In aid of bereaved parents

Walk 4Louis 2012 Dairy
'A Grand challenge'


After careful consideration Paul and Phil decided to make Walk4Louis 3 a canal walk and decided to walk form London to Tamworth following the route of the Grand Union Canal. After months of rigorous planning everything was in place and the walk was to begin on the 11th May 2012 from Kings Cross.

Paul decided to get a train down to Kings Cross and recommended Phil to do the same. So on the 10th May Paul boarded his train in Newcastle and Phil, who was being accompanied by his wife Charlotte boarded their train in Tamworth and both headed for Kings Cross. They met up at the Premier Inn Kings Cross, who had kindly donated two rooms for the lads to stop in. They went for a Costa coffee and discussed the final preparations for the start the following day after which they went for some tea. Paul had arranged with comedian Kevin Day, a comedy writer best known for 8 Out of 10 Cats and League of Their Own to come and meet them that evening. Kevin had also agreed to do the 1st part of the walk with them. Kevin Day turned up and had a good talk with the guys over a couple of drinks then bid them good night. So it was back to the rooms to sort the bags out ready for the next day and an early night so they could be bright eyed and bushy tailed the following morning.

Day 1

Paul and Phil awoke and got them selves dressed into their walking gear ready for their first day’s exploits. Some of the guys walking gear this year had kindly been supplied by Nike through the kind help of the Professional Footballers Association’s Chairman Clarke Carlisle. After a hearty breakfast Paul sorted checking the rooms out whilst Phil went to walk his wife to the train station to see her off. On returning, the guys started to warm up whilst waiting for Kevin Day to arrive. Paul received a text from Kevin saying he was running late due to signal problems on the trains. So the guys took some photos and got the bag, that Kevin Day had kindly arranged to be moved, sorted with reception.

Kevin arrived at 10:00 dressed like he was just going for a casual day at the office not a ten mile walk across London, but the guys thought if that what he is comfortable in so be it. So they set off down the road, first stop, the Emirates Football Stadium home of Arsenal Football Club a two and a half mile walk from the hotel. When they arrived Kevin had arranged to meet somebody there to be able to give the guys some memorabilia for the charity which they could auction off to help raise more money but unfortunately they had been called away to the training ground and were unavailable. So the guys had a walk around the magnificent stadium and took plenty of photos.

It was then onwards to Lords Cricket Ground, a 5 mile walk across London from Islington to St Johns Wood. On route to Lords the guys were walking down a busy street when somebody tooted their horn which the guys just ignored as they had heard a lot of this already today, but the horn sounded again and when Paul and Phil looked to the line of traffic to their left there was a guy waving which puzzled them as neither of them recognized him. Kevin looked over and recognized him and went over to his car as he had now wound down the window. Kevin then called Paul and Phil over and introduced the guys to him; it was Paul Whitehouse, from Harry Enfield & Chums and Fast Show fame. They both shook his hand and he wished them luck on their challenge then said he would like to donate some money but before he could get his wallet out the traffic began to move. Kevin arranged to meet him a little further down the round and ran down after him. He then returned and handed over some money, the guys were very grateful for Paul Whitehouse’s generosity.

When they arrived at Lords Kevin took them round to the North Gate where he had arranged something to be left for the guys. He asked the security guard in the hut on the gate if something had been left and the gentleman handed over a large envelope. Kevin then asked if it would be ok if Paul and Phil could just go through and take a couple of photos, which the kind guard agreed to. When walking round to the pitch Kevin opened the envelope to reveal to the guys what was inside, it was a photo of the England Cricket Team who had recently toured Sri Lanka and they had all signed it. Paul and Phil were very impressed with this. They took some photos of the pitch and then decided it was time to push on. At this point Kevin had to leave the guys as he had other things he need to get done so he wished them luck for the rest of the walk and headed for the nearest tube station. Kevin Day was great company and made the guys first part of the walk go very quickly as he kept them entertained with what he does and the people he knows. Paul and Phil were sad to see Kevin go but onwards and upwards it was.

So now the guys were on their own and Wembley Bound. They headed off down the road but Paul wasn’t happy about carrying the large envelope and came up with the idea of posting it back home once we came across a Post Office. The guys headed down Baker Street and came to the Sherlock Holmes Museum where they had photos taken outside with a policeman whilst wearing Sherlock’s deerstalker and pipe.

