Sunday, 30 June 2013

From Tewkesbury to Chepstow in two easy plods.

So here we are in Chepstow, tomorrow morn we will cross back over The River Severn on Shank's Pony, and begin the final push to Lands End. The weather is now set fair, The British Lions are square with Oz in the rugby, and Wimbledon looks there for the taking Mr. Murray. In just under two weeks the English cricket team will begin their defence of The Ashes, and we shall complete the big plod.

Back, though, to Thursday first. We arrived in Tewkesbury pretty wet and bedraggled after much plodding through the wet long grass alongside the Severn. The Severn Way, it must be said, is a bit of a disappointment. For so much of the route the path is a few hundred yards away in fields, with the river barely visible through the distant trees. When it does go alongside the river it is really rather pleasant, but this is nowhere near even half of the distance that we covered from Bridgnorth to Gloucester. The paths that slip through fields are very badly overgrown, and walking through them is very tiresome and progress slow. When the grass is wet, this becomes awful, with wet grass up to one's waist, a soaking takes little time atall. Even the most waterproof of boots will succome to leakage when plodding for hours through such ground, but there it was, my choice of route from Shropshire to Bristol was a naff one, and will remain a lesson learnt. Having said that, though, where the river runs through the many lovely little villages and towns along the way, the scenery can be stunning, Worcester and Stourport being very much my own favourites. I thouroughly recommend the Severn for boating, not for walking!
Anyway, my good friends Steve and Jane Brooks had come all the way over from Aylesbury for the evening, and even managed to book in at the same hotel as us - The Tudor House Hotel in Tewkesbury.

A very nice hotel indeed, The Tudor House, the food was excellent, the ale excellent - Spitfire, Black Sheep, Butcombe - and the service was very good indeed! Assistant manager Kurt could not have been more helpful, even supplying newspaper to stuff in wet boots and making a radiator in the bar available for us to park wet gear on overnight, to ensure dry kit for the start of Friday morning. Thanks Kurt, top man. The young young who took over from Kurt in the morning was equally helpful, so thank you very much all at The Tudor House in Tewkesbury.

Friday morn was also a wet start, though not too much fell from the sky, the problem being as before. Ten more miles along the Severn Way through wet long grass made for wet plodding again, until we hit Gloucester and headed for the roads - a relief, strangely.

The route from Gloucester to Littledean was a fairly arduous plod of 12 miles along the A48, with time pressing on, and feet beginning to complain. We finally arrived at The Belfry Hotel in Littledean just after 8 p.m. A rushed shower, quick change, and just in time to order dinner!

Liz was exhausted and with no signal for either phone or computer, got off to sleep just after dinner.The Belfry was very comfortable, though very busy and with three parties going on there was a lot of noise until well into the small hours, but tired plodders drop off quickly regardelss of noise!

 A good breakfast at The Belfry, after a good rest, and we left for Chepstow at 10 a.m. The views of the Severn from high on the hill in Littledean were pretty good, as we headed down through Newnham towards the A48.

The sun burnt off the morning cloud pretty quickly, and left a warm, sunny day for the 18 miles to Chepstow. A pretty nice road plod, though on the A48 the whole way, plenty of footpath and wide verge available to make for easyish walking. The Forest of Dean keeping you company to the West and the River Severn growing ever wider to the East.

At around 5.15 we crossed the bridge over The Wye River, and a few more short steps and we were at our stop for the night. The Castle View Hotel. Liz's pals - Geoff, Sharon and Bruno were meeting us for the evening - as well as two days of bag shift - thanks very much indeed you three!, and a very splendid evening it was!
The River Wye in Chepstow.

and I managed to snap the brief but colourful sunset, inbetween good chat and drinking with a splendid bunch
Liz with Geoff, Bruno and Sharon at The Boat Inn, on the river.
A very good pub; reasonable prices, good ale, great location on the riverside, and good company for the evening. We stayed at a decent comfortable hotel also, The Castle View.
There it is then, 7 weeks plodding completed, and today we cross the river to begin the last push through Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. Just 2 weeks' left...
Alec Hawkes 30.06.13
On the plod, please donate if you can at;

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Shropshire to Worcestershire, now in Gloucestershire.

Yesterday, Wednesday 26th of June, was a last rest day until 4 days from the finish line, so Liz met up with her friend, and I toddled of to watch some cricket, and see the magnificent cathedral.

New Road Worcester, one of the most beautiful little cricket grounds in England, the place where many fine 100's were scored by the likes of Tom Graveney, Basil D'Oliveira, Glenn Turner and Graeme Hick, to name but 4 legends of Worcestershire cricketing fame. You will see the magnificent Worcester Cathedral in the distance.
Worcester Cathedral standing proudly over the Severn.

Looking from the grounds of Worcester Cathedral to the Severn.

A closer view of the beautiful Cathedral overlooking the Severn at Worcester.

St. Georges Chapel in the cathedral, where many brave soldiers from Worcestershire regiments are honoured.
The Cathedral really is magnificent, and is very worth visiting,

Apologies for a little blur on the pictures, it wasn't strictly allowed without a permit - sshh!!
and I had to do it quickly, and quietly!

