The 1st of 5 Walking Challenges, in aid of The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

thumb 20240127 111224On Saturday 27th January, with what can be described as a crisp, bright early Spring Day, 1000s of people descended on The Oval, London, to take part in the Ultra Challenge Winter Walk… with myself included.

Arriving at 10:30am, ready for my 11:30 start time, I collected my pack, with my timing chip and bib number. Having a last-minute cup of tea, I made way to the starting pen, with other participants, ready to start my Challenge.

I had signed up to do the West Loop, which meant I would be turning left out of The Oval, and head towards Battersea, walking along the River Thames, whilst virtually all the other participants in my wave, will be turning right and heading East, towards the South Bank, and Tower Bridge. With the countdown started, we all cheered as we headed out!!!

The day was calm, sunny, warm (for January) with a light breeze. It was perfect walking weather!!!

thumb 20240127 114821Following the pink arrows, that mark the route, and passing the km markers, I felt happy and content walking towards the Thames.

Whilst walking next to the Thames, it made me realise why I was walking, not just this challenge, but four more throughout 2024 in aid of The Wilts & Berks Canal.

When I walked along the River Thames, I take in the movement of the water, and the wind through the trees, the sound of the birds and the ducks that are around me, the sound of people chatting to each other and the squeals of happy young children playing. My mental well-being is restored, and I feel relaxed and rejuvenated. This is the same feeling I get when I walk along The Wilts & Berks Canal! This is why I am doing these challenges, to raise funds to help the restoration and the maintenance of the Canal! To help create this line of a blue-green corridor, to help connect people with nature.

thumb 20240127 134231Whilst this part of the River Thames is in a metropolis of the City of London, there are pockets, where you walk through parks, that gives you that tranquillity of open space and not the sound of traffic through the hustle and bustle of a very busy city.

After crossing over Puntney Bridge and reaching the stop at the 13km mark, I topped up my water bottle, and had the obligatory Danish pastry and fruit (plus a Freddo!!!), I continued on my walk, heading through Chelsea and back to The Oval.


thumb 20240127 161416When I was reaching the end of the challenge, I received a text from Chloe, the Swindon Chair, who was watching my progress, to say it was showing that I was near the end? I sent her a photo, of The Oval at the end of the road, with the words “the structure at the end, is the finishing line”.

Then realising the time, I couldn’t believe how fast I had completed the walk! In total, it was 04:48:57 (walking time 04:27:54). I crossed the finishing line at 4:18pm.

I felt great, didn’t ache, or feel any blisters on my feet. The training walks I had undertaken, had certainly helped!

thumb 20240130 102719That’s the thing with these challenges, whilst people show their support and donate, they do not realise the training that goes with these walks, trying different combinations of clothes (especially socks), to find what works for you. Doing walks with your backpack full of the items you are going to walk with (full hydration bag, water bottles, food, spare socks, first aid kit, etc.) Then wearing in your walking shoes/boots and trail shoes. Going out in all weathers, as you do not know what nature has in store on the day of the challenge itself!




So, what’s next?

Next up, will be the Easter Walk, another 25km incorporating the Thames, but this time, in Windsor, on Saturday 6th April 2024.

You can follow my training and challenges, by visiting

If you would like to show your support, you can donate, by visiting

If I have inspired you to walk and you would like to join me, please send an email to, and I will forward you the details of the remaining challenges.