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Stamford to Whittlesey

The BBC had been threatening us with rain yesterday, but
today they’d decided to relent a bit, and turned it off around 8am, just as we
were having breakfast.

Judy, our landlady, saw us off from Stamford with a gift of
homemade flapjack, and we headed into Stamford.

Stamford is a pretty town, but it’s also very posh, which kind of put me off it a bit.
Here’s someone’s gateway.

Here’s Ermine Street going across his golf course.

Here are his paddocks.

His avenue.

His grazing land

His cropped field

His ploughed field.

His next door neighbour.

He is the Marquess of Carabas (sorry – Exeter) and the
estate is that of Burghley House, a huge Elizabethan mansion, and I am Puss in
Boots. I wish.
I don’t really get on with posh. Johnny does. He liked
Stamford and he liked looking around the expensive antique shops in Oakham. He
likes posh hotels and expensive country pubs but they make me uncomfortable, a
bit stifled. I don’t really know why, perhaps I don’t want to damage things.
But actually, I don’t feel like I belong, like I’m trespassing. I don’t feel
entitled.
The well kept fields  and wooded edges made for very pleasant walking however.

And we saw these in a barn.

After a couple of hours we reached Sacrewell Farm shop where we stopped for coffee
and learned that Jeremy Corbyn was the new labour leader. I thought about that day three months ago when  Poppy and I were walking through the
Yorkshire Wolds having just learned that the tories had got in. 

We girded our loins and continued. Following a difficult dash across the A47 we reached the
River Nene, which was to be our companion for the rest of day. 

We waked through the pretty hamlet of Sutton and then then
on to Wansford Station on the Nene Valley Railway.  

This weekend was a Steam Gala, and the engines
were running regularly along the tracks, tooting into the air. A few times
today we had to cross the railway line, and each time we found an old man in a hat
with a timetable and camera, looking excitedly into the distance.

The path wound between the railway and the river across the
flood plain and it was idyllic.

But Johnny’s feet were hurting, and we still had a long way
to go.
Ferry Meadows Country Park was busy with children and
elderly couples having train rides.

Johnny found four big elm trees (smooth-leaved in case you were wondering) and was delighted (I’ve just had to add this in as I’d forgotten and he was upset that I’d missed them out. His photo).

We
had a drink at the visitors centre. We’d done 14 miles and it was telling on
us. We weren’t sure if we were up it.

I said, let’s march for an hour and see how we feel.
So we did. Past statues, people fishing, swans, between
river and steam trains, right into the heart of Peterborough without for one
minute feeling like we weren’t in the countryside.

Then suddenly we were in the middle of the city and there
were loads of people.
A cast iron bridge, believed to be the last on a major British Rail high speed route.

And a lot of swans.

There were still five miles to go. We had to decide – walk
or get a taxi.
Johnny was feeling OK, I was tired but didn’t want to be
defeated.
So we ate Judy’s flapjack, and off we went.
Walking for five miles in a dead straight line is a strange
thing. Two were fine.  

By two and a half
it seemed like it would never end. Our destination came into sight. A white pub
called Dog in a Doublet. It looked quite near. Half a mile later it looked the
same. We tried walking without looking up for what seemed like a long time,
then looking up hoping it would be nearer – but it never was.

My legs were saying, what the hell are you doing. Stop
walking. Now. But the Dog in the Doubet was still far away.
Eventually we reached the sluice…

…and finally the pub where
they thought we were completely mad. I had a shower then a very expensive
steak. I had never felt so tired.

23 miles.
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