Ugh, it’s about 4.30am and I’m awake and sweaty, I’ve made the schoolboy error of falling asleep in my bivvy bag before getting undressed. But at least being awake at this time means I’ll get to see sun rise. So I’ll just lie here and wait. 10 minutes later it’s nearly 7am! I’d better get my arse into gear and get moving. There’s not much to pack up so by 7.15 I’m on the move.
It’s starting to rain as I’m packing up, so nothing is put away properly, just stuffed in the ruck sack. Walking along the river into Matlock thoughts soon turn to breakfast and the toilet, there’s nothing open at this time of day during the week so it’s McDonalds. Desperate times. I need a poo and I’m hungry.
Egg McMuffin and a coffee later I’m heading out of Matlock through the park and up High Tor for the first proper climb of either day, getting a proper sweat on as I go up passing leisurely dog walkers and runners. Freaks. Dropping down into Matlock Bath feeling soggy with rain and sweat, spirits are lifted with a brew and knowing that it’s flat from here until at least Belper.
Stomping along the Cromford canal I feel like I’m going nowhere fast because I’ve rode this way so many times I’ve got bike timings in my head, it’s taking hours to get the other end at Ambergate, but as I’m getting there 2 women ask how far it is to Ambergate, so map out to have a look, “errm, that bridge there”. Just as I’m talking to them about the walk and stuff I realise that I’ve hit 10 miles, just another 20 to go! But it’s 12 o’clock and it’s Sunday, so that means one thing and it’s time for a pint (it is still Sunday isn’t it?) so off the canal onto the A6 and drink at the Hurt Arms in Ambergate. While having a pint I’m thinking of mileage to go and thinking a couple more pints and I could be home in time for tea. *Big smile*
Those hills that I was ready for in Belper have appeared a bit sooner than I expected and jumped right out in front of me in Ambergate, just want I needed after a couple of pints. Up Holy Lane and past Shining Cliff Woods, this is bad enough on a bike never mind on foot! A bloke passes me on a bike, instead of the usual cheery hello, we just grunt at each other with a knowing nod. At the top there’s a lovely view of the valley but I’m too knackered to get my phone out to take a snap. Plodding along a single lane road I have to jump in the hedgerow (bastard brambles!!) a few times to let the odd car and van past. Walking on tarmac for a couple of miles seems strange after being off road for so long it feels like I’ve got flippers on and my feet are flapping. Looking for a footpath of to the right that will take me back down to the river into Belper. A steep descent downhill and wander up and down the line of a hedgerow and I’m on Wyver Lane and very familiar ground because around here is one of my favourite mountain biking play areas.
Happily bimbling along I bump into a couple of young women who are doing the same walk but the opposite way, I give them some tips on the route and where to stop, I told them of the campsite where I stayed last night which would save them £10 each.
FUCK! PAIN! Lots of pain! Blister popped on the little toe on my right foot, I can feel the pus oozing between my toes as I double over in agony rolling on the floor. Shoe and sock off and its not a pretty sight down there but all I can do is whack a plaster on it and carry on, but with a limp and a lot of pain. So much pain that I feel like I carry on. That’s not going happen now is it? So I change my gait to something a little more bearable and push on.
Hobbling into Belper town centre and I need to stop for a pint and mainly because of my feet. Sat with my drink I’m thinking about what lies ahead, I’m about 15 miles from home, I’ve walked this bit a few times as my training route. I know it well and I can have it done in a few hours but my feet are a now a concern but I’m going to crack on.
Leaving Belper on the opposite side of the river and climbing uphill again, leaving the houses behind for a good 2 mile tab to The HollyBush. I’m going well but every now and then I miss step and catch the blisters and the corn that I’ve already got. By the time I’m on Dark Lane and stumbling in the Hollybush I can I feel my calves tightening up. I can hardly move my legs so with a heavy heart and another pint I’ve decided to get the bus home. With the pain I’m in and covering 37 miles in 2 days, I think I’ve done enough.