A little further on they came to a post office where Paul got the letter posted back to his home. It was then down Oxford Street before coming to the Marble Arch where the guys decided to have a break. Whilst Paul sat down Phil went and fetched some food from MacDonald’s just over the road from where they were. After a nice rest and some food the guys decided it was time to carry on. After 5 minutes of walking down the street past Hyde Park, Phil noticed that it might save time if they cut through Hyde Park rather than walking around it, which Paul agreed, made sense as long as they didn’t get lost. What a good decision that was as it was a lot quieter away from all the traffic and there were lots of things to look at and photograph. The guys saw some impressive statues and monuments include Arthur, Duke of Wellington and the Prince Albert Memorial which is situated outside the Royal Albert Hall. A little further on Paul felt the call of nature and popped into a public toilet in the park, but on coming out Phil thought Paul looked like a certain pop star with a careless whisper or two when he came out of the public toilets, see what you think. The guys left Hyde Park behind and then it was a bit of a slog through some less suspicious parts of London before coming to Wembley and the welcoming site of the Fox & Goose Hotel’s sign.

The guys checked in and had a well earned soak in the bath and then a shower to freshen up or at least Paul could have had a shower if he could get it working; it was a little too complicated for Paul to get the shower working and Phil had to go and do it for him as turning a tap and pulling a little lever up was a little too difficult for Paul J. After they had freshened up they went down for something to eat in the pub before returning to the room to try and sort out if they could find somebody to move the bag the following day; they still had not found anybody to do this for them. Paul put some appeals out on Face book and Twitter. Whilst on Twitter Paul noticed a comment from Kevin Day, which said, he regretted putting on the fancy shoes for the walk as his feet were now suffering. With no luck on finding anybody, the guys decided to get their heads down ready for the hard day’s walking the following day.

Day 2

Paul and Phil woke up, Phil made the coffee and Paul went to do his daily ritual. After the coffee was drunk, they went down to the pub and had a good breakfast to fuel them selves for the day ahead. Whilst having breakfast Phil checked his phone to see if they had an answer to the appeal they put out the night before for somebody who could move one of the bags for them. Lucky they had a reply from Paul Atkinson who owned a garage in Greenford who said he could do it for them. So Paul gave him a ring and sorted the details out with him. After this they went back to the room but had to call in at reception because the guys had left the key in the room, each thinking the other had picked it up. They sorted the bags out went down and left one with reception for Paul Atkinson to pick up later then proceeded outside to do their stretches before starting their walk down to the canal.

They reached the canal, which would become their friend over the next eight days and began their walk towards Denham. A little way along the boys came to a Sainsbury’s, to which Phil made a comment that even when he booked time off for a walk along a canal he still couldn’t get away from work and this was compounded a little further on when they came to Sainsbury’s Greenford Depot. As they proceeded further along they were enjoy seeing all the wildlife which included swans, geese, ducks, ducklings and even a heron which Phil turned all David Attenborough and took a photo of. The guys pressed on, down the towpath, which was a little bumpy in places, so much so that three times in a short space of time Paul tripped over what appeared to be fresh air (I think he had been watching to much Premiership football and was trying to emulate Ashley Young’s

The guys got to Bulls Bridge Junction, where they turned and carried along the canal. A little further on they came across a football and started to pass it between each other, after a while they got bored and Paul told Phil to kick it into the bushes, Phil tried but it bounced out and splashed into the canal (a shot straight out of the Emile Ivanhoe Heskey’s book of shooting). After a while the guys came to a pub called the Watersedge and decided to stop for a break and have a nice cold glass of coke (diet of course don’t want to be unhealthy). After a welcome break the barmaid wished them luck and they carried on their way. The guys plodded on but were starting to get a little tired so stop for another break on a bench by the canal and take stock of where they were and how much further they had to go. Before they could check the map a gentleman came along and got taking to them about what they were doing and told them how he enjoyed walking. After chatting with the gentleman for a while they said goodbye and carried on down the canal. Realising he hadn’t checked the map Phil got it out and tried to find out where they were and how much further they had to go. Whilst he was doing this an old gentleman on a barge asked where they were heading and what they were doing. He then explained that they didn’t want to go the way Phil had plotted on his map and knew a shortcut across the golf course near by. He told Phil and Paul the directions they needed to go to get them in the general vicinity of Denham Grove, although he had never heard of it. After speaking for two minutes he said to Phil “so have you got that?” to which Phil replied he was ok about the first bit but the second bit wasn’t very clear, so the gentleman repeated it again, but this made it even more confusing. The gentleman called over to one of his friends who were talking to some other people, a couple of boats down. After explaining to his friend where we were going he agreed and reiterated what his friend had just told them. On seeing how confused these directions were for Phil and Paul the second gentleman called over to the group he was talking to and asked if they were going over to the shop to get some beer? They replied, “yes in about 5 minutes”. They suggested the guys tagged along with them and they would be able to get them so far and they would only need to find the last little bit for themselves. Paul and Phil thanked the two gentlemen for their help and went over to the other group. They set off with the group, which consisted of a man from Birmingham and a couple from Scotland and had a good chat about what they were doing. The guy from Birmingham thought it was a good scam to be getting top-notch hotels to stop in each night, to which the guys replied they needed somewhere nice to stop after walking the distances they were covering. They got the guys to Denham and bid them goodbye and good luck.

