The Seventh Bridge: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney NSW
At first, the Walk from Lane Cove Village was uneventful.
Soon, I found myself descending a long but pleasant and not-too-steep slope alongside the golf course of the Lane Cove Country Club.
At the other end was another slope, this one rising upwards, but it didn’t look too bad.
And it wasn’t, as it gradually rose east-south-east towards Greenwich Hospital.
After the hospital, the Walk turned south from River Road into the suburban streets of Greenwich and then Wollstonecraft.
And it was here that I began experiencing my toughest part of the Walk.
As I’ve mentioned before, I had expected that the Walk here through the Lower North Shore could get “quite” hilly.
I was wrong.
It was very hilly.
With further emphasis on the very.
First there was one long and steep descent to the south…
…after which was a long and steep ascent east (with warning signs posted that it was)…
…and then another long and steep descent east…
…and then another long and steep ascent east (also with warning signs)…
…all of which combined seemed to go on forever, and ever…
…and it gave me a troubling feeling.
Not exhaustion, or pain (although my legs were now aching like blazes).
The Walk had now become a monotonous ordeal.
There’s nothing wrong with Greenwich and Wollstonecraft, but the steep streets I was walking had killed any enjoyment of being there.
I just wanted to get the heck out of there.
And even without those deadly slopes, this part of the Walk was one of the longest between Villages.
Which is why it felt like another eternity later when I finally got to Wollstonecraft Village, and at first I was overjoyed at the prospect of taking a break and giving my legs a rest…
…until I saw the time on my iPhone.
There was barely an hour left to complete the Walk.
The next Village at Milsons Point, and most of all the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was not that far away…
…or was it?
And especially with more of the could-be-very-hilly Lower North Shore to go?
Despite some growing concern, I refilled my water bottle and sat down because I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing any more walking that day…
…but I cut my planned 15-minute rest short to 10 minutes, and just before 3:45pm I got walking again.
For the first time that day, I became genuinely worried that I wouldn’t complete the Walk after all.
And, alas, that worry increased.
After Wollstonecraft came Waverton and more steep slopes.
After Waverton came Lavender Bay and more steep slopes.
And as I was ascending yet another slope while my aching legs continued screaming in protest, I also began to get what felt like a cramp in my right calf.
At which point I thought, Fuck this!
I didn’t feel like pulling out – but I had stopped enjoying the Walk at all.
I just wanted to finish it out of hatred.
So I continue along through Lavender Bay to Milsons Point.
I turned south past the location where I had made six crucial visits to a psychologist way back in 2006, and headed into downtown Milsons Point.
With the Sydney Harbour Bridge looming majestically ahead of me, I reached Milsons Point Village and got my final Village stamp.
The volunteer who stamped my Event Passport grinned and cried encouragingly, “Sydney Harbour Bridge!”
I looked at my iPhone.
There was 20 minutes and about two kilometres left to the Bridge stamp point on the other side of the Bridge.
I thought hard and fast.
Could I do it?
Then and there, I decided to call it a day…
…until a moment later, when I thought hard and fast again.
Could I do it?
I had come so far, and here I was so close to the finish.
Only a short walk left across the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
I couldn’t let it end like this!
But once again, I told myself no.
Yes, I could spend the next 20 minutes walking fast and furious across the Sydney Harbour Bridge – and I might just make it.
But I might just not, which would feel even worse than having to end my Walk here at Milsons Point.
But most importantly of all, even if I did make it, my aching legs would feel absolutely ruined and it would be a hollow and painful victory.
That wouldn’t be worth it.
So, with some regret, I declared my first attempt at the Seven Bridges Walk to be at an end.
But as I went to a low section of stone wall nearby and gratefully sat down, there was also more happiness and satisfaction than regret.
Although I hadn’t finished the Walk, I had come very close.
I had walked through more parts of Sydney that I previously hadn’t seen, or had only seen from passing vehicles.
Apart from that last bad stretch through the Lower North Shore, I had mostly enjoyed myself and didn’t regret attempting the Walk at all.
And as I soon discovered via the iPhome app I had used to record my progress, I had now completed my longest Sydney walk yet – almost 25 kilometres.
I sat and rested for a little while, and then with still aching legs I hobbled to nearby Milsons Point railway station.
About fifteen minutes later I got on the next train to the CBD across the harbour.
Another Walker who got on with me was none other than THE MISTRESS OF AWESOME herself.
I almost asked her if I could take her photo, but I didn’t.
Had she made it across all seven Bridges? I hoped so.
A few minutes later, we crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
TO BE CONCLUDED