The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Day 12 - Littlebeck to Robin Hood's Bay

28 Sept
Distance: 12 miles
Number of people walking on cliffs: 2,327 (approx.)

I awoke this morning with a flea in my ear. Actually, it wasn't a flea. It was a much larger insect with wings, but it was in my ear all the same. I soon fished it out (and without any girly flapping of arms or squealing) but it's not the most pleasant way to have your morning start.

Having been so rudely awoken, I figured that we may as well get going and reach RHB in time for a roast lunch.

Looking at today's route on paper it looks unnecessarily circuitous. We were but a handful of miles from the sea and could have been standing on the cliffs before most people had had their Sunday breakfasts, yet our route was going to take us right around the Wrekin.

We decided that it was a worthwhile circuitous route, so off we set in the direction of Littlebeck Woods, where one of the main attractions is The Hermitage - a hollowed out huge lump of rock with a proper doorway (I'll post a photo next week to illustrate).

We rejoined the C2C route at The Hermitage (having taken a direct route from Intake Farm) and were somewhat surprised to find two people bivvying inside. They were perhaps even more surprised to be woken by two people looking in on them.

Given its state of occupation we didn't have a proper look around but carried on through this magnificent woodland to the next attraction - Falling Foss, a 30 feet high waterfall.

Being too early for the tea-room adjacent to the falls (newly reopened after a 50 year closure) we did a bit of sheep-herding (unintentional) before we set off across moors.

The first stretch of moorland we negotiated without a problem (albeit I did incur my first wet foot of the trip when I went into a bog to above my ankle). On the second stretch we made a bit of a meal of navigating (trusting a misleading C2C sign, rather than paying attention to the map didn't help), but we got to Hawsker in the end, and just beyond the village reached the tea room at one of the big caravan parks.

Here I was met with a quandary. As is the norm on such a trip, I'd been hankering after a fried egg butty with lashings of brown sauce all week and now had my opportunity to indulge, but weighed up with that was the desire for a Sunday lunch in RHB.

I gave in to the egg butty, reasoning that I would be hungry again after 3 more miles of walking, and before long we had joined the hoards walking the cliff path between RHB and Whitby.

Five large groups of ramblers were met and various smaller groups in between and then suddenly into view came our destination.

It's a popular place, heaving with people as we made our way through the streets to the beach, to dip our feet in the sea.

Shunning the Wainwrights Bar (no roast dinners there) we found Ye Dolphin where we have just enjoyed a couple of pints of fine ale washed down with the most enormous lunch.
Soon we shall be off to find a campsite on which to pitch our tent for the next couple of nights and tomorrow we will become tourists in Whitby.

So, there we are. End-to-end and side-to-side completed within a period of 6 months.

And can you believe that we have just walked for 12 days, covering around 180 miles and not a single drop of rain has fallen on us? I bet that there aren't many people who walk for 2 weeks in this country who can make that same claim. We've been very lucky indeed.

Post Script: Even luckier than we thought as it turned out. When we left the pub we found the streets deserted and a light rain falling. I had to laugh at our excellent timing!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Day 11 - Blakely Ridge to Littlebeck

27 Sept
Distance: about 17 miles

Another stunning day through a stunning part of the country!

With the mist lifting and the sun just rising up into the clear blue skies, we set out from what is apparently the fourth highest pub in England.

The day started along roads. In fact, much of it was on roads, which is rather an unpleasant change after 10 days with barely any tarmac. The saving grace was that they were small roads (one of which is rather delighfully called "Great Fryup Lane") cutting across the moors and all was quiet at the early hour of a Saturday morning.

By the time we started dropping down to Glaisdale the sun was warming the day up nicely, clothes were coming off and suncream was going on.

Glaisdale was made in good time, albeit we were both feeling a little jaded after yesterday's effort and after a brief sojourn in the sunshine on their little village green we pushed on for Grosmont.

There's nothing to be said about the road walking, save for to mention the fantastic views down into the lush green valleys (nothing like clear blue skies to set views off nicely), but we did have a rather pleasant interlude as we walked a mile or so through some varied woodland.

Limbs were starting to protest a little more by the time we negotiated the estate track between Egton (a place which sports some uncommonly large trees) and Grosmont.

The easy thing to do would have been to stop at Priory Farm on the way into Grosmont, pitch the tent and spend the afternoon lazing in the town.

We arrived at 1pm though, which felt a bit early to be stopping, so instead we decided that a spot of lunch and a long sit-down would revive us no end and permit us to carry on for another couple of hours to Intake Farm just outside of Littlebeck.

Leaving the bustle of Grosmont (a popular place thanks to the steam trains), the route follows the road onto Sleight Moor. The notable features of that road are that it is unrelentingly steep and apparently never-ending.

Imagine our surprise then, when just after we had seen our first view of the North Sea, surprisingly close to our left, we turned back to the road ahead and thought that we saw an ice cream van sitting at the top of the rise.

An ice cream van, exactly where you need one, on a hot day, after a sweaty climb? It seemed too good to be true, but a mirage it was not. So bemused were we that having bought our ices we made use of the self-timer on the camera to capture the joy.

Our day was already a good one at that point, but arriving at Intake Farm it got even better. How many times have you arrived at your campsite and been offered a cup of tea? It's not a common occurence, but it's happened to us three times this year. But how often do you get tea *and* cake thrown into your pitch fee?

Today we had the offer of a cup of tea and it goes without saying that we bit Mrs. Ventress's hand off for it. Sitting in her nice warm kitchen chatting, she then proceeded to put out plates and cake forks and then produced the most amazing Victoria Sponge. Technically, we weren't offered cake; it was just assumed that we would have some (maybe the way that we were drooling gave it away?).

Eventually, out of politeness, we dragged ourselves away to pitch the tent, only to then be offered use of the shower and of the living room, should we want a bit of comfort or warmth.

I've had to decline the living room. It feels like we're having B&B without paying for it (including tea, cake and showers, tonight has set us back a whole £8).

It's seldom that I rave about a campsite, but if you find yourself in this neck of the woods then a night at Intake Farm, whether camping or B&B will not disappoint.

Day 10 - Ingleby Cross to Blakely Ridge

26 Sept
Distance: around 18.5 miles

I've not visited this part of the country before, and what a fine day to have walked across those moors.

it was a late start by the time we took ourselves out into the low cloud and through the forestry, and almost at once I felt like I had stepped into 'Danny the Champion of the World'. We both agreed that never before have we seen so many pheasants in one place. Hundreds of them.

And what was strange about all of these pheasants was that they ran off into the trees as we approached. Had we been driving up this track then, based on my prior experience, they would have been tripping over each other to run in front of the car, and had I then swerved would have changed their course to make absolutely sure that they got hit by a wheel.

By the time we broke out of the top of the forestry, now on the Cleveland Way, we were almost above the cloud, the day was hotting up and the views were opening out.

