The walk is finished.

September 4, 2012

Butteremere, amidst the unique fells of the Lake District, was the venue of the last mile. Having been beset by hail on the Honister Pass, the rain cleared after lunch and we indulged in stone skimming along the surface of the lake. Here then, as requested by one trustee some time ago, is a picture with me in it.

The becks raged down the fell into the lake, swollen by torrential rain earlier in the week. 

There we are, one fifth of the distance to Rwanda, covered since I started in July 2008. Hardly an athletic achievement but one which has led me to get to know London, the Thames and Kent in particular. The occasional forays to Paris and the North have been ones to savour. I’ve learnt to enjoy the pleasure of walking at one’s own pace, alone, as well as the familiar one of walking in company.

I’m grateful to all those readers who have commented and, occasionally, put me right on facts.

As for Rwanda, there continues to be splendid work done by the projects that the Charlotte Wilson Memorial Fund has supported. I wish that country a peaceful and democratic future.

We rarely support projects in Burundi because of the difficulties of overseeing them in a country so beset by conflict and turmoil. Until we can be confident that an attack like that on the Titanic bus can be punished and the perpetrators brought to book, there can be no peace.


Around Arnside in Morecambe bay

September 4, 2012

What better company to have for my final walks of this 400 mile challenge than my brother, John, and his wife Adele

Starting from Arnside , we headed towards Far Arnside along the edge of the treacherous sinking sands of Morecambe bay. After the concrete path the going was not easy on slippery rocks until we reached a road and crossed up into woodland.

We caught sight of the roe deer alongside some holiday bungalows.

We returned alongside the estuary, looking out towards Grange-over-sands.


Viking Coastal Trail: a short morning walk from Margate

September 4, 2012

July 2nd and still managing to dodge the rain, the path westwards is alongside golden sands.

I cannot comment on the art within Margate’s new art gallery. However, from walking past, I am able to say  it seemed to have been built  perilously close to the sea and to resemble a gigantic shed.

 

The tourist information nearby is in elegant early nineteenth century buildings  from Margate’s genteel past when the aeroplane had not opened up the possibility of visiting resorts with more sunshine more easily.

 

The clock tower celebrates Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887.

 

As graffiti goes, I found the above among the more charming.

 

On a weekday before the school holidays began these sands were deserted.

The heroism of the local lifeboat crew is commemorated by this statue.

Surely there must be city dwellers who could have benefited from the use of these miles of empty beach huts!

 

I walked on to Westgate on Sea, still hugging the coast. One feature of a walk like this is the ready availability of refreshments and toilets.

The even-ness of the path is owing to the fact that it is shared with cyclists. 

Eventually, just before Birchington on Sea, the path ran out and it was necessary to take the coast road. I returned by the way I had come to take an afternoon coach.

This would be an easy day trip by train from South London and the path continues from Birchington on Sea via Reculver, Herne Bay and Whitstable.

 


Viking Coastal Trail: a short evening walk from Margate

September 4, 2012

I missed the bad weather which hit much of the country on 1st July. The black clouds yielded but a few drops of rain

The Viking Coastal Trail is largely traffic free and hugs the coast. I left Margate heading East in the direction of Broadstairs with views of the white cliffs 

Past Walpole Bay, then Palm Bay: its golden sands deserted. Whether this was owing to the weather or the school term or simply the fact that something dire seems to have happened to Margate in the sixties, I cannot say.

A large wind farm could be seen off the coast. Which is where the residents of Sillfield in Cumbria would like to see the one in their next village.

Rounding Foreness Point, I was not surprised to see a fortification. After all, this is the coast facing our historical enemy.

All I can find out about the above is that it is a Tower. Then round the next corner, as it were, I was much more surprised to see a fully fledged castle

It might be dark and rainy but it is still summer 

There’s a teeny stretch of (rather dangerous) road here at Kingsgate. A sign on the gate helpfully gave information about this imposing building. It tells us that Kingsgate Castle was built in 1760 by Henry Fox, the first Lord Holland. Later it became the residence of John Lubbock, the first Baron Avebury whose arms adorn the main gateway. It is now divided into private residences. I hadn’t realised that the present Lord Avebury, whose victory for the Liberal Party at Orpington  in the 1960s prompted the satirical programme ‘That Was The Week That Was’ to illustrate how Liberals believed that Orpington was the centre of the world, had quite such a splendid past.

The weather on the return journey was ominous but having had dinner, I was able to enjoy the sight of the slowly darkening sky  as the sun set over the sea.

This evening view was a welcome change from life in the city.


Kew to Hammersmith: the trustees annual walk

June 28, 2012

We didn’t realise it on April 1st, but the good weather we enjoyed for this walk was to be followed by two unseasonally cold and wet months.

The trustees at the start of the walk

Having met at Kew Gardens Station we headed for the river. Fairly soon we stopped off at a riverside pub for lunch at Strand-on-the-Green.

