I've completed the hundred miles with my fellow pilgrim-walkers and despite the sore feet and aching limbs, we all feel a great sense of achievement. We've raised a fair bit for Stand Up To Cancer, and to be walking outdoors in England on the chalk downs or threading your way through ancient woodland is always good for the soul.
I've been lucky to have such a good-natured and spirited bunch of walking companions. There's a great camaraderie among us that puts an extra spring in your step. From the first day, we quickly fall into a routine. Breakfast, walk, lunch, walk, arrive at B&B, cold bath, shower, dinner, sleep, the deepest dreamless sleep. I managed to convince my sceptical friends about the benefits of a cold dip. The cold water causes the blood vessels to tighten, which helps to drain the lactic acid from tired muscles. Once out of the bath, the muscle tissue warms back up bringing oxygenated blood to speed up recovery. And bingo, it works. Ten minutes, that's all it takes and you don't need a wheelie bin full of ice either, that's just showing off. Just the cold water tap will do it. And a G&T helps take the edge off.
I am very touched by all the support we've had along the way. The messages that accompany the donations on the website are very personal and heartfelt - loved ones are remembered and honoured. And on the walk, I received many acts of kindness and generosity. I was variously handed homemade flapjack, fruit cake, and some date slices that were left for me under a hedge with a luggage label attached. A particular highlight was the morning we spent with the good people of St. Botolph's Church in Swyncombe, near Nuffield in Oxfordshire. It was very wet morning and spirits were sagging but members of the congregation braved the rain to come out and cheer us in.
I've walked the Ridgeway twice now in its entirety, and yet the views still have the power to stop me in my tracks. From its high chalk ways you can see the history of England, from ancient white horses to the hi-tech facility of the Diamond Light Source. It's a beautiful path which reveals more each time I walk it.
On the penultimate day we're joined by Prof. Tim Underwood who works in cancer research and we're all reminded that every pound we raise will be put to good use. A fitting end to a tiring but immensely rewarding week.
Bill is supporting Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate ground breaking cancer research and save more lives, more quickly.
To support Bill's walk text BILL5 to donate £5* to 70404, BILL10 to donate £10* to 70404, or donate online here. For more information visit standuptocancer.org.uk.
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