The Next Big Thing

After I shaved all of my hair off at the beginning of November to kick start my fundraising for Mind - the mental health charity, a few have asked what's next on my agenda. 

First things first, thank you to everyone who donated towards my fundraising efforts with the head shave. A huge percentage of those donating were readers of this blog, and some of the messages and emails that I received from you guys were really lovely. I'm certain that I managed to thank as many people individually as I was able to at the time but if I missed you out, thank you so much! 

Now, with Christmas out of the way and my hair beginning to sprout back to life (I went for my first post-shave haircut today - huge thanks to Jess at Evolve for rising to the challenge - I love it!) it's time to start planning my next adventure - and it's quite a big one. 

Training is now (sort of) under way for the longest walk of.my.life - don't get me wrong - I love walking, but this route is a grand total of 72.9 miles, to be attempted on April 10th-11th (which would be my late Dad's 76th birthday) without sleep. If I were to walk continuously, covering 72.9 miles would take 24 hours, so this is very much an all-nighter, especially given that whilst I'm not sleeping, I am going to have to stop to rest, eat and drink, use the occasional toilet etc. With a starting point at the Turner Contemporary Gallery close to my flat in Margate at around 5:00pm on the Friday evening, I should expect to finish at Tower Bridge, on the Thames in London, at some point on Saturday night in to Sunday morning.

Photo: unknown source


I've decided to break the walk down in to slightly smaller chunks, which look a bit like this:

Part 1: Margate to Canterbury - This will be the most familiar part of the walk for me, obviously, being closest to home. It's a pretty straight forward walk out of Margate, through Westgate and Birchington, and then out to Sarre, Upstreet, Hersden and in to Canterbury through Sturry. All towns and villages that I know really well. My plan is to walk straight through which should take between 5 and 6 hours, meaning I'll hit central Canterbury at about 10-11 in the evening for an hours rest.

Part 2: Canterbury to Sittingbourne - This is a straight line, not the best of roads but fear not, I'll be in full safety gear with regards traffic safety (flashing lights and stuff I imagine). The only downer here is that I'm not doing this section in daylight, because some of the views after Faversham are lovely. This section of the walk is another 5-6 hours, taking me through Ospringe, Teynham and Bapchild (still an area I know pretty well) and finding me in Sittingbourne town centre at somewhere around 5-6 in the morning (what a treat!) - if anyone knows of anywhere in Sittingbourne that a girl can get a decent breakfast in the very early hours of a Saturday - holla. Failing that, I shall settle for tea. 

Part 3: Sittingbourne to Rochester - Hello the Medway towns! Jewel in Kent's crown and all huh? This is the section of the walk most realistically likely to concern my breakfast. This stretch should only take 3.5 hours walking continuously but as it takes me through the centre of Newington, Rainham and Chatham, before I get to Star Hill in Rochester, I do expect to find an open cafe at some point before about 11.00am when I expect to finish this stretch. 

Part 4: Rochester to Gravesend - This section I know nothing about, I was last in Gravesend when Disney's Pocahontas was released in cinemas (1995) - but I'm told it's beautiful (cough). It should take approximately 3 hours to walk this section solidly, through Strood, a place I've never heard of called Higham, and in to Gravesend to the Gravesham Hospital for about 3:00pm (I don't intend to stop off at the hospital, it's just an arbitrarily chosen central point).

Part 5: Gravesend to Dartford - I'm quite guilty of forgetting that Dartford is an actual town and not just a toll crossing. People live there and everything. It's another 3 hours to Spital Street in the centre of Dartford from Gravesham Hospital so I hope to get in to the town for about 6:00pm-7:00pm - now over 24 hours since leaving Margate, and find something to eat, because there are places to eat in Dartford too!

Part 6: Dartford to Bexleyheath - This is the shortest section at only 1.5 hours, meaning I intend to get in to Bexleyheath at about 9:30pm-10:00pm. I've made a point of ending this part at Bexleyheath (at the Asda in the centre of Bexleyheath, in fact) as this is the first bit on my route that seems like London to me, we can all debate where London technically starts (a long way before Bexleyheath I'm certain) but this is where I'm considering myself to be well and truly in London. Lovely!

Part 7: Bexleyheath to Tower Bridge - This is another big section, at 3.5 - 4 hours straight walking. Given that I probably won't leave Bexleyheath until gone 10, I'll be lucky to make it to Tower Bridge before 3:00am on Sunday morning - possible, but highly unlikely. This will make the total walk about 34 hours long - and almost 2 nights without sleep. Can you even check in to a hotel at 3:00am? Is that a thing? (It is, I've checked). 

So that's that! Is it weird that I'm actually really excited? I now have just three months to significantly improve my fitness and general well being to ensure that I'm in the best possible shape for the challenge - I've thankfully been able to nab myself some free time with a personal trainer to put together a training plan to implement between now and April, which should at least point me in the right direction.

If you would like to walk a small portion of the route with me (go on!) please just drop me an email at ashleighlawrenceryeblog@gmail.com and we can arrange to get together - you don't have to commit to one of the seven sections above, even if you can just wander half an hour with me, the company will be golden! Failing that I need playlist suggestions....

As always, you can sponsor the big walk (I might come up with a catchier name later) via the Mind website here.




1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a huge challenge! So exciting!!
    What an inspiration you are! I'm cheering you on!!x

    ReplyDelete