Yet more C2C walkers were seen, plus a couple of runners, one of whom stoped for a brief chat, then before long, just as we started on the first steep cobbled hill of the day, we spied the 15 Americans in front of us.

It didn't take us long to overtake them, as they paused at a cairn and with a cup of tea in mind we almost sprinted onwards.

With stunning, if hazy, views accompanying us whenever the cloud below us broke, we made our way down the knee-testing descent to Lord's Stone Cafe.

Despite the late breakfast, an early lunch was had, but with the knowledge of the number of miles ahead of us (as we had decided by this point to extend our day to Blakely Ridge) we didn't tarry as long as we may have liked.

It was half an hour later, after climbing up the next steep lump in the landscape and descending part of the even steeper other side when we realised that the map was missing. It had last been seen at the cafe and we could only assume that it had blown off the table whilst we were chatting elsewhere.

With the distance we had covered by the time we noticed we were reluctant to go back to look for it (and a phone call to the cafe later in the day told us that no-one had handed it in), so we continued with just the guidebook from which to navigate. I'm not a fan of navigating from sketch maps, even though other people seem to be able to walk by them alone, so I was a trifle annoyed. Even more annoying than that, and more annoying than the fact that both today's and tomorrow's maps were together, was the fact that the maps were contained in the Ortlieb Map Case. Those cases don't come cheap, so we really could have done without carelessly losing it.

As it went the navigation for the rest of the day was supremely simple. The very well way-marked Cleveland Way was followed until it met a disused railway line and then the railway was followed to Blakely Ridge.

It wasn't until just before the railway bed that the lumpiness of the day subsided, but thanks to the good rest last night and the hearty breakfast this morning I attacked the hills with gusto and we made good time.

And the views. Well, hazy though they were they made the ascents worthwhile. It seemed a shame to us that the Americans were sent on a low-level alternative. It may have been quicker (allowing for the next round of leap-frog) but they missed some fine terrain and magnificent vistas.

When I had seen on the map that we were to follow a disused railway I had the picture in my mind of a wood-lined cutting with scant views. The reality couldn't have been more different. This railway was built for the iron-mining industry and runs high up, right through the moor, giving excellent views down to the valley below.

It was hard on the feet, mind, as long flat surfaces tend to be, but we trogged along and made short work of it.

We're now pitched in the field next to the pub and having showered in the pubs clean, heated facilities (and all for £2.50pp pitch fee!) we're now enjoying comfy seats and tasty ale*.

We're not quite sure as to where we will walk tomorrow. We'll just have to see what the day brings (and how much we tired ourselves today!).

(*To the UCO: Oooh it takes me back to the days of the footy club, for we're supping Theakston's tonight.)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Day 9 - Beyond Bolton-on-Swale to Beyond Ingleby Cross

25 Sept
Distance: 15.5 miles
Number of bulls: 1

It's not a matter to which I had ever given great thought or study, but somehow I had assumed that in common with most other birds, when night fell ducks would tuck their heads under their wings and sleep.

Last night I found out that this is not the case, even though the ducks didn't actually wake me. The first disturbance was one of the dogs barking manically for ten seconds; the second was the roosters at 5.30am, but in both cases once awake I couldn't help but notice the racket being made by the ducks.

Strangely, though, once we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, they all wandered off from the pond to another corner of the farmyard and silence ruled.

With a pretty easy day and a B&B night ahead of us we weren't in a rush to get away - which of course meant that we were unusually swift in packing.

Out over the farmland we went through the light fog, and farmland was the order of the entire day (although the fog did lift to give fine weather).

Looking at the Trailblazer guide the route it gives for today is predominantly on roads and inexplicably it doesn't make any mention of an alternative route across fields.

The downside of the cross-country route was that it involved a couple of short sections on B roads, but they had good verges and I'd rather have a mile on B roads than 10 miles on minor roads.

There's not an awful lot else to say about the terrain. It was incredibly flat and the only things that saved it from monotony were the views of the Cleveland Hills (at the foot of which we are spending tonight) and the industry of the farmers. Having made hay whilst the sun has shone, they are now busy ploughing (not so good when you need to walk across a newly ploughed field!).

Having stayed in an unobvious place last night we today found ourselves out of kilter with everyone else walking this route. We saw no-one until this afternoon when two lads, with packs bigger than they were, passed us going the other way. Of the 35 people we have now encountered doing this walk, they are the only ones who have been camping (as was obvious by the camping equipment being on the outside of their packs; I'd love to know what was inside). I do hope they have a successful trip, as when we saw them they did seem to be struggling to walk under their massive loads.

Having negotiated the multi-laned and very fast moving A19 just outside of Ingleby, our minds had turned to a pint of ale. Our arrival at the pub in the village was well timed, being just as 15 Americans were leaving to continue on to Osmotherly. It's a busy old route is this!

Our B&B is only half a mile or so up the trail from the pub, and we were early to arrive. It's a lovely building on the edge of the forest, well off the nearest road. Clothes are steaming on the radiator and we're revelling in the warmth and the ability to wave our arms around!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Day 8 - Reeth to beyond Bolton on Swale

24 Sept
Distance: 18 miles
Number of fields with bulls through which we passed: 4

I had a note on the itinerary for yesterday saying "Peewiglet Caravan Fiasco". If that means nothing to you then pop over to and read the excellent account of her C2C walk last September. We approached Reeth wondering whether we were going to suffer the same fate on arrival at the Caravan Park, of being forced into a caravan against our wishes.

As I said yesterday, we pitched without permission as the wardens were out. They were back by the time we returned and a friendly welcome greeted us - followed swiftly by the news that had they been in when we arrived they could have let us have a caravan. We were offered one anyway, but we remained firm that we preferred to camp. I considered that we'd had a lucky escape.

Apart from the potential for caravan-coersion, it turned out to be a nice and quiet site.

I'd had a ridiculously large amount of sleep by the time the alarm went off this morning, but suitably refreshed we skipped off up the road just before 8am.

After a bit more riverside we veered off up hill past Marrick Priory (where they want you to know that the RoW shown on the definitive map is being 'investigated' and suggest that walkers take an alternative route, not through their grounds) and then through Marske.

The time flew by and we completely failed to stop for second breakfast (helped perhaps by having had Chorley Cakes for first breakfast; they make a good and filling breakfast item).

We eventually stopped for a snackette at a cairn/monument thing below Whitcliffe Scar, by which time we were again feeling like we were in a procession. Arriving at the cairn just as four others had left we looked down on the fields below to see three more coming up behind us. Talking to some of them later it turned out that they had not had an early start from Reeth, nor had we been walking abnormally slowly, but rather they had set out from three miles up the road in Marrick.

