Charity canal walk for pair

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Saracen’s Head pair Andy Stafford and Clive Woods experienced one of England’s finest canals for a worthy cause on an 85-mile walk for two charities.

The best friends are set to raise about £3,000 together after walking along the Kennett and Avon Canal from Reading to Bath in aid of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Trust and the Stroke Association.

Andy (51) and Clive (52) took four days to complete their journey, with overnight stays in farmhouses and guest houses offering bed and breakfast along the route.

The achievement was made all the more remarkable by the fact that Clive was diagnosed with arthritis four years ago.

Andy said: “We’re both petrolheads and over a beer one night, Clive and I talked about going to look at a steam-driven pump down on the River Avon called Croftden.

“Jokingly, we said ‘why not walk along the whole stretch of the canal?’ and we thought of doing it for an MS charity because of a friend who has the condition and for The Stroke Association because I lost a relative of mine through a stroke four years ago.”

The Kennett and Avon Canal runs between the River Thames and the Bristol Channel, taking Andy and Clive through West Berkshire (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and the Cotswolds through to Bath which is a World Heritage Site.

Andy said: “It was an absolutely beautiful walk and for Clive to do it, despite suffering quite badly with an arthritic condition, was amazing.

“We started off in snow from Reading on April 11 and finished in Bath on April 14 in bright sunshine.

“Our experiences along the route were fantastic and we were overwhelmed by the warmth and friendship of the people we met who welcomed us into their homes and took us to the starting points each day.

“We haven’t enjoyed ourselves so much in ages.”