3rd to 6th March 2016. My niece, Dawn, was having a 40th birthday party on Saturday 4 March and I felt obliged to attend. I’m not known as a “party animal” but it would at least give me a chance to see the whole of my family in one place at the same time. Rather than staying with my brother, I decided to take the caravan to nearby Boroughbridge with the intention of staying on a few days to do a bit of walking in “God’s own County”.
The drive up the A1 on Friday was horrendous. The traffic was heavy and with pouring rain it took me an age to get out of Cambridgeshire. It didn’t improve the further north that I went with a broken down car blocking the outside lane near Doncaster. It took me nearly 4 hours to travel 142 miles, about an hour longer than the return journey on Monday morning. Slow going was to become something of a theme for the weekend.
I spent most of Saturday with my brother and his wife before driving them to the birthday party in a nearby pub at 4.30pm. It had been organised to start at this time as many of Dawn’s friends have small children who could come along. Imagine the scene; a large group of people who I didn’t know, screaming children and loud music. Not my idea of a good time. Fortunately, my nephew, his wife and two teenage children were there so I had someone I knew to talk to. I stuck it out for more than an hour before having to make my excuses and to make my escape.
Family duties done, the rest of the time was my own. However, walking 40 miles in the space of a week had done some damage and my right leg was giving me some grief. It started with a pain just below and in front of my knee and then extended to the back of my calf and thigh. I’d been to see my GP on 28 February when he ruled out arthritis and sent me for an x-ray the following day to see if there was any structural abnormality. I’ll be going back to see him later this week to get the results.
The GP told me to keep exercising so with some trepidation I set off on Sunday 5 March to do a 7.5 mile walk which would take me along the north and south banks of the River Ure, passing Danby Grange and Jervaulx Abbey. Although the walk was fairly flat, I used my walking poles in the hope that this might alleviate some of the leg pain. This didn’t work and after a mile or so I was struggling. Should I turn back or carry on? In retrospect I made the wrong decision as, when stopping for coffee at the church just before Thornton Steward, I discovered that I didn’t have any painkillers with me. I think that I gave them to Josephine on an earlier walk? It still wasn’t too late to turn back as this would have been the shorter option but stubbornness got the better of me. Despite the pain, it had been an enjoyable walk up to the point of having to wade ankle-deep through a mixture of mud and slurry at Woodhouse farm.
My route seemed to be a popular one as I met a fair number of walkers coming the other way to me. I warned them all of the messy moras that waited them at Woodhouse farm. Jervaulx Abbey came as a welcome sight as it meant that I only had to endure another 2 miles of pain. I stopped soon after at Fishpond Plantation for a rest before limping back to the car. It had taken me over 4 hours to complete a walk that I would normally do in a little under 3 hours. The walk had been completed in the dry but it started to rain soon after starting the drive back to Boroughbridge.
My plans of walking again on Monday and Tuesday were quickly abandoned and, as there was no point in staying on, I drove home 2 days earlier than planned. My motivation was to get back as soon as I could and to make an appointment with my physiotherapist to get my leg sorted out. Luckily I was able to get an appointment at 7pm on Monday evening. She had sorted out my back a little over a year ago when I had slipped and fallen down some steps and I had faith that she could sort me out again. Some pre-appointment internet research had indicated that I might be suffering from a mild form of sciatica as the pain extended through my buttock, down the back of my thigh & knee and down the back of my calf. My Physio, Beth from Ramsey Physiotherapy, gave me a quick examination and agreed that the pain was emanating from the discs in my lower back. An intensive session of massage was undertaken and I was given a set of stretching exercises to do at home in the hope of improving my flexibility and thereby easing the leg pain. There isn’t any noticeable improvement today (7 March) but its early days and I hope that with the passage of time it will gradually get better.
I’ll do a few short walks around Benwick this week and will test it again on Sunday when I’m due to lead an 8 mile walk for the Fenland Group. I have another session booked with Beth next Tuesday and hope to get the problem resolved before I go away on my next 3 week walking holiday.