If we had planned to walk on the warmest day of the year to date, we couldn’t have chosen a better Sunday morning than dawned on Sunday, 26th June. Those of us hardy (or is that foolhardy?) enough gathered at the Cumberland Obelisk by Savill Gardens, Windsor Great Park at 11 am. Once the hugging and greeting of family and friends, some not seen for 12 months, was complete, catch up chatter and coffee consumed, we were off, maps in hand, taking a different course to that walked last year. Left behind were several family members, including my 85 year old mother, volunteering to watch the bags and paraphernalia too heavy or hot to carry. Last year, Mother had completed the walk with me; this year she thought the heat would be too much for her. A wise decision.
The path led us alongside the polo ground before dipping down towards the beautiful gardens and over a bridge and alongside the lake. Ducks and swans followed, seeking food, birds darted and sang overhead and squirrels flitted across the paths, shimming up tree trunks, tails swishing as they watched from branches overhead. The gardens and lakeside, a glorious riot of colour from rhododendrons and carpets of bluebells in springtime, were not so pretty this year to an artist’s eye but they were nonetheless magnificent in their green splendour, the trees provided much needed shade as the thermometer rose. In a quiet glade we came across a refreshment stand with seating where we readily stopped, treating ourselves to an ice-cream or lolly and a well-earned rest before continuing.
We took our time strolling along, a motley string of adults, children and dogs enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, taking turns to push George in his buggy (well, not the dogs, obviously). We stopped by the cascade, a cool respite, a good excuse for a photo shoot, before moving on to admire the ancient Roman ruins from Lepcis Magna in Tripoli. Onward and upward we trod our merry way. The chosen route had been on the flat but now the ground rose, the path steep in a long, hard slog uphill in the heat and I fell behind, stopping frequently to rest and catch my breath. Above the treeline I could see the monument. Almost there, I thought, and pushed myself on. Only to find it was the 100 ft totem pole; I still had another half mile to go. This was definitely further than last year. Ahh well, quick rest, deep breaths and move on.
At last, I reached the meeting point. The last one back, much to the relief of my worrying mother (she’s a fanatical worrier, my mother). The route had been approximately 6 miles; I don’t think at that point I could have walked another step and fell into a proffered chair in the shade in need of a large drink. My niece had the foresight the night before to make up a bottle of squash and put in the freezer. What a refreshing, welcome drink to this thirsty walker that was. Baskets at the ready, we enjoyed a smashing picnic, although in truth, it was far too hot to eat much. Afterwards, whilst us old ’uns rested and chatted, the children played football, cajoled adults to take them down to the water’s edge to catch tadpoles or, more importantly, join the queue for another ice-cream.
The day was a great success, enjoyed by everyone. Over £3,000 was raised on the day and that, along with other donations still coming in, we have enough money to cover all George’s Footsteps and Brainwave therapy up to the end of 2012, which is just fantastic. He would not be able to do this therapy without everyone’s committment and so for that his parents, family and George himself thank you so, so much!