It’s been a while…ouch, and big plans.

Well, ouch, ouch and ooohhhhh pins and needles.

Its been a while since my last post, and there is an aborted one somewhere, so, I may breathe life into that after this, and resuscitate it!

I’ve got a ‘floppy foot’. The common name for it is foot drop, at least thats what the NHS call it.  It’s essentially nerve damage that gives me a pins and needles like feeling in my foot, and I can’t bend it properly. Which isn’t that good, when you’re walking.

Today was the first day, I’ve really pushed myself through an injury.  It may not the smartest thing to do, but I wanted to see if I could do it, and maintain a decent pace. Which I did, I only fell over once, into a hedge, comedy moment.  So apart from that and my dignity taking a battering, relatively unscatehd.

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It was a good walk, and through some amazing amazing countryside.  Its the countryside of my youth where I grew up, and I didn’t appreciate it then, but now, breathtaking.

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Having some space has also given me some time to reflect.  I started walking almost a year ago, to help me with my weightloss.  I’ve been at target for a while, and I want to stay there, so the focus shifts to maintenance.

An upside, was that something I saw as a task, I’ve fallen in love with, and I wanted to commit to a big walk.  And although I’d love to do the PCT I’m saving that for a big birthday, my 50th.  But I wanted to do something.

I’ve settled on the ‘Camino De Santiago’. I could try to explain it, but I’d mangle it, so heres what wikipedia says:

‘The Camino de Santiago (Latin: Peregrinatio Compostellana, Galician: Camiño de Santiago), also known by the English names Way of St. James, St. James’s Way, St. James’s Path, St. James’s Trail, Route of Santiago de Compostela,[2] and Road to Santiago,[3] is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes, known as pilgrim ways, to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts as well as organized tours.’

I’ll be walking from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, over the Pyrenees, and then onwards to the conclusion at Santiago de Compostella, and there is an extra leg that I’d like to do to get to Finisterra, which adds on an extra couple of days.  It’s around 800km, and takes around a month.  I need to swing it with work, (shouldn’t be an issue), and get a load of kit, and save up the money to spend a month walking.

Although its a pilgrimage route, I’m not goddy, but it does fascinate me. So it will be interesting.  I’m either going to go May/June or Aug/Sept time.

Im preparation I’ve been reading Camino De Santiago (Practical Preparation and Background) by Gerald Kelly, It’s a great guide good, and a good read. Highly recommended.

I’ll keep this blog updated as I train, get the kit (rucksack, shoes etc), decide what technology to take, and all that malarky!

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Its all about the….speed!

I wanted to do something for a while now.  Do a walk, along a similar route, and see if my speed / stamina had changed.

I chose the local loop, a simple 6 mile hop, with a bit of an incline, and varied terrain. Nothing too challenging, just a walk to see how my fitness and overall pace had altered.

The readings below came from Walkmeter:

I’m actually pretty pleased, the one on the left is from today.  The resting time is less and also the average pace is 2 minutes less per mile, which I’ll take!

It was a good walk, with some good views, and sun!

My god, really? Fame sucks.

It’s a non-walky one this.

So, in my first blog post I mentioned that I’d lost some weight.  I did it through Slimming World.  I’m so lucky that my brilliant brilliant consultant is both inspiring and hilarious, and we get on really well too.  So when she suggested I enter the man of the year competition, it really wasn’t a problem, and I treated it as a bit of fun.  Well, why wouldn’t you?

So, 9 stone down in less than a year, and last Sunday was the Man Of The Year competition.  It was at the Slimming World HQ, and Emma and I went down.

I’d love to tell you that I won, Id love to tell you that…..it should give you an indication of the outcome, but, theres an embargo on it!

Anyway, I met Wayne Bridge (a celeb who is a footballer – yep, me neither) who was a lovely lovely chap.  Had to weigh in so they could check I wasn’t telling lies, and tell my story.

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A few days before, with my say so, Emma had told some local papers, and I did a ‘phone’ interview, and thought nothing of it.

On Monday, much to the sales directors amusement, I was the number one hit in the Manchester Evening News website, and by Wednesday, I was front page news in The Stockport Express.

