Godmanchester

Sunday 14 April 2019. There were 9 of us on today’s 6.4 mile walk from Godmanchester to Houghton Mill and back. Linda W leading with Linda S, Frances, Moira, Betty, Michael, David M and me joined by Andy Mack from the Hunts group. It was a bright sunny morning but with a chilly breeze as we crossed the Chinese bridge to walk through Godmanchester and pick up the route of the Pathfinder Long Distance Walk which is a 46 mile walk joining the major airfields of Cambridgeshire. Thankfully we only did a very short section which took us along “millionaire’s row” in Hemmingford Abbots before crossing the meadows for our first stop of the day at Houghton Mill. Somewhere along the way we lost Andy who was repeatedly stopping to trim back overhanging vegetation. I wasn’t too worried about this as I knew that he was familiar with the area and he rejoined us, coming from a different direction, as we arrived at Houghton Mill.

It was extremely busy here and the cafe/toilets were much in demand. Linda S mentioned that the cafe was selling nice looking sausage rolls at £2.45 each. Far too expensive for a poor Yorkshireman to buy but I couldn’t resist popping in to see what you get for your money. Who should I see in the queue for drinks but Bea. I said a quick hello but couldn’t stop to talk as the group was already heading out on the return leg.

Our return route followed the Ouse Valley Way as we made our way around a series of lakes and back to Godmanchester. This was a very scenic path and was best saved for a good finish to an enjoyable walk.

Godmanchester – walk route

Aerial View

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Exton

Sunday 31 March 2019. There was 9 of us on today’s 7.25 mile walk from Exton to Greetham and back. Moira, Linda W, Linda S, Frances, Josephine, Michael and me from the Fenland Ramblers joined by Ming from P’boro and Tommy from Corby.

It was a bright sunny day but with a noticeably chilly NE wind which was in our faces as we set off towards Fort Henry for our coffee stop. From here we walked through the grounds of Greetham golf course where we spotted a “Walkers Welcome” sign outside one of their bars. Whilst this might have been tempting, we pressed on to Greetham church where we stopped for lunch. An exploration of the inside of the church revealed that it had a WC which proved oddly attractive to the ladies in our group. The men, including me, made do with a “wild wee” out in the countryside.

Our route back to Exton followed the Viking Way past free-range chicken sheds and along good tracks.

On a more personal note, the hills, which were only small, seemed a little easier although my quads were burning by the time that we had finished the walk and were still sore into the early evening. My energy levels seemed good and whilst 7.25 miles was far enough, I could have done more, if needed. I hadn’t realised just how high the UV levels must have been until looking in the mirror before going to bed to see a bright red face looking back at me. I must remember to use sun cream from now on or risk an unwelcome annual outbreak of Herpes Simplex on my nose and forehead.

Exton – walk route

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Kelling Heath

Sunday 17 March 2019. Phil had very kindly agreed to lead today’s walk on which he was joined by the two Linda’s, Josephine, Zoe (a local), David and me. There was a strong westerly wind blowing and Phil agreed to do the route the opposite way around to how he had planned it as this would mean that we didn’t have to walk head-on into the breeze when we hit the coast. We parked just off the Weybourne Road at Holgate Hill and walked across the heath to the trig point at Telegraph Hill. From here there was a steepish drop-off down to the path which would bring us out on the main road opposite the entrance to the Muckleburgh Military Collection. I didn’t know it at the time but I would have to climb back up Telegraph Hill on my shortened walk.

We then took a meandering path through woodland which brought us out half-way up Muckleburgh Hill. I was struggling by now and readily agreed to wait until Phil had taken the group up to the top of the hill and back down to meet me. Soon after we stopped for coffee, sheltered from the wind, behind some gorse bushes with a fine view over the coast. Our route then took us by the side of the Muckleburgh Collection and their battery of anti-aircraft guns. We hit the coast at Kelling Hard and had the best part of a mile to walk on loose shingle. This was hard going and by the time that we arrived at Weybourne Hope, having only walked 3 miles, I decided that it would be wise to cut my walk short rather than completing the full 9 miles.

I had given Josephine a lift and said that I was happy to walk back to the car on my own and to wait for her whilst she carried on with the group. I think that she was concerned about my health walking back on my own so she sacrificed her walk to accompany me on my shorter 4.7 mile route. The rest of the group were going to walk further along the coast up Water Hill before cutting inland to Weybourne Station for lunch and then back across the heath to the cars.