Paul and Phil then went and sat on a wall outside a petrol station whilst Phil got his phone out to consult the map to where they were and where they needed to go. After plotting the best route the guys got up and carried on. The guys got to the end of the road and turned right and were faced with a very steep hill up to the top of the road. The guys were heavy legged and struggled their way up. About half way up a car beeped its horn and stopped in the middle of the road, the driver wound his window down and called the lads over. He introduced himself; it was Paul Atkinson the guy Paul had spoken to on the phone that morning. The guys thanked him for what he had done for them and asked if he would like to stop at the hotel for a drink. He thanked them for the offer but said he had a lot on at work and needed to get back. The guys plodded on and got to the top of the hill where there was an aerodrome. They walked past this and a little further along the road they saw the welcome sight of the hotel sign. Base camp for day 2 had been reached, the guys checked in and went down to their room, which, unfortunately for the guys was at the other end of the hotel. On the trek to the room the guys noticed there was a swimming pool with a Jacuzzi, just when they were starting to like the idea of a soak in the Jacuzzi they noticed the pool closed at 16:00 and it was now 16:15. A little dejected the guys found their room. A little before the end of the walk Paul had felt his leg had started to become sore so took his trousers off to have a look. Paul did have a slight sore on his groin and asked Phil for some cream to put on Phil told him it was in the other bag. They then realised they had forgotten to pick it up at reception. With Paul in a state of undress Phil had to wearily go back to reception, which was a long, walk away along a corridor, which went up hill. Phil returned to the room with the bag he got the cream out and passed it to 

Paul who proceeded to drop his shorts and stand with one foot and the chair, on doing so he realised the door to their room was wide open; Phil had forgotten to shut it behind him. Luckily for Paul nobody had come past and seen him in his revealing position, he quickly shut the door and sorted his leg out.

After the guys had had a shower and freshened up they went for some dinner in the restaurant. After a good dinner and a chat in the bar the guys retired back to their room and got their heads down ready for day three.

Day 3

Paul & Phil awoke to another nice day, got changed and went up for their breakfast, but decided to take their bags with them to reception as they didn’t fancy the long walk back. After breakfast Paul spoke with the receptionists who asked what the charity was about so Paul informed them while Phil made a phone call home. When Phil had come off the phone they took some photos with one of the receptionists then bid them farewell and went outside to do their daily warm-up routine. Just as they were finishing their stretches a car pulled up and their 2 walking companions for the day, Andy and Moira got out of the car. Andy and Moira both work for Otterman Breweries who were kindly putting the lads up in one of their hotels, The Kings Arms in Berkhamsted that night. After introductions had been carried out it was time to set off on the walk from Denham Grove to Berkhamsted. The clock struck 9 and the group set off down the lane towards the canal. Having walked for a little while Phil had noticed there was a water bottle and holder missing, Phil told the group to wait while he went back for it and jogged back to the hotel to see if it was there. He returned a few minutes later with the missing water bottle and the walkers carried on towards the canal. A little way down the lane a white convertible car came past them with a guy driving wearing a white suit with a lime green t-shirt and Phil commented that he looked like Sonny Crockett from Miami Vice, they were expecting Tubbs to come round the corner at any second. A little further on they took a wrong turn but Phil was quick to realise this and got them back on track with only a few minutes lost.

