The original plan was to have an early start and to drive to Cricklade to launch me on my way. Unfortunately, Tony had forgotten that he had a church wardens meeting after the morning service and we would not be able to leave before noon. Then I made things worse when I realised I didn't have any isobutane fuel canisters and they were essential if I wanted any hot food and drinks when I was camping. So when Tony returned from church we made a quick trip into Watford to buy three fuel canisters. By the time we got back to the house it was definitely time for lunch so we eventually left Kenton around two o'clock. As a result it was quite late when we arrived at Cricklade. Now it was decision time. Should I start now or wait until the next day and where was the launch site anyway? We needed local advice and what better place than the local pub that was nearby. The pub had a group of locals standing at the bar so we asked them for the advice we needed. They were really helpful and after much group discussion it was decided I should leave quickly but I shouldn't go any further than the Red Lion pub at Castle Eaton because it would be getting too dark. So off I went as many of you will have seen in Tony's video. Full of confidence with only 4 miles to go. The problem was the fallen willow trees I had to navigate along the way. They slowed me down but, apart from one which I had to haul over a tree trunk, I was doing ok. Then I came across a huge tree completely across the river and completely impassable. And now it was getting dark. I started to search for a place on the river bank where I could haul the canoe out and possibly camp for the night but the banks were too steep for me to do it by myself. It was getting darker and darker and my spirits were sinking when I heard a voice on the bank calling, "David, is that you?" Tony was going to meet me at the Red Lion but he decided to walk along the Thames path to meet me (find me). Together we hauled the canoe up the bank and portaged it and my equipment to the first place that was suitable to relaunch the canoe. By this time it was completely dark so we headed back to the pub where the landlady had very kindly prepared two ploughman's lunches for us as the kitchen was already closed. After eating our meal and drinking the obligatory pint of ale, as there was no room at the inn, we retired to the car for an uncomfortable night's sleep. Not a very good start to a long journey. No pictures for this day I'm afraid.
I'm a grandfather who lost an infant granddaughter and who wants to help Gillian, her mother, provide support for other grieving parents through Hazel's Heroes.