I planned these first few days to be easy but my mapping software does not take gradients into account. So what was meant to be a lengthy 33Km today was actually 38Km. We are both exhausted and I have the start of a small blister under each foot. It must be a combination of walking all day yesterday with soaking muddy socks and the long distance walked today. I hope this won’t be a repetition of my 2016 Camino when I hobbled along for 3 weeks on swollen blistered feet.
We set off at 7.30 from the excellent Donnington Manor hotel and walked to lovely Wrotham, a delightful Kent village alongside the M25. We arrived at 11.00. The first pub was closed, I knocked on the door of the second pub and roused the landlord. (George of the George and the Dragon). We had a pleasant chat but he refused to make us a coffee before midday. In the third pub we found our coffee break. The barman saw our backpacks and impressed us with a story of a couple who had stayed in the pub last week and who were walking the whole NDW, “just imagine that!” he said.
Afterwards we came outside to discover by chance our friends Beat & Eveline sitting outside. It was only 11am so we walked together along the beautiful North Downs for lunch at the next pub along. Eveline told me her mother is now reading my blog to keep in touch because Eveline is not blogging. So hello to Eveline’s mum; we are all well.
We arrived at the next pub. It’s a long story but essentially the landlord was away at a funeral and the cash & carry had failed to deliver any food. We owed Beat & Eveline lunch so Paul nipped out to the village store and bought some food and ice cream. The barmaid set to work and soon we were enjoying our lunch.
Off we went again but as the kilometres passed I felt a hot spot developing under each foot. That is equivalent to the engine warning light coming on so I sat down and applied a couple of Compeed plasters left over from last year. Ideally, there would have been a bubbling stream and a fellow pilgrim to wash my feet but my fellow walkers suddenly adopted a keen interest in the chalk land ecology as I struggled to correctly position the plaster.
On we walked. Later we said goodbye to Beat & Eveline and continued over the very high Medway Bridges while many lanes of traffic and the EuroStar trains shot past us. We are now in Borstal staying at a very good B&B, just behind the infamous prison for young males. As a young boy, I myself was threatened with a stint in Borstal by my parents if I didn’t pull my socks up. I didn’t and now I am here.
Beat & Eveline with the rare E2 way marker