After the struggle of last year’s Challenge, disrupted by hayfever that went so rogue it turned into full-blown asthma, I’ve been determined to make up for it this year. With the summer following the Challenge largely wiped out by getting the condition under control and finding a new normal, no sooner had I tentatively started backpacking again, than it was pretty much the end of the season. Coupled with an intensive period of art-focused rather than outdoors-focused activity, I went into the winter still in not great shape.
As is common, New Year came around and the inevitable statements were made about getting in shape. I re-started Parkrun on the first Saturday of the year. Despite some initial calf cramp problems, cured by a good pair of compression socks, I’ve started to get into the running, and have even been out mid-week. (*Whispers: I may even have started to enjoy it a tiny bit*). The hiking, though, has been sadly lacking.
I did make a point of finishing off the Essex Way in January, but that’s all apart from a 15-miler on the North Downs last weekend. Paul meanwhile has been regaling me with tales of weight lost and walks done. He seems determined to make up for last year’s withdrawal a couple of weeks from the start line. But he got me thinking that maybe I’ll be the weak link this year.
So far, each year before the Challenge I’ve been able to slot in a shakedown trip, or two: a section of Cambrian Way and a 4 day Dartmoor backpack in 2017; a short trip to the Lakes last year. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition, but to date the focus has been more on honing gear choices than training as such. This year’s trip felt like it needed to be more about training, or at least testing what sort of condition I’m in. After all, my gear is pretty stable, and the only decisions that really need to be made are clothing layers – ie whether to lean more towards a colder or warmer set of weather.
So with an invite to a 50th birthday do in Kendal, I decided to tack on a bit so I could get out on the fells and see where I was at… Continue reading “Training and A Pre-Walk Walk”
…or strictly speaking Harwich to Mistley, as for logistical reasons I decided to do this last section in reverse. In any case, I’d already experienced the walk into the end at Harwich on the Secret Archipelago Expedition last March, so even if I had opted for the big climax by the sea, it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Ultimately, doing it east to west meant I could squeeze in a last camp, and moreover a camp in a marginally more inspiring place than the corner of a farmer’s field or the middle of a wood.
Continue reading “The Essex Way: Part 5 – Mistley to Harwich”
After all the shenanigans getting ready for my art exhibition at the start of the month, and then helping a friend with her exhibition which immediately followed mine, I’d managed to rack up a couple of months without any significant time in the outdoors. Other than a brief snatched camp out locally, but then a tent hidden between a farmer’s field and a landfill site is hardly quality outdoors. It was high time I got out into the hills.
Continue reading “The “No Wainwrights” Lake District Backpack”
The forecast for the next couple of days was markedly better, and it seemed a shame not to take advantage. So I made plans to stay another couple of days. This would be solo though, as Paul had to go … Continue reading Getting Back On The Horse: Part 3 – Pole to Pole
The plan was hatched, with anxious looks at the weather forecast several times a day. Ok for a couple of days then a brief bad spell at some point over the weekend. It was good enough to book the train … Continue reading Getting Back On The Horse: Part 2 – Dartmoor Bimbles
It’s been over 10 weeks since I returned, broken, from the TGO Challenge, a mystery illness having made me fight hard just to get to the end. On day 2 back at work I collapsed as the mystery illness deteriorated. … Continue reading Getting Back On The Horse – Part 1: Pottering About
I’ve already told the story of the actual walk, so this post is simply an index to the individual daily posts… Continue reading “TGO Challenge 2018”
Day 15 The Challenge done, I wake in my Stonehaven B&B with a lazy day ahead. I’m at the station in good time for the train to Montrose. As it pulls into Montrose, I realise this is the train that … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Aftermath and Reflections
Of the three (known) campers, I’m the last to pack up and leave. But it doesn’t matter: today I will reach the coast and should do it comfortably, even in my enfeebled state. The day is pleasant, albeit grey and … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Day 14 – Fetteresso Forest to Stonehaven
I set off today with the “dreaded” (by some) Fetteresso Forest ahead. My only concern is not getting tripped up by the tendency of forest tracks to not quite match what the map says. First on the agenda is Kerloch, … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Day 13 – Glen Dye to Fetteresso Forest
Repeating the trick of not laying down to sleep until properly tired worked again last night, but it does have the side effect of making it a late start. I’m just finishing my packing up when Graham happens by, as … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Day 12 – Fungle Road to Glen Dye
Yesterday’s company got me through the day I know would otherwise have broken me, but today I have low expectations for accompaniment. The original plan was to attempt to get to Tarfside in a single day, including an ascent of … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Day 11 – Ballater to Fungle Road
Any thought I had yesterday of a better night’s sleep in a proper bed, was proven to be spectacularly wrong overnight. Not only did I struggle to get to sleep, but to say asleep, and was up in the middle of the night with a massive coughing fit. Perhaps it was also the fact that not being in a tent with others close alongside, I could really go for it. Whatever, it was an awful night.
Unsurprisingly, I’m feeling rather grim when I get up. So grim, in fact, that I seriously consider whether my Challenge is done. All that makes me go through the motions of getting ready for a day’s hike is (a) the fact that I usually feel better walking than I am overnight, and (b) the fact that to bail out I’ll need to head towards Ballater anyway, so I might as well at least make an attempt to start the journey on foot. Continue reading “TGO Challenge 2018: Day 10 – Braemar to Ballater”
The Cough did it again – another sleep-starved night. I’m looking forward to getting to Braemar and the pharmacy there, not to mention the other manifold “attractions” of the village. I must be keen as I’m away for 8:30 – … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Day 9 – Geldie Burn to Braemar
I wake in the bosom of my fellow Challengers, for the first time this trip. It’s long overdue and with it the recognition comes that this has been a lonely Challenge so far. There’s been a couple of days (ok, … Continue reading TGO Challenge 2018: Day 8 – Glen Feshie to Geldie Burn