26 May – When is 33 kms shorter than 17 kms?

One day on the Coastal Path we took eight hours to cover what the guide books assured us was only 17 kms. We were really tired at the end of that day.

Today, Marianne and I have just walked 33.5 kms. We did this in 7.5 hrs. We are tired, but not exhausted. I must say though that the last 3 kms felt too long!

My take-away from this is that the ancient route developed slowly over millennia for effective quick travel from one place to another. The Coastal Path on the other hand has been designed much more quickly, for slow moving pleasure. (Depending on your definition of pleasure.)

Our day started cool, misty and then turned drizzly. By noon the clouds were lifting and before long we were down to our short sleeves, and walking under a warm sun. A good breeze kept things comfortable.

This was a day of white and green. White Queen Anne Lace flowers, white blossoming hawthorn trees and a white chalk pathway. Even in the mist it was a pretty walk. We passed several places of ancient historic interest. An Iron Age long barrow burial site and a couple of Iron Age castles. A great White Horse carved into the chalk. Past sites of long ago battles and artistic inspiration. Where we are staying tonight is very near to where Alfred the Great became great when he defeated the Vikings who where living nearby in what is now Reading. Tolkien and Lewis, who lived in nearby Oxford, came here frequently. There are features of the Wayland Smithy’s burial mound found in both authors books. The manager here is an avid historian and has been regaling us with historical anecdotes.

To say we walked through history today is simply an understatement. My mum used to say the veil was thin in these parts. In this morning’s mist, it was easy to imagine the ancients walking with us.

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