Once more the Challenge beckons, as it corrupts and subverts my freedom of will. Almost from the first steps taken eastwards from Dornie in May 2017, I knew it wasn’t going to be a one-off. 2018 was intended to prove 2017 wasn’t a fluke – as it turned out, it was pretty hard going. Now 2019 is the hoped-for redemption, both for me to put last year’s illness issues behind me, and for Paul to actually make the start line this time. All through last summer during a period of hand to hand combat between me and the asthma which led to very little actual hiking, there was instead much virtual hiking which resulted in 3 outlines of future Challenge routes. It’s fair to say I’m not done yet. Continue reading “TGO Challenge 2019: Prep and Kit”
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.
Before you get too worried that I’m about to bombard you with loads of pictures and ask you to buy them, I’m not. I’m just going to pick out a few instances where the outdoors and art overlapped this year.
This is nothing more than a selection of pictures to show what happened this year…
Persistent readers will no doubt be aware that for the last few years, I’ve had a camping out competition with my daughter, who does quite a few camps due to her involvement in several sections of the Scout movement. We did it again this year, but with 2018 being A Level year, it was pretty obvious I’d almost certainly win. In the end I won convincingly and broke a record in the process.
Ever since I began wild camping in 2012, the number of camps has been on an upwards trend almost every year. I’ve now camped out around 31 times a year in the last 3 years (30, 32 and 31 respectively). Of these 2016 and 2017 both featured 26 wild camps, reflecting me forcing myself to camp out at least once a month in 2016, and doing my first TGO Challenge in 2017. In 2018, however, 30 of my 31 camps were wild, reflecting both the conversion of tame camps to wild on the 2018 TGO Challenge and the lack of social camp meetups. In terms of stats alone, 2018 would rank as the best year for camping yet. But was it really ?
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.
It’s now 40 days until my first solo exhibition opens. Gulp. This sounds like a lot, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a lot. With a two week holiday away coming up , it effectively reduces my remaining preparation time … Continue reading Go Big or Go Home — matthewkingarts
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
Through a gap in the trees, I catch my first glimpse of the end of the loch. At the head of the glen, rises the Mountain, for the moment innocuous amidst its neighbours, happy to take a back seat for … Continue reading The Mountain
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