London Bridges Challenge – by @DailyKayleigh
We have a quick guest post today from Kayleigh Tanner who kindly took part in our London Bridges Challenge on Sunday. She kindly let us repost her blog about the day and how she got on. Be sure to check out Kayleigh’s blog – Bete It – where she talks about her Type 1 diabetes. It’s well worth a read. You can still sponsor Kayleight too – just visit her Diabetes Challenge page!
Sunday 18 November was the Diabetes UK London Bridges Challenge, where I, and hundreds of others with diabetes and their friends and families, walked over 12 of the bridges crossing the Thames. I used the #bridgeschallenge hashtag on Twitter, and I took some photos of the views from some of the bridges to document the challenge.
We started at Albert Bridge in Chelsea at around 10.30am, pumped up and ready to go with an assortment of badges, balloons and sashes, and some blue wigs in honour of Diabetes UK’s official colour in some cases. My sense of direction is disgraceful, along with my ability to read maps and follow instructions, so it was mostly a case of ‘follow the people in front with balloons’ to find my way around. The first couple of bridges, Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge, were a worry. “Why did I sign up for this again?” I thought, desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the endpoint, Tower Bridge (which is impossible).
Next up was Vauxhall Bridge. Not the most attractive of the lot, but I was excited about this one, thanks to the fact it’s right next to the MI6 building, which featured in Skyfall (and, as I’ve just discovered, other Bond films I’ve not seen).
A third of the way through, and we hit Lambeth Bridge. To be honest I had no idea Lambeth was in this area. I suppose one of the many good things to come out of this walk is that it’s improved my knowledge of London’s layout. As I always say, it can be hard to learn where things are relative to one another in London, as so often you hop on the tube and reappear elsewhere without ever having seen the journey. Like a mole.
I felt really silly when I had to check on the map which bridge this was. For some reason it didn’t register that I was stood opposite the Houses of Parliament. This was a pretty spectacular view though. I love the Houses of Parliament; Gothic architecture is very much something I enjoy. The bridge itself was insanely busy though, and all the tourists went crazy when Big Ben did its twelve bongs to signify midday. It was strange, seeing all the faces watching it in awe. Everyone fell silent as they filmed it on their cameraphones. Probably the best word to describe it would be ‘wonderment’.
I was feeling a bit jittery before Hungerford Bridge (which I’d never heard of) so I stopped to have some food. Exercise lowers the blood sugar, so we’d all been given packs of jellybeans in case we could feel our blood sugars getting a bit low. This is in the Southbank area, which is gorgeous. There was a Christmas market too, with a hog roast and lots of little cabins selling all sorts of festive wares. Very pretty, but not what I was there for!
Next up were Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge. Being over the halfway point felt great. I’d never really done anything like this before, so to know that I was over halfway through was fantastic.
Three-quarters of the way through, I crossed the Millennium Footbridge. I remember this bridge from a school trip when I was 16. It didn’t feel very sturdy, I remember, and I hated the tinny sound it made whenever hard shoe soles stepped down on it. Someone kept dangling their camera over the edge on that trip and it made me feel uneasy. Also it’s right next to the Tate Modern, which is one of the least attractive buildings ever, in my opinion. There was a man selling roasted nuts at one end of this bridge. It took all my willpower to resist.
Southwark and L0ndon Bridges were pretty close together. It was only around now that everything started to ache. And my god, did it ache! I was walking on the outer edges of my feet at one point to take the pressure off. The stairs were a welcome respite from the flat ground, somehow.
It was in sight! Tower Bridge! I heard another participant say ‘I CAN ALMOST SMELL THE END!’ at this point. By now, my body was a sore, quivering wreck, but I COULD SEE TOWER BRIDGE. And then…
Tower Bridge! CHALLENGE COMPLETE! The end of the eight mile walk, the end of the challenge! A lot of exercise for us walkers (especially handy for the diabetics among us), a lot of money for Diabetes UK and a gorgeous day to boot!
So there we have it! It was a great day, and I’ll definitely be participating in another fundraising activity. If you like, you still have time to retrospectively sponsor me, especially now the evidence is in front of you! Thank you SO much if you already have, and for all of your lovely words of support!
If you fancy having a go at a challenge yourself, keep in touch with Diabetes UK to find out about next year’s challenge!