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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Getting ready for the big walk

I couldn't decide whether I wanted to do another long walk or not. The best way to work out what to do for the best in any situation is to note down all the for's and againsts, then make a final decision, so I asked myself these questions....

(1) Do I really want to trek mile after mile, carrying a heavy rucksack, through wind and rain, hoping that the sun may shine on me and brighten my day?
(2) Do I really want to be looking for a place to sleep each night, knowing that I may have to keep walking mile after mile untill I find one?
(3) Do I really want to wear the same clothes for a week or more because I don't have enough room in my rucksack to carry more?
(4) Do I really want to have to piddle behind hedges every day because there are no ladies facilities in the middle of the countryside?
(5) Do I really want to search for a shop to buy food every day because I can't afford the time or the money to sit down in a cafe or restaurant to eat?
(6) Do I really want to make an early start every day because I may need to walk twelve hours or more to cover the distance?
(7) Do I really want to put myself through all this?

These are my answers......

(1) I enjoy walking and before you know it the miles soon rack up. You can cover quite long distances without even noticing because looking at the surrounding countryside is a great therapeutic distraction to the tiredness you may feel. The wind and rain are part of the challenge, changeable weather presents opportunities to divert from the original route, low level walking is more sheltered than battling over blustery hills. Sunny conditions may be more enjoyable the higher you go, and gives better views.

(2) I enjoy the total freedom of setting off each morning not knowing where I am going to end up each night. To be completely alone and relying on ones own intuition and wits to get the job done. There is no one to show you the way, the piece of paper in your hand is the only guide you need. When it's time to stop walking and find a bed, I ask a stranger where to look. There could be a place close by or I may have to walk further, that's the name of the game.

(3) Every day I get a bit sweatier. I shower each night when I reach a B & B and hang my clothes up to air while I sleep. I take one extra pair of lightweight trousers and one teeshirt, just in case I find myself in someones company after the days walk. When I am out walking I don't care what I smell like or look like.

(4) Piddling behind hedges has been an activity I have been practicing for years as a lorry driver, There are no toilets in laybys. Just get on with it and watch which way the wind is blowing, ha ha.

(5) Eating small amounts and more often is my normal way of eating, except when I have a big plate of veg, which goes through quite quickly. I can't be doing with platefulls of stodge. I do miss my veg though while I am away, but it's only 9 or 10 days, no big deal to make a few changes in the diet as long as it is good wholesome food.

(6) Yes, I love getting up early, I am not a wallowing in bed type of person. I wake up each morning with a fresh new vigour, every day is a fresh new start and I look forward to new challenges.

(7) Yes, I have just talked myself into it, ha ha. Stepping outside my comfort zone is not something that worries me, as long as it is a challenge I am fairly confident about completing. I could possibly go for the big one, walking end to end as they call it, top to bottom, but I don't want to set myself up for failure. I believe if you have a mountain to climb, and that mountain could be anything in your life, it's best to chip away at it bit by bit. Any goal you have in life, any task you set yourself, need not be smashed down in one go. The way forward is small steps, with each stage resulting in a mini success. Confidence boosting is what I aim for. This in turn spurs me on to the next challenge and the next. I don't ever aim to stand still. My last walk was 162 miles, I shall be disappointed if I dont reach that this time, so I am going to try my best to beat it. That's all I can do, my best.

I am used to this kind of gypsy lifestyle, wandering from place to place, what's the alternative, sit around, don't go anywhere, and do nothing? Or maybe book a package tour and be ferried round the country on a bus. Or sit on a train. Or have a lazy relaxing holiday reading a book on the beach? No no no, I would be bored out of my brain. So the planning begins. I have already made a first and second draft of the route. Laid the maps out on the floor.

Written a rough route on paper.

Next is to look at it in more detail on the computer. At this stage I haven't worked out where I might be each night, I need to split it down to daily chunks, trying to get it to about 18 - 20 miles a day, depending on elevation. The hills in Derbyshire are going to slow me up so I have to make faster progress along the flat canals to make up for it. From past experience I know I can do 26 miles in a day if I really have to. Have even done 30 miles in one day, but I don't want to be doing that too often, ha ha. There won't be much time for dillydallying about. On an average of 20 miles a day I want to cover 180 miles in 9 days, it's possible. I will take 10 days if I have to. I will check the total mileage of the proposed route and hope it is near to my goal, if not I will make adjustments.

Next I will print out the sections of maps I need to take with me, cellotaping them together in groups of four. Then I will mark out the proposed route with a coloured marker pen. This will definately change as I go off route many times. As I walk I will mark the actual route with a different coloured marker, then when I get back I will be able to work out the exact mileage on the web site , and keep my fingers crossed that I have done enough.

I've told you about my next challenge, now what about yours? What's giving you a buzz at the moment?
Toodle pip.


  1. At least you have the good sense to prepare for the eventuality of being in the company of someone...wink...wink.

    I could still eat from shops and get vegetables to eat.

    There is no way I could live in the same clothing for ten days. I would be itching all the time.

    Right now, dehydrating bananas is giving me a buzz. I know that would be boring to Next, I will work on the pears, onions, and celery, dehydrating them all.

    I cannot even walk to the end of the block!

    Surgery should fix that. Someday.

    Do you ever camp where you can have a fire to cook? Some camp places here have a bbq grill and some supply wood for cooking.

    In groery stores here there is often a deli counter where a plate of vegetables is about a fourth what you would pay at a sit-down restaurant. This is all take out in a divided plate. Do grocery stores in UK have those type counters/sections of the store?

