Nancy Powell-Brace is a relative newcomer to Wellington but in four years as a resident she has recognised just how important the Wellington Monument is to the town. Now she is planning a monumental walk to raise its profile both locally and nationally, supported by the National Trust. She plans to walk from Cleopatra’s Needle in London to the Monument, linking the two three-sided obelisks in the country.
Nancy, who co-owns Odette’s Tea Room in Wellington’s High Street, explained how the idea was formed: “It started with a National Trust meeting here. I had realised beforehand that there are no English Heritage or National Trust signs to the Monument and we started to think of ways of encouraging people to recognise and identify with it. Our ideas included opening a pop-up shop in the town and holding Welliestock at the Monument.
“Then the keeper of the keys to the Monument mentioned that his grandson had organised a ‘Minidrive’ – 200 owners of Minis driving from A to B across England selling advertising space on the cars. He raised £80,000.
“I thought of replicating that from the Monument to somewhere – and Cleopatra’s Needle came to mind. So I decided to walk it!”
Nancy plans to leave Cleopatra’s Needle on Friday 14th September and to take approximately 5 or 6 days to cover a distance of approximately 150 miles. She plans to travel along canal routes – including the Thames Footpath, the Kennet and Avon Canal Path and then the Glastonbury to Tiverton Canal Path – as much as possible but will have the complete route established by the end of July.
Asked about her training for the walk Nancy (58) said, “I think it’s a question of stamina more than anything – plus stubbornness and bloodymindedness and I’m very good at both of those!” She has already been testing herself by catching the bus to Taunton and then walking the 7 miles back to Wellington three times a week. “It takes me 2 hours,” she said.
Nancy has already received offers of support from friends who will be joining her for sections of the route, and the National Trust is paying for flyers which will outline her aims and provide details of how people can make donations. All proceeds will go towards the vital renovations that the Monument needs. She would also like people from Wellington to join her on the last leg from the town to the Monument. She said, “Townsfolk walked there for the laying of the first stone so it would be nice if plenty of people joined me for the final section.”
“This is all about raising awareness as much as raising money,” she added. “We can’t just leave it to the National Trust. The Monument is something that people identify with this town. We should be saying ‘This is ours’ and then encourage people to come here as Wellington has so much to offer.”
AroundWellington will be providing updates of the journey as plans progress and Nancy will have a live blog during her walk to increase awareness and reach as many people as possible, both locally and nationally.