A Virtual 100 by David Wright


Blog of my 102 miles walk 2021

Structure

1 Circular 19 miles walk from my house (in Heaton Chapel) to Compstall Lakes = 19 miles

2 Circular 15 miles walk from my house to Chadkirk x 2 = 30 miles

3 Circular 4 miles walk from my house to The Secret Lake x 6 = 24 miles

4 Walk to Sport City from my house and back = 14 miles

5 Walk to Didsbury footbridge over river Mersey from my house and back = 15 miles

Total 102 miles

 

 

Well, I can’t romantacise it. Further, I’d like to launch a campaign for the exclusion of this event from the LDWA calendar….

At first I suppose it was okay. I set off for Reddish Vale Park at 5.30 in the morning and began to wonder who the first passer-by I would see would be or even which the first car would be. It was quiet. I saw a car a long way off but thought that would not count. It was not until I got to the top of Werneth “Low” before I passed a man so I think that one was the winner.

Running down Upland Road, the lane that runs from Werneth Low to Compstall, for two miles gave me a good , exhilerating feeling. Towards the end of the Compstall walk I happened to pass my niece, her parner and Woody (their dog) near the Reddish Vale Country Park entrance at 10 am.. So I had the humiliation of telling them my walk was, “er, 100 miles”, which gobsmacked them. I had only done 17 miles at that stage. That was about my nadir or lowest point.

Next, back home I had a shower and changed my shoes and socks. Feeling then a bit better I walked back to Reddish Vale Country Park to do the Chadkirk walks. The drawback was on the footpath that goes up to the canal  a brand new obstacle course had been erected especially for me. The path was blocked (No reson was given) by a high steel gate that was impossible to climb over, leaving me to crawl gingerly under barbed wire at the side of the path to then creep up a bank of nettles and foliage to the edge of a horses’ field, which I followed, to climb over a steel gate with barbed wire on the top. At the end of that walk I was so exhausted that I couldn’t face doing it immediately all over again, even after a coffee at Morrisons. Following my next rest at home I moved from walk 2 to walk 4, the one along disused railway lines and the Fallowfield Loop to Sport City but very near there the canal path was blocked by a policeman due to a Crime Scene (“ a stabbing”). That meant I had to turn back home on the same route rather than use an alternative route back but I was so tired it didn’t much matter. Young motor-cyclists dangerously passed me on the cycle path. “Have you got insurance?” I shouted in my thoughts.

It was getting dusk now for the next stage, six laps of a four mile walk to The Secret Lake (Sandfold Rd reservoir) from home. After each lap I had a half hour’s uneasy rest at home. At the start of one lap at 2am I heard a strong meeow and it was my cat  in the front garden trying to follow me as a late entrant.  Knowing there were lots anyway, I shook her off somewhere round the corner. In the dark Highfield Park took on an eerie atmosphere. I thought I saw a ghost just ahead of me. But by 3.30 to 4 am it was fast getting light and the birds were singing heavily.

Next, all I had to do was that awful Chadkirk walk again with the obligatory obstacle course and then a 14 miles circular walk to Sale Water Park from my house and I would be free. On the last walk I got my sister to come out at Thornton Park in Heaton Moor to sign a witness statement that she’d seen me walking.  It was about 5pm then. She was insistent I’d done enough and to retire at that point but doing the whole whack was now irresistible. On Heaton Moor Common I got a bit dazed and lost but a passer-by pointed me in the right direction for Heaton Mersey from where I followed the path along the Mersey and the drone of traffic from the motorway. At about 6pm at the Didsbury footbridge I could not properly remember where the path across the golf-links cutting out a loop of the river was, but luckily it didn’t matter because I saw a sign saying Stockport (Cheadle Bridge) 4. It meant I needn’t walk as far as the water park because I knew that from Cheadle bridge to my house was 3.5 miles so that as long as I could walk back in one piece from there the way I had come, I would have done 100 miles. I went slower and slower in speed on the walk back but at just past 8pm I was finally home and it was all thankfully over.

The walk was no bucket list thing. I decided to do it only because the great Hundreds veteran, Peter Schick, told me you could do it from your home this year. Beyond the Bullock Smithy walk about five years ago and a recent 18 miles  walk I did with Pete Whitehead from Hadfield railway station, I did virtually no training, proving that anybody reasonably fit and determined is capable of doing it. More importantly, though, is whether one enjoys it. I can’t say I really enjoyed it. True, I didn’t have the distraction of walkers/runners dashing past me and I had fine weather but I got too obsessed with getting it over to properly relax on the walk.

Perhaps I qualify for extra bragging rights because by mistake I did an extra two miles?  I’ve a feeling, though, that in the annals of history  other entrants might have by mistake or not already done that. In summary, it’s nice to now say that I’ve done a Hundred but at the time I was doing it, it wasn’t especaially nice .If I had done a none-virtual Hundred it might have been diabolical. Well, I hope this piece deters rather than encourages you from ever doing a Hundred.

David Wright