It was as we were setting back off that Mick noticed a scarf on the ground and seeing that it wasn't wet with dew, deduced that it had been dropped by one of the party in front of us.

A pace was put on so as to catch them up (it was their scarf and they confused us for a moment by asking whether we had lost a person; it turned out that they had last seen us when Martin was with us), then we had a bit more of a sedate walk down to Richmond.

Mick was interested in seeing Richmond and as we entered the Market Place he stopped and recalled walking across that very square having just had a tooth out aged 7, at which time he was living just up the road in Catterick. He also recalled swimming in the river and later pointed out where - I bet there aren't any 7 year olds allowed to play in such a dangerous place in these days of health and safety!

In common with most big places through which we pass, it took us a long time to get to the other side of the town.

Firstly there was the sojourn in a cafe which has been set up in the back of a pub. It was amusingly dated and badly decorated, the food was basic, and the service was ill-timed, but none of that mattered. What made this a memorable lunch was the woman serving. She was no spring chicken and was (apparently unexpectedly) rushed off her feet: back and forth up and down stairs to the kitchen, all with a running commentary and occasional muttering under her breath, not to mention a bit of laughter at serving a pot of tea and forgetting to put the tea bags in it.

Tearing ourselves away from the entertainment, it was then a trip to the bank to top up funds - not a quick process when the cash machine crashed just as I put my card in it. A nice man in the bank retrieved the card from the back of the machine and after a quick chat about his recent trip to Yosemite Park, my cash-mission was achieved at a different cash-point.

Food shopping was the final delay, then we were on our way out of this delightful town. Belatedly, on our way out, we did wonder whether we should stay the night and have a proper look around, but decided to stick to the plan and add it to our list of places to which we must return.

The rest of the afternoon was across farmland, where the guidebook maps were repeatedly called on to give detail not available on the 1:50k maps.

Almost before I knew it we had covered the final 5 miles to Catterick Bridge, where we had intended to camp at a farm. Arriving there, however, we discovered (as was quite obvious from the map, had I paid attention) that the farm was immediately adjacent to the busy A1 dual-carriageway. A bit of humming and harring was had, but it wasn't too tough a decision to carry on an extra 3 miles to a farm beyond Bolton on Swale.

Our full trust was in the guidebook, as if the information as to this farm allowing camping was wrong there was no obvious alternative accommodation nearby.

Fortunately it was not wrong. We're pitched on an immaculate lawn, with a picnic table and washing line at our disposal. The facilities are basic and could do with a clean (it's been a bit of a theme of this trip; do the more basic campsites stop cleaning their facilities at the end of July?), but it's perfectly adequate - and we were greeted with mugs of tea.

Admittedly by morning I may be complaining. To one side of us we have a pond full of quacking ducks and to the other we have roosters.

Tomorrow night, after nine nights in the tent, we're going for luxury. We've booked a B&B.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Day 7 - Keld to Reeth

23 Sept
Distance: about 12.5 or 13 miles
Number of dead rabbits: very many

The vague plan had been that, weather permitting, we would spend two nights in Keld. Today we would take a circular walk, incorporating the short section of the Pennine Way which Mick missed earlier in the year when his poorly feet caused him to take the road from Thwaite.

That plan changed when I looked at the map (something I'd omitted to do until now; Mick plotted this route) and saw that we could follow the missed bit of the Pennine Way, drop down into Muker, double back on ourselves for a short distance then cross the river to pick up the C2C route, thus killing two birds with one stone.

As it was for the views that I had wanted Mick to see this bit of the PW, it was pleasing to wake up to a fine morning (and I was right that it was a bit parky last night!).

It turned out that the position of the morning sun is not the best for appreciating the views of the valley at their finest. Even so, the climb and the detour was still worthwhile.

Dropping back down into Muker it was then just a simple walk along the valley to Reeth.

The first part was a most pleasant walk, with fine views of the lush valley sides with its dry stone walls and multitude of stone built barns (almost one per field). The last part of the day was equally pleasant, however, we agreed that the middle held less appeal and became a bit tedious.

Even the tedious middle part didn't change my opinion that this is one of the finest places in England and definitely warrants a visit. It did, however, make me wish that I'd studied the map a bit more to see whether we could cut up to a higher route.

As for the dead rabbits, it appears that there's something of an outbreak of myxamatosis locally. Many of those that we saw still alive were clearly afflicted and not long for this world.

After much carcass-dodging, we made it to Reeth early and headed straight for the campsite where we found one sign forbidding us from pitching without booking in and another sign telling us that the warden was out, but not one with any instruction as to what to do if the warden is out.

We pitched anyway and then made a bee-line for the village. We'd not had lunch and the guidebook raves about the bakery. We found it quickly enough but for the second time today we were disappointed. In the case of the cafe in Gunnerside we arrived there to find that it doesn't open on a Tuesday. In the case of the bakery it was inexplicably closed. Still, we've been well fed in one of the other tea-rooms and I'm about ready for a kip now - even though it's only 3.30 in the afternoon!

Day 6 - Kirkby Stephen to Keld

22 Sept
Distance: a mere 11 miles

It has been a day more about people than places.

The walk itself was, of course, lovely. Rather wet underfoot, but nobody was lost in a bog, which is always a bonus.

Nine Standards was experienced in the cloud with something of a cold wind, but it's an interesting place (anyone know if there's a story behind those cairns?).

The walk down to Keld was wet and did feel like we were in a procession. Having left Kirkby Stephen later than our usual hour this morning we discovered that there really are quite a lot of people walking this route.

A cup of tea at a farm on the way (just as the farmer's wife was having a drama with a chimney fire) meant that most of the other people got ahead of us. Even without people to follow, no navigation was needed; the route was still clear, being as well trodden as it is.

Keld, once we reached it, was as lovely as ever. It's a village (hamlet?) that I like a lot.

But, as I say, it was the people that made today notable.

First off was Martin (, who got up at ohcorblimey this morning, drove to just up the road from Keld, cycled over to Kirkby Stephen and met us there at 8.30.

We chatted away happily the whole walk (and enjoyed some of his excellent home made brownies too!), which not only made the day fly by, but perhaps was also a contributory factor (by way of distraction) that meant that my body did not protest so much today.

Martin left us just before Keld (he is mine of useful information about many places we would like to walk, so we will be imposing ourselves on him at some point to continue conversations about those places), and on we continued.

At Park Lodge in Keld we ordered tea, a pitch for the night, and asked if they had our food parcel for us. Over the tea we chatted to a very nice couple, Carole and Geoff, who we had first met on our way up Nine Standards this morning. They are doing the C2C in stages and gave us very good company until their taxi arrived to take them back to Kirkby.

We may have expected a quiet evening with just our own company at that point, except that in the camping field there was another backpacker, Duncan, who is walking the Pennine Way.

