20 miles

I was very excited to discover this sign. I felt creative Nirvana was evidently up ahead. Alas, it refers instead to boats on the Kennet and Avon Canal. But I made Mark take a photo of me experiencing All Craft Elation anyway.

Before yesterday I had never knowingly walked 20 miles in a day. Driving in a car – amazing though it is – does very strange things to distance. The trip from Reading to Newbury take twenty minutes to drive in reasonable traffic with most of the journey spent on the motorway, and this doesn’t feel like a long way at all. The walk took us seven hours, including one rather ridiculous detour, making it seem like A Very Long Way Indeed.

My feet did amazingly well and I think I can resume running again, since this morning I have woken feeling more irritated by the thistle-scratches I got than by any foot/leg/muscle pain. I’m frankly amazed that I can apparently get away with this kind of thing; amazed and delighted. Hooray for the feet.

This is the kind of image they ought to use to sell outdoor footwear. I am not interested in shiny straps or well-presented wide-angle lens artistry involving shoes and exciting terrain: I want to know that after 20 miles of tramping along wet, muddy, canal towpaths, my shoes will still be in one piece, and I won’t have horrific sores from scratchy little corners on the straps.

These shoes have done me proud, and so have these feet. I loved walking, the experience of my body working and moving for so long, the quietitude and the beauty of the walk, the lovely things we saw along the way.

Walking along the canals of England is a very old and treasured activity. As children, we would always holiday in canal boats or camp near canals and I love the familiarity of the terrain, the flora, the territory. Canals have the wonderful bonus of featuring many little engineering toys to play with, so we got to learn about steel and locks and bridges, and I learned obsessively about the plants. I still love to know and study the things that grow along English canals… burdock, coltsfoot, hemp agrimony, reeds, grasses, dandelions, hemlock, hogweed… I think yesterday we found Fat Hen, Burdock and some kind of Monkey Flower.

Today we will go back to the canal to gather blackberries for a crumble, but I don’t think we’ll be doing 20 miles again.

5 Responses to 20 miles

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » 31.14 miles: the A4074 walk part 1

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