Obviously, we do not think it is possible to get up every morning and just walk 10-30 miles a day with no preparation at all. This would be asking for trouble!

What we need is a little training. Get our Mind, feet and body ready for these long daily walks. We are walking regular long distance hikes, including some rather steep inclines. After all, we will have the Alps to contend with. When we reach the St Bernards Pass it will be a huge accomplishment for us both. Not only is it the halfway marker, but…..trekking up through the Alps!! How exciting that will be.

We began with a couple of shorter walks from home to Lewes and back again which is only a 6.5 mile round trip. But it is all good exercise. On 4th January we decided to really test ourselves With a 20.4 mile walk. So we set off from home and walked to Alfriston, up steep hills and across the South Downs. We stopped for a bite to eat in the local pub and contemplated wether to get a taxi home. The light was starting to fade and we had left our torch at home! That was a daft thing to do wasn’t it…..but NO! We Set ourselves a goal and we must stick to it. So, off we went back up steep hills and across the downs. Even the sheep were laying down preparing for a good nights sleep. By the time we reached home we were quite worn out to put it politely. But we did it, and we are proud of ourselves.

Ringmer village, with the South Downs in the distance.

January 11th we decided to walk to Brighton from home. This was a 15 mile-hike. We had completed this Walk before and thoroughly enjoyed it. Again, the trek was up and down hills and across the South Downs. The scenery is beautiful, well worth pushing yourselves for the views when you reach the top. Gale force winds at the top and wet, muddy fields below, made the hike more difficult. But we kept on going, through Rottingdean and along the shoreline to Brighton. We made it to the Cricketers pub and had a well deserved pint!

20th January, it was a cold a frosty morning, the sun was shining. Such a beautiful crisp day. We took a walk up to Mount Caburn. There are a couple of points on this walk that were very steep. But, this is what training ourselves is all about. Testing our limits, pushing ourselves. We are both strong willed, when we set our sights on something we do our upmost to make it happen.

Walk to Mount Caburn

25th January we wanted to test out the walk from Ringmer to East Hoathly using the tracks and fields rather than the road route. It is a 12 mile walk and the weather was chilly but dry, perfect for walking. So we set off at 10.20am.

About 15 minutes into the walk we approached a cottage which looked peaceful, until we began to pass the hedge…..we jumped out of our skins when a spaniel started barking at us and stuck it’s head right through the hedge. This set the dog off in the adjacent cottage. A huge dog which was all muscle! This is something we will need to get used to apparently, in France and Italy this happens quite often. It is not unusual to have a dog chase you, barking furiously and they have been known to nip.

The walk took us through very wet clay farmers fields and along muddy tracks. We thoroughly enjoyed it even though it was mucky, and meant Graham Would have two pairs of really muddy hiking boots to scrub later on (I have decided that this will be his job, being the clever lady I am).

We took a path through Moat Wood on the outskirts of East Hoathly village. In the heart of the wood is a medieval moat which is now a scheduled ancient monument. Moats such as these were originally built as protection during lawless times.

After a drink and a short rest in The Kings Head pub in the village, we set off back home taking the same route. We arrived home at about 16.20 feeling a little tired. The good thing is, when we awoke the next morning, our feet felt fine and no sign of blisters ….yet!

We cannot believe it is 1st February already. The days are rapidly moving along. We were very busy this weekend so did not have time for a long walk. However, we did have chores to do in town. So we decided to walk into Lewes and back instead of driving. We have completed this 6.5 mile round trip a few times and although it is a short walk compared to some we have completed recently, it is still training and good exercise.

We were taken by surprise when walking along the cycle/footpath from Ringmer to Lewes, a young couple came speeding past on what we can only describe as ‘short ski’s on wheels’ and using ski poles to assist them in going faster. We did not hear them coming, one minute they were there, then they were gone! I guess they were practicing for their skiing holiday. It did look fun though.

Glyndebourne Opera House wind turbine.

When we arrived home it felt as though we had only walked a couple of miles. I believe that we could have completed the walk again if it wasn’t getting late. We must be getting used to the walks. That can only be a good thing.

