Tarrant has been having problems with her feet resulting in her walking like she’d shat herself. Her Merrells started disintegrating around mile 60, and they’ve completely compressed so she has no cushioning at all which she’s very much not used to. To be fair she not used to walking miles every day full stop. She’s gone from office to 15 miles a day overnight so she’s doing pretty fucking well. She picked up some fancy insoles from the pharmacy so we’ll see how they go.
We started the day by walking up a fuck off great big hill. We didn’t actually have to walk up the fuck off great big hill but hey, got to remind your legs you’re still alive. Saint Catherine’s Hill affords decent views over the city but shit me, it was a bit windy! The weather was a bit cooler than it had been which would be a godsend from a hiking point of view but not ideal for being up a hill first thing in the morning. We got to the bottom and picked up the trail. We’d be following the Itchen Way all the way into Southampton and it’s flatter than a flat thing that got flattened further by a large steamroller.
I’ve no idea how I’m going to squeeze a blog post out of today. It was a very pleasant riverside stroll, but what can you say about a riverside stroll? The weather picked up and the sun came out. My calf muscles didn’t scream at me. I barely broke a sweat. The vast majority of my photos are of the back of Tarrant walking next to a river. The only thing that stood out was a terrifying pig-scarecrow horrot creature nestled off to the side, silently watching, judging. It looked like the kind of thing that’d come after you with a meat hook if you said its name in the mirror three times.
We did see a lot of swans and I do like a swan. It doesn’t matter how many swans I see, I still get a little bit excited and feel compelled to point at them going, “Ooh look! A swan!” Though it’s impossible to see one without informing anyone within earshot that “it’ll break your arm, that will.” They’re still better than geese though. A swan might break your arm but a goose will lock you in a barn and set fire to it.
At one point Tarrant decided that her poor, battered feet would benefit from some cold water therapy. We sat down on the bank, she took her shoes and socks off and dunked her feet in the river. Fish immediately started popping to the surface belly up… nah I’m shitting you of course but she did make a lot of noises like a slapped monkey. The water was, apparently, utterly bastard freezing. I just took her word for it, fuck sticking my feet in there, I like having feeling in my toes.
After Bishopstoke the trail narrowed and became a bit more of an overgrown nettle gauntlet. You really had to think about what your ankles were doing if you didn’t want to find out the hard way which way ankles weren’t meant to go. It moved away from the river and passed right by the airport which meant we got to stand right under small planes as they came into land and I am such a child about this sort of thing. I fucking love planes. Tarrant humoured me as I squealed things like, “OH MY FUCKING GOD THERE’S ANOTHER PLANE!!” like we weren’t literally next to an airport.
We finally shuffled into Southampton and we were immediately impressed with the vast green space we had to walk through. Like, serious amounts of well kept parkland with the river running right by it.
We racked up numerous karma points by and giving advice on the pros and cons of hiking poles. It was solicited, we weren’t accosting random people and insisting they look at our poles, a woman approached us and asked. Then we really racked up additional karma points by helping a boy get a ball out of the nettles with the aforementioned poles. Then we walked past a group of kids and one of the girls was kneeling in the river, adamant she couldn’t move. Tarrant used a pole to help pull her out. I wished we could go back and find the woman who was considering getting a pair of poles to tell her all about the additional uses. We even helped a woman load a massive glass door into the back of a hatchback but that didn’t involve poles and to be honest I’m really not sure how she was going to get the boot shut. Hatchbacks generally aren’t conducive to large glass door transportation.
A mate I know from my bar tending days in Brighton now lives in Southampton with her girlfriend and two kids and she’d reached out over The ‘Gram to offer us a place to crash which was incredible. I’d been stressing about this section and where we were going to stay. She even offered us the use of the washing machine so we got to do proper laundry rather than hastily scrubbing our socks and grundies in a random pub’s toilet sink, and we got home cooked spag bol, and an apple crumble. All vegan so there was no risk of Tarrant shitting herself because she tried to apply dairy to her digestive system.
We had a really lovely evening too. Great bants with fantastic people in their lovely house. Proper trail angels and we were super grateful for the best night’s sleep we’d had in a week.
Winchester, Hampshire to Southampton, Hampshire, England
Stayed at: Emma and Kat’s.
Useful shit to know…
- There are no toilets or taps on this route so it’s risky nature wees and filtering from the river all the way.