[p]Hi I'm Sylvia, an active member and Past-President of the Rotary Club of Eccleshall Mercia in Staffordshire. I'm walking from Gas Street Basin in Birmingham to Little Venice in London, a distance of approx 145 miles, along the Grand Union Canal. The purpose of my walk is to raise funds for "The Buddy Bag Foundation" and the "End Polio Now" campaign of Rotary Foundation. All funds raised will be split equally between the two charities. More photos at [url=https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kk2tsgmgfcgqfv4/AACkz2m6uog0JhRK8OpLRqY2a?dl=0]https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kk2tsgmgfcgqfv4/AACkz2m6uog0JhRK8OpLRqY2a?dl=0[/url][/p][p]I'm walking 10-12 miles each day, starting each morning where I finished the night before. (No rest days or short-cuts allowed!) Over-night accommodation along the route is being generously provided by local Rotarians and Buddy Bag supporters.[/p][p][b]NEWS UPDATES[/b][/p][p][b]Day 13 (Final day!)[/b][/p][p]The final day of the walk from Yeading to Little Venice at Paddington was quite a challenge - not because of the weather, which was perfect sunshine all day, but because of the towpath diversions in two places due to towpath maintenance near building works. These were quite long diversions, not straight forward in terms of signposting, taking me through built up industrial estates, or through suburban main streets. So I think my total walking distance doing the Grand Union canal walk, including the London towpath diversions and over Braunston and Blisworth Tunnels is probably about 150 miles. The scenery through London along the canalside changed in patterns from the 'not quite so pretty' and industrial areas or near major building work sites, to very pretty and green - where boaters were sunning themselves beside their narrowboats, having picnics on the towpath. I was offered coffee and sat down to drink with some very cheery boaters on the towpath, whilst others offered beers (which I politely declined as I knew I'd be on hands and knees crawling towards the finish if I did partake....), and I was waved along and clapped by those who read the laminated sign on my chest, and could see I was near the finish of my walking challenge. [/p][p]As I approached Little Venice, I was met by several Rotary colleagues, and friends, including Tony Sharma, the Rotary Dist Governor of London (in his golden chains..), Buddy Bag Ambassadors, Rtn John and Lesley Wilson (who had come from Rugeley to London for the day), my previous night's hosts, Rtns Di and Peter King and my host for tonight, Denise Newlands of Ealing, Hanwell & Northfields RC. It was a magnificent welcome, and group photographs were taken at the Marina, and in Paddington Basin - before I went to get a welcome bath, get changed and go onto the Rotary meeting that night to be the after dinner speaker. [/p][p]My whole body aches, but I still have a big smile on my face. It was a challenging, but adventurous walk, and I have met some wonderful people along the way - both the kind Rotarians who gave me a warm welcome and a bed for each night of my walk, those who accompanied me walking on some stretches of the canal; and a big cheer to the boaters, Canal & River trust people, Rotarians and other walkers - who kindly offered encouragement, drinks, and donations to my walk charities. The website will remain open for a few months so that people can still view the photos, and this can also allow people to donate if they wish, which may hopefully increase the fundraising for the 2 worthy charities, to reach my target for the walking challenge. Many thanks.[/p][p][b]Day 12 -[/b] The penultimate day of the walk, was from Harefield Marina to near Yeading. The day began in beautiful sunshine, with some rural countryside scenes along the canal, passing by nearby green spaces and parklands - even though you are approaching London's suburbs on your way through to inner London. Wildfowl were abundant in the Marina area but then you quickly passed through more built up areas. I was walking alone for part of the day, but joined later on by a Rotarian who will be hosting me overnight on the last day. It did then start to rain heavily so I needed my pac-a-mac for a while. Many boaters waved to me, having seen me further up the Grand Union on previous days. As I joined the Paddington Arm of the grand Union, there was quite a lot of Algae in the water, unfortunately more graffiti and litter around the towpaths, but then a little oasis of green on the final leg before Yeading, and an abundance of boats on permanent mooring sites as I walked towards the bridge near my end stop for the day. Only one more day to go.........[/p][p][b]Day 11 - [/b]Today's walk of around 11.5 miles was from Kings Langley to Harefield Marina - passing through lovely countryside and houses that backed onto the Canal with moorings. I was accompanied by several Rotarians from neighbouring Rotary clubs at different times of the day - some joining or leaving at different points along the day's walk. I saw another submarine boat, and also caught up with the family on the barge called 'the next generation', who are heading to the same end stop as myself, at Paddington - where the pregnant wife is going to Paddington Hospital. But their barge had engine trouble today, so was grounded. When I expressed concern about whether they would get to the hospital before the baby was born, the wife seemed very calm, saying 'well, if its no problem if the baby is born on the boat.....' I walked past parklands, lovely mooring places and lakes on the final leg of the journey to Harefield Marina, and was taken to an Italian restaurant with my kind host Denise and the other members of Rickmansworth RC, along with their DGE and AG. Still lucky with the weather (thanks Gillian), as the rain arrived only once we ended the walk, and just one small blister, and aching legs - so I've been very fortunate.[/p][p][b]Day 10 - [/b] Saturday's walk was from Tring to Kings Langley, a distance of about 11.5 miles was through rural countryside. I was joined by several Rotarians representing Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted clubs. I saw several strange sights today: a doorway off the towpath that seemed to lead to a hidden tunnel, a boat looking like a submarine, magnet fishermen, who had hauled up an old motorbike, and a boat whose back end was a car... people on barges, other walkers and drinkers whom I passed by outside lovely canalside pubs, waved and were very generous with donations, on seeing my charity logos, and at a BBQ held by a member of Watford club that night, I went onto the giggle juice, which sent me into a deep sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.