The day started with a rude 5:45am awakening. All the planning and preparation was finally over, and today was the day, that marked the start of the River Severn Swim. I was quite nervous on the way up in the car, as I knew that once I was dropped off I would have no support for the first three days.

The adventure certainly started well before we ever left the car, when we decided to get lost on the way up to Hafron car park. We were on the wrong side of the river and twice we tried to get across farmers properties, but locked gates prevented us from doing so. I wouldn’t have minded, only for the fact that I was meeting Lynne Cook at 9am, who kindly wanted to join me for part of the first day.

We arrived 30-minutes late, and I was told that Lynne left without us to the source. I was saying to myself “crap, what a start, someone kindly decides to join me on what was going to be a very lonely day, and I leave her hanging”.

So we decided to head up ourselves to try and get as close to the source as possible by car (on a ‘no cars allowed’ road). I was dropped off in one of the most peaceful locations I have ever witnessed. Caitriona (fiance) gave me a big hug, and said “I’ll see you on Saturday, make sure you mind yourself”. That feeling of the car driving off, and being left in a very remote location was fantastic. I couldn’t help, but to stop and listen to the emptiness that surrounded me. I live on a very busy road just outside Cardiff City, so it was fantastic to have an opportunity to be surrounded by pure tranquillity.

I set off to the find the source of the River Severn, and after about 30-minutes, I had found it. I spotted it a few hundred metres away and the excitement filled my body. It was quite a strange feeling. I knew how much hard work went into planning and preparing for this trip, and the start line for just there, right in front of my eyes. The source of the River Severn is distinctly marked by a 6-foot wooden stack in the ground. I took a couple of pictures and went off on my merry way to begin the 223-mile adventure.

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After about two minutes of walking from the source, I bumped into a lady, and asked, “Are you Lynne, by any chance”. She replied, “Yes, you must be Ross”. So Lynne and I started walking together down the Severn Way Path. Straight away, I knew I was in great company. Lynne had loads of great stories to tell and seemed to have lived a very interesting and adventurous life.

After about 20-minutes of walking with Lynne, we bumped into Shropshire Wildlife Thrust who are undertaking their own fantastic event called “Love Your Magnificent Severn”. They are travelling from the source of the River Severn to Gloucester Docks via walk, cycle and paddle. There event will be lasting about 11 days, and they will be hosting loads of events as they go down the river in order to get the public involved.

Lynne was leading the way and was setting a great pace. Having that company makes it so much easier. We stopped off at Hafron Car Park where Shropshire Wildlife Thrust were hosting their first river event. We sat down on the warm grass and talked to everyone for about an hour. It was a welcome break from the walking. We had a great time and they were such a nice bunch of people. Whilst sitting down, I decided to take off my socks and shoes as they were soaking wet from walking through the bog up by the source. This was a bad mistake, as it meant that when I got up to leave, I had to put back on wet socks and wet shoes.

Lynne and I got up to start walking again, and after about a kilometre or two, Lynne had to turn back as her car was back in Hafron Car Park. I really wanted to give her a big hug for her efforts today and for really helping me out, but I was self-conscious about how much sweat was on my t-shirt. It was saturated, due to the weather being very hot and the amount of walking we were doing.

So, once again, I was left on my own. Lynne and I had travelled about 11km at that stage, so I knew I still had about another 10km of walking on my own. “Thanks Lynne for all your support today, your a star”.

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An hour or so went by, and I was getting quite bored of constantly putting one foot in front of the other. So I decided to amuse myself by taking some videos of me singing a few songs. I did have some fun doing this and I needed something just to take my mind off the boredom of walking on my own.

I finally saw a sign saying Llanidloes two miles away, and instantly felt a great joy within my body. I knew that I was very close to the first town that I would be sleeping in. When I saw this sign, I rang Caitriona and asked her to ring places to see could she get me free food. About five minutes later she rang back saying that the “Old Head” in Llanidloes said that they would provide free food. I couldn’t believe it.

The Red Lion in Llanidloes also allowed me to stay the night for free. When I arrived at the hotel, I was escorted up to the third floor to my room for the night. I dropped my bag on the ground, and just fell onto the bed, leaving out a sigh of relief in the process. “I was finally off my feet”. I said “first things first, I need to dry these clothes, as I will be wearing them again tomorrow”. So I hung all my clothes outside the window, hoping they would be dry for tomorrow.

I then decided to go for a shower, and it was then that I realised I had picked up a few battle wounds already. I have ripped skin on my ankle and also have savage chaffing on my leg. This is a little bit worrying, knowing that I have about a 30km walk again tomorrow. So I decided to go to the local shop and pick up some plasters and Vaseline, hoping that this will prevent pain tomorrow.

I finished off the day by eating a fantastic meal at the “Old Head”. I just need to have a good night sleep and be fully prepared for tomorrow, which will undoubtedly be a lot tougher than today. I will be walking a much greater distance than today, with tired legs, couple of battle wounds and no support.

If people would like to donate, you can do so by visiting my Just Giving page, it’s really simple to do. All monies will go directly to Motor Neurone Disease Assocation.
//www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RossOSullivan

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Summary:
Start Location: Source of the River Severn
End Location: Llanidloes
Distance travelled: 20.28km
Exercise Duration: 6hr:36mins
GPS Track: //connect.garmin.com/modern/profile/RossSwims

Day 1 – River Severn Swim