Here it is - Pond Cottage, home of Mrs Viljoen, a woman of superior character. Within moments of my arrival she had ‘phoned all the local surgeries with the express intention of getting me seen by a doctor before 6 ‘o clock. It is to her that I would eventually dedicate the walk. Profoundly affected by cancer herself, and consequently not the strongest of individuals, she nevertheless became a rock to me, her altruism shining through without regard to expense or self-interest. 

Sadly in September 2003 Mrs Viljoen lost her battle with cancer and I understand that Pond Cottage no longer takes guests.

 

DAY SIX

Here, folks, is where the real walking begins! My anti-inflammatory treatment appeared to have worked and the pain killers were doing their job when I set out for Edge Hill, scene of one of the English Civil War’s greatest battles. The trek was demanding. The view on the left was part of the ascent upon leaving Warmington, the view on the right, the actual route of the Macmillan way. Don’t be deceived by the perspective - the brown field had furrows that were almost too long to reach in a stride. If it had been raining, or the ground wet, that single field would have taken half an hour to traverse. Farmers here were diffident. In Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, farmers would often pick out the route for walkers, either flattening the path or by using weedkiller to alleviate obstructions. Here, no such thing - the walker was imposing himself/herself and had to deal with the terrain the best way they could.

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The approach to Ratley