He's a gear-freak (and a fan of, which has got to be a good recommendation), so as I type we're sitting with him in Keld Lodge supping tasty pints and having just eaten a rather nice meal, whilst talking ourselves hoarse.

All in all it's been a mighty fine day.

Post script: Three days ago, in Longthwaite we left our tents in daylight to walk to the half a mile to the pub and gave no thought to the fact that it would be dark when we returned. Neither Mick nor I had a torch with us as we made our way back in the pitch black. Did we learn our lesson? Patently not (or I wouldn't be making this PS). We left Keld Lodge in the dark, which may not have been a problem, except that there are no street lights here. We walked across the field in the general direction of our tent hoping that it's dark shape may loom out of the darkness before we over-shot it. Thankfully it did and we're now tucked up inside with torches on. We're in for a cold night. It's a clear sky. With that lack of light pollution there are a million stars.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Day 5 - Shap to Kirkby Stephen

21 Sept
Distance (intended): 19.5 miles
Distance (actual): 21 miles
Number of close encounters with bulls: 2

Contrary to my concerns, no trains woke me last night. In fact, I slept so soundly that I think I could have been lying three inches from the tracks when an express train passed and still have been undisturbed.

After the day started with some girly arm-waving involving a beetle in my sleeping bag, it was with a spring in our steps that we made our way out of Shap whilst the village was still sleeping and out over first the railway then the motorway.

The huge quarry and works were the final blot on the landscape before we were out on the open moors.

The C2Cers we met yesterday had said that they were sorry to have left the Lakeland fells behind and that they expected the rest of the journey to be rather dull, over farmland. I hope that they were pleasantly surprised by today, for there was more moor than fields (and in my opinion the fields were far less than dull anyway).

The sun was beating down on us by the time we approached Orton. Having no need to visit the village we took a path off to go directly to Kirkby Stephen and a few moments later decided that a jacket and suncream faff was called for. It was as we stood there mid-jacket removal that a single group of 29 walkers passed by on the Orton path. That could have been quite exhausting had we passed them and said "hello" to every one!

All was going well as we sauntered along in the sunshine until just after elevenses. In fact the occurences of the next couple of hours made me think that I had lost all navigation skills that I ever possessed.

At the point where I got my compass out and exclaimed "I didn't think we should be going NE" alarm bells should have rung out, but somehow we continued to walk in that direction.

It was some time later when we came to realise that something wasn't right, by which time we'd wandered a kilometre or so up the wrong path. A lovely path it was, but it wasn't going in our direction.

It only took about twenty or so minutes to put ourselves right, but it was annoying to have made our most significant navigational cock-up of the year, moreover, as it was the trigger for my feet and just about every other part of me to start hurting. All psychological, I'm sure, because the longest day of a walk is, of course, the worst day to go awry.

It was right near the end of the crossing of the next moorland section that I became exceedingly navigationally confused. For a while I was convinced that something was affecting my compass, as I was sure that it wasn't pointing the right way (and the now-cloudy sky wasn't allowing the sun to help).

Being unable to match our surroundings to the map (no doubt because of my conviction that north was somewhere other than its true position) out came the GPS to check that we hadn't wandered off again. We were exactly where we should be, yet I still didn't believe the compass.

Finally, in desperation, I set a waymark into the GPS and what do you know? The compass was absolutely right and it was me that was absolutely wrong.

It was during all this poring over the map that we rather belatedly realised that when we had earlier gone wrong there was a shorter and easier way to have put it right. No point crying over spilt milk though, and I'm pleased to say that for the rest of the day north was exactly where it should be and I seemed to regain some navigational ability.

It seems that it wasn't just me having a bad day with map and compass. Admittedly, the two lost souls whose heads appeared over a wall to ask for help, were lacking in both map and compass. They were instead relying on the sketch map out of a book, which perhaps explains why they were going in the opposite direction to where they wanted to be.

My weary bones and aching feet continued through the middle miles of the walk. In fact, they continued until the first field containing a bull, not to mention lots of noisy cows which were overly excited thanks to a farmer just having passed by on his quad bike. It's amazing how all those aches miraculously disappear and I can put quite a pace on when in a field with a bull!

I'd promised myself a five minute rest at the end of that field, but it was followed by another bull-inhabited field, so on I sped until we reached the safety of a hay meadow.

We were soon then down in Kirkby where we found the campsite to be immaculately presented and have all the amenities that one needs. As I sit and type this, all of our clothes are in the washer and I'm a little less than comfortable in my waterproof trousers.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Day 4 - Patterdale to Shap

20 Sept
Distance: 15.5ish miles
Number of ticks pulled off my body: 5
Number of ticks pulled off Mick: 1

It had suddenly (and somewhat belatedly) occurred to me yesterday that we would be staying on a Lake District campsite on a Friday night, and that is something that I would usually avoid. The chance of encountering people out to party through the night when I want to sleep is just too great.

To the campsite we went, however, and we found it reasonably busy - and very sloping indeed. Tents were perched at all sorts of jaunty angles and I doubt that there was a single person there who didn't suffer a slipping downhill incident in the night.

Despite being reasonably busy it was all quiet quite early, and so it remained until about 11pm, when up pulled a car about three feet from my face and two girls (who were soon to become the Ignorant Cows) set about pitching their two tents. It's a process that necessarily involves a bit of noise, but all would have been fine had they then (around midnight) done the right and proper thing and shut up and gone to bed.

What they actually did was sit outside their tents and chat for the next hour.

I was awake for over three hours. The most annoying thing about it was that ordinarily I put my audio book on and promptly fall asleep. In the middle of last night I managed to listen to three (long) chapters and was still wide awake.

What I would always like to do in such situations is to make lots of noise myself the following morning when we're up early. But I can never bring myself to do that, for fear of disturbing someone else. This morning, however, I knew that our other near neighbours were also getting up at 6, so when our alarm went off I made no effort to keep my voice down or minimise rustling of carrier bags.

I was most pleased when one of the Ignorant Cows emerged at 7am, looking very tired and throwing daggers in my direction.

Anyway, enough ranting about camping experiences. This is supposed to be about the walk - and once again it was lovely.

The Trailblazer guide says to expect to feel very tired at the end of this section, to curse the name Wainwright and to question why you ever took up walking.

Admittedly there was a lot of ascent. Up and up we went, going from the warmth of the valley to a fresh breeze up higher and then up into the cloud just after the island-festooned Angle Tarn.

The path was momentarily lost in the poor visibility and because it's so blindingly obvious (almost motorway-esque) in most places we hadn't been paying too much attention to where we were. We pondered a while, made a decision, went twenty yards forward, realised we weren't right and soon were back on the clear path, wondering how we had lost it to start with.

The cloud started drifting in and out as we progressed and by the time we got to Kidsty Pike we were getting some excellent views in between the clouds. Some of those views included herds of deer, which is something I had not expected.

