So we are home and looking back on a three super weeks. At the start, Paul asked, 'Will they make it?' Course we did, we're from Yorkshire. Just as Paul predicted. Thanks for your confidence Paul.
It's been great to know so many people have been interested in our walk and the project in general. The number of visitors to the site has gone up and up and reached, well........ lots.
We now have to face reality and the pile of dirty/sweaty kit.
Our shoes are just about past their 'best by' date, in fact Chris's Reebocks, which have performed excellently, are almost smooth underneath and were ceremonially retired after the planting ceremony. My Brooks running shoes have a couple more walks left in them but not much more. They were brilliant throughout the walk. No foot problems for either of us.
We need to start thanking all the people who helped us on our way and first on the list are the members of 'Walking the way to health' Goole and Howden groups. They walked with us from York to Hull over the first three days. For many of these walkers, all retired, this was a great personal challenge taking them well outside their 'comfort zones'.All those who made it to Hull are stars in their own right.
We were ably and enthusiastically supported by members of The Rifles T.A. from Doncaster. These young men are a credit to their unit and related superbly to the other walkers.
Those three days were a wonderful example of cooperation as the walkers helped and encouraged each other reach their finish. Their faces at the ferry terminal reflected their pride in their achievements. Thanks also to the drivers who ferried us back to start points and the T.A .drivers who drove the support vehicles. Oh, and Doreen who provided the rereshments at Hull.
I mentioned, when we wre getting ready to leave, that we seemed to have enough kit for about ten weeks. We are now unpacking it and I was wrong...we had enough for months. Most of it wasn't used because of the very good weather 'over there' (it's 20 degrees here today, we've been used to 30+ for the last couple of weeks). Why didn't we stay a bit longer? Probably because we are going back in about a month....... to walk, would you believe, in Austria and Germany again, more later.
All the clothing bags are on our bed so we have to sort them this evening or sleep in the spare room. We'd better get on with it.
The picture is of the walkers, some of the TA guys and us at the ferry terminal at Hull.
It's difficult to be flippant about a day like today, filled, as it was, with meaning and emotion.
We walked the three and a half kilometres, the last three and a half of our incredible trip, hand in hand at a leisurely pace in the fresh, early morning air with the promise of a beautiful summer's day. At the monument a piece of ground had been prepared right next to the monument itself. We were greeted by many people including an ex-pat lady who lives in Todtenhausen, the village in which the monument is sited. She has offered to look after and water the rose tree.
Members of the Rifles Regiment were on hand including two from Leeds, to witness the planting of the rose tree by a member of the local parks and gardens staff who was assisted, or hindered, by the Burgermeister of Minden and us.
We gave the tree its first watering with Yorkshire water, carried, in the motor home, for the purpose.
A service of remembrance followed for all those who fell in the battle. It was simple and moving. The soldiers were presented with their Minden Roses, white for the Rifles, and this was an especially moving moment for us.
Afterwards we were photographed with everyone there, or so it seemed and answered hundreds of questions before being ushered onto a bus to attend a wecoming ceremony in the town centre. This was for all participants in the festival.
In the afternoon we went to the building of a friendship bridge over the River Weser. This was achieved by a fleet of incredible specialist amphibian bridge building vehicles provided by British and German Army heavy engineering units and was spectacular to say the least. A great concept to show cooperation and frindship. We couldn't miss the chance to cross the bridge and photograph the Yorkshire flag on it.
We have too many invitations to fit in this visit. We are already arranging to come back and fit the other ones in. We won't be walking here next time though.
We finished our day by returning to the memorial with some more water for the rose tree. It wasn't needed. Someone had already watered it.
Perhaps that's why we walked 250 miles (actually it turned out to be about 270) with a rose tree.
We have arrived in Minden after a day and a half of walking by the Mitteland Canal. The weather has been glorious and we will be planting the rose tree, during a ceremony at the site of the battle, tomorrow morning. That will really mark the end of our journey. Though the events here go on into the night and we have been invited to several. In fact, the taxi has just arrived to take us to a military tattoo in the town.
The last bridge of the day - another 31.7km. The first half of the walk was long steady climbs along farm tracks. One full days walking left. Today we reached the bridge over the Mittelland Canal near Preussich Oldendorf. Thankfully the strong wind was behind us most of the way. We passed many more them beautiful houses. We went through an area of very mixed farming. It was good to have left the tall maize crops.
Multi Media Missive from Chris and a bandaged Rog:
We passed lots of houses like these as we crossed the Teutoburg.
Another 33.7km day. We knew it wouldnt be flat and it wasn't. It went up then up a bit more then up even more. WE were happy that we had no problems. We are now in Osnabruck. It seems strange to be in such a big city after all the small places we have stayed in. Its 12 down and 2 and a bit days to go.
The top of the climb so we had the traditional wagon wheel.
