I’ve started walking the Thames Path.
Yup, all 184 miles of river, from it’s source in Kemble, near Cirencester
to Woolwich, the steel barrier which protects London from the North Sea’s high tides and storm surges.
We’ll pass through numerous towns including Oxford, Reading, Teddington and Richmond, documenting it with photographs all the way.
OK sure, I’m not doing it in one go because it would take a solid 2 weeks to achieve it, and I have three lovely little people to look after at home, as does my walking companion Victoria. So we’re doing lots of little walks, an average of 12 miles each time, but these are no leisurely strolls along the river, and definitely no picnics! We’re storming this path at quite a pace and and committing to at least one hard walk each month with all the logistics that go with it, namely 5am weekend starts, and parking cars in random places along the way. Don’t even mention the map reading…
Why? I can’t answer for my pal Vic, but my inspiration and motivation is as follows:
The idea to take on a BIG walk came from reading a book called ‘Thinking on my feet’ by BBC presenter Kate Humble: a journal about how walking affects us mentally, physically and spiritually. In the latter half of her book, Kate walks the river Wye, all 136 miles of it, just her and her dog. I was enchanted by the solitude, the peace, the independence, the sheer bloody hard work of walking 20 miles a day, and it really appealed to me as a challenge. My Facebook feed is full of people running marathons, climbing mountains, doing triathlons, but nobody is walking a river…
The fact is that exercise is good for us, physically and mentally. It won’t surprise you to hear that we’re the least active generation, hardly any of us manage the recommended 10,000 steps per day. (Do you?)
I’ve become a real advocate for getting outdoors, into the fresh air, amongst nature. I believe it can do wonders for your state of mind, really pick you up if you’re feeling low, motivate you if you’re feeling flat, calm you if you’re feeling anxious. I especially love the woods behind my home. There is an incredible serenity here, and I love to see it transform through the seasons. I can see the beginning of the bluebells, and know that, in a month’s time, the ground will be overflowing with flowers. Getting out, for a walk or a jog, is so good for the soul, it’ll snap me out of a grump or slump every time. It’s easy to think of this ‘time out’ as a treat or indulgence, but it’s actually essential and should be a priority.
It occurred to me that, whilst this walk would be a constructive personal goal for me to have anyway, I might as well be raising money for charity. Vic and I have been campaigners for mental health for a while, without even really knowing it, with our writers group The Inkpot* becoming a therapeutic outlet for people’s thoughts and feelings. We therefore chose the charity, Mind, a perfect fit for this challenge. To make a donation to Mind, however small, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/charlotte-vic
*The Inkpot is a small and informal group of writers which meets every THIRD Tuesday at the Golden Pot pub in Eversley.