Yesterday was such a terrific, happy day, full of wonderful surprises, starting even before I set off. I had spent the night at my good friend's Chris Porter (he of Iago and Mr Badger GSC fame), and just as I was preparing to put my shoes on for one last time, who should arrive but GSC Co-Founder Sarah and my girlfriend Claire to walk the last day with me! Such a treat.
Day 9 was actually fairly straight forward and I didn't need the Shakespeare Way guide book at all. Basically the last 16 miles followed the Thames Path all the way from Kew Bridge to The Globe, passing many sights such as the old Harrods Furniture Depot, London Wetlands Centre, Fulham FC, Putney Bridge, Battersea Power Station, MI6, Lambeth Palace....the list then becomes endless!
At Putney Chris caught up with us and then as we were walking along the pavement a cyclist nearly took us out! About to complain, I then realised it was actor Noel White who was joining me for the next stage! Noel is a lovely guy and has played Banquo, Claudius and Kent for GSC in recent years.
The closer I got to the Palace of Westminster the more I didn't want the walk to stop. They call it a journey of imagination and I couldn't agree more. It has been such a treat to be at one with your thoughts amidst some of the most beautiful countryside. The cacophony of noise and bustle that I met with on the South Bank from County Hall to Festival Hall was quite overwhelming, but I was struck with the comparison of the Bankside in Shakespeare's day. Bankside, a little further on, was the entertainment centre of London, and so it proved to be so even today - with the London Eye, Aquarium, the Wundergound with cabaret, music and comedy, pop-up street theatre and food stalls.
Do you know, I'm sure Will would have felt very at home here, nor would he have seen much difference!
As I approached the Final Mile a wonderful sight greeted me - a huge throng of GSC Friends, my best mate Alex and the Mayor of Guildford! All amassed to walk the Final Mile with me to The Globe.
...and as we approached the end at The Globe itself there was literally a finishing line held out by more friends and my dear Mum and Dad, who had made the trip down especially.
Finally kneeling on the pavement with a medal around my neck and everyone clapping and taking photos it sunk in that I had walked 146 (plus some) miles. Of course, it being London there were also crowds of tourists wondering what on earth was going on, so I helpfully explained doing my PR bit for GSC, and Guildford of course!
Before I went for a drink with everyone I had to continue the walk just a few steps further around the corner from Shakespeare's Globe to the site of the ACTUAL Globe that Shakespeare would have worked in...tucked away behind gates in a private car park are the remains of the first Globe, marked out in the pavement.
It's very difficult to sum up what has been wonderful, challenging experience. I have met so many generous and interesting people on the way and seen some remarkable things. I think I will need a few days to properly summarise the journey, but for now I feel a great sense of achievement and actually (without sounding too silly) a little closer to Will and his world.
Over the next week I will be adding the photos to the blog so do keep your eyes peeled for updates.
For now though I would like to thank you all for reading, for the BnBs, hotel and AirBnBs that have put me up, PG, Adam, Kim and everyone at Eagle Radio, Cotswold Outdoor, Silvertip Films, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Oxford Preservation Trust, and of course everyone who has donated to the New Beginnings Campaign and sent messages of support.
Today's mileage: 16 miles
TOTAL MILEAGE: 155 miles