The Crypt

So after an hour in the Cathedral, preceeded by a couple of hours watching cricket at New Road,


It was near enough time for a beer - Jayne's lovely butties had kept me going for two days,

so no food needed, just the liquid kind.

The fine establishment above is The Cricketers, a wonderful place for the lover of both the noble game, and fine ales, while chatting with like minded souls. Cricket memorabilia adorns the walls, with several references to Messrs Turner and Hick - both scored over one hundred 100's for Worcestershire County Cricket Club. The ales on offer are also very good - Brains and Doombar being the two I tried with fellow 'River Hiker' Greg, pictured here, after 2 or 3 ....
Greg was doing a 2 day hike around the area, also having a rest day at Worcester, and provided splendid company for 2 evenings, as well as a kind donation to the fund. Cheers Greg!
I myself finished off a rather good rest day at The Cap and Gown, just by our guest house, with a couple of pints of Old Hooky, lovely jubbly.
All in all, Worcester is very worth a visit, in my humble opinion.
So, today we left Worcester at 8.50 a.m. for the 20 mile plod alongside the river, all the way to Tewkesbury. Glorious sunshine accompanied us for most of what was a very pleasant, and easy stroll. Though the predicted rain did come for the last two hours, dagnabbit!!
The Bridge at Upton-upon-Severn.

The Severn looking calm in the morning sunshine.
So, a little wet, but not too fed up, we arrived in Tewkesbury in good time, around 4.30 p.m.,
now touching 700 miles!
Off to Littledean tomorrow, then Chepstow on Saturday.
Alec Hawkes  27.06.13

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Thank you to all who have helped!

A rest day today, in historic Worcester. But before I toddle off to the launderette, then to find a Yorkshire BS to pay in some donations to my charities that have been passed my way along the plod, a few thank you messages to some lovely people.

To all the hoteliers, bnb and guesthouse owners, publicans, and others, who have helped shift our bags from one point to the next - thank you.

To everyone who has passed a few quid my way to add to the charity fund - thank you.

To everyone who has donated a free tea, cup of coffee, butties, and stuff - thank you.

To the following 6 who have my charity collection boxes in their fine establishments - The Oak at Aston Clinton (Joolz Ivan), The Bricklayers Arms , Aylesbury (Olivia Daviu-Hopkins), The Swan Northall (Graeme and Lynne Rust), Edlesborough Newsagents (Gemma and Sandra), D & E Hines Eaton Bray, Jackie Page at Leighton K9 Grooming. Thank you all.

A big thank you to Reg and Brenda and Christian and Jane, for their extra special help - love you guys!

Thank you all who attended a pre-plod quiz at The Bricklayers to try and help cover our costs a little.

Thank you to Jayne and family for the best dinner and lovely evening.

Thank you to all who read this blog and who have sent messages of support.

Thank you to all who have donated on line at

Thank you to all the lovely folk we have met along the way too, and a big thank you to the wee midgies for no coming oot to play until after we had finished The West Highland Way.

The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan.
The two best pubs I have personally come across during this big old plod, The number one in Scotland, and (top) the - so far - number one in England!
All good fun, but helping charities is my main aim, so please donate if you can!
or send a cheque to MILKO GOES WALKABOUT
      P.O. BOX 6410
                    LEIGHTON BUZZARD
cheque payable to Alec Hawkes, then i'll pay it straight to my charity account at the Yorkshire.
As soon as I get home from the walk, all the funds will be counted and sent direct to justgiving.
Thank you all.
Alec Hawkes   plodding for charity. 26.06.13

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

A sad farewell to lovely friends.

After Ruth Sloan and Barry, Julie and Kevin Watson, and umpteen friendly and generous hoteliers and publicans - particularly in Scotland - another two lovely, helpful, and very generous people. Above is a picture of Jayne and Caroline, just before they moved our bags for a second day, this time on from Stourport to Worcester. Jayne and her family had very kindly fed me last evening, and what a feast it was! Jayne is a wonderful cook, and her family were so lovely and welcoming, beautifully behaved and wonderfully polite children too, thank you Mim and Cai, and also hubbie Martin. It was so kind of you.

I had a coffee with both Caroline and Jayne before leaving this morning, and very generously they both sponsored me, as did a lovely old gentleman in the coffee shop. Thank you so much all three of you, on behalf of the charities we are walking for!!

A lovely little 12 mile walk to Worcester followed, mostly alongside the river, with just a short, well marked detour for a mile. I was a bit behind Liz, after leaving late, but caught up with a splendid fellow named Greg, and we walked together until we caught Liz up around 4 miles from Worcester. A most pleasant little stroll in very welcome sunshine. It was pleasantly warm, dry all day, not too hot, but with plenty of the yellow rays beaming down through the trees and dancing upon the serene and calm waters of The River Severn.

