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, 10 April 2016

Planning and (Expensive!) Kit Pruning


Late last year we decided that our pre-TGO Challenge warm-up trip this year would be a section of the South West Coast Path, and I selected the section between Plymouth and Poole. Father Christmas brought me the Trailblazer guidebook (favoured by me because they list accommodation, campsites, shops and amenities, saving me acres of research) and I put no more thought into the subject until a couple of weeks back when I wheeled out a spreadsheet and a map and started planning.

A few hours later and I had concluded that the logistics were too difficult, and the costs too high, for a 2-week trip, the main issues being the number of ferry crossings, plus one wade, required on that section (meaning bad timing or weather would be awfully inconvenient), combined with the built-up bits where the only feasible accommodation for the distances I was looking at covering would be B&Bs. Then there were the train journeys there and back, neither of which was cheap or direct.

“How do you fancy Offa’s Dyke instead?” I asked Mick and (being the easy-going chap he is) he raised no objection. We did walk from Chepstow to Chirk on our LEJOG, but that was eight years ago, and I’ve long fancied doing the whole thing. The deal was sealed by cheap and easy train journeys and the presence of a few unticked Marilyns along the route. Train tickets to Chepstow have been booked for Thursday 14 April.

Kit Pruning

There’ll be an exciting set of omisions from my regular backpacking kit this year:


After a fantastically large amount of dithering, when we got home at the beginning of March I finally bit the bullet and booked myself in for laser eye surgery. On 19 March I went under the laser and by the following morning I was very pleasantly shocked to find that I could read the title of Mick’s Warrant, which hangs on the opposite wall of the bedroom.

For the following week or so, Mick had to put up with me reading signs and other distant writings to him, just because I could and at my 1-week follow up appointment my sight was confirmed as being better than 20/20 in both eyes. Thus, after 35 years of glasses, I shall be setting out on this year’s backpacking trips with only my sunglasses as eyewear.

Hopefully it’ll be a few years yet before I need reading glasses and hopefully it will be many, many years before my eyes degrade again in terms of myopia, as it was an expensive way of saving 200g off my pack weight*!

(*Okay, so pack weight considerations didn’t even come into the decision to get lasered. The biggest excitement to date has been going out in the rain (I never could abide getting rain on my glasses) and I certainly won’t miss faffing with contact lenses.) 


  1. I admire you for the laser thing. I can honestly say, I will never do it. Enjoy!

    1. And I wouldn't try to talk you into it (but, FWIW, it was far less unpleasant an experience than having a filling).

    2.'s eyes...worse than feet!

    3. Give me eyes over kneecaps any day!

  2. Strange. I have just downloaded the GPX file of all the Welsh Marilyns from Harold Street and put them on my Mac, iPhone and iPad. I have only done about a dozen of them, but with the conclusion of the English list now light at the end of the tunnel I need a new focus. I'm looking forward to your trip. My circuit of Wales coincided quite a lot with the OD Path, but it doesn't always follow the modern boundary.

    1. I'd also like to focus on the rest of the Welsh Marilyns - it's just a matter of squeezing in a few trips (too many possible trip destinations, too little time!).

  3. Well done Gayle. I have wanted to get the eyes done for ages but never had the spare funds available. It must be wonderful to read a map or gps without faffing for glasses.

    1. As it goes, with my level of short-sightedness, I could focus just fine a foot away from my face, so had no problem seeing a map or GPS, either with or without glasses. Alas, the laser surgery won't stop me losing my reading vision with age, so I fully expect to need reading glasses in five years (hopefully not sooner!).