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From London to Berwick: Culture shock? Oh, yes!

Making a molehill out of a marathon

It’s no secret that regular brisk walking – just 20 minutes or so a day is good for you and will keep you in the kind of shape you’d like to be in. But walking on a regular basis – particularly if you don’t have a dog or, like me, can simply sidle upstairs to work – can be less compelling than one supposes. That’s proved true for me. My aim to take exercise at least five days a week has looked a bit threadbare on a number of occasions. And suddenly the date of a giant walk we’d optimistically committed to at the beginning of the year had arrived. The folly of it.

Yesterday, on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday, miraculously sandwiched between two duck-weather days, the Husband and I set off on a Coastal Challenge Walk. The route took us along the stunning Northumberland Caost from Budle Bay just above Bamburgh south to Alnmouth taking in seaviews, landscapes and three castles (I’m counting the views out to Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island). It was a marathon. Literally. That’s 26.2 miles. We completed it in 9 hours.

Lindisfarne Castle

Bamburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

Three castles. From top to bottom: Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh.

What kept us going? Chatting to people along the way. Keeping a couple of friends who were rather fitter than us in our sights – and walking the final leg with them. Gorgeous scenery. Excellent organisation from Shepherds Walks – who offer a range of fabulous-sounding less demanding walks as well as these stonking leg-buster challenges.  The cheerful and kind encouragement from the volunteers who manned the checkpoints. Regular munches of cheese and pickle sandwiches. And, above all, the realisation at around the 15-mile point that we really could do it. Something that we had both secretly doubted.

A reviving doughnut, Seahouses Harbour

A reviving doughnut, Seahouses Harbour

We were pretty much in permanent forward motion for 9 hours on fairly uneven terrain and today – bar a few aches and pains – our limbs are still functional. We are pumped up with achievement and the wonderful adrenalin rush that comes from intense exercise – we even braved the drizzle this morning for a cool-down stroll along the banks of the Tweed. Would we walk a marathon again? Possibly not. But we’ll certainly be striding out again for sure – enjoying the fact that our bodies are rather more capable than we gave them credit for.

Finish line

We got the T-shirt!

We got the T-shirt!

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4 thoughts on “Making a molehill out of a marathon

  1. Ivan Thorn on said:

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing. That’s our 2:53pm arrival time for first walkers (over the line) so wearing the t-shirt with pride today.
    Must say though, this is our 3rd time doing the walk and the first we’ve really pushed ourselves to the limit for a time (sub 7 hours was the goal – achieved). This, like Park Run is more about involvement and personal achievements.
    Well done to everyone who enjoyed a massively fantastic day and brilliant, non-intrusive yet there when needed organisation and care.
    Next year – entering as runners!

    • Hi Ivan –
      Thanks for stopping by! Wow! Well done for your time. Most impressive – the Husband and I could only dream of such a time. You’re right about the organisation and the volunteers. Great. One thing I should have added about making the walk doable was good, well-broken-in footwear – blisters and sore feet are such a blight on challenges like this. Congratulations and good luck with running next year.
      Jackie

  2. I also work from home and don’t have a dog. Luckily I live exactly twenty minutes walk from Asda. I walk there and back nearly every day (enabling me to hit the reduced to clear shelf with optimum timing) and there is my recommended daily exercise target taken care of. Somehow, though, it’s only walking miles along the coast that seems to get you any credit. I am sure that you and the husband don’t come into this category, and I really admire your level of fitness, but there seem to be people in Berwick who will take the car around the corner to the shops and then do gruelling recreational walks at the weekend. It would be better if we all walked on our daily errands and got cars out of the town centre.

    • Hi Elaine
      I couldn’t agree more about getting the car out at the whiff of a trip to the shops. I just don’t get it. Obviously it’s not easy for everyone to take time out to walk to the supermarket every day what with work etc – but with a bit of planning it’s also not hard to reduce the number of car trips we take and get some exercise into the bargain. Funnily enough our training regime revolved around walking to the various supermarkets scattered around Berwick – our larder has never been so well-stocked! Thanks for taking time to comment.
      Best wishes
      Jackie

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