[/p][p][b]Day 9 - [/b]The day had weather predictions of stormy rain and gale force winds. With my waterproof socks on, and pac-a-mac ready at the front of my rucksack, I boldly left from the start point at Leighton Buzzard - after a formal send off by last night's host Rotaria Roger Pepworth, and the President of Dunstable Rotary club wearing his golden chains. I was so lucky that the anticipated bad weather did not arrive until the end of my walking day, and there was just bright sunshine with slightly gusty winds. Maybe I have host Gillian, in Southam, to thank for that,,,,, The canal scenery was splendid on today's walk, quite rural in open Countryside for most of the way, and with boats moored up in clusters at times, and their owners waving me along. One boater asked if I could please hold onto the washing on her line on her boat, because it was so blustery at that point; and then she went inside to fetch a donation for my walk charities. I passed nearby the area where the infamous Great Train Robbery took place near Cheddington. And one boat passing me by several times, called Next Generation, said they were also heading to Paddington in London, to take his pregnant wife to Paddington Hospital. I hope they arrive before the baby arrives! The heavens opened shortly after I arrived at Tring, where I was met by my next Host Robert from Luton Someries Rotary club and met his club President in her golden chains, and other members of the club. Reaching Tring was a milestone, as I had walked 100 miles of my journey.[/p][p][b]Day 8 - [/b]Today's walk from Central Milton Keynes to Leighton Buzzard was easier than yesterday but I was walking solo all day, with a full weight rucksack. The predicted showers stayed away - with blazing sun most of the day, reminding me that I had forgotten to put sunscreen lotion on. Scenic walking today, with wildfowl, and passing many pretty canalside pubs - although I was not partaking of refreshment at these places. But many kind pubgoers, as well as boaters offered donations towards my walk charities, and I was kindly offered a cup of tea from a boatman to go along with eating my sandwich. Weather tomorrow is predicated gale force storms - so I don't think I will stay dry during my day's walk then, but will soldier on as best I can. [/p][p][b]Day 7 - [/b]of the Grand Union canal walk was very challenging. The distance was the longest of the walk, having been altered from the initial plans, and was 13 miles. My feet were aching and swollen, but no blisters so far! Fortunately the predicated showers for the day did not arrive, and instead it was sunny and slightly breezy, which made the walk (sometimes going through narrow towpaths with high grass and nettles either side) slightly easier.[/p][p]After a good send off by the elderly ducks crossing bridge, I was joined today by last night's host, Lynn, from Rotary club of Towcester, together with other Towcester Rotarians, some of whom joined at later stages. Many boaters donated money to the walk charities along the way, before we reached some quieter areas going either by industrial sites or through the pretty park side areas of Milton Keynes. The last few miles were of hallucinations as we imagined someone coming along the towpath carrying ice creams for us, or offering to massage our tired feet. But I safely passed onto the waiting hands of tonight's hosts at the point where we could walk no longer.[/p][p][b]Day 6 - [/b]had the challenge of Blisworth Tunnel - far longer, and a walking diversion along a busy road, then through some undergrowth and down to the other portal of the long tunnel, that takes boats about 1 hour to go through in total darkness. But I tried my hand in the Blacksmith's shop by the tunnel entrance, and again there was wonderful canal scenery of flora and fauna - in addition to lovely coffee stops and canalside pubs to rest. weather remained good, although blustery at some times, and walking in good company of friend Joan, and last night's and tonight's hosts and some members of their Rotary clubs.[/p][p][b]Day 5 - [/b]Today saw some challenges, lovely canal scenery and wildlife. Firstly there was a little walking diversion over Braunston Tunnel, which went uphill, across a road, through the undergrowth and finally back down onto the canal, and the towpaths were of uneven clumpy grass which sometimes narrowed to a foot wide and sloped down into the water - so you had to concentrate with each step, so you didn't fall in. In fact at one point there was a crocodile in the canal, and disappeared for a while with only the duck ring showing above water....... The mystery was solved later on, when I appeared at Duckett's passage, and had obviously gone for a little while back into the 1940's.[/p][p][b]Day 4[/b] - Completed the Sunday 4 August section without incident and only a few spots of rain when we had lunch in Lower Shuckborough. Today I had 5 people walking with me all day, my rucksack lighter and weather and distance were better. More boats in view now near Braunston marina and boaters waving, saying they had read about walk in canal mags. And a welcome ice cream shop and pub at end of walk!
Going over Braunston tunnel tomorrow. Not cheating and hitching a lift on a boat... [/p][p][b]Day 3[/b] - Walking on day 3 was hard in hot temp, and on own with full weight in rucksack and on a longer distance. But host David from Southam 2000 Rotary Club walked to meet me for the last part so I would forget how far it was. [/p][p][b]Day 2 [/b]- Walked Solihull to Hatton Locks in hot weather and with muddy or narrow towpaths, but scenery getting more rural and went over Shrewley tunnel. I had some generous donations from people who had read about the walk in the Towpath magazine. No blisters fortunately. [/p][p]My lovely host from Leamington Spa Rotary Club took me to club garden party evening where there was nice food and a live singer, and my feet started tapping until I could resist no longer and was dancing to a few numbers.[/p][p][b]Day 1[/b] - First day went well. Sunny for the start and most of the day, only pouring down for the last 2 miles. District Governor Brian Reily and Assistant Governor Debo, My host tonight, Geoff and other members of Handsworth Rotary Club set me off from Gas Street Basin. John Wilson and Karen Williams from Buddy Bags walked with me all day today. No blisters! [/p][p]Click the links below for more details of the charities.[/p]