Even worse than the ascent was the descent down a very eroded path from Kidsty Pike to Haweswater. My knees started to complain on that bit, but soon settled down once we started along the side of the reservoir.

I've often found that walking the length of a lake feels much further than it is, but today that phenomenon didn't occur. It was a very pleasant walk made better for the fact that the sun finally won through.

It was a day of three distinct elements. After the hills, then the lakeside we left the fells behind and were on farmland.

We made short work of the fields, mainly because we bumped into five other C2Cers at the end of Haweswater and it seemed a bit unmanageable to have seven people walking together, hence we put a bit of a pace on.

A pause was had to admire Shap Abbey then there we were, in the village. We're pitched at New Ing Lodge, where the camping toilet facilities are the worst I've ever encountered anywhere. Fortunately, before we found that out we'd already opted to spend the extra £2 to use the Dorm kitchen and bathrooms. It was £2 well spent. We've had more cups of tea in the last two hours than we've had in the last two days.

The only potential fly in the ointment is the proximity of the train track. If I get another disturbed night I could be very grouchy indeed.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Day 3 - Longthwaite to Patterdale

19 Sept
Distance: much shorter than it felt
Number of killer flies: 2 (tried to kill me by asphyxiation as I accidentally swallowed them)

As I sit and type this (in the bar of the Patterdale Hotel, whilst Mick has been despatched to the shop to restock), I am absolutely exhausted. I feel like I've walked many more miles than the map suggests to be the case. My feet, feeling very pounded, are looking forward to a long rest tonight (they're not so much looking forward to the walk from here to find the campsite).

But, my, what a fine day!

After a bit of rain in the night we woke to a fine morning that showed promise of clear tops and far reaching views. It was again false promise, but it remained fine all the same.

Out of Stonethwaite we went and before we knew it we were making our way up Greenup Gill, past the imposing Eagle Crag.

Pausing in the first bowl, we considered the ascent to come, up the side of Lining Crag. We all reassured each other that it wouldn't be as bad as it looked, and although Mike looked a tiny bit skeptical, so it turned out to be. In fact, it was a lovely path up there, giving us excellent views of the valley below.

Once atop Greenup Edge (where Mike magicked a packet of Jaffa Cakes out of his pack; he's getting good at that each time he's with us) we perused the valley ahead, trying to spot where it was that we would be heading. For this was the point at which we were leaving the "official" C2C route for a while.

According to the Trailblazer guidebook, it is nothing short of criminal to omit a visit to Grasmere and it apparently is obligatory to spend a night there. We disagreed on a number of counts, not least because we've been there plenty of times before.

So, from Greenup Edge (after a tiny diversion to talk to 37lb-Man, who we could see ahead of us, and after Mick had taken a spectacular and muddy two-legged slip into a mire) we headed pathlessly down to Wyth Burn and some time much further down the valley picked up a path that led us down to almost the end of Thirlmere. By all appearances it is not a popular route, so we found solitude in the lovely surroundings. Although the going wasn't overly difficult, it probably took us longer to cover this shorter distance than it would have to walk into Grasmere. However, Mick and I agreed at the end of the day that we were pleased to have taken the deviation onto less trodden land.

Mike left us on Dunmail Raise, to walk down to Grasmere as we set out up towards Grisedale Tarn.

We met cloud before the top and so our view of the tarn was rather curtailed.

By the time we started descending into Patterdale my mind was protesting as much as my feet. It felt a very long descent indeed, but by and by we made it - at least as far as the hotel.

Alas, my beer has mysteriously evapourated now and Mick is long since back from the shop with a bag full of goodies, so it must be time to wander in the direction of Side Farm to find ourselves a patch of field to call our own for the night.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Day 2 - SE of Crag Fell to Stonethwaite

18 June
Distance: rough guess of somewhere around 12.5 miles
Number of killer anythings: 0

At just before midnight I nipped out side of the tent and found that even by night we had a fantastic view. Admittedly the large moon and clear sky helped, as did these new continuous-wear contact lenses that I'm trying.

This morning dawned, but slightly before that happened I popped my head up to have a look what the weather was doing, as the weather was an important factor in our high route/low route decision. Cloudy and grey was the answer, but with promise that it would clear later (something of a false promise as it turned out).

After a tiny bit of umming and arring, we made the only sensible choice on a whole host of bases. We went low.

It started quite interestingly too, as there wasn't a path going in our direction, so we soon found ourselves traipsing through five feet high bracken, with heather that nicely concealed the big rocks and big dips.

Battling our way over to a wall, we had a brief aquafaff to fill our reservoirs from a lovely stream and then the going got a bit easier when we found a path which led us down to the lake-shore.

We had received yesterday news that Mike (the same Mike who has a talent for joining us for the hardest days of our walking) had popped up to the Lakes for the week and was going to meet us today. It was easier said than done to arrange a rendez-vous as the marvels of mobile phone technology are only helpful if both parties have reception at the same time.

After a bit of faffing with phones we managed to squeeze text messages through and learned that Mike was about an hour behind us and said that we would wait at Black Sail Hut for him.

He put on a bit of a sprint and we indulged in a large pot of tea and soon enough he popped through the door.

Things were uneventful, but truly spectacular over by Brandreth and Grey Knotts but it was another test of the knees on the descent and Mick's one knee is protesting. As a result of that we've abandonned our long held plan of going via Helvellyn tomorrow (and being thankful that we didn't take the high level route today). For the moment we will stick to the aim of reaching the East coast and stay low. The hills will still be there another time (and hey, we have a record to maintain of missing all significant hill tops on our long walks this year!).

By the time we were heading down from Honister I had realised that our food situation meant that I needed to ge to the shop in Rosthwaite before it closed, so we put a bit of a spurt on after a positive amble over the hills.

Before we knew it the chaps were heading over to the campsite in Longthwaite and I was heading towards the shop in Rosthwaite, where the stock was so low that it was a challenge to put together enough ingredients for breakfast and lunch tomorrow.

I eventually located the campsite and found the chaps already pitched - it wasn't hard to spot them, given that there were only two tents in the field.

After sampling the showers (much better than they looked) we made haste towards the Langstrath where we have had a most excellent meal and a pint or so of fine ale. That people rave about this inn is justified, in our experience.

Mike will be joining us again tomorrow, at least for part of the way before he sets out to work out how to make his way back to his car in Ennerale Bridge.

We've also met another C2Cer this evening. He explained to us that he's carrying all his gear and that as a result has a 75 litre pack weighing 37lbs. On further discussion, it turns out that he is staying in B&B's for the whole route. The mind boggled until we found that amongst other things he has with him two pairs of boots (one crampon compatible) plus a pair of shoes plus a full change of clothes. AndI thought that my pack was heavy!

