In King Charles II’s footsteps

August 27 2020
In King Charles II’s footsteps

KEEN walker Donna Paul has followed in the footsteps of King Charles II by retracing part of the journey he made in 1651 as he fled from Roundhead forces.

Donna is one of more than 90 walkers who are retracing the steps of the fleeing king in an epic 615-mile relay. She walked the 15-mile leg from Wells to Castle Cary on August 15, setting off from Wells Cathedral at 9.45am and arriving at the ‘pepper pot’ lock up in Castle Cary six hours later.

Accompanying her for at least some of the way were Samantha Davey and Sarah Harris, who had walked the previous leg from Compton Martin to Wells, Liz Brooks, Charlotte Nevitt and Vicky Toghill.

“Sarah, Sam, Liz and Charlotte walked with us till about five miles,” said Donna.

“Me and Vicky got very wet but got to Castle Cary at 4-ish.”

Donna is the receptionist at Bowleys Garage in Wells, where she has worked for more than ten years, and enjoys walking in her spare time. She saw details of The Monarch’s Way relay on a Facebook walking group and thought it would be nice to do the local section.

“Liz and I walk together and have signed up to do the Gower Mighty Hike for Macmillan next July, and me and Charlotte walked a lot together through lockdown when I was on furlough,” said Donna.

“We are so lucky living here and having so many beautiful places to walk.”

Charles went on the run after his Royalist troops were defeated by Cromwell’s soldiers at the Battle of Worcester in September 1651.

Hot on his heels, and encouraged by the prospect of a £1,000 reward for his capture, his Parliamentarian pursuers drove him on a winding route from Worcester towards Wales, then through parts of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Sussex.

He finally reached Shoreham in West Sussex after 42 days, and made his escape to France.

Today his route is closely followed by England’s longest inland footpath, The Monarch’s Way – and it is this trail that the walkers are following in their relay challenge, which began in Worcester on July 4. Organisers hope that the whole trail will be complete by late summer or early autumn.

Walk leaders for each section carry a baton which is handed over to the next walk leader. The baton is an image of Charles II, wrapped around a walker’s water bottle.