It’s a week too late, but on 12th July me and members of my family took part in the London Bridges Walk – a 7 mile walk along London’s most iconic bridges all in aid of Kidney Research UK. We had decided to do the walk a few months ago, in honour and in memory of my grandad who sadly passed away back in January after an eight year battle with Kidney Disease. Without Kidney Research we wouldn’t have had them eight years with him, so it’s a charity close to our hearts nonetheless.
After a VERY early start, we made our way to Stratford in London, in two cars. We were then going to catch the tube from Stratford to London Bridge which was near our starting point. Our starting point was Potters Field Park, right near Tower Bridge. We definitely knew we were at the right place as there was a sea of purple (we all had to wear purple Kidney Research UK tshirts). I automatically realised how great it was that so many people were going to be taking part.
After getting signed in, and being given our bottle of water and snack bar (we would definitely be needing it!), we went to stand near the stage area, where some inspirational talks were taking place. Also, my favourite childrens author Jacqueline Wilson was there, and she also gave a speech. I also happen to know that she also took part in the walk with her dog. I was lucky enough to meet her just before the walk began, and it was such an honour to meet the woman who’s books got me into reading years ago.
At exactly 11:30, Jacqueline cut the ribbon and the walk soon began as we made our way to bridge number one – London Bridge. The walk started off very slowly, as there were thousands of us all starting at once. It was also good, in my opinion to start off slowly as we got to chat to several other people taking part. It was amazing to see and hear people’s stories, young and old. It also made sure that we didn’t tire ourselves out too quickly. We soon reached London Bridge, and that was one bridge down.
So that was one down with seven to go. However, I was feeling pretty good. The big crowd had eased once we passed London Bridge, but we still saw many purple shirts (plus when you saw a purple shirt at least you knew you were going the right way!). Our next bridge to cross was the Millennium Bridge. As a major Harry Potter fan or Potterhead, I knew this was the bridge that got attacked by death eaters in the Half Blood Prince. This started off a big Harry Potter themed conversation between me, my mum and my auntie Val. We were saying how there were no death eaters there today to destroy the bridge. I also may have mentioned a lot of my Harry Potter knowledge. We luckily made it across without being attacked by dark wizards. I also got to see the Tate Modern, which I’d been in several times.
Bridges three, four and five were Waterloo Bridge, Hungerford Bridge and Westminster Bridge. Once we crossed Westminster Bridge we knew that we were halfway there, and we had walked about 4 miles by then. Before Westminster Bridge we walked past the best part of London’s Southbank. We passed all of the street performers, jubilee gardens, the aquarium, the new attraction – Shreks Adventure and The London Eye. I also saw the book market which I loved, but sadly couldn’t look at it. This was also where we stopped for a rest, as we had deserved it by the amount we had walked so far. After resting for about twenty minutes we made our way across Westminster bridge. Whilst walking across we got a lovely donation from a few ladies which was lovely, we also saw a piper playing bagpipes. Grandad loved bagpipes so it was almost like he was with us, cheering us on.
As soon as we crossed Westminister bridge we were on the return route. We had survived the outbound route, and the finish line was getting closer and closer in sight. We had quite a way till bridge six which was Blackfriars bridge. However we got through it by chatting, joking around and speaking to other walkers. This made the time go a lot quicker. I was feeling quite good anyway, my feet had started to ache by this point, but I wasn’t letting it get to me. I was focusing on what I was doing for a great cause, and how proud I was of myself. We eventually crossed Blackfriars bridge, which meant we only had two more to go! The end was really in sight now, plus Tower Bridge (the last bridge) was getting closer and closer.
As soon as we crossed Blackfriars it was a short walk to the seventh bridge – Southwark Bridge. We crossed that with no problems, and we were starting to rejoice about the fact we only had one bridge left! However, as we were walking towards it, it seemed to be getting further and further away! It was like it was distancing itself from us. It took a lot of determination to get that thought out of my head, plus we were all getting quite tired by then. But, soon after walking past the Tower of London, we were on the home stretch. Crossing Tower Bridge felt amazing, as I realised that I had actually completed a 7 mile walk! I would have never have thought I would have achieved this. As we stepped off the bridge, a sense of relief and pride washed over me. We were soon crossing the finish line and receiving our medals. I couldn’t have been prouder of myself and my family than I was at that moment.
The London Bridges walk was one of the best things I think I have ever done! I achieved something amazing, I got to raise money for and spread the word about a charity that is close to my heart, I got to do it all with my family and I got to keep my granddad’s memory well and truly alive.