C2C Day 1: St Bees to SE of Crag Fell

17 September
Distance: about 16 miles
Number of dogs: lots
Number of killer dogs: 0
Number of cows: lots
Number of killer cows: 0

The fact that this August was the wettest on record and that it's hardly been dry for the last two weeks was evident not only by the sodden ground of the campsite but also the immense muddiness of the cliff top path this morning.

We slithered and slid our way along, soon covering our nice clean trousers, and jolly hard work it was in places too. My body was already in shock, after two months of very little walking and even less with a pack on. Those muscles just couldn't get to grips with what I was suddenly demanding of them.

The muddiness was left behind as we joined the road to Sandwith and after a brief conversation with a woman who had lost her dog, we pressed on to Moor Row where we were looking forward to stopping at the shop for some snackettes and maybe a bit of lunch.

Alas, the shop is no more (and had we known that we likely would have taken a route around the village, cutting out some road walking) so on we went to Cleator. That turned out to be a good move as the tiny shop there sells excellent pies. My cheese, onion and potato one bore no resemblance to a commercial cheese and onion pasty and was delicious. Mick made equally appeciative noises about his quiche.

Although only just noon I was eager to stop for lunch, but we postponed that pleasure until half way up Dent fell.

A half-hour sojourn had seemed like a good idea for lunch, as we'd barely stopped all morning, however when we got started again my body and mind were in revolt.

I've been a touch poorly these last couple of days and although I felt okay when we set off this morning by lunchtime my head was pounding. Paracetamol and aspirin were taken and I plodded my way morosely up Dent fell.

At the top three things happened apparently simultaneously: the pain-kilers worked; my body remembered what this backpacking malarky is all about and decided to stop moaning about the demands; and the absolutely magnificent views opened up before us.

Behind us was the coast and the headland around which we had earlier walked, with farmland in the middle distance. Ahead of us was the markedly different - and decidedly lumpy - terrain of the Lakeland fells.

I had a positive spring in my step by the time we started the descent, which soon becomes a killer descent.

Had it not been just 2.20 I would have been sorely tempted to make camp on one of the lovely flat spots alongside Nannycatch beck, but early as it was we continued, hoping we would find an equally nice location a couple of hours later.

As we reached the road, where the "official" route turns left towards Ennerdale Bridge, we had a decision to make: which way to go. It was a decision over which we had paused ten minutes earlier, but no conclusion had been reached. Now a decision had to be made.

We had decided before we set off that we wouldn't go into Ennerdale Bridge (I wasn't up for paying £10 to stay in a pub garden with severely limited facilities), so we had to decide where we would go.

After some pontification, we just went straight across the road and yomped across country to meet up with a path which would lead us up to the track below Grike.

We continued on until we cleared the woodland, then dumping our packs we set off in different directions to look for a suitable pitch.

I was very happy when I spotted the place where we are now situated. It's dry, reasonably flat and level and boasts the most spectacular views of Ennerdale Water and the fells beyond.

The lack of water in close proximity was a small price to pay for such a good location. Mick happily wandered off over the 300 yards to the nearest trickle of a stream and now we sit here happy for the night.

We have various thoughts as to route tomorrow. If the weather is very good and we feel fit we will quite possibly deviate significantly from the official route (and rejig our schedule) to take in some tops to the south of the valley. If it's not so good we'll go down to the valley and only deviate slightly from the usual route.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Coast to Coast: Day 0

16 Sept

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I like travelling by train, particularly when everything goes smoothly and to schedule.

Today things did not quite go smoothly. We had an eight minute connection to make at Lancaster, which always looked to be a bit of a tight margin even without any notable incident.

The inevitable notable incident came at Crewe where we sat for 30 minutes, due to a derailed freight train at Warrington. It didn't require difficult sums to work out that our connection wasn't going to be made. No call for alarm though. We were in no particular rush so we would just catch the next train.

Except that when we got to Lancaster at 13.40 we found that the last train of the day going to St. Bees left at 13.12.

Things were soon back on track thanks to a nice man in the ticket office who pointed us in the direction of the imminently departing Barrow train, which would provide a connection with a train to St. Bees.

Back over the bridge I dashed, hoisting Mick out of the waiting room, only then to see the words "on time" on the departure board change to show a ten minute delay.

That was not the best news given that our revisd route involved a ten-minute connection in Barrow. The news got worse when we finally left Lancaster fifteen minutes late.

It's the sort of thing that could have had us fretting and certainly had other people reaching for their mobiles to inform everyone they knew that they were running fifteen minutes late. But for us there was no need to fret. It was no disaster if we had to wait for a later train (if indeed there was one) and although it would have been annoying, our plans would not have been ruined even if we were thwarted in our attempts to reach St. Bees by night fall.

As fortune had it, our plans were not thwarted. The Carlisle train was held back for the arrival of the Lancaster train and after a dash between platforms we made it onto the train just moments before it pulled away. I nearly didn't make the train at all, mind, thanks to a near-decapitation incident involving a man carrying an extraordinarily long bag and completely lacking in spatial awareness (from the shape and size of the bag that nearly met with my head as he dashed past me and swung around, my only guess was that it contained ski-jumping skis, but that seemed unlikely given the location).

An hour later and we were in St. Bees, heading down to the campsite on the sea front. It's not the sort of campsite that had me thinking "oooh that looks a nice place to stay" and I had already been forewarned from their website that they charge an alarming £14 for a backpacking tent.

In reality, it's not a price that I mind paying if the facilities and upkeep warrant it, but this is not one of those places. We did find a dry spot on the quagmire that is the camping field, and the facilities are not only as far away from the camping field as can be (i.e. as far as possible away from the only people who need to use them) but they're also nothing special. Still, I'm sure that we'll have a comfortable night there, and that's what is important.

Out of laziness our first choice for tea, after we had walked across the sands to dip our feet in the sea, was the nearby Seacote Hotel, but it only took a glance through the windows to convince me that a walk into town was worthwhile.

The short walk was indeed worthwhile. Not only does the Queen's Head boast much nicer decor, but it has also provided us with a fine tea.

Mick's now pleased to have found a television with the football on and I'm wondering how I'm going to drag him away at half time so that we can slip back into our camping routine of early-to-bed-early-to-rise, ready for the off tomorrow morning.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Why Won't It Fit?

I said that I would be all packed by the end of Sunday. I was wrong. All of my stuff was laid out on the bed, but I decided not to pack it until tonight.

It was later than planned when I got home. Then there was tea to cook. Then there was tea to pour into my mouth (I think I may have even forgotten to chew, such was my haste).

That brought me to the packing process.

I’d decided for this trip that I’d like to use the backpad for my OMM Villain, rather than putting my Thermarest in its place. I packed on that basis, but it was a very tight squeeze. On the one hand, once some of the food has been eaten, it will all fit just fine and in the meantime I could put my half of the tent on the outside of the pack. But on the other hand, I’ve opted for my Paramo jacket on this trip and if it turns out to be warm one day, then I’ll need room in my pack to stow it.

