|We have Tshirts!|
So, for one final training session, all four Team Towis walkers (Paul, Carl, John & Tony) + pace maker Bev set out to walk the "Staunton Way" loop ... 20.5 miles starting and ending at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, passing through (among other places) Chalton, Finchdean, Rowlands Castle and Havant.
Well, that was the plan!
We set out on the South Downs Way towards checkpoint 1, knowing that at some point there was a right turn for us to join the Staunton Way. Unfortunately due to chatting and our usual ineptness at map reading (roll on 5am after 23 hours of walking) we took the wrong right turn and, after a few minutes, our surroundings became very familiar and we realised we were heading back into QE country park on the South Downs Way!
|Drug baron's lair with hidden plane (allegedly)|
The route covers similar terrain to the South Downs Way treks we'd experienced over the past few weeks & months, but it was nice to be walking somewhere completely new to us all, though we were able to pick out recognisable landmarks such as the windmill on the other side of Chalton.
Staunton Way clockwise takes you past Ditcham Park School, then skirts close to Chalton, before taking you right past St Hubert's Chapel - a quaint church surrounded by fields.
|St Hubert's Chapel|
The route also takes you past a "secret", walled garden which has a small prop plane parked in a garage in one of the walls. The runway "mown" out for it seemed incredibly short, so taking off and landing must be a feat of extreme flying. Either than or it's one of these new fangled "jump jet prop planes".
As we drew level with Finchdean we decided to leave the Staunton Way for a while, using the road instead, so we could get to Rowlands Castle as quick as possible to assess a knee injury.
After a quick walk along the road in the wrong direction for a couple of minutes we were soon back on track, following the road that joins Rowlands Castle by the Castle Pub (our first pub-pass of the day). Along here we marvelled at some of the houses, with front lawns bigger than my house, and also thought about putting in an offer for a camper van that was for sale (to use as our support vehicle) but were a bit put off by the price.
|Lunch on the green|
Paul's knee was then assessed as being "bloody painful to walk on" so the other four of us decided he could give us a lift to Finchdean, distance wasn't a big thing on this walk, just to get out for a few hours before a couple of weeks of resting and gorging on carbohydrates (so, basically back to what we did before we started training).
|Swallows over the field (except I missed the swallows)|
Despite being cruelly dropped off outside pub
number 4 (The George Inn) we carried on along the Staunton Way which, for the first time all day, took us up a steep climb just to make sure our calves didn't feel neglected. Once up the slope we had fantastic views East and West, to the East we could make out the track we had followed earlier - though disappointingly the plane wasn't taking off or landing.
After walking across the top of Chalton Down the path then slopes down to the village of Chalton, through the church graveyard and out right opposite pub number five, the Red Lion.
With it's garden providing further fantastic views, as well as beer, the temptation to pop in for a beer was overwhelming, but the worry that our knees may seize up and cramp (or we may settle in for the day) took over and we tramped on.
|St Hubert's Chapel|
Out of Chalton you enter fields and the woods surrounding the Queen Elizabeth Country Park loomed back into view. We entered them, re-joined the 9km "loop" around the park (well known from previous walks) and headed back to the car park. A pleasant 16 mile walk completed.
So that's the training done now except for maybe a "test" walk next weekend to see how Paul's knee is.
Now it's a case if getting the kit and food together, making sure the support crew are all ready - and taking the advice of the trailwalker booklet and not speaking to the other team members for a couple of weeks to make sure we have something to talk about on the day!!