At 9pm on Saturday 27th September, Julia Birchall, Lupe German and Jane Kendall, from the Ecology Consultancy Operations Team embarked on the 26.2 mile Shine Walk around London to help raise funds for Cancer Research. We set off from Southwark Park along with thousands of other walkers adorned with glow sticks, flashing lights, fluorescent socks, etc and created a shining river flowing through the London streets.
It was slow going at the start because of the numbers, negotiating traffic and the space restrictions on Tower Bridge, but we had a great view of the poppies in the moat of the Tower of London. Once we’d reached the first pit stop at St Pauls the crowd started to thin and we could stride out.
The walk meandered through the City, up to Bloomsbury and on passed Oxford Street to Hyde Park where we could escape the traffic, enjoy the peace and quiet, and maybe see some wildlife, perhaps a bat or fox. Unfortunately, the volume of people probably scared them off as we saw no nocturnal creatures. However, as we headed into Knightsbridge we encountered wildlife of a different sort, piling into or falling out of the pubs and clubs along the way. Everyone was very encouraging and cheered us on our way, even the taxi drivers that we held up when crossing the road.
As Saturday became Sunday and we skirted the walls of Buckingham Palace our legs were starting to feel the strain, but we knew that once we hit the river we were definitely homeward bound. So we walked on through Victoria to Chelsea Bridge and along the river to Tate Britain. The Thames was very high and completely still so looked like a mirror in the darkness reflecting the lights on the construction sites as well as our slightly fading glow sticks.
After a tortuous circuit up to Westminster we finally crossed Lambeth Bridge with only 3 miles to go, but the section from Lambeth to London Bridge was probably the longest stretch of the whole walk. The view along the river did act as a slight distraction from the pain and we were serenaded by a few early birds, probably robins, starting their dawn chorus. Thankfully the walk took a step free route on and off the final bridge and the finish line at Old Billingsgate was at last in sight, all we had to do now was collect our medal and get the night bus home.
It was a great night, despite emergency stops for sickness, begging at hotels to let us use their toilets, blisters, aching joints and lack of sleep, but the weather was mild and it didn’t rain. There is a possibility that the course had to be rerouted and we may have walked an additional 3 miles, this hasn’t been confirmed, but my legs are certainly convinced we did extra! We all enjoyed ourselves and together raised over £1,000 for Cancer Research. Why not have a go yourself next year? Shine Walk