I’ve started so I’ll finish (Day 1: Bath to Seend)


It’s almost a year since I left my job.  About a month before I left, I had the idea of celebrating the big change in my life by walking from home to London.  I have scheduled the start twice so far, and twice cancelled.  Life got in the way.  I made decisions to prioritise other things.  The time was never right to carve out a chunk of 11 or 12 days just for this.

But (as Malcolm so often reminds me) the best can often be the enemy of the good.  I don’t have to do the whole thing in one go.  The canal and the river will still be there another time if I decide that doing it all in one long stretch is important to me.  At the moment, it feels more important to get started than to wait until all the ducks are in a row (so to speak).

Ducklings.  In a row.

Ducklings. In a row.

So, as of today, I’ve started.

Today I walked the first stretch: from home in Bath, via St Alphege’s Church in Oldfield Park, then along the canal all the way to Seend in Wiltshire.   About 17 or so miles in all.  My feet feel sore now.

Along the way it struck me that of course this is how many people first experienced the canal – the boats were towed by horses, but someone had to walk alongside the horse and keep things on track.

We set off at 10am, and I did the second half alone.

It was wonderful.  Time to simply be there, drink in the sounds, the sights, the smells, the peace and the quiet.  And time to reflect along the way.  Plenty to reflect on, what with the election results, and also some recent shocking news about a young friend.

If you’re in the UK, you may have seen the BBC4 Slow TV programme last week of The Canal Trip – 2 hours of pure delight.  If you did, well, that was what the walk was like.  If you didn’t see it, you can still download it for a while I think.  I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Boats are restricted to a maximum of 4mph, so in the two hours they travelled from Bath (starting at one of the locks) to the magnificent aqueduct at Dundas.

Along the way I had some enjoyable encounters.

There are the boat dwellers, many of whom I recognise now, having regularly cycled and walked the towpath to Bradford-on-Avon over the past 20 or more years.  At least on nodding terms, but I enjoy that.

At Avoncliffe I came across one of our sons’ junior school teachers, who now works with her husband chartering a beautiful boat (Lady Lena) that they spent years restoring.

Helen on Lady Lena

Helen on Lady Lena

You may have seen the boat fleetingly on The Canal Trip – I spotted it three times in all. We had a quick catch-up chat – apparently this month they won an award from Mills and Boon for being the most romantic experience – we both giggled a bit at that, I doubt that either of us would count ourselves as readers of romantic fiction.  The cruises definitely come into the ‘luxury’ category, but my goodness, what a wonderful treat! (well it looks like it – I’ve never been on it myself – but such a beautiful boat in a beautiful setting, and lovely people running it, how could it fail to be wonderful?).

2015-05-10 19.46.52

Then a little further along, sitting opposite the Boat Cafe at the edge of Bradford on Avon, two musicians were playing English folk music.  They told me that their son runs the cafe.

2015-05-10 14.27.29

They explained to me that a group of friends meet up somewhere along the canal on the second Sunday of the month to play together.  Sometimes they are joined by Morris dancers too, but it’s their busy season now so none of them today.  The couple were joined by 4 more musicians as I left, but sadly I couldn’t stay to hear them.  I had places to be and a walk to walk.  I do hope I’ll catch them again another Sunday.

And tomorrow is another day (and another walk – my plan is to get to Pewsey then catch the train back to Bath).  Along the way I’ll walk up the Caen Hill flight of locks, go through Devizes, walk through the Vale of Pewsey, and have lunch at the community pub at Honeystreet.

Aren’t they wonderful names to look forward to?

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
This entry was posted in 60th year, Reflections on life (and death), Walking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I’ve started so I’ll finish (Day 1: Bath to Seend)

  1. Sam Stanley says:

    Hello Deborah, I found your blog via Above the River. I like the sound of your walk – what a lovely thing to do and in such a beautiful area. My husband would like to row the length of the Thames and I quite fancy walking or cycling it. Something for the future possibly. Best wishes, Sam


    • Hi Sam, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It really is a lovely thing to do – two days in and I’m loving it. I would recommend anyone to hold onto and actually start doing something like this, even if it does end up getting done in bits – it feels different to anything else I’ve done, quite wonderful. I love your idea of walking or cycling the Thames. I will be walking quite a portion of it as part of my trip and am looking forward to it. Thanks for following too. When I’m not spending all my time walking I’ll drop by and visit your blog! All good wishes, Deborah

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cinderellenk says:

    What a lovely walk! If that’s your usual bike ride I envy you madly.


    • It has been a fabulous walk so far, and yes, that stretch from Bath to Bradford-on-Avon is a regular bike ride and walk for us. Every time we do it we marvel at how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful place.


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