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This is our second ‘virtual’ walk, in 2014 we did a virtual walk from our office to John O’Groats completing the 947km early in December, and raising just under a £1,000 for a local hospice at the same time.
This year we decided to repeat the challenge, and, after a certain amount of deliberation we selected the Monarch’s Way, (www.monarchsway.50megs.com) a long distance walk following the escape of route of Charles II after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester 1651, as the route to follow. We selected the Monarch’s Way for two reasons, firstly it was the right length, we can just about cover 1,000km in a year with each member of the group covering 5km a week and secondly Northampton(shire) has strong historic links with the Civil War, albeit not necessarily with the ‘right side’. Still Charles II did extract ‘revenge’ on Northampton by pulling down the town walls and partially destroying its castle.
Our winter route follows the metalled pathway along the River Nene, passing the site of the Civil War Battle of Northampton (July 1460), before turning into Beckets Park, which is overlooked by Beckets Well, erected in 1843 over a spring outside the old town wall. This was the spring at which it is reputed Thomas Becket rested and drank on his flight from Northampton Castle.
By the end of January we had completed 124km and had cover almost a half of the first section of the Monarch’s Way covering Charles II escape from Worcester and journey to Stratford-Upon-Avon. We had travelled with the King through much of Worcestershire to be within a few miles of Boscobel where the King famously hid in the Oak Tree.
With a few warmer days and some very pleasant winter sunshine, the end of February saw us clock up 250km, a quarter of the target distance. We also deviated from the usual winter route and had a turn round Abington Lake, which is a holding area for flood waters flowing down the Nene towards the coast, and forms part of the Northampton wash lands.
We are also nearing the end of the first section of Charles II’s journey. Apparently from Bentley Hall to Stratford upon Avon the king was disguised as a tenant farms son acting the part of a groom. We are ‘resting’ somewhere between Headless Cross and Alcester, before setting off for Stratford upon Avon
We are bit late with the March update due to our year end and the writers own holiday in the lovely Lake District, walking the fells around Derwentwater and Borrowdale.
By the end of March we had completed 350km very much on target to complete our target distance for this year and we now have 9 regular walkers contributing to the weekly distance. This month we have modified our route to go along the River Nene, turning left at Nunn Mills Road and then back along the Lake to Brackmills and then the office.
We are now on the second stage of the kings journey as he travelled between Stratford-upon-Avon and Charmouth, we are deep in the Cotswolds at Bourton-on-the-Water where the King was seeking to reach Cirencester for an overnight stay at a local inn.
How about this for a sure sign spring is well and truly with us, office workers ‘pounding’ the footpaths at lunchtime, maybe we have started a trend. We enjoyed some glorious weather the first week after Easter and this seemed to encourage office workers to get out walking at lunchtimes, especially on Mondays; at one stage there was almost a ‘traffic jam’ with competing groups!
During the walk along Hardingstone Dyke we were rewarded with a sighting of two Green Woodpeckers, but so far no Little Egrets.
By the end of April we had competed 425km of our virtual route along the Monarch’s Way, hopefully we shall have completed half the total distance by the end of May.