Big Walk Home

Ok, so I normally do all my blog posts form my iPhone. Why? Good question. I kinda like the idea that blogging as mainly about sharing the things you're doing and living day to day and the idea of being able to blog from where you are wraps up that whole deal for me. If you can't blog about it, then you can Tweet the snippets and share a few pics via Instagram, which is also awesome. That whole idea of using just yourself and one piece of kit underlines the whole living and breathing part of it, which is why I haven't done a blog post form my Mac for a long time...well, until now (hence the long waffly intro). I usually use an app called Blog Booster which I bought and has been pretty great until my recent fall out with it. I wrote this post twice over and both times it lost my writing and the image uploads, which takes a while to do. Anyway, enough of the whining, let's get to it, some heavy linking to start with but all in aid of good causes.

The Big Walk Home, or @thebigwalkhome, is a charity walk that is set up to raise awareness for the CALM group, who do a lot of work to bring to light the issues of suicide in young men. The 20 mile walk from Ramsbottom to Manchester runs alongside the MIF (Manchester International Festival) as part of a series of small events by the Not Part Of The group which are all great events that do good and raise awareness of some pretty amazing people and organizations. On top of this, my amazing wife Ollierocks, AKA Tracey Woods raised additional money for the CF Trust as a good friend of ours' youngest daughter is living with the condition, so we wanted to do whatever we could to raise funds and awareness for the cause.

Anyway, the walk. It started off in Ramsbottom, a few miles up the road from where we live, at The Chocolate Cafe who very generously laid on bacon barms, free tea and coffee and some Vitamin water drinks to keep us going, which was amazing.

We then cracked on to walking and it was absolutely pissing it down, but I quite like this as it really added to the walk. The area where we started was all down along the East Lancashire Railway so was quite purdy scenery. Big stone bridges, loads of greenery and a few steam trains chugging along. Nice!!

The walk took us along the Irwell Sculpture Trail which is a really long stretch that takes you into Salford eventually. There are a number of sculptures along the way, some easy to see, some not so easy (which we missed a few of I think). A real cool thing with the walk was that at every stage we made a stop at, there was a band waiting for us to play a small set to keep us going. Plus a few free drinks here and there. So our first stop at the Brown Cow Pub in Burrs (I think) had a cool folky type bunch called Harp & A Monkey waiting to play a mini set for us. The rain hammered down while we sat in shorts, drinking cider, watching a band play. Brilliant!

Then we were off, up the Irwell Sculpture Trail towards Radcliffe. This part of the walk was pretty hectic as we had to play catch up, not the best seeing as we only made one stop up to this point. This did spoil things a bit as we really enjoyed the first part, it now became a bit of a rush. Still really cool though and to be honest, this part of the walk didn't really show us anything other than a long trek (8.7 miles) through pretty dull surroundings once the pretty stuff had passed. When we got to our next stop at the Masons Arms in Radcliffe, band number 2 were waiting for us. Slow Motion Shoes who played some cracking covers, my favourite being a touch of Gorillaz finest.

Then we were off again. After a cider of course. Towards our next stop in Salford. The first part of this stage was quite nice, but again we had to motor on a bit to keep time. As this stage cracked on, my girl who bought walking shoes weeks earlier and me, being a bloke, was all "na I don't need any yet, be reet". Let me tell you something, breaking in new walky type shoes on a 20 mile walk ain't the best idea, especially when you've got a lot of old skating injuries in your ankles and ligaments. Yep, my dogs were barking, but anyway, it wasn't about me. Our 3rd stop was at Punters Bistro in Salford where we saw Katy Buckhaven and her Trio waiting for us, plus, free tea and coffee and some home made amazing cake. We had to nom down on some lemon drizzle action.

Now, and I'm sure if he reads this he won't mind me mentioning this, one of our group, a guy called Arthur Chappell admitted he wasn't in the best shape as we chatted with him along the way. From the outset he said he probably wouldn't make it the whole distance and apologized when he lagged behind a little but we hung back for a chat and to egg him on a bit. Before you knew it, he was still in it and on the last leg. "I'm not gonna fall at the last hurdle now" he said on our way to Punters. I know this all sounds a bit patronizing but it was legendary for him to just steam through it and really enjoy it with the rest of us. Inspiration to anyone!

So, the last stretch was across the City centre where we landed at The Bay Horse Pub on Thomas Street where they laid on some awesome bar snacks and pizza for us, plus Katy Buckhaven and her Trio came back to play again for us to wrap up what was a pretty amazing, tiring and inspiring day of walking and chatting.

Just space to say a few thanks. To my wife Tracey for finding out about this and making us do it, which we will be doing again next year hopefully. Thanks to Mike who organized the walk and who was a real nice guy and thanks to all the bands and places we stopped off at for your hospitality and letting 20+ dirty, sweaty, walking dead into your places.

Can't beat a bit of charity.


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