Sunday, 20 May 2012

Peddars Way Day 1

Peddars Way Day 1 - Knettishall to Great Cressingham

Distance - 26.62 Km - 16.55 miles
Time Taken - 7hrs (inc. breaks)
Assent - 187m

The day had arrived, a few months ago it seemed like a good idea to do the Peddars Way from Knettishall to Huntingdon in 4 days, so here we were on the start line.  It also had seemed like a good idea to camp on along the way so full packs were required.  Nick had previously done the Peddars way in 3 days but had ruined his feet in the process.  I had promised to do some training but had done little.  It had been forecast to be the coldest May in 100 years.  The Omens were good!

The beginnings of the walk (and much of the day infact) are on good well marked tracks alternating between woods and open fields.  With the weather overcast, it was actually a good day for walking, not to hot and no rain.  After approx. 4 miles we had a break next to the A11, not the quietest spot (!) but it had toilets and benches.  Feet at this stage were good, the 10Kg pack (inc water and snacks) wasn't that noticeable, and I was glad I decided to go lightweight! 
The last time I had backpacked (i.e carried my shelter etc) was on DoE in about 1994, and I was much younger and much smaller back then!  The old DoE style of packing (up to 1/3 of body weight, etc) would of probably killed me in the first mile, a 1/3 of 148Kgs is a hell of a lot!  Nick had a bigger and heavier pack, but is much healthier so didn't have any issues carrying extra.

Difference in pack size!
After crossing the very busy A11 and a railway line, it was back into the woods and arable fields. Another 2 miles saw us enter the quiet villiage of Stonebridge.  As the pub was open we felt it would be rude not to have a quick drink stop (fizzy pop only!).  Off we went again into the woods.  This first day was proving to be a pleasant walk, a mixture of woods, fields, forest and on the whole staying out in the country.

At the 9 mile point we stopped for lunch.  The feet felt ok, a little tender (i.e. they felt walked on!) but no issues.  A couple of concrete blocks in the woods were ideal for a sit down (not many benches or seating areas along the whole Peddars way).  The woods were peaceful, birds singing, trees swaying in the breeze, feet cooling out of shoes and a nice M&S sandwich to munch on.  That lasted about 10 minutes before a van and a car pulled up on a nearby track (a BOAT - Bridleway Open to All Traffic), a motorbike was wheeled out, beer opened, and bike raced up and down the lane.  Oh well!

Setting off again the distant sound of gunfire at the military training area could be heard in the distance.  The training area is huge and goes on for miles.  With it being a Sunday I thought it would be quiet, yet as we rounded a corner we could see 3 landcruisers with what looked like Afghans having a brew and chat next to them.  Closer inspection revealed them to be Gurkhas all dressed up, it must of been their turn to play the bad guys!

The trail remained on footpaths or country paths until approx. 12.5 miles in before the village of Little Cressingham.  The path then follows the main road, either on the verge of behind a hedge.  This section was to be honest a bit of a drag.  The contrast between the first sections and this 'boring trail' seemed quite stark, though this might be partly to me becoming tired.  At little Cressingham we hit the 14 mile point and I knew I had an issue on one foot.  My right heel was very sore and I knew I had a big blister on the strike point of my foot.

We left the Peddars Way at this point to walk the 2.5 miles to the nearest campsite at the Olde Windmill pub.  This section was along the tarmaced lanes so didn't help with my foot, however this is the nearest campsite we could find.  The 'campsite' itself is a grassed area over the road from the pub and the pub are happy for you to use it as long as you make a contribution to the charity jars on the bar.  A pretty fair deal if you ask me! (A toilet and shower are at the side of the pub, so it's a bargain!).

Home for the night.
The pub did good food, a wide menu covered most of the bases!  I opted for a steak as I felt I deserved it.  I also had a few pints of strong Westons cider, and it was pretty strong to be fair!  The blister on my right foot was big (about an 3cm diameter, and sticking out by about 1cm).  It wasn't a rubbing blister, but seemed to be from my foot impact point (I think it's a weight/impact/foot issue).  A pin was used to drain it, but it quickly refiled and would do so everyday.  (the skin remained in place on all 4 days, the pin holes would heal and it would just fill up again.).  I did wonder how I would cope with 3 more days.

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