  2. I always have challenges on the go..I can't imagine living life without a challenge or goal. My challenges are not quite as intersting or impressive as yours, but you can't beat that feeling of getting it done! My challenges at the moment are clearing my debt (half way there), losing one more stone, getting the garden in order, oh and I'm doing a gigantic 2 metre squared rag rug (to be done for Christmas!) I'm glad you are doing your walk, you seem happiest out in the open country side. I always feel alive when I'm walking, I get why its all worth it.

    PS Get yourself a Shewee!

  3. It wouldn't bother me being in the same clothes, I've often done it whilst on cycling weekends. Better than struggling carrying too much stuff that only fatigues you and slows you down. Years ago everyone wore their clothes for much longer, as they had so few of them.

    Danebridge and Gradbach are lovely, there used to be a hostel at Gradbach and the last time I went there was when I was living just outside Leek and I cycled over. There was a cafe that served very stale scones but plenty of tea. It was a typical old fashioned 'Sunday' cafe, in what used to be a farmhouse. I wasn't bothered about the staleness of the scone as I was hungry after cycling over the hills.

    GO girl!

  4. You have answered so many questions about your walking adventures that have been rattling around in my brain, ie how you eat, what you pack. Now I'll pull up google maps and walk along with you. When do we start? LOL!!!

  5. It sounds grand! You didn't mention that you told a friend or two where you are going. Print out the itinerary and leave it with a friend so someone knows where you are planning to be and when. I don't know if you are planning on checking in with us, but that would be fun to hear how you are doing every day. As you can see, I am a worrier. I do hope the weather is perfect and you meet interesting and kind people. You have a cell phone, right?

  6. 126 miles?? My goodness! Any recommendations about shoes, socks, blister-avoidance, etc? As I've got older, I find my feet more of a problem (apparently, you lose a bit of fat from under them, in the same way you lose a bit on the backs of your hands) ...

  7. I covered some of that countryside on my last long cycle ride. It was unfortunate that we had very poor weather. We never plan where we will stop overnight but we've never been without somewhere to stay. We do camp a lot.
    Go girl.
    Brenda in the Boro

  8. I`m planning a lovely day out to Winchester, either Thurs. 4th or Friday 5th of October.
    DB is visiting his grandaughter in Peterborough for a long weekend. This shall give me time to squeeze in a few nice days for myself, hopefully doing something on my own for a change. I`m also planning a good day`s walk across the Southdowns at that same weekend, if the weather will be kind. I`m looking at maps as well at the moment, to decide where to walk from and where to get to. It`s exciting to plan outings. I love the anticipation as well as the actual doing.

  9. Hi PP, No, when I camp which is not very often in our unpredictable weather, I use a small gas stove to warm things up. I don't cook. Open fires are not allowed here on camp sites.

    Connie, we start in two weeks. Get your boots on and pack your bag.

    Hi tana50 no one can pinpoint where I am at any given time when I am on a long walk. No point in giving someone my itinerary because I usually wander off route. I have a mobile phone. I will be carrying my netbook and reporting in each night, if the signal is good. Don't worry.

    Barbara you got the 6 and 2 the wrong way round, 162 miles. As for blisters, I only get an odd one or two small ones. I pop them with a needle and smother with Germolene. To prevent blisters you need good fitting boots. It's the movement of the feet in the boots which causes blisters. I wear a thin pair of socks under a thick pair, I tie my laces very tightly so my feet do not move.

    Good plan Sarina, get out there and do your own thing. It is exciting to plan, and exciting when it all comes together.

  10. hi Ilona, just a tiny bit of advice - don't pop the blisters! The fluid inside is plasma and this protects the new skin underneath from infection. You can buy blister plasters from Asda or Tesco, they have a cushion on them which protects the blister from bursting. As I am diabetic, I have to be very careful about my feet and this was the advice given to me. Blister plasters are not expensive, and last for ages. Get a box and keep them in your rucksack, but, please, please, don't pop your blisters! Let nature heal your foot.

    Janet from Lancashire

  11. I am off to Montreal for 4 days next week - I'll take the train and stay in a hotel (sharing with friends) but I'll be out walking each day. I can't do beach vacations (it just bores me to tears) - I love to get out and explore and walking is always the best way to explore. I use a cane due to a knee injury but I can still manage at least 10 miles a day (I've learned to pace myself) and enjoy museums and interesting historical buildings and venues.

    I have learned to pack very light but could not do just one or two outfits for the week.

    I will be off to London for about 9 days in November (probably staying in a B&B) and will be out exploring the city every day. I have been there before but still have so much to see and do. As my knee improves I would love to do more rural walks - The new Welsh path along the coast looks wonderful and I was very jealous of a co-worker who did a two week stretch of The Camino in Spain this past year.

    I do have to occasionally rely on bus tours as I do not drive and since distances in Canada are so huge there is simply no way to walk it - unless you had months and months. However I am choosey and definitely avoid the "if it's Tuesday this must be Belgium type of tour - that would drive me crazy.

    I really admire the life that you have carved out for yourself and look forward to reading about your next adventure.

    Margie in Toronto

  12. LOL what's giving me a buzz today is having my gall bladder removed this afternoon ha ha

    I am very interested in your trek Ilona, I enjoy your planning and all the photos you take on the route. I'm looking forward to following your progress.

  13. My challenge at the moment is to run up a nearby hill, 'Rocky' style.
    I can't run for toffee so I've started the 'Couch to 5K' programme which at the end of I should be able to run 5k (3 miles). Hopefully if I can do that on the flat I should be able to run a few hundred yards up a hill!


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