it does.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Enemies of the Kate #1

(sorry for the terrible pun...I tried to resist...honest...)

I've noticed that there are quite a few barriers out there to halt or slow my training. Some of them are mental, some of them are physical, all of them are annoying.

I've already spoken about trying to find the time to do all this walking, which I believe will always be an issue, but the number one enemy for me at the moment is the weather.

We've been enjoying some staggeringly beautiful but hot days here in London recently, although I've joyously heard that we've got rain on the way this week. I'm not one for heat unless I have the luxury of doing absolutely nothing in it. For those who are uncertain, absolutely nothing does not include a fast 4 mile walk. It doesn't include a fast 8 mile walk either.

Still, I have to do them, so off I go with my flask of water and my sense of purpose and I march along in the sunshine getting hotter, sweatier and pinker as I go. My recent walks have been along the Thames, so I'm often half blinded by the sun bouncing off the water and filled with quiet annoyance that I'm not one of the hundreds of people I pass enjoying their evenings out of work. Or excitedly pointing out landmarks and having their photos taken. Or sitting outside a pub with a nice pint. I think that last one stings the most.

Honestly, the only thing that keeps me going is a sense of stubbornness that I'm not going to let myself get to next year's walk entirely under prepared. I'm hoping complete my first marathon in September, which will probably be the first time I'll get to find out whether I've overstretched myself or not. I think for now I have to try not to worry about that and just push on. Even if that bench is looking particularly inviting...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Over half way around the Capital.

David and I used Sunday as an opportunity to walk the next two legs of the Capital Ring: Richmond Bridge to Osterley Lock and Osterley Lock to Greenford.

Both stretches wind alongside rivers and the canal and have very few roadside stretches. Rather picturesque, really. We picked a lovely day for it and the sun shone down on us the whole way. Getting to Greenford, the end of Walk Eight, means that we've gone more than half way round the ring.

Gallows Bridge over the Grand Union Canal - the end of section seven of the Capital Ring Richmond Lock closing times are suddenly important to me...
You can see my other photos from the day as part of my Capital Ring collection on Flickr.

Of course, now that I've announced next year's challenge, these walks have a slightly more serious intent. I'm now looking for obstacles, park closing times and bad surfaces. I'm weighing up how long I reckon it'll take to walk it and whether it would be OK to walk it at night. And I'm not even heading out for the walk until I've managed to fit the mileage into my training schedule.

It's still enjoyable, but it reminds me just how much there is to organise.

Thursday, 27 May 2010


My Mum came to visit me a couple of weekends back, and brought me some photos I thought I would share with you.

Dad walking in the Atlas Dad sharing a meal at Dounia's family home, Morocco

These are pictures of Dad in Morocco in 2005. You can click to see them bigger, if you like.

In that first one, Dad's walking in the Atlas mountains in his faithful walking shoes. Dad really enjoyed the holiday, and came back brimming with stories like an explorer back from some undiscovered land.

Mum and I went back to Morocco in the April after Dad died, to Taroudant and Essaouira. At the time I was a little cynical about the trip. Sure, I thought, it'll be lovely to have a holiday, but secretly I was worried about feeling as though I was on some sort of pilgrimage. By the time I got there, I forgot all of that and just enjoyed myself. It was a lovely holiday and it was wonderful to see the places that Dad fell in love with. Walking through the Atlas in Dad's walking shoes was a real highlight for me, and I couldn't bear to brush the Moroccan dust of them for some time after we returned.

I've put a few other pictures from my parents' Morocco holiday (including one of Mum - hope you don't mind!) in my Flickr. There's also a set of my really bad camera phone photos from our later visit.

Monday, 24 May 2010


It turns out that starting a blog and telling people about this was the easy bit of the challenge. Who knew?!

I've just kicked off on the first stage of the proper training, which will hopefully have me walking my first marathon in September. Like a lot of running programmes, I'm meant to complete three short sections a week and one long one, with three rest days in between the weekday walks. In practice, I imagine I'll end up dropping a couple of walks along the way to fit in with other exercise and life in general.

So in this first week of official training, I'm meant to have walked 20 miles spread over four sessions. Did I do it?

Er, no, actually. I walked 15 miles spread over three sessions: a 3 mile, a 3.5 mile and an 8.5 mile. The fact is that it is hard to find time to do this - a 4 mile walk is all fine, but you've got to take a good hour out of your day to do it. And you've got to remember to take your shoes with you so you can.

It's rather frustrating that I'm not even hitting target in my first week, but at least I know it's not due to anything more than life getting in the way. I'm fit, healthy and quite happy to bound from one mile to the next. I'm hoping that this momentum will keep up with me as I start on this 22 mile target week.

More for my record than anything else, I'm keeping a Daytum page to record the mileage I clock up - this suits my nerdy brain very well and as a by-product gives me a sense of achievement on updating. I keep one for another project I have running in the background (my 101 things in 1001 days list) and it's helped with motivation on that too. I love it.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Overcoming fears and feelings of treachery.

