On Saturday 29th May at 6.30 a.m. I started the
“Northamptonshire Round”. I thought the 51 mile walk would take me approx 12
hours to complete averaging at just over 4 mph. 17 hours and 43 minutes later at
12.15 ish a.m. Sunday morning after getting lost twice and covering something
like 55 miles I finished what I set out to do! Two words of advice- never
under estimate how long these things can take….and don’t forget a torch….
When I first heard about the Northamptonshire Round from Sue Harris, my colleague at work, completing this in one go immediately appealed to me. When a few weeks later Sue told me that people had attempted to go round in one day and failed, and as far as she knew no-one had done it yet, I had to have a go and hopefully be the first. No time to loose and no time for any real training, but I like to think I am reasonably fit and have done endurance events before so it would be challenging but possible.
Working every other weekend meant that the first possible date for the attempt would be in June. The Saturday before this I decided to have a training “ralk” (a combination of running and walking which is what I do) over part of the course. Living in Roade I decided to go from Blisworth and head in an anticlockwise direction as far as Horton, which I did in somewhere around 3 hours. This familiarised me with a part of the walk. During the next few days I went in my car around the rest of the walk wherever it touched the roads- again to familiarise myself as much as possible with where I should be going on the day.
When ralking I like to travel as light as possible so my final pre-attempt preparation was to assemble what food and drink I needed to get round on my own, plus changes of clothing and to hide these at two places round the course. Halfway round for me (starting at Ashton in the south), was Pitsford, so a third bundle of drink, food etc. was to be waiting there on the day with my girlfriend. There are, however, several shops/pubs in the various villages on the route so arguably my bundles were not needed, but that’s the way I like to do it.
On the day I had paper copies of the walk very kindly supplied off this web site by Alan Harris. These I picked up or left, at my 3 food stations. I also carried with me the walk booklet as it showed the entire course on one page and has 4 route guides, which describe very well (with the exception of the bit between Sywell and Hardwick woods where I managed to get lost) 4 areas of varying distances of the walk. You can of course get an ordnance survey map and a compass is a must just to be on the safe side.
The day was a mixture of light refreshing rain, sun and cloud. I liked the walk as it took me past and through many interesting villages and sights and buildings. It had everything from going through woods - Salcey Forest and Nobottle; alongside water – Pitsford reservoir and several stretches of the Grand Union Canal and over the river Nene at Cogenhoe; one half of it is reasonably flat – roughly from Ashton to Pitsford, while from Pitsford to Blisworth has some good hills. Some places I had never been before like Lower Harlestone and Chadstone I had never even heard of, let alone know where it was.
There are plenty of interesting buildings on the walk or a few steps from it. There are also places of interest just off the walk such as the pocket park at Piddington and the small nature park between Stoke Bruene top and bottom locks. I personally like anywhere where there is water so enjoyed all the parts of the course where this applied. I also liked going through Salcey Forest and expected to get lost (hence my trial ralk through here the week before), but I found the course along the newly made trail especially for the Ten Foot Club easy to follow. Northamptonshire has some very nice scenery and countryside with varied colours depending what time of year you walk.
Those of you who want to have a go at going all the way round in one day, go for it. With training and preparation it can be done and I fully expect my modest time to be well beaten very soon. I don’t mind as at least I think I am the first to do it. For those of you who want to do parts of it you can choose the 4 route guides in the booklet or any parts you want to do - long or short they will all be good ……….happy walking, running or ralking.