So, out everything came, including the backpad. The Thermarest went into its place (there’ll be Thermarest sogginess when it rains). Everything went back in. And somehow it took up no less room without the Thermarest inside than it did with it. How is that possible?

Theoretically packing wasn’t going to take long. I did it every day for three months and had it down to a fine art. It didn’t take many minutes. Yet tonight it’s taken hours.

With the final activity of the waving of a Stanley Knife in the direction of a guide book, I think that we’re about ready to go.

Posts for the next couple of weeks will come from the Pocketmail. Hopefully Vic will do a sterling job once again of removing that annoying footer. I think she's going to do something clever with a map and a red/green line too.

(BTW, I haven't written out a kit list for this trip, nor do I intend to, but for those interested the pack weighs in at a smidge over 10kg, including 2 litres of water, 5 evening meals, 2 breakfasts and a day or so worth of snacks.)

Saturday, 13 September 2008

The Plan

Here's the vague plan. We've not got a fantastic record for sticking to plans 100% (and we're certainly not going to be purist about the route), but it acts as an outline.

Day 0: Home to St. Bees
Day 1: St. Bees to somewhere around Ennerdale Bridge
Day 2: somewhere around Ennerdale Bridge to Stonethwaite
Day 3: Stonethwaite to Patterdale
Day 4: Patterdale to Shap
Day 5: Shap to Kirkby Stephen
Day 6: Kirkby Stephen to Keld
Day 7: Keld to Keld (weather permitting; if it's nice we'll stay there a day for Mick to walk the bit of the PW that he missed earlier in the year; if it's not nice weather then we'll press on and have a day in Whitby at the end)
Day 8: Keld to Reeth
Day 9: Reeth to Bolton or Brompton-on-Swale
Day 10: B-O-S to Ingleby Cross
Day 11: Ingleby Cross to somewhere around Claybank Top
Day 12: somewhere around Claybank Top to Glaisdale
Day 13: Glaisdale to Robin Hood's Bay

If anyone fancies a day or two of walking with us, then feel free to pitch up.

An Explosion Of Rice, All Over The House

(Subtitle: Coast to Coast Preprations)

Bright and early on Tuesday morning, after our pleasant few days pootling along the canals, we made our way back over to Wolverhampton to continue the work on my late mother’s house. We planned to return home briefly on Wednesday night to get some chores done (like the mountain of washing and some more dehydrating; the fact that we’re imminently off for a two-week C2C walk is pressing on our minds).

Events (and workmen) conspired against us and it was late yesterday when we finally found ourselves at home again – with a now rather urgent list of chores.

First on the list of things to do was to get some food cooking so that it could be dehydrated. By bed-time we had eight more trays of food drying. That extra dehydrator really is a blessing.

This morning we finally took stock of the dried meals that we’ve accumulated over the last few weeks and, to our surprise, found that we have plenty, not just for this trip but also for most of the WHW trip in October.

That just left us with some rice and pasta to prepare, so the dehydrators have both been whirring away all day. Is it just me, or does everyone find that the process of dehydrating rice leads to grains of crunchy rice over every floor and surface in the entire house?

Then came the packing bit. That involved lots of shouting (mainly from my direction) of ‘have you seen the XXX?’. Surely having cleared out the kit-cupboard recently it shouldn’t be so difficult to find stuff? (Surely I should put stuff in the kit cupboard if I want it easy to find, rather than throwing it into all four corners of the house and then covering it with eight layers of junk.)

Most kit has now been found and tomorrow we’ll be packed all ready to go.

The printer has been clanking away too (it used to whir, then it broke, then I fixed it, now it works, but not in a smooth whirring sort of way). We have maps printed and (pretending at being organised) an itinerary that tells us where we may like to stay each night.

So, that’s all the preparation (or nearly all; I still need to cut up a guidebook so that we’re just taking the useful information without the unnecessary stuff like ‘wear a sturdy pair of boots’ and ‘if you’re not camping you should be able to get away with a 65 litre rucksack weighing not more than 15kg’). All we have to do is go and walk it now; and hope desperately that the weather improves a little. A couple of weeks of sunshine will suit me nicely.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The All-Seeing Eyes - Update

When the woman in Specsavers last week laughed at my enquiry as to the availability of same-day appointments and told me that I would have at least a two-week wait for a contact lens fit, I didn’t, at the time, think much of it.

Later, it struck me that such a long wait was abnormal and way outside of my previous experience with other opticians. So, I rang a different branch and today had a nice man poking fingers in my eyes and doing revolting things like turning my eyelids inside out (I hate that bit; had I been forewarned about it before my first foray into contact lenses, I would have stuck with glasses).

The result of the fingers-in-eyes experience is that I now have a pair of “continuous wear” contact lenses in my eyes. I will be going back for a further appointment to see how I’m getting on with them in three weeks. Theoretically I don’t have to take them out before then, although it is recommended that you give your eyes a break for at least one night a week.

It’s too early to give any opinions yet. My eyes don’t feel dry after six hours use, but that’s not unusual. They’re not yet red either, and that is unusual for me.

I’m a little tiny bit freaked out at the thought of sleeping in them and being able to see in the morning, but if they don’t get uncomfortable and I suffer no adverse reactions (I’m fully expecting both), then I’m sure that I’ll get over that.

And, if they do fare well over the next week, then they’ll have a good and proper test whilst I’m walking the coast to coast from next Tuesday (eek, that’s coming up quick and I feel thoroughly unprepared).

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The First Week in September?

I've just been in the nearest pub to where we're moored. I've no idea where that is, but I can say with some confidence that it was a chain sort of a pub.

What really struck us all as we went in was the Christmas lights. Not just Christmas lights up in readiness, but lights (in the shape of a train, not just a few fairy lights) all lit up and twinkling.

We checked and double checked and as far as we could make out it is 6 September. That's got to be some sort of record. I shall post the photo next week.

(and then on return to the boat I failed to heed Mick's "mind your head" warning. I now have a huge egg atop my head.)

Saturday, 6 September 2008


I'm sitting aboard Laughton. She's a 60' narrow boat on hire from Braunston. Having boarded her at 4pm or so and after a bit of instruction we set off for three days of leisurely nature-watching and maybe a touch of wine drinking.

Just now we're pootling with a vengeance towards a pub which the boys (who are doing a sterling job of steering) are hoping will be showing the football.

The hire people were rather taken aback that Vic and Juan had walked to Braunston from London. I don't think they get many customers (even local ones) that walk there.

After walking 100 miles in the last week, and before the final 50 miles to Brum, Vic and Juan are now enjoying a weekend off and because it involves a narrow boat they've been joined by me & Mick and Bec and Meuh.