I spent over one and a half hours in a running shop on Thursday evening. During that time I tried of a good dozen shoes, walked up and down the pavement outside in most of them, and discovered that I take a men's size 9.5 UK. Yeah, that last one was a bit of a stinger.

I've come away with a very comfy pair of Asics Gel Cumulus 12 and had my first of many training walks this lunch time to test them out. They are a dream!

So, I'd like to thank the staff at Run and Become for being so patient with me and helping me to find some awesome running shoes. Even though I won't be running in them.

My next challenge is trying to fit the training mileage into my already busy week. I'll report back later with how that's going...

Thursday, 13 May 2010


Unluckily, I have big feet for a girl. Luckily, my dad had small feet for a man.

When Dad passed away, I inherited something pretty special. His walking shoes.

Truth be told, I'd been stealing pairs of shoes from him for years (his long sheepskin lined brown leather Bally boots were, and are, a favourite of mine) and I was well practiced at sneaking away pairs of his nice wool socks. But this great pair of Brashers are something special.

Since I inherited them they've been everywhere I could possibly conceive needing a good pair of sturdy shoes. They've walked the Atlas mountains of Morocco twice (once on Dad's feet, and once on mine), got soaked through in the Lake District and, at the start of this year, joined me on a short walk through snow on the Pennines.

But as great as they are at walking off road, I don't think they're ideal for the challenge ahead.

So I'm going to a specialist running shop this week to get my walk assessed and find a flexible pair of lightweight trainers to start the serious training in. I feel strangely nervous about this purchase and almost feel like I'm cheating on my Dad's shoes. Hopefully these feelings will fade once my feet are more comfortably shod.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Dad and Kate Dad and Kate

It's my birthday this weekend, so I thought I'd take a self-indulgent opportunity to introduce to you the silent contributor to this blog.

I was my dad's fourth child, born rather late in his life and quite some time after the previous three - I was his 50th birthday present. I was lucky to be able to spend a lot of time with him, when he was a work-from-home architect and later when he retired, and many happy hours were spent sitting at the kitchen table discussing anything and everything. We shared a love of strong tea to keep us going through the late night chats.

This walk is one of those hair-brained ideas that one of us would have had at 1am, only to discard it as ridiculous by the morning.* Now that he's not here, I feel as though I can't dismiss these schemes quite so readily. Maybe that's why I'm actually going through with one of them...

* We once spent a good couple of hours discussing the practicalities of cycling the end-to-end on a tandem during one of these talks - even down to who would be at the front and who at the back and whether we'd camp or use B&Bs. Luckily for both of us it was vetoed over breakfast.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Why this challenge?

At first I knew I wanted to do something, but wasn't quite sure what. It was easy to rule some ideas out pretty quickly.
No marathons: I can't run. Seriously. I'm such a stumbler, I'd spend more time falling over than running.

Nothing requiring too much kit: I've always wanted to cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats, but I don't have a bike right now (last one got nicked) and I wouldn't have anywhere safe to keep it if I did (see previous point). Dad was a keen cyclist, so this would have been great, but it's shelved for now.

Nothing I know for certain I can already do: I would have loved to do a skydive, but it didn't feel quite right to be raising money for something I've already done. I wanted a challenge.
And this seems to be the right sort of challenge for me. On the one hand, I'm certain I can finish it on account of my stubbornness. On the other, there's the nagging doubt that I might not quite manage it. The distance is scary. Twenty-four hours on my feet without sleep is scary. But the thought of failing is scarier.

Why this walk?
No reason more than I live in London and that I've walked a few of them. The symmetry of 78 miles on Dad's '78th birthday' is a coincidence I didn't notice until I wrote my first blog post here.

Why now?
It's coming up for 4 years since dad died and I always meant to do something for a charity that would help people like him. A year to plan for something like this seems just about right, and the 5th anniversary also seems right.

What now?
Well, now I've got a year of planning and fierce training. I've got to go from an occasional walker to a serious walker, and I've got to do it pretty swiftly. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little nervous of this.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Stepping off

Hi! Welcome to Ward Walks London. This is my first ever post, and I'll be using it to tell you all about the challenge I'll be undertaking one year from now.

On Sunday the 1st May 2011, I will be embarking on an attempt to walk the entirity of the London Capital Ring in 24 hours or less. The Capital Ring is a circular route that runs 78 miles around London, winding through parks and roads, starting and finishing at Woolwich.

I will be walking to raise funds for the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research fund, in memory of my father who died from the disease in 2006.

This blog is my tool to document the year ahead - the training, the planning and, I suspect, the inevitable injuries. I have no doubt that this is going to be the toughest challenge of my life, but I am absolutely relishing the thought of it. I hope you can stay with me on this long journey!