The Coy Carp pub was soon reached and here they got on to the canal. Once on there Andy and Moira walked in front of the guys so they knew what pace they would be comfortable walking at, but it soon became apparent that Moira’s walking pace was quicker than Andy’s so with Moira turning on her turbo boosters Paul managed to keep up with her while Phil held up the rear to keep Andy company. The guys continued on and got chatting to their companions and found out more about them. Soon though the power walking duo, Paul & Moira were well clear of the other two and looking back they were a dot in the distance. About 6 miles down the canal they came to Batchworth Lock and at the side was a shop, Moira wanted a bottle of water, Paul breathed a sigh of relief as it meant he could let his legs have a rest and give Phil and Andy time to catch up. Once they were all together Andy lit a cigarette for a well-earned rest.

After their break they set off on their way again but managed to all stay together for a while. It was a beautiful day, which meant there were lots of walkers, bikers and people on the canal. As Paul was walking along he came across a statue hiding in the bushes, which he photographed as he thought it looked quite strange and out of place (see what you think). As they walked onwards they passed a posh golf course, Andy pointed out that it is where the England football team sometimes stay. The relentless pace that Moira was setting made the miles go by quite quickly but after a while Moira and Andy began to tire and started to ask where the pub that Paul had suggested for their next break. Phil kept telling them it wasn’t much further but after hearing this a couple of times they decided to asked a man on a boat instead. He directed them and said they were only about two minutes away. Andy and Moira carried on but Phil and Paul got talking to him, telling him what they were doing and where they were heading. He commended the guys and said he had been through the experience himself so understood what the guys were speaking about. They then got talking about the route ahead and he told them when they got near Northampton they needed proper walking boots like the ones he was wearing, as there are few towpaths and the grass was long and there are many potholes and rabbit holes along the way. The guys then came off the canal and reached The Red Lion Pub in Nash Mills where Andy was just crossing the road to go to the local shop to get some more cigarettes as he had smoked all the ones he had brought with him. Paul and Phil went and on into the bar and waiting for them on the bar was a well-deserved diet coke with ice. After a well-deserved dinner break it was back outside for stretches before rejoining the canal and heading towards Berkhamsted.

As they walked along they came across Nessy at the side of the canal (she must come to Hemel Hemsted for her holidays) so Paul took a photo to prove he had seen Nessy. Further down the canal Moira and Paul had hit the boosters again and left Phil and Andy behind. As they passed a pub Andy said he needed to pop to the toilet but told Phil to carry on and he would jog to catch him up. So Phil sped the pace up and closed in on Paul and Moira. He let them know that Andy had stopped to go to the toilet and for them to slow down a bit to give Andy chance to catch up. After about 10 minutes they started to wonder where Andy was and looking back they could see a speck about a mile back that looked like Andy, so when they got to the next lock at Winkwell they decided to have a break and give him chance to catch up. When he finally got to them he explained that when he came out of the pub he tried to break into a jog but his feet hurt far to much so he decided it would be far better and easier to walk.

Andy and Moira explained that it wasn’t much further now; they looked so relieved about this, as they were both starting to suffer with blisters and aching feet. After a few more miles they eventually reached Berkhamsted where they came off the canal without Phil who had dropped back taking some pictures. They wondered if he had seen them or if he would carry on, but he had noticed they weren’t in front and caught them up. They got onto the High Street and walked up the street, called into shop for some supplies before heading to the Kings Arms, which was a short distance up the road. They finally got there and all four of them had a well-deserved drink. Andy and Moira said they were going to get changed and offered us to have something to eat with them in about half an hour which Paul and Phil gratefully accepted. So it was quickly up to the room for a shower. On getting to the room they realised their bag with the clean clothes hadn’t arrived but they had two spare t-shirts in the rucksack with them which, after a refreshing shower they swapped in to and went down to the pub where Andy and Moira were waiting for them.

After everyone had a drink they were shown to their table and given a menu, Moira said she didn’t need one; she would have her usual burger. The waiter told her they had not got any which went down like a lead balloon. She told the waiter that he had better be joking, he told her nervously no there were none. Moira called her son, Eammon over who worked there and asked him why there were no burgers, he said there were some. After hearing this, the situation calmed down and the waiter looking relieved that he was out of trouble took the rest of the orders. The food came and they all tucked in. Paul noticed a gentleman out of the corner of his eye who had just walked in, he look familiar to him and asked Phil if it was ex England footballer Luther Blissett, Phil said yes he thought it was too. What gave it away was, he walked past their table wearing an England shirt with Blissett on the back. Apparently he was a bit of a regular and often came in for a bite to eat. Paul got talking to him and before he left that night Paul asked if they could have their photo taken with him, which he agreed to.

