As you may know, this year’s Hit the Road walk was the 11th sponsored walk that The Campion School has organised to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. The walks have taken place every year since 2011, apart from the two Covid years when many people put on an old Hit The Road t-shirt and went off to do their own walk. By now, we should know what we are doing but it doesn’t stop us worrying that everything will go well!
The walks were set up in memory of Jack Chester who lost his fight against cancer in September 2010 but he is not the last brave young Campion boy to have lost their fight. Mohammed Noor also benefitted from this wonderful charity.
So, on Saturday 29th April, over 500 people associated in some way with the school community put on this year’s sky-blue t-shirt and set off to wherever they had decided to join the walk. Those 500 people included current students from all year groups and their families, current staff and their families and friends, staff and students who have left and their friends and families and, of course, the Chester family.
April’s weather had not been good and even the week leading up to the walk was wet and cold but, on the day of the walk, the sun shone and the temperature increased. The new Elizabeth line took many walkers to the start at Woolwich and Dial Arch Square where we congregated. The Guard House had opened early for walkers to have a coffee and snack before heading off.
Peter Luck almost climbed on to a handy plinth to address us all before we started but thought better off it and stood on some steps instead. He outlined the route and thanked lots of people for their help before Carol Chester reminded us what we were all there for. Then a prayer from Father Dominic and we were off.
We headed straight down to the river and followed the Thames as far as the Thames Barrier. From there we turned ‘inland’ and followed the Capital Ring and the Green Chain walk all the way to Grove Park. We passed through Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks, then Charlton Park past Charlton House. Then Hornfair Park, Woolwich Common, Eltham Common and Oxleas Wood passing Severndroog Castle or ‘the castle in the woods’, which just seemed to appear from nowhere. Some people took advantage of the café in Oxleas Wood before continuing through Shepherdleas Wood, Eltham Park North and South. From here the route took us along roads through Eltham and past the impressive Eltham Palace. We continued along footpaths which were not exactly mud free but could have been much worse and finally we reached the halfway point at Bannatyne’s Health Club, Grove Park. This was where the people doing the short walk were starting from. Following feedback from last year’s walk, we had an official start from here and so, as well as Mars Bars and water, they were treated to some words from Peter Luck and Carol Chester before starting on the ten miles to the finish at Tower Hill.
From the health club, the walk went along roads to the lovely Blackheath Village and into Greenwich Park. Here everyone was treated to the wonderful view from Greenwich Observatory. Those of you who did the walk in 2018 may remember that our route took us here then, but it followed a steep trek up the hill in Greenwich Park which, thankfully was avoided this year as the incline was much more gradual. Through Greenwich Park and down to the Cutty Sark where we walked along the River Thames all the way to Tower Bridge. Sadly, this part of the Thames Path is not so straightforward and every time we started to think how lovely it was to be walking by the river there seemed to be something stopping us and the path left the riverside. As well as this, every time we looked to the north of the river, there was Canary Wharf! We didn’t seem to be able to get away from it and, as we had finished our walks there for several years, I wonder how many people were wishing that was the finish this year too.
Eventually, Tower Bridge was in sight and everyone knew that the end was near. Not that close though as, when many of you were approaching the bridge, it opened! Now, Tower Bridge is always busy but on the week before the Coronation and immediately after it had opened, I doubt it could have been busier. Did all those people taking selfies not realise that everyone wearing a blue t-shirt had walked a long way and was desperate to get to the pub!
The final stretch past the Tower of London and up the hill and the Brewdog pub where we were finishing this year was in sight. On entering, we were immediately able to collect our certificates and sit down and have a drink.
These walks would not work if we didn’t have volunteers to help out on the day. Maria Davies and Kim Crane have been stalwarts over the years by the going very early in the morning to the start and then straight on to the mid-point to register people, answer their questions and make sure they have bottles of water and snacks. Kevin Walsh drove the minibus for us this year to Woolwich and charmed people at Dial Arch Square into letting us park the mini bus. Then to Tower Hill to drop off the certificates and to Bannatynes before heading back to school at the end. Christine Noddings and Deirdre Pembroke gave a warm reception to all of the finishers and presented them with their certificates.
In addition, we must thank Waitrose in Upminster for their donation of chocolate bars and other snacks. Catering Manager, Jo Landers did a great job once again in persuading the companies that she deals with to donate water and other snacks. Our grateful thanks go to Olympic Foods and Bidfood. If anyone can help with similar donations for next year, we would love to hear from you.
Fundraising: Please return any paper sponsorship forms and cash (or cheques made payable to ‘The Campion School’) to the school’s Finance Office by Friday, 26th May. If anyone has set up their own online donation page, please email email@example.com with the link. This is simply to help us keep a tally of the total amount raised through this event. The final total raised will be published on the school website after the May half-term holiday. At the time of writing, our main Just Giving Page has raised over £11,000.
So, another successful Hit the Road walk and, now that it is all over, I’m not sure what we were worrying about. There will always be a few things that don’t go quite according to plan. We are reliant on public transport. For once, there were no engineering works on the Elizabeth line but part of the Central line was out, the DLR was not running to the Cutty Sark where some people were thinking of walking from and, of course, the train to the mid point at Grove Park was not running and there was a replacement bus from Lewisham. We think it is important to try new routes but status updates from TFL are not available until much nearer the date when the route has been planned.
If you would like to leave feedback on the walk, please use this link.
Photos may be seen below. If you have any that you would like to share on the website, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We really hope to see you all next year and hope that the people who were not able to take part this year will do so next year on 4th May 2024. Make sure that you save the date. We have made it to 500 walkers so let’s try and get to that number again.
Hit the Road Team