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Joy…….I didn’t feel comfortable with the attention, but you know what, I love Emma, she’s amazing, and I owe her (and Slimming World) a massive debt. SO anything I can help her to get customers is all gravy.  The none syn kind obviously!

Plus, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog if it wasn’t for them, so, on balance, we’re all very cool!

 

Really, that long???

Around two weeks, well there was a walk, and there was no iPhone / apple watch working in symbiosis.  But hey, heres the pictures none the less.

It was a normal day, and normal walk, I’m going to do one ‘doorstep’ and one more far reaching I think.  When I doorstep I’m going to push out at the edges, and make it a bit more challenging, and a bit longer / harder.  This was one of those.

It was made easier by using the map, and I’m beginning to have a little more confidence in my map reading skills, I still can’t triangulate a position, but that will come after some time, but I can figure out a route, and stick (reasonably) closely to it, with little fuss.  Heck, I almost feel like Ray Mears.

Anyway, pictures:

 

God damn you iPhone!!!

Well, what a walk, what a day.  Jeepers.

I thought it would be shorter.  I thought it would be….  I looked at the map, I looked at the route.  20.3km.  It said 18, but I did a bit extra, so it came in at 20.3 km, or 12.61 miles.

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Thats the furthest I’ve walked by about 5 miles. Quite the accomplishment!  I must admit that I was pleased with it, although, it was hard.  I’ve a problem with my right ankle, and it started to play up, so that slowed me down.  I’ve avoided getting walking poles, but I think I need them.  Damn.

It was the first time out with the Nikon J1 mk 2.  It performed OK.  Just OK.  Colours were a bit washed out, and some pictures were so far out of focus, it was woeful.  However, when it was good, it was really good. Captured the contrast of cloudy / sunny skies brilliantly.  I’ll give it another go, and see what happens.

It was also a weird one:

  • Walked up to the half way point, the top of Shining Tor, and was looking forward to seeing the magnificent views.  But no, there was a man on a big radio / CB thing, reminded me of Tony Hancock’s ‘The Radio Ham’.
  • Met a lovely walker, who was the spitting image of the lady from ‘In The Woods’ that get’s on Bill Bryson’s nerves.  She was lovely though, I thought she was going to walk off singing ‘Weeeeee’ve come so far….’.
  • My usual software that I use to measure distance, steps, and to map the route out, Walkmeter, didn’t work properly.  Id upgraded my phone to iOS11, beta, and it screwed it royally.  Gutted that this walk will be missing from the log on it.

The walk itself was great, from Whaley Bridge, up to Taxal, and past the church (where my gran is buried), onto Kettleshulme, and Shining Tor.  It was in spitting distance of ‘The Cat And Fiddle”, which was the highest pub in England at one point.  It’s not ay more though, plus, its shut, so not technically a pub.  Then a drop down into the beautiful Goyt Valley, down the length of the reservoir and then Fernilee Reservoir, and back to the car.

5 hours in all!!

A good day, and a good long walk.  Mucho fun!!!

From low to, errrrrr, high!

This is going up late, I’d like to have a decent excuse, such as my computer caught fire, a sheep ate my hands.  But no, I did type it, but forgot.  Doh!  So, I’ve re-read, and fixed some bits etc.  So here goes.

A decent and clear day, with an early dart from home.  A banana and a vimto before I left.  Started out by myself, and it was a good hour before I met anyone else, which was grand.  Even then, it was a courteous ‘good morning’ and that was it.

It was a brand new walk, and once again I used the OS app on my phone.  It worked a like a dream, although, I was worried about the battery lasting.  I carried an OS Map, in my rucksack, and a photocopy of the important bits in my pocket.  As it was, the battery lasted well, and a decent walk was had.

This would be the last walk that I took out the ‘big dog’ camera, as I’ve bought a Nikon J1 mk 2, and I’ll be using that from here on in, so make the most of that SLR clarity!