They moved from the dinner table to some comfy chairs after their meal; and had a few more drinks and chatted about the great day they had spent together. Andy was suffering with his feet and Moira had informed them she had a big blister on the side of her foot. Andy was making everyone laugh every time he got up and tried to walk; you could see the pain he was in. A little later Andy and Moira both thanked Paul and Phil for a nice day and they thanked them for supporting them on their journey and for their company and hospitality and they went home. Shortly after, Debbie Gilbert, who had moved the bag from Denham Grove to Berkhamsted for them, joined Phil and Paul. She was also moving it again the next day from Berkhamsted to Milton Keynes. They bought Debbie a drink and informed her how their journey had gone so far and had a good chat about the charity. She said she would like a photo and took a picture but it did not come out very clearly, said she would take a better one in the morning. With that the tired guys bid a farewell and retired to their room for a well-deserved sleep ready for their biggest day of the walk the following day.

Day 4

Dawn broke on day 4 and Phil was first to wake so he turned on the telly whilst waiting for the kettle to boil to make Paul his morning coffee ready for when he woke up (Phil did really look after him). He tuned into breakfast TV and the weather forecast came on, it was bad news as the weather lady forecast rain for most of the day. When Paul woke up Phil told Paul about the weather but Paul just shrugged his shoulders and said a bit of rain wasn’t going to stop them getting to Milton Keynes. So with that the guys got dressed and left the room to walk out side in the drizzle to go down to the pub for breakfast.

With full English breakfast inside them it was back to the room to sort themselves and the bags out before Debbie Gilbert came to pick up one of the bags for them. With bags sorted they went down to wait for Debbie to arrive and decided to wait in the bar due to the constant drizzle falling from the sky. Soon Paul received a text to say Debbie was on her way so the guys went outside and while they waited did their warm up routine. Debbie arrived soon after and after taking one of the bags off the lads she took a photo of them before wishing them good luck, leaving the guys to it. With the rain still falling, the guys decided there was nothing left for it but to put on the wet weather gear. Whilst doing this Paul rang the Hilton at Milton Keynes and informed them of Debbie bringing the bag for them. After this they made their way down to the canal ready for their long journey to Milton Keynes.

With the rain continually falling it soon began to drag the guy’s spirits down and the high the guys had been on for the first 3 days of the walk was now beginning to erode away. As the first few miles came and went in the fine rain (you know the sort, the kind that soaks you through) they walked past Tring where Paul reminded Phil that that was where Moira, the lady who had walked with the guys on day 3, was from. A few more miles down and the rain began to lift and ease off. The guys took this opportunity, with 7 miles covered, to stop off at the next pub and have a drink and dry off a little. They came to the Red Lion pub in Marsworth and had their first break. Paul made the excuse of needing the toilet as they entered the pub so Phil was left to get the drinks (Phil was beginning to notice a pattern forming). While getting the drinks, Phil noticed a flyer pinned above the bar about another charity walk that was taking place on the canal in a week’s time, but going the other way. It was involving a group of rugby supporters who were raising money for somebody called Matt Hampson. When Paul came out of the toilet Phil pointed this out to Paul. While Paul was reading it, a gentleman entered the bar and ordered his usual from the barmaid. He then struck up a conversation with the guys and asked them about their walk before telling them that he does the walk for Matt Hampson. Paul asked the man how much further it was from here to Milton Keynes he said it was about another 7 miles till they got to the next pub and then it would be another 7 miles to get to Cosgrove which the guys knew was well past where they needed to go. This lifted the guy’s spirits thinking they had broken the main part of the day and it wouldn’t be too bad from here on in. So after finishing off their drinks and having a warm in front of the open fire in the bar the lads wished the gentleman a good day and left to get back onto the canal.

