We- Naima O., Naima A. and I- Uchenna (Nawal unfortunately had to pull out) undertook the challenge of walking just over 20 miles which is from Winchester to Petersfield via the SDW. We all met up at Mile End station at 6:00am, where we took the District line to Victoria station. From the station we walked to the coach station. At 9:40am we boarded the coach where the journey took just over 1 hr 30mins. When we arrived we then had to figure out where the start of the walk was. We found a map to see which direction to go. Unfortunately, while doing this a dog thought I was a pole and a few drops of pee dropped onto my boots. With help of the some friendly locals we managed to find the beginning of the walk and commence our journey to Petersfield! Almost 30mins into the walk we reached a steep part where we took a quick break, and a group who were much older than us passes us by. Naima O. joked that she will die; which one of men joked not to, as it would make the place look untidy. We thought we were doing quite well as we walked on the roads and through the beautiful fields. We struggled a bit on the slightly steeper parts but we overcame them. The time was around 5/5:30pm and we realised that it was highly unlikely that we would reach Petersfield on time for our 7:48pm train back to London. Despite this problem we continued our journey and about over a 1hr later we reached a two way point- to carry on with the journey towards Queen Elizabeth Park, or towards East Meon. If we kept on walking, we would definitely miss our train. All of a sudden to our rescue, a woman with her dog asked we needed help. We told her our situation and she advised us to go to into East Meon where we could call a taxi to drive us to the station. We walked to East Meon which only took 10-15mins and called a taxi. Luckily, we got through to one and he was able to take us to Petersfield station in time for our train. As got out the taxi we cried out in pain as we walked. We were disappointed that we were not able to reach our target. But we were also proud of the progress that we made, as we managed in total to walk over 15miles.
The biggest challenge which almost made all of us give up (especially me) was a steep slope we encountered at Old Winchester Hill- as we walked up the uneven slope I huffed and puffed. The two Naimas reached the top and waited for me to reach them, encouraging me that I can do it. As I reached the top I collapsed, taking deep breathes and took a big gulp of water- I learnt that if I put my mind to something and don’t give up, you will be able to reach your goal. Naima A’s biggest challenge was relieving herself for the first time in a bush which she never thought she would ever do- she learnt how to have perseverance and courage to go out of her comfort zone and for Naima O., it was walking past the multiple dogs there were on the trail- she learnt how to be resilient and to remain enthusiastic.
Overall, it was a good experience for all of us as we were able to do it independently and visit new surroundings, where the people were surprisingly much nicer than the ones in London. We’re not sure if we will do it again but we would recommend the South Downs Way to those who want to be tested to the limit.