Let me put this straight from the outset the Titanic Charity Pub Crawl as it was officially known, was no afternoon stroll, trotting around a few pubs getting slaughtered in the name of charity. It was a bloody long slog, in truly awful conditions and without trying to be over dramatic, for me at least the hardest test of endurance I have ever completed.
The day started with an event that we hoped was not a bad omen. At 8.20am as we were just about to leave Rach and I heard a loud bang. We looked outside to see a rather scruffy looking dazed pigeon on the decking which of course was attracting an excited reaction from Maggie our Jack Russell. We stepped outside and carefully moved it to a safe place to see if it would recover and fly off, it didn’t, we looked again and in the five minutes that had passed, the poor bird had died, presumably from internal injuries as it left a large pool of blood which leaked from it’s lifeless beak. Sad but also bloody awful timing as I had to clear it all up and move the carcass before we left for Stafford.
We arrived late, just having time to say hello to the 11 fellow walkers many of which I’d not met before who were al making their own final preparations (and having a sneaky first pint), then after a quick photo-call we were off…
Our merry band left Stafford in good spirits and with a change of route, taking the lead from a local boy who knew a “better route” (no names mentioned Dave) that would avoid walking along the main roads.
It certainly did, we hiked across several very muddy fields, clambering over multiple stiles of sometimes very odd design, on top of which in true British August Bank Holiday fashion, the heavens opened sporadically to soak, then lull you before soaking again and that was the easy bit.
We were forced then to make our first choice. To take a path through a small paddock, home to an extremely large pig, or join a concreted farm track on which the largest herd of close on a thousand goats was being moved, it was like a scene from a David Attenborough special only with extra goat droppings, we went for the goat droppings…
“Is that damp hay or trench crotch I can smell?”
After the farm it was only a short yomp through a couple of fields to the sanctity of the canal towpath which was to form the rest of our long meandering route to Stone. Sadly though it was not to be, the fields led ultimately to a triangular end point, at the end of which was a rather inquisitive bull, an inquisitive bull with 12 inch horns… More choices, track back and find another route or face Bully! Oddly half of the group chose the bovine option and the other including myself turned around and went back the other way.
That alternative route was not a good one, we had to traverse 5 three band electrical fences, so no way under, it was over the top or nothing. Sadly the smallest of our band was only around five foot six, with a corresponding inside leg measurement. He got it both barrels, zapped where no man deserves to be zapped, not once, but THREE times! The last of which ending in him falling over in a frantic effort to get off leaving one foot buzzing away on the fence..
For him I am sure it was an awful experience, for us it was one of those moments where you feel really sorry, but can’t help a quiet snigger inside… (sorry Paul)
At last though we reached our final triple electric and barbed wire fence combo, three fences in the space of around five feet which shall we say was, “interesting”.
So what of our compradres in the bull fighting section??
Well it turns out that our rather angry looking bull was pulling the “udder” one and wasn’t a bull after all, or if it was it had four willies… It took one look at the approaching group before turning tail and running away…
FINALLY though, we reached the Greyhound…
Sadly it wasn’t THE Greyhound and the end of our walk, it was the pub which sat on the canal side, a milestone at least as it meant no more treacherous walking conditions.
It was incredible, we were hit by hurricane Irene’s twin sister Pollys (think about it), a torrential downpour of truly unbelievable proportions. Heavy rain, quarter inch hailstones and it followed us for miles and dreary trudging miles. The already pot holed tow path turned into a series of mini muddy lakes, waterproofs were futile as was any previously decent footwear, all of us were well and truly drenched from head to tow including the now extremely dishevelled looking Maggie Jack Russell..
To add insult to flipping incredibly annoying injury the path we were taking had a country road running in parallel, consequently we were then being hit by a tsunami of wash from each passing car. I’m not talking a splash here, think a stormy Blackpool sea front soaking, side on.. August, nuff said…?
So there it was, after a Foriegn Legionesque 9 mile plus assault course, which in truth should have been 7 miles steady walking, we reached our first checkpoint, The Royal Exchange.
Ironically as we approached the sun came out as we approached in a theme that was to follow us throughout the day, walk into a pub in sunshine, walk out into the next rainy squall…
The beer choice was easy for me, Dark Star Hophead, light hoppy and refreshing served up with a large plate of freshly cooked chips and soft white bread, a welcome tonic after what had been a bit of an ordeal.
Nine miles down another 15.3 to go, I felt like I’d been through the mill already. Would I, would we all make it to the finish? Find out tomorrow in the next blog post…
To give you an update we have raised £1,374.50 to date.
The just giving page is still open and will be for a while so please spare a few Pounds, Dollars, Euros if you can. Details below:
A Just Giving page has been set up for the walk. It can be accessed online at http://www.justgiving.com/titanicgreyhound. Alternatively, donations can be made in person at the Greyhound or by phone – text GHTB67 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 (eg. GHTB67 £3) to 70070.