Meanwhile, Josephine and I walked along Beach Lane into Weybourne village and the tea room for refreshments. As I entered, I could see that one of the customers was tucking into a bacon sandwich and I just couldn’t resist ordering one for myself. Our route then took us uphill, by the side of the main road, to retrace our tracks back up Telegraph Hill and across the heath to my car. It had been a long drive for a short walk. This was only the second serious walk since my heart attack 7 weeks ago and although I’d done a 6 mile walk with Linda S a couple of weeks ago, this one really found me out. I hadn’t realised just how much fitness and stamina I’d lost since walking over 70 miles during January and my legs and hips were really feeling it. I clearly have some way to go before regaining full fitness and may have to moderate my walks when I go to Windermere for a couple of weeks next month. I’m leading a 7 mile walk on 31st March but I know that this is fairly flat and shouldn’t present too many problems.

Kelling Heath – walk route

Aerial View

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Weeting and Hockwold Heath walk

24th February David Martin agreed that he would put an extra walk for the Fenland Ramblers having had our two listed walks cancelled .
The day started off with the sun shining , no clouds in the sky ,and the temperature rising throughout the walk.
Our extra layers were quickly packed in our rucksacs by the time of our coffee break and we all felt we could have left these in the car.

The walk started and finnished by a walk on pavements with most taken on tracks and paths through the woods. It was very dry and our coffeee stop was taken looking at the pigs in the nearby field munching through vegatables and drinking water from the troughs along the edge of the field.

As we walked we saw several yellow butterflies ( forget the name ) flitting here and there., too quick to get any photos.

Our lunch stop taken in the woods was so warm it was so tempting to lay with my rucksac as a pillow and lie back for a rest. ( I think David took a picture of this.)

In amonst the woods we found the remains of an old cross on the pathe taken by pilgrimers heading to Walsingham as can be seen by the photos.

We would like to thank David for taking us on this walk and arranging such wonderful weather.

You’re joking, not another one!

Monday 28 January 2019. I’ve taken the title of this blog from “Brenda from Bristol’s” reaction to learning that there was to be another general election. Well, in my case, it was another heart attack and I most certainly wasn’t expecting another one.

My first heart attack came on 18 January 2018 and although I hadn’t realised it had been developing over the previous 3 weeks. I was becoming increasingly fatigued and short of breath when out walking. This all came to a head when I tried to climb Loughrigg Fell near Grasmere. It soon became obvious to me that I wasn’t going to make it and I returned to my hotel to call 111. They immediately recognised that I was having a heart attack and sent an ambulance for me from nearby Ambleside. I was taken to Lancaster hospital and then to Blackpool hospital 4 days later to have 2 stents fitted to clear blocked arteries in my heart. I was released the next day to start my recuperation. Thanks to my brother in Harrogate, my car was recovered from Grasmere and, along with me, we then made the journey home to Benwick.

I thought that it would take me quite a while before I would be back to walking any distance but looking back through my records I see that I managed a couple of 8 mile walks before the end of February 2018 and even went back to conquer Loughrigg Fell on 20 March 2018. I’d forgotten just how speedy the recovery had been and it gives me encouragement for the future.

Oddly, this latest trip to Keswick was planned to celebrate the first anniversary of my heart attack with Loughrigg Fell pencilled in for exactly one year on. Having already completed this in March it held no terrors for me although it was perhaps the steepest climb of the holiday. I did 4 other walks, all of which involved climbs of well over 1,000ft. The most memorable of these was the climb through the snow to Alcock Tarn on 23 January. It was the most perfect walk and will stay in my memory forever.

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My last walk of this holiday was on Thursday 24 January 2019. The weather deteriorated over the next few days and I spent the time lazing in my caravan. I had planned to return home on Sunday 27 January 2019 but high winds were forecast so I decided to stay and extra day and to drive home on the Monday.

Hitching up the caravan and getting on the road was uneventful but after about an hours driving I began to feel unwell with chest pains. I knew what was happening this time around and pulled into a lay-by on the A66 to self-administer my GTN spray which relaxes and widens blood vessels in the heart. I’d carried this spray with me for over a year and never had to use it. I certainly wasn’t ready for the side effect of dizziness and fainting. I didn’t pass-out but came close to it and I sat there in my car for more than 30 minutes until I felt a little better. The chest pain had subsided, just a little, and I decided to press on.

