It’s been a while since I last deliberately set out for a long walk on city streets, long here being defined as further than our nearby ASDA and then some.
It’s not exactly been a habit of mine, but there have been plenty of occasions when I’ve happily set off to walk a long distance, without any thought of the time and effort this requires. Not since the London Museum Tryptich of 2016, I think (the Eskdale Expedition doesn’t count: despite being 99% tarmac, it was still fell-walking, albeit it in the lowest degree).
It’s been a quiet week, the days slipping by imperceptibly. It’s hard to imagine that this is already Friday and that only the weekend remains before a return to work, albeit for one day early. I’ve barely been out and I haven’t gone far, but today I had to make a trip to the Chemists next to my Doctor’s surgery, to collect a repeat prescription I carelessly failed to sort out before Xmas.
Ordinarily, I’d hop on the bus: ten minutes each way, plus whatever waiting time the 203 requires. Except that my weekly MegaRider card ran out on Xmas Day and I haven’t renewed it yet because I haven’t needed to. Simple solution: renew it, pay for a week’s journeys.
But I didn’t want to do that. I have places to go on Saturday and wanted to renew my MegaRider then instead. The difference is that whichver day I renew, I am starting a seven day pattern of renewals the same day every week, which means having the cash available the same day each week, and it’s going to be easier to do that for Saturdays rather than Fridays.
So, what’s the plan, Stan? I could pay each way on the bus (vastly inflated), or buy a DayRider (less expensive but not worth it for only two trips), or I could walk, there and back.
Which begged the question of fitness for that length of walk, which is, I guess, about two miles each way. I used to be capable of longer walks than that, and when I was having my counselling in Chinley, it was pretty much a mile for station to cottage, and most of it uphill, in hot weather. Nevertheless, I haven’t set out to walk that distance, in cold blood, for a long while. And whilst the age thing isn’t necessarily a problem, the osteoarthritis thing definitely is. I walk with a faint but noticable limp these days.
Due to my basic inertia, I didn’t get myself out until 2.20pm. Plan A was to walk there and back, but I had my fallback positions. Plan B would come into operation if, having got there, I was in too much pain, or general disintegration, to walk back, so I’d get the bus. Plan C represented the extreme position, of being in too much pain, or general disintegration, to walk the whole way there, and having to catch a bus partway.
Nevertheless, I strolled off with what approximates to briskness for me nowadays, pausing briefly at my local McColls for this week’s EuroMillions Lottery ticket (I must check the last couple of months’ worth, in the vain hope of not having to go into work on Monday) before pushing on.
It’s a simple route, straight up Reddish Road/Gorton Road, flat all the way except for the bit just before the halfway mark at Houldsworth Square, where it’s up and down over Reddish South Railway Station, where only one train a week runs. It would cost more to get permission to close the station entirely than to run one train a week through it, the minimum required, so for literal decades that’s been the schedule, though I noticed the timetable now admits two trains a week, request stop only, Stalybridge to Stockport and back Saturday mornings: one day I’ll take that journey, for the hell of it and to say I’ve been through Reddish South Station.
By Houldsworth Square, I was flagging, in the sense that I was no longer walking brskly, but I was in no danger of calling on Plan C so, at a gentle stroll, I pushed on northwards. This was not as tiresome as the trek to Trafford Park for those two undelivered parcels, and though the weather was dull and grey, at least it wasn’t wet.
I reached the lights at the Fir Tree and crossed the road to turn down Longford Road West and into the chemists. There were no other customers, I was served on the spot, my prescription was ready, I wasn’t off my feet for even sixty seconds: bugger!
Back to the main road, and no need for Plan B, so I set off back. Passing Reddish North Library, I took a break for a short browse, picking up three lightweight books (I mean in terms of readability, though as I was proposing to carry these back, their portability was also a key factor).
Definitely, I was not bounding along like a two-year-old on the return leg, and I was keeping in reserve the hitherto unanticipated Plan D, i.e., jumping on a bus if my right leg started giving me too much gyp. A brrief pause at the chippy in Houldsworth Square for some refreshment, a can of Diet Coke, went down well, that, up and over the railway bridge – less gradient from this side – and plod, plod, plod along.
By the time my knee and hip did begin to give me gyp, I was no more than two bus stops from home, and as I intended to call in McColls for milk and the cash for that MegaRider on Saturday, I had to limp on, there and back again (that might make a decent sub-title for a book, one day).
Forty minutes there, fifty minutes back, excluding my halts on the way home, although the hip is feeling the effort now, a couple of hours later. A bit more walking planned tomorrow, and I’m sure I’ll feel it then. I’m not going to start scheduling walks like this more often, the flesh being a bit more willing than the spirit in all honesty, but it’s nice to know I can still get about under my own steam.