Training walk #5 - 25 miles from Stockbridge via Middle Wallop

Now it's taken me some time to write this post up and if I'm honest with myself it's because this is the walk that broke me and also put pay to both the Ben Nevis Triathlon and 3 Crosses walk that Donna and I had been looking forward to and working towards - but more about that in another post.

Valentines Day 2014 - so, what had Donna and I planned then?  A nice walk on the beach, a meal out or a film?  No!  a 25 mile walk in the Hampshire countryside with our dog - it's training you see!!

The route I'd planned (using ViewRanger as per usual) started and ended in Stockbridge, Hampshire, and took in the villages of Broughton, Middle Wallop, Goodworth Clatford, Upper Clatford, Wherwell, Chilbolton and Leckford before returning to Stockbridge - 25 miles in all, using sections of both the Test Way and Clarendon Way.

Walk stats
Distance - 24.87 miles
Time - 8hrs 39mins 35s
Avg Speed - 2.87mph
Height Gain - 1714ft
OS map used - OS Explorer 131 - Romsey, Andover and the Test Valley (and OS 1:25k maps on ViewRanger)

Parking the car in the small (free) car park just off the Test Way we kitted up and Monty shot into the bushes to retrieve a tennis ball that he'd carry faithfully for the entire duration of the walk!

We set off on the short section of path and then road to join the Test Way that travels north out of Stockbridge and follows the route of both the A3057 and River Test before passing through the small villages of Chilbolton and Wherwell and then entering the wooded enclosure of Harewood Forest where, at 7 miles, we took our first brief stop for a cup of tea.

We'd made fairly good time in getting to Harewood Forest thanks to the flat and even surface of the Test Way up to this point but on leaving the forest the path became slightly more "lumpy" and uneven, passing both along bridal ways and footpaths between Goodworth Clatford and Middle Wallop and it was just before Middle Wallop, nr Kentsboro that we stopped, at just over 13 miles, on a small wooded strip next to the path for some lunch - heated up again courtesy of the Trangia and with the Jet Boil to boil water for coffee having learnt from previous trips that while the Trangia is capable of doing this (and has the kettle as part of the pack) it's far quicker and easier to use the JetBoil as it does exactly what the name suggests and there's not really any huge weight penalty with the kit being split between two people.

Passing through "The Wallops" we headed down towards Broughton and on to the Clarendon Way for a short time before heading back into more field systems on a bridal-way that leads up to Meon Hill before dropping back down into Stockbridge and the end of the walk.

As I mentioned at the start of the post,this walk broke me and according to the physio a few weeks later more than just emotionally too.
On the 3rd and 4th training walks I'd had some pain in the back of my left knee and this had lingered after the walk for a few days but eased with swimming so I thought nothing (much) of it but at around 18 miles into this walk my knee started to hurt, a lot, and by 22 or so mile I was in agony, hobbling along to the point that Donna even offered to go back and get the car when we reached the outskirts of Stockbridge.

I was both angry and upset when we reached the car.  Angry as I knew that I'd slowed us down and been the burden and upset as deep down I knew that this was a fairly big nail in the coffin of the 53 mile, 3 Crosses walk that we'd both been looking forward to and training for - the real kicker for me was that since the birth of Isabelle (April 2014) these walks were something that Donna and I could do together and really enjoy, the planning and doing and this was effectively going to put pay to that.

But the end of one thing is always the start of another and this proved true with the onset of another challenge that will allow me to both train and spend time with Donna as well as strengthen rather than overload my knee - more about that later!

You can download the .gpx file and PDF info sheet (from ViewRanger) here;

ViewRanger route of the walk, recorded on my GS5;


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