Up hill and down delightful dales to meet the WI calendar girls

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Last week started with the longest single day's walking since the trek began. It also began with my first hint of a hangover in the last two weeks. Having heard that the boys had lost against Ireland and missed out on their third successive chance to secure the Grand Slam, we decided to drown our sorrows. Don't ask me how or why, but the next day, we covered 27.5 miles from Burnley to Threshfield in record time.

Last week started with the longest single day's walking since the trek began. It also began with my first hint of a hangover in the last two weeks. Having heard that the boys had lost against Ireland and missed out on their third successive chance to secure the Grand Slam, we decided to drown our sorrows. Don't ask me how or why, but the next day, we covered 27.5 miles from Burnley to Threshfield in record time.

Whether we were a little hyper or still feeling the effects of the night before, I could not tell you, but I have since been told that walking at the pace we did last Sunday is rather dangerous. Suits me, I'm all for going easy after the week I've had. Every day is a different experience in terms of what part of my body hurts. A couple of days ago, my hip felt like that of an 80-year-old. At least the tendinitis in my ankle is a lot better now. The overall pain is not getting any easier to accept, but I am now a master at switching off and pushing on.

Mind you, the scenery has played its part, too. The Yorkshire Dales, for example, are absolutely stunning. I'd never really been up that way, but I could imagine myself spending a New Year there with some friends. It's got that warm, cosy feeling. The rolling hills are truly breathtaking, as is the number of farms still affected by the foot-and-mouth crisis. There are other stories dominating the news these days, but the problem is still very much with us. This was half-term and yet I did not see any families walking around, enjoying the sights. Instead, every farm had a sign outside it warning about the disease.

We encountered some serious hills during that stretch. In fact, there were even times when I thought we'd reached the end of the country. It's amazing how you can walk for miles and then suddenly come face to face with a sheer drop. You might think that I look forward to going down the slopes, but it is actually easier on the body to walk up. Limbs respond better to the ascent than the descent.

In Threshfield, we were invited to go to Wharfedale Rugby Club. I went expecting a small hut with an old man and a dog, but instead found a thriving, bustling little organisation. There are teams of all levels and ages, and the club is doing really well. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that their president is the former England captain, John Spencer. He was a great centre and it was a joy to see him again. The whole club gave us a tremendous welcome and the turn out was wonderful. They even managed to raise £800, which is incredible when you consider their size. That money has been added to the total, which I am very pleased to say has reached the £100,000 mark. Keep it up.

Meeting the Rylstone Alternative WI calendar girls certainly gave me a boost on Monday. They did a nude calendar a couple of years ago to raise funds for leukaemia research and can be very proud of their achievements. The England rugby team have also done a similar type of calendar in the recent past, but I think it is always good to be the first one to do something like this. The ladies were all dressed in their black suits, with a sunflower (which is the emblem of the charity), and they looked great as we walked together for the first 20 minutes or so.

Thursday was the best day of the entire walk so far. In reaching Newcastle, we all knew this was the furthest north we had to go. It was a real turning point, both literally and psychologically, because I knew then that we were finally heading home. I really felt great. On arrival in the city, I popped in to see the Newcastle Falcons training. I was literally passing through, and could not stop because it would upset my walking pattern, but I did have time to spot Doddie Weir and Liam Botham. We didn't get a chance to chat, but I hear that Liam was particularly interested to see how I was holding up. He does, of course, have plenty of experience when it comes to analysing retired sportsmen who look completely knackered, as his dad did a walk or nine like mine in his time.

Newcastle was the fifth Premiership club we have visited so far and, on Tuesday, we will be joined by the manager of a different type of Premiership team. David O'Leary, the Leeds United manager, has kindly agreed to start the day's walking with me. Other celebrities we hope to bump into include the golfer Mark James and my former Bath and England team-mate Ben Clarke. I am a great lover of golf, but I have to confess that I will be staying well clear of the greens and fairways this winter. Well, don't you think I've done enough walking for a while?

Yesterday, as I embarked on the second half of this four-week epic, I saw probably the nicest road sign ever. It simply read: The South. You know what, I think that means it's all downhill from here.

The Tetley's Trek

Jeremy Guscott's epic walk in aid of leukaemia continues. Don't miss, exclusively in "The Independent On Sunday", his weekly diary from a journey through the heartlands of rugby. Sponsored by Tetley's, the walk will help a good cause. More details on www.tetleystrek.co.uk

The itinerary: Today: Northallerton to Harrogate. Tomorrow: Harrogate to Leeds. 30: Leeds to Barnsley. 31: Barnsley to Clowne. 1 Nov: Clowne to Nottingham. 2: Nottingham to Leicester. 3: Leicester to Northampton. 4: Northampton to Buckingham. 5: Buckingham to Thame. 6: Thame to Reading. 7: Reading to Slough. 8: Slough to Harrow. 9: Harrow to Twickenham. 10: On pitch at half-time England v Australia.

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