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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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