The best part of the walk for me, was meeting a Scotsman, who was walking the pennine way.  I saw him saunter towards me, arms and trekking poles waving around, going at a fair old clip.  As he got nearer, I realised that he was in his 90’s, and I stopped for a chat with him.  A lovely guy, with a weathered and wrinkly face (should have taken a pic), and had a good chat, some bits went like this:

Me: So, you’re doing the Pennine Way then?

He: Och eye (he did speak like this!)

Me: Have you done it before?

He: This will be my third attempt, I gave up last time near Sheffield, only when I’ve done it, will I be ready to die, and I’ll die happy…..

Me: Well, take it easy, make sure that you get some decent rest days in, its a long old walk.

He: Nope, I’d rather be the tortoise, slow, and steady.

Me: Well, safe travels. By the way, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?

He: 95.

Actually quite inspirational, and I reflected on the conversation all the way back to the car, and then at home, I guess, if you’ve got a focus and goal, you’re more inclined to keep going for it. Amazing stuff.

Swing Low……

Ahhhh, another weekend, another stroll.

I’d been trying to arrange to go walking with Rob for a while.  For one thing, it’s an excuse for a catch up, and secondly, he’s a far more experienced walker than I am, so it would be a good chance to pick his brains and get a few tips.

We arranged it for a Saturday, around Edale and Kinder, and after me stalling so that I could check the weather, Rob picked me up at 1:30pm and of we went.

It was a good walk, we planned it using the ‘ViewRanger’ app for the iPhone and picked a walk off there.  It’s a good app, although a bit hit and miss when it comes to navigation of the app, and trying to find walks.  Also it maps in straight lines, when paths aren’t so you can find yourself a couple of hundred meters off the track for a bit. But over all a good app, it rinsed my battery though.

Anyway, I digress.  It was a decent walk, and although we didn’t make it to Kinder, we did Kinder Low, with Kinder about 700m away.  It was still a good trek, and it was wet.

There was a steep descent at the end, which was a bit of a mare, and at the start was Jacob’s Ladder, which is a long and steep path.  Factor in petey walking, and my first water crossing, and it was a good walk.  There were loads of big boulders, and we stopped for a brew using Rob’s Jet Stove, which I was really impressed by, and appeared to be quicker at boiling water than my kettle at home.  Magic.

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Things I learned from Rob, (you’ll see him in the foreground of some of the pics):

  1. You don’t need to buy expensive stuff (dry bags, a mobile phone waterproof bag) to keep electronics and the such dry.  Rob used a zip-loc bag, and it worked a treat.  I was impressed.
  2. Just because its a bit rainy / wet / misty – don’t jump straight into your waterproofs, layer up and down as you need to, not when you think you should.
  3. Buy cheap to start to see if you’re going to like it, then buy expensive.  This came from a conversation about boots I think.
  4. A small stove = hot tea = magic (or really lumpy cappuccino, thats like vomit, as Rob said)

He also tried to teach me to navigate using a map, which as Rob experienced first hand, is almost a futile pastime.  However in my defence, it was really windy, and took two of us to fold the map up!

It was good to get some height today, and we did about 1722 feet, which means that I’m getting closer to climbing Snowden, and then Ben Nevis.  So a result really, and thanks to Rob for being great company.

Oh no, cows!

A glorious day, and an early dart.  I left the house at 7am, and as the walk started from my front door, there was no driving time which normally adds a couple of hours to my walk time.

A simple loop around Lyme Park, I travelled light with a daypack, a litre of vimto, a banana and my trusty Canon 60d.

The route essentially followed the outer border of the park, with the tower in sight for around 50% of the time.  All was going well, until I encountered some highland cattle.  I never know what to do with animals, so I tiptoed around them, and when I was far enough away, I ran.  Hell, they had big spiky horns, just right for impaling a plump 40 year old.

One thing that I realised as I walked around, my SLR is too big of a camera to cart around.  I need a decent point and shoot, one thats optimised for outdoor photography, so a decent zoom is a must.  I used to use my iPhone 7 Plus, but it was just too big, so I changed down to a 7, and you can tell the difference in the photos that it takes.

I’m also really pleased with my approach shoes, using them instead of walking boots over summer was a master stroke.  Be interesting to see how they cope with Kinder next week.