A little way along they came across a couple of men taking a boat through a lock.  The guys said hello and asked if they were well, one man replied that he would be if they didn’t have a lot of barges to move in the rain. He was even more annoyed with the fact that the grass had recently been cut and with it being wet was sticking to his boots.  The guys took this as a good time to leave them to it and wished them well for the rest of the day before moving on.  A little further on Phil had to answer to a call of nature and disappeared into some bushes just off the side of the canal.  Paul carried on slowly while Phil watered the bushes as he moved slowly along he noticed a heron a short way in front that seemed undeterred by Paul approaching it, as Paul got closer he came over all David Attenbourgh again and decided to take out his camera and photograph it.  Just as he was taking the photos Phil re-appeared but didn’t see the bird and wondered why Paul was walking in a strange way, before he could say anything the heron took flight and all became clear to Phil.  

With the rain now eased off to occasional light drizzle their mood lifted a little and they plodded on towards Grove their next break point, which the guys decided after taking to the gentleman in the pub at their first break point. Phil’s mood lifted even more when, as they were walking along they were surrounded by rapeseed fields on both sides of the canal as far as the eye could see, this reminded Phil of home and his granddaughter who, every time she sees these fields thinks they are beautiful fields of dandelions.

After making good progress and just on the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard they came to the Grove Lock pub, problem was, it was on the opposite side of the canal. Luckily there was a set of locks by the pub and the guys a little gingerly crossed the canal along one of the locks hoping not to fall in. Successfully over they went into the pub and Phil decided to got to the toilets to try and dry his back off a bit under the blower while Paul got the drinks. After a very welcome and refreshing drink the guys had a study of the map and realised they still had quite a bit to go more, than the gentleman at the previous pub had led them to believe. They realised it was going to be quite a long day as time was already starting to get on. So after a few stretches, it was onwards and upwards to Milton Keynes.

After gritting their teeth they got through Leighton Buzzard and came to a pub next to a set of three locks and quite appropriately the pub was called The Three Locks. The guys, looking at the time decided not to stop at this one, as they just wanted to get to the hotel now so they carried on. A little further along they noticed some very ominous looking black clouds in front and the more they walked forward the more they just stayed there. Just as they were approaching a bridge there was a large rumble of thunder and the heavens opened. The guys made it to the bridge just in time and decided to take shelter under there as the rain came down even heavier. Also under the bridge was a girl with a little dog who had a little coat on his back too. As the rain eased off the guys thought about making a move but just as they were about to do so it started to come down heavy again, this time with hail stones as well. Paul thought perhaps the rain was starting to get to Phil as he had began talking to the dog saying that he thought this was a silly time to come out for a walk. Paul was about to say something to Phil about his doctor Dolittle ways when a man came under the bridge carrying some shopping bags, he was soaked through and decided to take shelter with them. Looking at the man the guys knew they had made the right decision in taking shelter. With no let up in the rain the man decided to carry on leaving the lads thinking he must be mad but off he went. It kept raining hard with intermittent hailstones. A few more minutes passed when another guy came walking along the canal with his coat undone, again the guys thought this guy must have a screw lose walking in this but just as they were thinking it he stopped and entered a narrow boat and the guys realised perhaps he wasn’t that mad. Phil got the map out to find out their location and the guys made a decision after working out where they were. In the next ease in the rain they would make a dash for the next bridge or they could be stuck there all night. They did up their coats, picked up the bag, Phil said bye to the dog and off they set. For the next few bridges the guys tried their best to dodge the heavy showers that kept coming.

Finally with the showers finally blowing over they approached the outskirts of Milton Keynes. So, very weary and wet they finally came off the canal and onto the A5 Watling Street, a street Phil knew, if followed would take them all the way to Tamworth, but as they were doing a canal walk Phil soon shook that idea out of his head he just wanted to get to the hotel now. At the end of the road they came to a roundabout so Phil got his map out to see which way they had to go to get to the Stadium MK where the hotel was situated. The map told them they needed to go right but whilst Phil was checking the map Paul had noticed 2 signs for Stadium MK one pointing left and one pointing straight on. Totally confused and not knowing which way to go and not having the energy left to gamble taking a wrong turn Phil noticed a jogger running towards them and decided to ask him which was the best way to go. Phil waved for the jogger to stop which he did do and removed his earphones. Phil apologised for breaking his rhythm and making him stop but explained their quandary of the stadium directions. After a little thought the guy first said it was best to go straight over but then asked them what their map said Phil said it told them to go right and on reconsideration he concurred the map was right. They followed the map and were soon standing in the shadows of the Stadium MK. Only job now was to find the hotel on site. After a short walk around the stadium, which the guys felt, seemed bigger due to their legs being so tired finally found the hotel, entered and went to reception to check in. After check in the receptionist handed them their bag, which Debbie had dropped off earlier and gave them a cookie each as a welcome to the hotel, she then directed them to the lift. Before walking off Phil asked if they had a swimming pool she said there was one across from the hotel in DW fitness centre and as they were stopping at the hotel would only cost £5. The guys decided to give this a miss; as they knew their legs just wouldn’t take them any more. They went up in the lift, the doors opened and they got out to find their room was yet again at the end of a very long corridor. So after a trek down the corridor they reached their room and went in.