 

For this walk I was guided once again by ‘Andrew Duncan’s Favourite London Walks’ Having left the river we walked through the grounds of Chiswick House. Progress was slow owing to the presence of five young children under five, who found much to interest them along the way.

We continued through the park

Thence we joined up with the towpath again along the Thames and through Chiswick village.

We enjoyed walking past historic houses, some, the guidebook points out, associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. However our younger walkers found other attractions claimed their attention. This walk of 4.5 miles had taken all of this sunny afternoon and it was getting on for bed time when we reached Hammersmith station.


Between the stations

December 31, 2011

Some railway stations in London are charming even grandiose, others are of the utmost dullness. As I approach the end of this walking challenge,a  walk between them gave a review of previous walks  in the city and reflected all its amazing variety.

I got off the train at Rotherhithe. Having previously walked past the Brunel Museum I took a welcome opportunity to visit it. This was the first ever tunnel through soft mud under a river like the Thames

Brunel's engine house

Marc Brunel, father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel was the engineer on this project. It was unsuccessful financially as no road approaches were built which would have enabled the projected freight traffic.

The chimney on Brunel's boiler house

His talented son nearly lost his life when he was working on the project. I learnt much about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was pleased to see that I had seen many of his great works including the Maidenhead Bridge, when I was walking the Thames Path.

Here the river is relatively narrow, which is why Marc Brunel chose Rotherhithe for the site of  his tunnel.

The warehouses lining the river may once have stored timber, hemp, iron, tar or corn.

The bridges were for the speedier transport of goods.

Jacob’s Island was the scene for the sensational death of the villain Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist. At the time of that novel’s publication it was the home of a foul ‘rookery’, a very densely populated settlement. Later the ditches were filled in and the warehouses built

Vogan's mill

I noted with sorrow that the striking statue, entitled ‘Dr Salter’s Daydream’ commemorating a man who had benefitted the community, had been stolen. I had photographed it when I had walked the Thames Path

After almost two miles I reached London Bridge, in its present state as a building site, an unprepossessing and confusing station.

London Bridge railway station serves Kent and Surrey

It’s completely dominated by ‘The Shard’

I was surprised how near together the London stations are, as it always seems to take an age between them by bus or tube, especially when encumbered by luggage. Another mile took me to a cluster of stations in the City

View from London Bridge

In the Square Mile, with its imposing and grandiose buildings, I passed what my grandson calls ‘The ornament to the Fire of London’

The Monument

When I first moved to Hertfordshire in 1980, Liverpool Street Station was being rebuilt.

The adjoining Broad Street station was ‘redeveloped’. It’s the busiest of all British stations and frequently the lines are congested. The trains run to Hertfordshire, Essex and a long way round to Cambridge. The Stanstead Express costs more than many of the tickets for the airlines which use the airport and is very snazzy. The lines to Hertford East and Enfield Town are woefully shabby.

Fenchurch Street Station is charming. I took the trains from here when I walked those parts of the Loop which are in Essex.

The startlingly shiny Cannon Street was closed on this Bank Holiday.

I headed now for another cluster of stations on the Euston Road and so made my way over the Holborn Viaduct.These ruins show what a near miss St Paul’s had in the Blitz.

The buildings here are less showy than in the City. This is the legal district and Justice can be seen overlooking the area holding aloft her scales.

She is my Christmas toast and in her I put my hope for the  New Year.

Among numerous very ancient churches that I passed is St Saviour without Newgate.

As befits the more learned character of the district, Holborn viaduct is adorned with allegorical figures. Here is Fine Art and a winged lion.

Sir William Walworth, twice Mayor of London stands guard in a niche in this ornate building. He killed Wat Tyler.

Kings Cross is where we used to take the train to visit my grandfather in Harrogate

A utilitarian building, it nevertheless serves the entire East Coast of Britain.

My grandmother told me that we had ancestors who came ‘down south’ as they were master craftsmen and worked on the building of St Pancras.

The most magnificent of stations; the name Betjeman is preserved in a waiting room as tribute to the poet laureate, who did much to save this most worthy Eurostar terminal.

Euston was not so lucky and the Euston Arch was lost

I remember the rebuilding of this too in the sixties. This is the station where I boarded a train home and I can never go there without a pang of remembrance for my parents. There’s a beautiful song by Davey Arthur, called Euston Station, a tape of which I inherited from Charlotte. It portrays the longing for home of the expatriate Irish in London ‘If you long to be somewhere then go while you can’ Kings Cross and Euston are the two stations which lead to the North, and as such are the most difficult for me to walk past without acute pangs of nostalgia.

Two entrance lodges to Euston station were saved.Inscribed on them are names of towns served by the railway, including Stockport, where I first boarded a train for London en route for my first trip to France.