The boat is stunningly well equipped. We have everything we need for a relaxing couple of days.

And thus far we are enjoying the pootling (hopefully the boys are too, even though we've abandonned them at the controls, out in the pissing rain).

As I type we've just pulled alongside. We will be mooring here for the night. I have no idea where 'here' is, but there's a pub a short walk away.

Friday, 5 September 2008

The Joys Of Clear Vision

I started wearing glasses when I was seven years old. Those nasty plastic NHS ones that most spectacle-wearers of around my age seem to have had inflicted on them.

Many pairs of those nasty glasses came to unfortunate ends. The first pair was lost on top of a mountain and despite my father running back up to look for them, they were lost in a peat bog forever. For reasons unknown my mother had that tolerable blue pair replaced with a pink pair. I think I lost or destroyed those even with even greater speed, although not on a mountain. But I digress.

I think in common with most people who have been lacking in clarity of vision for a lot of years, I long for good eyesight. To be able to get up in the morning and be able to see the other side of the room without fumbling for glasses would be heaven.

As much as I’d like to be spectacle-free, glasses do the job well enough most of the time (except when looking sideways or trying to hang upside down and look at something). But, the one thing that I really can’t be doing with is rain on my glasses, so if I’m going to be outside for any length of time (be it running, walking or backpacking) and it looks like rain then I’ll reach for the contact lenses.

I realised today (disorganised as ever!) that we’re setting off for a 2-week walk in a week and a half’s time, and that I only have seven pairs of contact lenses (daily ones) left.

Given the current weather, I’m not that optimistic of having six or seven days that promise to be rain free, so I started looking for a new supplier of my usual brand of contact lenses (having rather belatedly realised that Vision Express is an unnecessarily expensive source).

My Googling saw me stumble upon mention of ‘continuous wear’ contact lenses: lenses that you put in your eyes at the beginning of the month and then can wear for thirty days and thirty nights without having the faff with insertion/extraction or cleaning. I remember them being advertised heavily a few years ago but having heard nothing about them since, assumed that they had disappeared.

So, this morning I looked into them (no pun intended) online and then had a chat with a person of questionable knowledge at Specsavers. As a result I decided that I would give them a go for a month, mainly out of curiosity to see what they feel like and to see whether they would be a good solution for backpacking trips (no need to have clean hands each night and morning to fumble in the eyes, amongst other benefits).

To give enough time to get some fitted (assuming of course that they’re suitable for me), ordered and delivered before we set off for St. Bees, I asked whether there was an appointment available today.

The woman on the information desk laughed. That’s never a promising sign. Apparently one has to be far more organised than I am for contact lens fitting purposes. It’s at least a two-week wait for an appointment. That rather scuppered my experiment for this trip.

But I have the idea in my mind now and want to give them a go.

Maybe I’ll try to get an appointment in between the C2C and the WHW and try them out on that trip instead.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

LEJOGging by Todbrook Reservoir

When our computer gets bored of waiting for me to press a key, it starts showing a random slideshow of our photos. I often find myself watching and seeing if I can identify when and where they were taken.

Today a photo displayed itself that had me scurrying around My Pictures to do a compare and contrast. Here's the result. Both taken by me, thirteen months apart:

6 April 2007, Alan Sloman strides past Todbrook Reservoir:

19 May 2008, Mick strides past Todbrook Reservoir:

From M&G Go For A Walk

Random Thoughts

Waterproof Overtrousers:
Found them! That’s a relief. I don’t like losing stuff, even temporarily; and particularly expensive stuff.

Extraordinary Kindness:

I received a big parcel this week. Huge in fact. Perhaps the biggest parcel that I’ve ever received. And, parcels are always exciting, even if you’re expecting them and know what’s in them.

I thought that I knew the contents of this one; Dawn (who goes on extraordinary backpacking trips, often in Scotland – her blog is certainly worth a read) was clearing out some kit and was giving away a dehydrator. I bit her hand off.

Even though I already have a dehydrator, I often seem to find myself up against the stops, trying to cook and dehydrate a lot of food in a small space of time (take our upcoming C2C trip; cooking and drying finally started this week). A second machine was not going to go amiss.

Not only did Dawn send me the expected dehydrator, but also a good armful of other stuff. I was mightily pleased.

The dehydrator was almost immediately put into use. Two nights ago we had on the go (in two separate dehydrators): four Beef Chilli, two Shepherds, a punnet of plums and a few bananas. Last night it was the turn of Lentil Stew and pears (separately; I’m not that experimental with flavours).

The added bonus of a couple of dehydrating books have also been read. I have grand plans for some more interesting lunch substances as a result. Must try some jerky too.


The new dehydrator is on the go again. It has a big advantage over my existing one: five trays. It will whizz away tonight full of Chickpea Stewy Things and maybe some more bananas.

I’ve not yet put together a spreadsheet of what we’ve dried towards our next two trips (I’ve also not labelled and dated bags yet, so it could be a bit of guess work!), but I think that we’re making good inroads into our food requirements.

Water Filter:

In the same trip to the Sorting Office to pick up the parcel from Dawn, I also picked up my parcel from Backpackinglight, containing the Aquagear Waterfilter.

One of the first things I did was weigh it. Then I removed the unnecessary sleeve and weighed it again. Without sleeve it came in at just over 130g according the scales available to me (which I’ve not checked for accuracy yet; but they told me that my Terra Pants were much heavier than advertised and surely they're not inaccurate in both directions?). Just 30g heavier than the defunct-exceedingly-bad-value-and-wholly-unreliable Steripen is acceptable, even if it does involve a tiny bit more effort.

We then tried it with tap water in the sink, for the first three wash-throughs (we were actually filtering filtered water; bet that was clean by the time we were done).

Not sure when it’s going to be used in anger for the first time, but I’ll report back when we do use it. I don’t imagine that I’ll have anything to add to the praise that’s been heaped on it by other outdoor bloggers though.

Canal Walking:

I must blog next week about my friends Vic & Juan.

In August 2007 I blogged about a slightly-drunken show-and-tell to which we subjected them, about our backpacking gear. A few days later Vic sent me an email asking me what kit she would need for a walking holiday and since then they have indeed been on a couple of walking holidays.

As I type they're walking from their home in London to Vic’s brother’s place in Birmingham.

Here's just one snippet about their experience to date:


Vic walks a lot (neither she nor Juan drive, which tends to lead to more walking than your average person). She also runs. She’s been building up to this London to Birmingham trip, and we just wouldn’t have expected her to be plagued by blisters.

Alas, they struck on day 1. On day 2 she said that she no longer had feet, just blisters and Compeed. I hope she was exaggerating slightly.

Anyway, she sent me an intriguing text the other day saying that the thread trick worked a treat. I shall quiz her over it when we go and meet up with them this weekend, but it looks like I may have to eat my words about antiquated worsted-based remedies!