3 hours, and 8.75 miles.  Not too bad, 1000 calories burnt too.

It rained during the last mile or so, but a handy tree provided cover, so I just waited for it to pass.

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Bunnies, playing it by ear and new shoes.

Another Sunday, and another stroll.  I woke up at 7:30am, and was out by 8am.  Wash, dress, and grab my overnight oats, a couple of apples, and a litre of Vimto. Its the ramblers drink of choice is it not?

A drive to Ilam, park up in the National Trust carpark at the hall, eat my oats, grab my pack, and off we go.

A reasonably short, sub 7 miler today.  The reason?  I’d left my map on the kitchen table, in the hurry to get out.  Which means that I’m obviously an ass!  But still, not too bad, I kind of know the layout!

So, off up Bunster Hill, hang a left, through the pointless gate, down to the river, through a ravine type thing that reminds me of The Princess Bride, and then, back to the car via a convoluted route.

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It was good, the weather held too which is always a bonus.  Hit the carpark, grabbed the obligatory coffee from the shop (black filter, three sweetners please), and home in time for 13:30.

The big news was that I tried out my new shoes, after retiring my boots last week.  I spent hours reading boots reviews, asking myself ‘three season or four’, setting a budget, deciding on a pair, then tied up trying to afford them.

I was reading Chris Cage’s excellent ‘How To Hike The Appalachian Trail: A Comprehensive Guide to Plan and Prepare for a Successful Thru-Hike’. And Chris (yeah, never met him, but after reading this book, I feel we’re on first name terms), talked a lot about approach shoes been a great alternative, especially for spring and summer, when its not too taxing.

So I bought a pair.

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I bought them, many based on Chris’ recommendation (see, first name again), and this review. I’d seen them for £160, which is well out of my price range, but, after hunting round, managed to snag a pair for £54, including postage.

So, my La Sportiva Xplorer Approach shoes!

What were they like?  Honestly, a revelation.  Light, but decent enough grip to mean I wasn’t going arse over tit every 5 mins.  Warm, and dry, and joy of joys, I didn’t have to change into trainers when I got back to the car.  Sweet.

It was weird not having ankle support though, really weird, and certainly given rain, or wet, or indeed mud, I’m not too sure how they’d cope, but for today, really pleased with them.  As I thrash them around over summer, I’ll keep on reporting back!

Anyway, heres the pics of todays walk!  The bunnies are in there somewhere!!

Manifold, over the tops!

So, Saturday 6th of May, up at 7am out at 8am, at the hall at Ilam in Derbyshire by 9am.  The hall is beautiful, but handily, theres a carpark which is free to National Trust members, and several routes start and finish at said carpark!  Plus, theres a little tea room, and a take out cafe thing, where I have a cup of hot ‘joe’ at the end of my walks.  Joe, its American for coffee I think.

The weather was cloudy, and windy, and around 9 degrees centigrade, which meant, there were very few people around.  Spiffing.

A bowl of overnight oats in the car, set me up nicely for the walk. Before I headed off.  I used a National Trust guide card, which I bought for £1 in the shop the week before.  The route was meant to be 7 miles, and take 4 hours…..meant to.  I obviously took a wrong turn somewhere, as it came in at just over 8.5 miles, but, I did it in 3ish hours – result!

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It was a good walk, and included a visit to the ruins of Throwley Old Hall, as well as some views of the lime stone cliffs that were exceptional.  It was a little steep in places, but these were on little used side roads, so they weren’t a struggle.  I stopped off for my cold Vimto, and an apple half way round, before completing and returning to the car, for a cup of coffee and home.

It also became the last outing of my Karrimoor walking boots.  I bought them last september, from sports direct when I had no idea if I’d still be walking now.  Turns out, I am, so as the stitching is falling apart, and weak, they’re a bit, errrrr, smelly, the time has come to retire them.  So goodbye faithful boots, you’ve served me well. They’re MountMid 7’s I think, and considering I’ve only cleaned them once…they’ve done well!

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So, heres some photos I took of the walk, hope you enjoy!