I actually began my London Loop a few days early on September 4, aiming to get a couple of short stages under my belt before I tackled the 12 miles from Chigwell to Harold Wood. Within ten minutes of starting at Cockfosters station I rang Linda, my wife, and admitted that I had already lost sight of the official route. There was much hilarity in her office. Then on September 10 I received an official send-off from members of my wonderful club. I did not set off alone. Our newest member, John Everett, did the full 12 miles with me but I was also honoured to have the company of Tony Sharma, our District Governor, for the first few miles.
The route is generally well signed but occasionally the signs disappear just as you are struggling to find where to go next. When John and I arrived at the pub in Havering-atte-Bow, the first words of the landlady were 'Did you get lost on the golf course?' We did and apparently everyone does!
I finished the final stage on 17 October just in time to go to District Conference, where Tony Sharma was kind enough to get me up on stage to talk about my achievement. In total the walk came to 160 miles, not counting losing the way and detouring when the route was flooded by heavy rain. Some of the special highlights were: finding D-Day barges along the north bank of the Thames at Purfleet; sitting under the oak where Pitt and Wilberforce discussed plans for the Anti-slavery Bill; following the course of the beautiful River Cray; finding a medieval bridge hidden beside the Thames at Kingston; discovering the ruins of the moated Scadbury Manor; crossing the chalk downland of Happy Valley and Farthing Down; following the course of the Grand Union Canal.
At the end of my odyssey I feel I know our capital city better and can't wait to take Linda to some of the treasures I discovered en route. Most of all I am proud of all those who sponsored me and enabled me to raise £1650 for Prostate Cancer UK.
If you would like to get to know us, come along to an Open Meeting or, if you would like to hear one of our speakers, text the President, Bob Bishop, on 07962 206218 and let him know you are coming.