They couldn’t believe how spacious and open the room was, there were 4 beds a shower and a separate bath. The lads were really impressed with how good it looked but the best was yet to come. They went to the window and looked outside and couldn’t believe what they saw; their room over-looked the pitch inside the stadium. After taking a couple of photos of the view they made a couple of cups of coffee and chilled out on the beds for 10 minutes giving their legs a rest. Paul unfortunately had to spoil the party; as it was getting late and he wanted to get something to eat before the restaurant closed, so with that they got bathed, showered and went for a bite to eat. After eating their dinner Paul took some photos of the MK Dons trophy cabinet before they both retired gratefully to their beds.

Paul and Phil would like to thank Debbie Gilbert for moving their bag today and for the Doubletree Hilton Milton Keynes for given them a room for the night.

Day 5

Thankfully the guys woke up to a sunny Tuesday morning and although a little achy they both felt refreshed and upbeat as, after yesterday’s gruelling day they only had 11 miles to cover today. So with no great need to rush the guys were able to leisurely get up and get ready before heading down for breakfast. On arriving in the restaurant they were shown to a table and asked if they would like any tea or coffee, they both chose coffee and were told everything else was self-service. They helped themselves to cereal and then a cooked breakfast. They were about half way through breakfast and still no coffee had arrived so the guys had to re order from another waitress or face going thirsty. After finally getting their coffee they went back up to the room to sort the bags out. As today was only a short distance to walk Paul and Phil came to the decision to have both the bags moved today and only take 1 water bottle with them. With the bags packed they went down to reception to check out.

After checking out they went outside to go through their daily routine of stretches and warming up before setting off. After looking at the map Phil decided on a different route to the canal, which he thought would be quicker. So the intrepid walkers set off. About 15 minutes Phil realised, after seeing a street sign that they had somehow wondered off course. So they stopped whilst Phil did a bit of map studying. Once he finally got his bearings he told Paul from where they were, they could go 1 of 2 ways; they could either road walk today which would mean a walk of about 6 miles or head to the canal and have a walk of about 10 miles. Paul made the decision instantly and said canal, as that was the theme for the walk, so that’s what they were going to do. Off to the canal it was. To get to the canal they had to walk through the grounds of the hospital, Paul was tempted to go and ask for a couple of beds so they could go and rest their aching legs but they managed to resist the temptation of going in and being looked after by some nice nurses. After leaving the canal Phil noticed something on top of a hill (What’s that coming over the hill is it a Monster) it was a gold dinosaur, luckily it wasn’t real and the guys made it safely to the canal.

The canal towpath wasn’t the best as it was just a mud strip and after yesterdays rain it wasn’t the best walking conditions. Paul then went to take a picture of a board with instruction and information about the area he read there was a path next to the canal, which followed the canal for about 5 miles. Paul told Phil about this and they decided that it was going to be a lot better to walk along this path than along the towpath. The path was lined with an avenue of trees and was a lot more pleasant to walk down.

After a mile or so the guys passed an old lady out walking her dogs and they both said morning to her and the dogs came over to say hello to Paul as well so Paul stopped and gave the dogs some fuss and started talking to the lady who asked what they were doing and he got into a very in depth conversation. While this was happening Phil continued to walk on but when he realised Paul wasn’t coming he slowed down and started to look at the boats at a marina on the other side of the canal. As Phil was looking at them he swore a boat was smiling at him (I think yesterdays rain and exertions had started to take their toll on Phil) so he took a picture of it just to make sure he wasn’t cracking up, see what you think. Paul eventually finished talking to the lady and caught Phil up and on they went.