                                                                                                                                                    Walking along the Euston Rd and then the Marylebone Road, the architecture becomes Regency. St Marylebone Church is where Elizabeth Barrat secretly married Robert Browning.

I had never visited Marylebone station.( For fashionistas it’s where you take a train to the designer outlet centre at Bicester.) I found it a charming homely station.

Continuing westward, I came to the much grander Paddington Station, which I was better able to appreciate, having watched a film, earlier in the day at Rotherhithe on the life of it’s great designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.I admired the great roof above the platforms and the craftsmanship evident on the concourse in the distinctive style of the Great Western

Railway.

I now made my way to Charing Cross via Piccadilly and a festive Trafalgar Square

Not every station has a work of art outside it but that is what the Charing Cross Station has. It’s a replacement for the original thirteenth century cross commissioned by Edward the First in memory of his queen, Eleanor.

This marks the centre of London. I ended the walk here on December 28th, the eleventh anniversary of Charlotte’s death.  It was the revised date for the completion of this walk but there are still 20.5 miles remaining to complete the second four hundred miles.


From Sydenham to St Paul’s cathedral and back

December 28, 2011

I took the road from Sydenham up Kirkdale and up Sydenham Hill, from where there is a fine view of The City

After Lordship Lane, Dulwich I came to Peckham . This building is now a nightclub but looks as though it may once have had another use: a bank perhaps?er

On the other side of the road, a white plaque on this building declares it to be the site of the Old Hanover Chapel, made famous under the ministry of Dr WB Collyer 1801-1852. He was an evangelical dissenting preacher who got on well with Royalty. He also had scandalous accusations made against him. I don’t know whether it was in the ‘News of the World.’

View from Southwark Bridge with 'The Shard' (as yet unfinished)

The pub name ‘Kentish Drovers’ suggests this was the way the cattlemen brought their produce to market.

From there it is a short way to the Old Kent Road and then on into Southwark and the river.

From here it is not far to St Paul’s

One can only be glad that the weather is so mild, given that some people are camping outside St Paul’s as part of a worldwide ‘Occupy’ protest

This banner presumably objects to capitalism’s tendency to bankrupt some, while accumulating  wealth in the hands of others, particularly those who hold Mayfair and Park Lane.

This banner presumably implies criticism of those who trade in economic fantasy.

As the great great grand-daughter of a founder member of the Co-operative movement in Yorkshire, I was pleased to see this plea for co-0peratives . Not everyone is in favour of central planning. However, I think maximum wages proved tricky in the seventies.

I assume from this banner that the occupiers of the tents have nice warm houses which they have made over to homeless refugees.

Looking at the placard on the floor, I looked up the slogan and a short film has been uploaded to Youtube ,in which an American, a somebody Mulligan from Freedomain Radio ,reminds us that we are owned by the ‘banksters’ because we borrowed money over many years and didn’t pay it back. He advises us to ‘stop asking for shit for free from governments’  The corollary of this however is that there will have to be an increase in mutual assistance and charitable giving to make up for the cuts in welfare to the vulnerable, as well as a concerted effort to rebalance and revitalise  the economy.

Now here’s a precise campaign. So I looked it up on wikipedia and it seems that vegetarianism, which enables you to plan a diet containing enough B12 without adding a supplement, in general helps you live longer.It is healthier than meat eating or veganism.  Also interesting, particularly for someone like myself with poor eyesight,  is that more meat eating is associated with greater risk of cataract. So, I should give vegetarianism another go, having given it up after a holiday in Perigord some years ago.

.

RBS is being singled out because of the bonuses and the fact that it has swallowed a lot of taxpayers’ money.

This banner merges support for the environment with the anti capitalist theme. The point of composting is that it provides nutrition for the soil. Can one hope that new ideas will emerge from the rotting of the old?

Another precise call for action, in this very disparate group of protesters, is this call for the release of Abdullah Ocelan,  activist of the PKK,   a revolutionary Kurdish party. The longstanding and bloody conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish government has caused many Kurds to flee their homeland. Very many have come to London.

I was courteously offered a sheet giving information about the camp and kindly told I could take as many photos as I liked, which I certainly appreciate.  I wonder though on what basis, as I saw on one placard, they can claim to be the only  ‘true democrats’. Whereas our current voting system is flawed and in no way reflects all groups within society(especially the ones that don’t vote), is camping in a tent outside St Paul’s more democratic than serving on the council, pressing for more and better recycling of rubbish or being a member of a parliamentary committee questioning phone hackers, or appearing before one such committee pleading for greater freedom of speech and the curbing of  super injunctions?

I am also disturbed, whenever I hear it, by assertions that the deficit doesn’t exist. I understand the implication is that this is  a fiction put about by the government to justify the cuts in welfare currently being made. I do not believe this to be so.

A parting glimpse of St Paul's cathedral from Southwark Bridge

I set off home.

That day’s walk had contributed a useful 14.2 miles to the total.


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