I will try and get this written and sent today and follow it up in a couple of days with another chunk of the story. Meanwhile, for those who just want to know what the current position is, we have:
- Travelled over 500 miles
- Visited 7 cathedrals
- Got over £32,000 on the donations total
- Got up into the Pennines
- Are now just south of Burnley on the Pennine Bridleway and
- Are stopped and resting because Strider has a saddlesore and it needs to be 100% healed before we go on, so Expect to be running at least a couple of weeks behind schedule when we start again but should be able to make all that up before reaching London, and
- Will advice of revised dates as soon as realistic revisions can be predicted.
Yes, we set off from the Yard on 10 May, but before that some news of the previous 2 weeks: On Friday 26 April Eleanor Clarke came to check his back and said she felt he was lame in the hind legs. John Codner the vet came that afternoon and suffice it to say that before we set out, and after over 12 hours of my time, we felt the problem was dealt with. He had also been reshod with concussion pads in his shoes. I also had some unplanned family things which took another couple of days.
The last few days of sorting stuff were a bit frantic. In particular I had not given myself enough time to put maps into bundles for posting, so triming off the sections not needed and sorting them out was a trifle slapdash ………… of which more later. And as you will have noticed there was no Newsletter, nor were documents put up on the Cloud for later use, or email addresses all made similarly available for use when my laptop would not be with me. But Strider WAS tacked up and loaded to go that Friday morning and we set off to farewells from friends at the Yard, escorted by Marilyn on Marji who came with us the first bit over the Common. By 4.20 we were at Farncombe after a ride in a strong breeze that was unsettling for both of us. Strider had a field and I had a comfortable bedroom. That evening I had the chance to catch up with many of my friends, staff and students, at Farncombe which was lovely.
Saturday 11 May we were tacked up and ready by 12 noon as people arrived for the send off at Foxhill Manor. Thankyou to all those who came from the BHS, RDA, FHA, WSPC, PC UK and friends supporters and family. I was, predictably, ready before time and we waited for a phone call from Kate Justice on BBC Radio Glouestershire by riding round and round the gravel sweep in front of the Manor. And then OFF. On a windy afternoon we were well buffetted for the 10 miles to Alderton via Dumbleton Hill and on arrival, as we untacked, had a 10 minute lashing by horizontal hailstones. Thankyou Gareth and Mel for generous hospitality.
Sunday 12th we headed for Sandhurst, just north of Gloucester. Our first few miles were on routes close to home but Strider did not protest as we passed all of the places where we might have turned for home. At the Odessa Crossing on the A38 I remembered the time spent getting the traffic lights reset to recognise horses coming on the Sabrina Way from the cul de sac on the west. At Deerhurst the gate to the track opposite Odda’s Chapel was chained and padlocked, though it is a “road”. I took the gate off its hinges and replaced it when we were through. The bridleway was mostly passable though a fallen tree meant going up the steep bank at the side, followed by that big horse doing his neat imitation of a mountain goat. Good Boy! We got into Sandhurst at 4.15 with me leading the last couple of miles – good for both of us. Thankyou Peter and Julie for putting us up.
Monday 13 May was into Gloucester for our first cathedral. Arrived early but friends were already there. Thankyou for the support and to Steve for walking him around the Close when he got bored. I went in and felt thoroughly tearful at having got started. I spent some moments at the Imjim Cross and at Tom Denny’s windows in the Trahearne Chapel, and braced myself for a long way to go. Leaving Gloucester was up the dual carriageway over the big bridge, round the roundabout on the ring road and along the busy single track road to Maisemore reflecting on the fact that down by the river there is a safe cyclepath alongside all that stretch – and horses must stay on the road and dice with the traffic! A brilliant bit of legislation there. I was joined by Stef for a mile when I came off the bridleway at Hartpury. Thankyou Stef. Then gently on to near Dymock. Thankyou Vaness for putting us up. Total 60 miles done.
14 May was a long day. I missed a turning in a wood and wasted time and miles. Then wriggled west via Kempley to Hoarwithy Bridge and tunred north to Hereford. As the day went on the rain got heavier and we got wetter. We came in through busy rush hour traffic for a couple of miles. Then I dismounted and led in through a lot more traffic. Arm out and do our imitation of a 20 ton lorry changing lane and turning right. I run and he trots as traffic lights turn green. Eventually over the big bridge and into quieter streets. Overnight Strider is in a field with cows. I am 400 yards away staying with old friends in a house filled with soggy and horse smelly stuff in front of radiators. 9.00 pm I go to check Strider. The cows have gone through the fence onto a road and he is standing still and cold under his rug. Someone sorts out the cows and I move him into a shed where he is more miserable and at 10.0 I have the vet out for possible colic. It is still raining but the vet is reassuring and I go out again to check him after midnight. S is not happy but is warmer and fine. Its bedtime.
15 May, first stop at the Cathedral. Several friends and family are there with bucket collectors organised by Rob Soutar – thankyou. I go into the chapel of St Thomas of Hereford and before we set off prayers are said in the Close for horses in general and Strider in particular. Rob guides me out through pedestrianised alleys and the marketplace onto the right road. Later me meets me with his bicycle and I have company for several miles. Its 24 miles through gentle countryside to The Elms School at Colwall. We arrive at 5.25 to a wonderful welcome and Strider gets a warm water wash and a big stable. The school has a farm unit and pupils ponies etc. I am a guest of the HM and his wife – another huge thankyou.
16 May the whole school turns out to see us off, and then I am clock watching for being at Worcester on time. Its a lovely start up an old road and along bridleways before some busy road and the bridleway that seems to have disappeared, but I find I am in the right place when I get back onto a lane. We keep going on busy roads and have time for Strider to graze before doing the multi-lane loops around and onto the bridge over the river and off again. Plenty of traffic and Strider brilliantly steady. At the Cathedral he fidgets until his bucket of lunch is ready. Another big thankyou to friends, the Dean and Cathedral staff for my welcome. We find S has twisted a hind shoe so I take it off and fit a boot in its place – get it right 2nd time. We go off down the mainroad heading southeast, pass County Hall and onto a bridleway that takes you straight over a dual-carriageway. Luckily traffic is light as we scuttle across. The bridleway takes me miles along good tracks and then gives me 20 yards thoroughly overgrownto fight through to reach the road. The last few miles are in evening traffic leading along the road and getting a call from BBC Radio Worcestershire. I reach Linda’s at 6.10pm after 22 miles. The farrier calls to look at the problem and will return next day.
17 May. We only set off at 4.00pm as the farrier has other work to do before he can do us. Linda and family continue generous hospitality to S and me. Heading for Mickleton and 2 rest days, I shorten the route and go through Evesham which means I bump into people I know and Ellie tells Charley who comes looking for us with her girls and gets him a bucket of water at Badsey. He wont drink but munches the verge. Its dark for the last few miles and we come along deserted and peaceful lanes with our lights flashing. Arrive after 10pm and another 22 miles. Strider is in a stable he has stayed in before. 155 miles completed.
18 & 19 May are rest days and Keith helps me try to get email addresses off Outlook and onto iPhone. We fail and then discover it cant be done! Like every electricity company had a different size of plug and no adaptors could be used ………..
I will get more out tomorrow and try to close the news gap. Meanwhile, do please pass this Newsletter on to other people who might be interested, and tell them to email me to be added to the list.
And if you google ride round England, Strider and William you will find there is stuff in various newspapers and magazines.
Remember: The aim is to raise £250,000 for the Family Holiday Association and Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. Feel free to go straight to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=rideroundengland and get out your plastic, or tell someone else about it ………………..
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