The walk along the Severn is the longest riverside walk in Britain, and is quite lovely at times, mostly quite peaceful, and covers a long way - starting at it's source deep in Wales, and flowing all the way to The Bristol Channel and onwards to join the Atlantic. We are in a very calm and peaceful stretch, tonight in the historic city of Worcester. Tomorrow is a rest day, do I slip off to watch some cricket at the most beautiful cricket ground in England? I rather think so!!

                                                     Alec Hawkes 25.06.13 on the easy plod!

                                                     around 680 miles now, or thereabouts.


                                                    to sponsor me please click the link above, thank you!

Further along the Severn.

Where was I? Oh yes, was in Shrewsbury - Saturday night.

Well, we had a cracking good Ruby Murray at The Masala, a few jars at The Hop and Friar. A thoroughly good evening, which I ended with a nightcap in The 'Hop' and a donation from the lovely landlady to pop in the fund - still looking for a 'Yorkshire' to pay it in to!

So, Sunday morning was a bit hectic leaving Shrewsbury for the 20-miler to Bridgnorth. Liz's hubbie Mark was again shifting bags, Shrewsbury was very busy with both a marathon and half marathon going on - people everywhere, traffic everywhere. Mark was blocked in, we were a a tad late getting bags together, but at around 10.10 we left. Mark got his car out, the marathon runners got wet as the rains came, and off we plodded towards Bridgnorth.

The drizzle started pretty early, and kept on coming. Eventually this became sporadic showers, with just very brief sunny interludes. The sunny interludes became shorter, and the showers became longer. By mid afternoon the showers had become steady rain; lovely ." Is Wimbledon about to start?", I thought. Of course, Wimbledon often means rain in the unpredictable English summer!

The last few miles into Bridgnorth were a bit of a struggle, wet feet, tired feet, but made it to The Bear Inn by 6.30. A lovely little pub/hotel, very well run by a lovely lady called Kim.

The other pub, the bottom pic is The Harp. I'd pre-arranged to meet a friend for the evening, and The Harp fitted the bill perfectly. We had a splendid evening, music on, decent ale, and a great atmosphere.

The following morning Kim at The Bear cooked up a lovely breakfast, and very kindly added a tenner to my charity fund. Thank you very much Kim, very much appreciated! The Bear, by the way, is a very clean, comfortable, and excellent value place to stay, recommended!

So, leaving Bridgnorth on Monday morning - into week 7 now , and well over two thirds done at around 650 miles on the foot clock - my wonderful friend Jayne Peck came to meet us in Bridgnorth to collect bags and very kindly take them to our next stop in Stourport-on-Severn, where she lives.

Several good friends have been doing us favours by transporting bags, and Jayne - with another lovely friend Caroline - took the bags to Stourport, ready for us when we got there much later, thank you very much ladies!

So, an 18 mile walk along the banks of the Severn - leaving late at 10.30 - shouldn't have posed too many problems...until yours truly had an attack of 'DOH!'.
Well, I had noticed we were in 'Homer Country', so maybe an little cock-up was on the cards!
Just after taking a couple of pics as we left Bridgnorth, I put my camera-phone back in my pocket, but like a dope I ommitted to zip up my fleece pockets!

The Severn at Bridgnorth.
Around a mile and a half later I was a tad warm, so stopped to remove my fleece jacket. Reaching in to my pockets for my tobacco tin and phone - tin, yes, phone - NO! DOH!
Well the long and short of all that was that I had lost my phone somewhere on the first, quite muddy and overgrown - part of the path. Liz had caught me up, so she carried on and I went back to retrace my steps as best I could and try to find my phone. I went all the way back, but no luck. I searched the path the other way, but still nothing. I became resigned to losing it, but hey ho, that's life. I would need to get a new one. I gave it up and got on with catching up on the time lost.
When I finally caught up with Liz, she had rang the phone and someone had heard it and found it. Phew! So, I ran back another mile and a half and collected the phone from a nice lady called Alison, who had found it. Thanks Alison!!
So, now a long way behind the clock, I got a quick march on and caught up with Liz after an hour.
We had another 12 miles to do, and it was 2.30 p.m.!!
We pushed on - stopping only occasionally to grab a pic or two - through swarms of pesky river flies in the wet, warm, summer conditions.

The last two pics being of The Severn Valley Railway, which runs alongside the river for much of the time, and is a lovely rail journey, on an old steam train!
When we got to Bewdley it was very nearly 6 o'clock, and with 3 miles still left to do, the road was the quicker option - especially as Liz was having trouble with her feet, so we plodded on to Stourport and arrived at the guesthouse at 7.15, a long day!!
Last evening my wonderful and helpful friend Jayne invited us for dinner- though Liz was tired and had to decline the offer in favour of more rest - I joined Jayne and lovely family for a truly wonderful evening meal, complete with yummy rhubarb crumble for afters. Thank you so much Jayne, that went down an absolute treat, and your family were so lovely and welcoming!!
Jayne and Caroline are also very kindly moving our bags on again today - to Worcester. The sun is shining brightly, no clouds around, here's hoping for a lovely day today, and no problems!
Alec Hawkes - Milko on the plod for charity. 25.06.13
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Thank you!