Chris sent through a message. Note the food motif is still there, although in a therapeutic role, today:
At the moment Rog has his right calf on a frozen bag of what will become our tea. His leg became a bit stiff today. We have walked 33.7km today finishing at a canal bridge about 4km from Saerbeck. Our speed was a fraction slower than normal as we have passed through 2 towns. Thats quite unusual.
Ye, another day off. Things are going well though and the rest day should set us up for the last four days.
We've found an internet cafe and we are supposed to be able to send attachments so we'll try some pictures. Thanks to Paul for relaying info in the days we haven't been on line.
Yesterday was our first full day and it was like coming home. Our route, from Vreden to Leer was through agricultural land and up and down. The forests, so much a feature of our time in Germany were super and the footpaths, which ran alongside the roads we followed, often ran through the edges of the woodland. Quite like old times, except then we used to run the paths.
Ahaus is a town typical of this area, and typically of Germany it was closed. Almost everything closes here on Sunday even the huge garden centres which we passed and which would have been heaving if they were in Britain.. Thankfully, not quite everything closes. The cafe's and bakeries are open serving coffee and......Westfalian Breakfasts. We had spotted one such establishment on our recce and it didn't disappoint. A Westfalian Breakfast is much like any other continental breakfast but with Brochen (German crusty bread rolls) and they are ....well Brochen, just different from any other rolls we have ever had. Chris says that if she could go out for one meal a day, her choice would be breakfast. This is something we had never done before living in Germany. We did it again this morning, picture, we hope attached. It was wonderful.
Anyway, back to yesterday. Leaving Ahaus we sterted along Hindenburger Strasse and our instructions told us to follow it for 13 km. The 'road' photo is of this road but it changed character several times in that distance. [NB. Photos mentioned in text not available - these added later]
Local knowledge told us that we would be able to get coffe and cake somewhere along the route. If not in a village then at any sporting event we passed. They always have coffee and cake at every event.
We didn't find any coffee and cakes for ages ...until we came to a biker's treff, (Biker's Cafe). Coffee and Rhubarb cake, it's much better than it sounds, and a chat to two bikers, one Dutch the other German. We were really flattered that they thought we had had a lift to reach the cafe so quickly as they had passed us earlier. They were amazed that we had made such good speed. We assured them it was pure leg power. We explained that biker cafes at home specialised in bacon sandwiches. With big grins they explained that they had just finished theirs! Wishing us well for the rest of the trip, they roared off and we, suitably re-fuelled set off on our last 10k of the day.
AS we neared the tiny settlement of Leer we thought that we were expected. A large archway had been erected over the road where we entered the village. They seemed to be expecting us the weekend before though. They had obviously had got tired of waiting and gone home. They had erected a statue of a previoous walker who had passed this way.
A bit obscure but the village had, in it's centre, two wonderful bus shelters. It''s on a route to nowhere but these bus shelters were outstanding. They were good enough to hire for small private functions. Come to think about it they are probably used for small functions, especially if it's raining.
The following short but intensely food-related message was received this evening:
A late start today as the bus didnt run until 9.00am then we had a long wait for a train to Varsseveld. It meant no wagon wheel stop. Walking was easy again and we completed 31km. We crossed the border into Germany near the end so have enjoyed bratwurst and pommes for tea.
The market was getting ready to close when we went through.
Goodbye NL. Not a lot to see now but this is the border with Germany.
Through the medium of speech telephony, our duo convey their latest exploits:
Just 10 km into today's calmer and drier walk, we passed the nominal half-way mark in our journey from York to Minden for the joint celebration of Yorkshire Day and Minden Day. We needed no more excuse than this to pause in the nearest village, Beek, for a celebratory cafe stop. Yet another proprietor was left trying to make sense of the explanation we gave for our being there, while the locals were entertained by the spectacle of us attempting, and largely failing, to drink the cappucino amaretto accompanying a delicious cheese baguette without ending up covered in the whipped cream topping (Chris cheated by deftly spooning aside the cream).
When we set off again, we were shocked to find ourselves walking uphill. In Holland, which as everybody knows, is famously flat. Not only that, but we soon entered, of all things, a forest, more reminiscent of the countryside we were expecting to see at the end of our walk, and a welcome foretaste, at that.
By the 24 km mark, we were glad to find a coffee shop in Terborg for our second course, apple cake and coffee, opposite a music shop with the widest range of melodion accordions we have ever seen, and we've looked at a fair few, being that way inclined. Another opportunity to confuse a shopkeeper with an explanation of why we were there.
After a comparatively hard finishing section, we set out to reconnoiter tomorrow's route, only to encounter awkward pathways and closed roads - a local version of Glastonbury is in preparation. Our progress will hopefully not be impeded. We're doing well, but we are looking forward to our day off in two day's time. The Army have been in touch and will be lending support after that. The countdown to 1st August continues and we're feeling confident we will reach our goal.