Thursday 5th November 2020 08:47
A team of Thames Water hikers braved blisters, bumps and bruises to complete a 94-mile charity walk from the source of the River Thames to the company’s headquarters in Reading.
The group started their epic journey from the hamlet of Kemble in Gloucestershire where the mighty river begins life as a tiny spring under an ash tree.
Over the next five days, the relay team walked an average of just under 19 miles a day, stopping at Lechlade, Swinford, Clifton Hampden and Pangbourne each night before finishing at Clearwater Court in Reading.
Thanks to their effort, the group of six – Toby Arnold, Josh Davies, Ollie Beaumont, Dane Beauchamp, Damon Pearce and Alex Baker – raised £1,600 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which will be match-funded by Thames Water.
Hydraulic engineer Toby said they wanted to “do something positive” in what has been an otherwise difficult year. They chose the charity because two of Alex’s brothers have cystic fibrosis.
“The whole team are really proud and incredibly sore from what was a really challenging week,” said Toby.
“The walk was not easy going: not many hills to worry about along the river admittedly, but rough, muddy and broken ground makes for a very difficult challenge once fatigue and the odd blister or two set in, plus the odd spot of wind and rain.
“Thankfully the team stayed sure-footed and kept the momentum going to enable us to make it to our chosen finishing points before sunset each day. It took a lot of banter, sweets and blister plasters to get us to the end but we made it.
“That being said, we did suffer two casualties along the way. Alex Baker had previously fallen victim of a wayward tackle during his Sunday league football match and had to withdraw from the walk owing to a knee injury. He did however manage to strap it up and bring the walk home to Clearwater Court with the rest of the team on day five which was great to have him along.
“Josh Davies withdrew from the walk on day four after having completed 71 miles. He was the only team member deciding to try and do all five days. His feet were in such a poor state with blisters on top of blisters it was the right thing to do. Although he felt he could have kept up, the pace was too slow to have completed the walk during day light.
“This meant that Damon Pearce rambled on solo to complete the walk – so extra special praise for him required.”