Of pigs, ducks, socks and maps

It’s starting to get serious now. Like, so serious. Walls have been pushed through. Pain has been felt and then callously ignored. Birds have been counted. And yes, toileting needs have been discussed.

After a truly splendid evening meal chez Rankin (and some lovely ladies), in which a glass or two was raised to the absent and sorely missed Gooders, we (this being Jonny and myself) set off bright and early with the dual intention of training for Dove Step, and seeing a few nice birds. However, due to a minor map reading error by the trip navigator (I was the trip leader) it turned into a brutally epic walk, of which Sir Ranulph himself would have been proud.

The first part of the walk seemed to be basically one large pig field. They were everywhere, for miles and miles, pinkness, hairiness, mud, swollen testicles and far too many nipples. Squealing and electric fences. A Saturnalia. There were birds too, thousands of them, including abundant gulls, lapwings, shelduck and thousands of starlings. Of course, Jonny will not be happy unless I mention the presence of a single ruddy shedluck as well, looking like a flying orange.

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We passed through Livermere, a frightening and challenging experience for those of us with a fear of ducks. Livermere has an enormous population of mallards, some of which appear to have no hybrid traces at all. Well, we walked quickly through without meeting the gaze of any duck, and survived. Whew!

A bit later on the navigational error occurred. It turned out the nameless navigator (who was not me) was pretty sure he knew the way, so sure that we didn’t need to look at the map. Well, two miles later we realised something was not right, so we did look at the map. Uh oh! whoops!

Route duly corrected, we entered the King’s Forest, a bit like hobbits entering Mirkwood, only less twee. I noticed Jonny was flagging around this time, and it was then he told me some bizarre story about getting into a hot bath after working out and suffering from hyperthermia. Of course, I didn’t believe it, so I just carried on with a manly laugh shouting back at him “come on, man up! We’re in this to win!”. On reflection this may have appeared a bit heartless.

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Jonny deciding whether to vomit, faint or just keep walking.

As we emerged from the troll-laden gloom of the King’s Forest, the welcome sight of the excellent Suffolk Wildlife Trust Lackford visitor centre, where we were replenished by lashings of cake and tea, and the stunning sight of a bittern in the evening sunshine. From then on it was a heads down thrash back to Bury, hot baths and check the stats. 24.63 miles. Rob – 1 blister (little toe), minor groinal chafing; Jonny – wounded pride.

The day provided some thoughts to be actioned in the near future.

  1. Sort out places to stay/ camp along route.
  2. Get a system worked out for packs of stuff to be sent ahead.
  3. Rob get new boots (dammit!)
  4. Evolve kit list, to include toilet paper.
  5. Work out 2 day training walk soon.

300 miles in 13 days is seeming pretty scary right now. But, challenges are there to be met and overcome. At least until it hurts.

Rob

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