With storm ‘Ciara’ quickly followed by storm ‘Dennis’ causing flooding along with gale force winds over the past two or three weeks, we have not had chance to really get out there and do some good long walks. Apparently, we also have storm ‘Ellen’ approaching us from the Atlantic this weekend coming too. However, we do not want to waste precious preparation time; so we have started plotting our route from our home in Ringmer to Canterbury.

I wonder how many of us use a magnifying glass as well as wearing glasses?

It has been exciting buying the OS maps and plotting our routes. We want to stick to footpaths, fields and bridleways etc as much as possible. If we can avoid roads then we will. The occasional road is inevitable, ranging from quieter country lanes to the busier A roads. But, we all have to take the good with the bad, it makes life more interesting.

Coronavirus outbreak.

Areas In Italy that are in lockdown due to Coronavirus

Oh no! We are starting to become a little concerned about this Coronavirus outbreak. As we are sure you are aware, the virus started in Wuhan, China and seems to be rapidly spreading across the world. Unfortunately it has reached parts of Italy and Switzerland, along the routes which we are planning to walk. Looking on the official Via Francigena website today, they are advising travelers to avoid:

1. Santa Cristina  –  Orio Litta

2. Orio Litta  – Piacenza, as they are included in the quarantine perimeter for the precautions.
These are areas that we were really looking forward to walking.

At the moment we are playing it by ear in the hope that it will be safe by the time we set off on 20th April. So keep your fingers crossed. If the virus spreads further, we will have no option but to postpone the adventure for a year.

At last some sunshine!

We have had nothing but gales and rain for months now! But this morning the weatherman predicted sunshine for a short time today. So, we thought we would make the most of it and go for a walk and also take the opportunity to practice with our new cameras. We are not experts with new technology or gadgetry, therefore practice is a must before we set off on our big adventure (providing this Coronavirus calms down a bit).
Please ignore the dates on the photo’s, should be 2020 not 2018!

Just our little joke…..

We took a walk the length of Eastbourne seafront and back again. The sun was shining but it was quite cold and windy, we didn’t care, it was beautiful to not only feel and see the sunshine again, but also to see so many people out enjoying the dry weather for once. Lots of dog walkers, parents with their children and couples, all smiling and having a lovely time.

The sea looked rather choppy with sea foam being picked up by the wind and spraying inland. There were quite a few dogs that were bounding along the pebbles chasing balls and having a grand time!

Eastbourne Pier

There was one particular scene that was very sad to see though. The remains of the Claremont Hotel which was burnt down in a fire last summer. Only a small section is left standing now. We noticed that some of the original ornamental decoration from the exterior of the hotel has been saved to be reused when they rebuild the hotel. We look forward to seeing the rebuild and hope that it is not too long coming.

Remains of The Claremont Hotel

Monday 9th March 2020

Things are looking rather bleak now for our adventure. We have just found this notification on one of the Via Francigena websites:

Due to the decree of the Italian State to contain the coronavirus epidemic, as of today, the following hostels are closed indefinitely:

– Ostello di Lamporo (Via Francigena)
– Santi Eusebi, Vercelli (Via Francigena)
– La torre merlata, Palestro (Via Francigena)
– Ostello comunale, Robbio (Via Francigena)
– Ospitalità parrocchiale, Nicorvo (Via Francigena)
– Ospitale di Sant’Albino, Mortara (Via Francigena)
– La Grangia Benedettina, Orio Litta (Via Francigena)
– Ospitalità Sant’Antonio, Caniparola (Via Francigena)
– Ospitale San Nicolao, Lucca (Via Francigena)
– La casa di Lazzaro, Acquapendente (Via Francigena) until april, 4th
– Domus peregrini, Montefiascone (Via Francigena)
– Ospitale del Pellegrino, Viterbo (Via Francigena)
– Casa Sofia, Filattiera (Via Francigena)
– Ospedale della Provvidenza, Roma (Via Francigena)“

Most of these hostels are those which we were planning to use on our journey.

At the moment we are trying our upmost to remain optimistic, but as the days pass and the situation around the world becomes increasingly worse…….well, need we say more! If our pilgrimage cannot take place this year, then we will look at doing it in 2021.