One day down, seven to go

To answer the evitable question, “How was day one?”:

  • my feet hurt
  • and It was all so very English.

All so English? How so? (Don’t worry I’ll come back to my feet!)

  • The guy and his mates swearing at full volume outside the Travelodge at 1am, as I attempted to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for the challenge ahead.
  • The run-down Enfield Travelodge in the drizzle at 5am looking every inch the grim hostelry it is (never, ever, try the sausages – trust me).
  • The sign at Barclay’s in Enfield proclaiming it as the site of the worlds first ATM (cash machine not Asynchronous Transfer Mode).
  • Oakwood and Cockfosters tube stations in the grey early morning light.
  • Every single train which went blatting past me up and down the Potters Bar line as I trudged alongside.
  • The M&S petrol station I bought some limp yesterday’s sandwiches in to have for my breakfast(s).
  • The St George’s Cross hanging from the window of a council house.
  • The cars veering violently when they finally spotted me traipsing down the side of the road towards them.
  • The soft and unsatisfying chocolate chip cookies I procured from a village Co-op. (I’ll be on the lookout for jam doughnuts tomorrow.)
  • Saying hello to every passing fellow stroller and cyclist.
  • The guy in the BMW reversing his Lotus Elise on a trailer up his drive despite the squealing as the bed of the trailer caught on the slope of the tarmac. (Despite this, it was a very well cared for Elise.)
  • The chatting with the other passers-by who stopped to watch about how he was still much better at reversing a trailer than any of us.
  • The kids playing footpall on Harpenden common.
  • The Lambo and Bentley dealer. OK, not English. How about the Jaguar and Land Rover showroom next door? I was tempted to go in and buy one of the second hand Jags on the lot and use it to drive home, forgetting the foolishness I’m undertaking.
  • Every field I walked through, especially the one with the acres of wheat being guarded by a sole oak tree in the middle, which had been there long before I was born and (I hope) will be there long after I’m gone (dead, I mean, not just out of the field).
  • The couple and their son all perched together on a modest sized rock in the middle of the undergrowth eating their lunch. My goodness they looked so uncomfortable but the upper lips were mighty stiff.
  • Walking underneath the M1 as the cars screamed past hooting each other, presumably to share their entertainment at the fool who was shuffling along behind the crash barrier – as if that would help if a car came off the road!
  • The rolos I’m munching as I write this, particularly the last one.
  • The England shirt I’ve just changed into, and the pub i’m going to for dinner. Probably for a steak and ale pie.

Thoroughly English and a good day. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

My feet? Well, they hurt. This happens 10-15 miles in to every walk I’ve ever done. The pain starts with the soles of my feet, and radiates up my ankles and into my calves. Every step is painful, but I get used to it, and so long as I keep going nothing really terrible seems to happen, so that’s good. What else can I do – stop? I’m 175 miles away from home! I now know why marathon runners do that weird thing with their hips towards the end of the race, as it they’re actually flinging their legs forward with the action – I think they are. (Don’t worry I’m not under the impression that my athletic endeavour is anything like running a marathon.)

If I stop once I’m well into the walk even for a few minutes everything seizes up and it takes a few minutes to ease back into it, but I get there. I seem not to get blisters (something else to be grateful for), but I did notice a little trickle of blood running down from one of my nails when I stook my socks off. Of well, I suppose the nails will go black and fall off so I don’t have to worry about them anymore. Fine by me.


  • Sleep last night: 7hr 10min (Yeah, right! Apparently something kept my heart rate up last night – those idiots shouting abuse outside my hotel room window.)
  • Miles: 24.7
  • Steps: 51,366
  • Calories expended from walking: 3,852 (hmm, dubious, but I’ll restock tonight just in case)
  • Walking speed (kph): 3.3-6.7 (av: 4.6)
  • Arrival at hotel: 13:24


  • Enfield
  • Potters Bar
  • Hatfield
  • Harpenden
  • Premier Inn Luton South
Enfield Travelodge in the drizzle at 5am
Just as bad as it looks
A sign on the wall of Barclays Bank, Enfield Town which says: "The world's first cash machine was installed here on 27 June 1967"
Enfield’s main claim to fame
A poor picture of Cockfosters tube stations in which I've accidently cut off the first two letters
**ckfosters station
The M25, surprisingly quiet at 7am on a Saturday morning
Escaping London (me, that is)
A memorial to the seven people who died in the Potters Bar rail tragedy May 10th 2002
Tragic – I remember it well, living and working in Enfield at the time
In a road tunnel underneath the M1
Light at the end of the tunnel (200 yards from my hotel for the night)

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