A few miles on they came to a pub and contemplated going for a break but on seeing that it was only 12 o’clock they decided to carry on to the next pub. A bad move; after about 5 more minutes of walking the sky started to turn quite dark and the guys new they were in for some rain. Within a minute or so Phil looked up and could see the rain coming down the canal towards them like a closing wall. It was raining very heavily and they had nowhere to run, luckily they had brought along their coats so at least they wouldn’t get to wet. They sped up and made for the next bridge to try and get some shelter. The shower soon passed and they left the shelter of the bridge and made for the next pub. Before they got there they crossed the first Aqueduct on their walk it was called the Grafton Street Aqueduct. Phil had to explain to Paul what an aqueduct was. After their shower dodging they were soon in the pub and just in time as another heavy shower came down.

With another heavy shower falling, the guys took refuge in the Black Horse pub, got themselves a drink and sat down for a rest. Phil got his phone out and started playing a drawing game on it, which played a tune; a barmaid working behind the bar recognised the tune and asks the guys who was playing the game. Paul told her it was Phil and began a conversation with her about what they were doing. The bar maid told him they should have come in yesterday; Melinda Messenger had been in with Dom Littlewood as they had been filming a show near by and had popped in for something to eat. Paul was gutted; he would have loved to be able to meet Melinda Messenger. The barmaid then told Paul that they were on Twitter so to go on and follow them, which he did. After finishing their drinks and seeing the rain had now passed, the guys bidded the barmaid farewell and set off back along the canal.

A little further along the guys came to Wolverton a suburb of Milton Keynes; it was quite posh with a few blocks of flats overlooking the canal. By these flats there were a couple of exhibits of modern art. Both were made of metal and moulded to look like men running. Paul took a photo of one of them, which had bikes on his hand. As they went under the next bridge they saw an impressive mural on a wall the other side of the canal it was of a train and its carriages and trucks it was pulling. It was painted on quite a long wall and went the full length of it. Paul and Phil took some photos of it and Paul noticed that in the middle was a painted sign saying Birmingham 72 miles which boosted the guys as they knew they were now breaking the back of the walk.

Another couple of miles walk along the canal and it was time to come off and head for Stony Stratford. As they walked along the road there was a lady waiting at a bus stop as they approached a bus came to the opposite direction so the lady signalled for the bus to stop to pick her up but as it got near the driver changed his sign to say not in service and carried on past her. She was not amused and shouted ‘Typical’ before sitting back down very annoyed. The guys hurried past, as they didn’t fancy letting the lady vent her anger on them. They were just getting to the outskirts of Stony Stratford when the sky opened up again and the rain started to fall. The guys spotted a bus shelter and decided it would be best to take shelter in that but just as they got in to it the rain stopped. So they carried on into Stony Stratford. Before going to the hotel Paul and Phil called into a shop. Paul, earlier in the day had seen 2 magpies and according to Paul the rhyme dictates that two are for joy so he thought this was a good omen to put the lottery on hoping he might win big. So after buying a lucky dip and getting some ginger nut biscuits they went to check in at the Cock Hotel.

After checking in they went to their room and took off their wet coats. With their bags not having arrived yet they decided to go down to the bar for a drink but before leaving Phil went to check out the bathroom. Unfortunately there was no bath so there would be no soaking their tired legs today, but never mind there is always tomorrow. So they went down to the bar and got a drink in and had a chat with the barmaid. Phil noticed there was a quiz machine in the corner so while they waited for their bags to come they went and had a pound. Unfortunately they didn’t win but just as they lost Andy turned up with their bags. They thanked him and asked him how he was feeling after Sunday when he had joined them for a leg of the walk, he said he was still suffering a bit but was getting better. After he left they finished their drinks and retired to their room to relax and hopefully regenerate a bit of energy. After chilling out and watching some quizzes on T.V. with some coffee and biscuits, they showered, got changed and went down for some thing to eat.

They ordered their food and got a drink. Phil found out while waiting for their food to come that in Stony Stratford there are two old pubs one called the Bull and the one they were staying at, called the Cock. A few hundred years ago it use to be a stop off point for coach and horses drivers and when they went drinking in the pubs they would come out with very tall stories about their exploits on the roads. The tall yarns they use to spin became known as Cock and Bull stories hence where the saying ‘A load of Cock and Bull’ comes from. After their dinner the guys had another drink and another quick go on the quiz machine before deciding it was time to go to bed ready for the next day.

Paul and Phil would like to thank Andrew Parlfreyman for moving their bags today and for Mark Ferla at the Cock Hotel for putting them up for the night.