20 minutes later the chest pain and breathlessness became even more severe and I had no option other than to pull over into a lay-by and dial 999 for an ambulance. I decided that lying down in the caravan would be best but it was freezing in there and, in retrospect, I would have been better staying in the car. It took 45 minutes for the ambulance to make the 30 mile journey from Hawes. Why one couldn’t have been dispatched from nearby Darlington remains a mystery to me. I was rigged up to ECG and defribulator equipment in the back of the ambulance and rushed under blues and two’s to James Cook hospital in Middlesbrough.

On arrival I was taken straight into the cath lab for angioplasty to removed a blood clot which was blocking one of the stents fitted last year. I was then taken to the coronary care unit, still feeling very sore but out of immediate danger. My thoughts then turned to my abandoned car and caravan in a lay-by on the A66 somewhere just west of Scotch Corner. I’ve always had breakdown/recovery insurance through the Caravan Club with Green Flag. I gave them a call and by 7pm that evening both the car and caravan had been recovered and taken for safe storage in a compound near Ripon.

The next 2 pictures show the small incision point in my wrist for the angioplasty and the subsequent bruising. It looks like my arm has been amputated.

The next 4 days were taken up with further tests x-rays and ultra-sound scans and finally  Friday 1 February came around when I was due to be discharged. Just to add a fly into the ointment the doctor came to see me prior to my release. He was doing a chest examination with his stethoscope when I started coughing. I told him that I’d had the cough for over a year. This caused him some alarm so I was sent off for another chest x-ray. The doctor came back to tell me that he wasn’t really happy with the results which showed some opacification in the upper lobe of my lung. He said that it was probably nothing but that he would be happier if I had a CT scan. This would have meant staying in hospital for even longer but he was happy to let me go and for my local GP to follow-up on the CT scan. I’ve been referred to Peterborough hospital and await a date for the scan.

I spent Friday night with my brother in Harrogate and he then brought me home on the Saturday morning. The car and caravan were delivered home on Wednesday 6 February 2019. I’m prohibited from driving for 30 days and must thank Josephine who took me to see my GP on Wednesday this week and then for a blood test on Friday followed by a shopping trip to Tesco. I have enough provisions for a week or so and can get other essentials from the village shop. I haven’t really felt like doing much since getting home but will have to start with short rehabilitation walks around the village next week.

I had already booked  a 2 week trip to Windermere on 1st April 2019 but this is just 8 weeks away. I cancelled this holiday in order to save my deposit but can re-book nearer to the time should I feel fit enough to make the trip. At least I have a goal to aim for.

Just one last thing. I don’t think that the second heart attack was triggered by over-exertion but is probably attributable to stopping one of the blood thinning drugs that I stopped taking 12 months after the first heart attack. I’m now taking Ticagrelor again for the next 12 months along with Aspirin and will then switch to Clopidrogrel in 12 months time. I just hope that there won’t be a 3rd heart attack as I doubt that my heart would stand the strain. I hope to be back with the Fenland Ramblers at some time during the Spring.

Hilgay and the River Wissey

Sunday 3rd February. It was a glorious day, and 11 members turned out on an icy cold morning for the 6.5 mile walk.
We parked in the village and made our way out west, crossing the A10 and up onto the banks of the River Wissey, where we surprised three herons. We came back to the A10 via Dents shop and cafe, and so we stopped for elevenses.
We walked back through the village, and headed east out to Hilgay Fen, a County Wildlife Site of open fen lying along the south bank of the River Wissey. It incorporates Hilgay Heronry, an SSSI, which supports an average of 40 occupied nests each year.
A pretty wooded track then led us back to the village and our cars.

Castle Acre walk

Sunday 20 January 2019. On a cold and frozen morning 9 people joined Linda from the Fenland Ramblers and several old friends from other groups.

The walk took us down paths and tracks around the area following a route in the walks in Norfolk, Castle Acre route.

As it was so cold coffee and lunch stops were taken quicker than usual so we didn’t get too cold.

Lunch stop was at the ford, not far from the end of the walk, but a seat was available for some to sit on in more comfort. We did see a 4 x 4 negotiate the ford safely but didn’t encounter many people walking on most of the paths.

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