Sponsored walk

For a speedway fan who felt it worthwhile to do a long-distance walk in 1990, the idea of walking to every league speedway track in Britain was clearly more appealing than the standard Land's End to John O'Groats option. Weekend-based training for the adventure set me up well for the two days it took to get from Glasgow to Edinburgh, but less able to handle day 3. An evening of crawling across the floor to get anywhere in my room followed by half of day 4 spent on the beach helped, and gradually my legs learned to handle the pain and ultimately become adept at walking every day without complaining. In total it took me ten weeks or nine years to complete the trek, depending on how you look at it. Twenty-five of the twenty six tracks in ten weeks and 1100 miles took me to Poole, from where I reached Bridport before ill health led to me returning home.

Finding myself in Exeter in October 1999, it just wouldn't have been right to pass up the opportunity to get the bus to Bridport and complete the walk to Exeter, so I took the opportunity.

The full list of the tracks I visited in the order I went to them is as follows:
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Berwick, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Bradford, Belle Vue, Stoke, Wolverhampton, Cradley Heath, Coventry, Long Eaton, Peterborough, King's Lynn, Ipswich, Arena-Essex, Eastbourne, Wimbledon, Hackney, Rye House, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Swindon, Reading, Poole and, eventually, Exeter.

As is the nature of speedway, tracks have come and gone in the days since 1990. In particular, the new track on the Isle of Wight would be an interesting challenge were a similar walk to take place now. The current league set-up in this country features nine Elite League teams, and they all race at tracks that were operating in 1990. The Premier League has just three tracks that survive from 1990, Newcastle, Stoke and King's Lynn. Five other teams have new venues nearby, and the other six clubs are in places that had no speedway twenty years ago. Most of the National League teams race at venues used by clubs in higher leagues. The other five are all in places that weren't operating in 1990.

A couple of highlights from the experience, although I like to think these weren't the only highlights. Maybe more will come back to me later: