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]

Wednesday 28 February 2007

Fit to Walk Keswick to Barrow?

Keswick to Barrow

The Keswick to Barrow Walk is an annual event that will be held for the 41st time this year. It’s quite simple; you walk (or run, if you’re that way inclined) from Keswick to Barrow-in-Furness, with a set route which gives a distance of 40 miles, passing through a number of checkpoints along the way.

The entire walk bar a couple of hundred yards is along roads (so no need to sweat about the erosion that would occur with 1500 walkers tramping along Cumbrian footpaths in a single day).

Two years ago, I supported a team and promised that I would take part in 2006 – a promise that I made before I saw the state of most people as they passed through the 34 mile checkpoint.

Despite starting the event last year with the completely wrong mindset that I wouldn’t get past the 34 mile point, I managed to finished the entire course two hours faster than the target I had set (in twenty seconds shy of 11 hours).

Having seen the results of people thinking that they can go and walk 40 miles in a day without doing any prior preparation, there is no way that I would take part in this event without building up my speed and stamina over the preceding months.

Okay, so it’s still February (just), and the walk is still two and a half months away, but I’m already getting concerned that I’m not going to get enough training in to make a success of this year’s walk.

A bit of re-jigging is going to be needed over the next couple of months to free up our Sundays (oh I almost envy those people who week after week tell me that they have no plans for their weekends; how do I always manage to book mine up for three months ahead?).


Groan. Looking at my scanned maps this morning, I realised that I don’t have the full set for the Cumbria Way. When I scanned these a couple of years ago, one of the maps I only had in 1:50000, whereas I would prefer to take (and now have the missing map at) 1:25000.

That means that I have to unbury the scanner sometime in the next four weeks and do battle with a very large piece of paper on a very small glass surface. It’s not a job I look forward to doing, but I’m not prepared to carry entire maps and I don’t want to make do with 1:50,000 when I own the bigger scale. Four weeks sounds like a long time in which to do such a simple job. Somehow (maybe the fact that we’re busy every weekend between now and then?) I just know that I’m going to be doing battle with the scanner at the same time as trying to dehydrate food at the same time as packing in three and a half weeks from now.

Tuesday 27 February 2007

Cumbria Way, Here We Come!

Yeah! After a bit of a faff with Husband trying to arrange some leave from work, train tickets are now booked for the end of March. We’re off to walk the Cumbria Way.

I’m hoping the train tickets were a good idea. We don’t have a good track record when it comes to catching trains. On a previous incident that also involved the Cumbria Way we managed to confuse the Aberdeen train with the Ulverston train at Lancaster Station and found ourselves heading at high speed in the wrong direction in the gathering dark. Then there was the planned WHW trip last September, for which I duly booked the train tickets months in advance, only to then have family health conspire against us causing the tickets to go unused.

For this one, I considered the various travel options and once again plumped for the train. As I’ve bought non-refundable tickets, it’s fingers crossed that nothing occurs between now and then to stop us going.

Then it’s fingers crossed that we don’t have a joint momentary lapse of concentration that sees us heading north through Scotland.

Having walked most of the route before in various bits, we’re pretty sorted for knowing where we’re going (I’ve already got the relevant bits of the maps scanned, so just need to print them out again). All I need to think about over the next couple of weeks is what we’d like to eat – then I need to get cooking and dehydrating it. I’d like to think that I’ll be organised on the cooking/dehydrating front, but odds-on it will all be a last minute rush.

Sunday 25 February 2007

The Unexpected Muddy Speed Walk

At the beginning of last week the plan for this weekend had been to pop up to the Lake District for a small spot of walking and a large spot of retail therapy (mainly in the form of a new backpack for Hubby to replace his current monstrously heavy model). That plan went to pot when Husband revealed that he had to work this weekend.

The new plan was that I would move next weekend to this weekend and vice versa, so I would go to do some maintenance chores for my mother on Friday and Saturday leaving Sunday free to get in a local walk.

That plan then got turned upside down when I caught the lurgy. Sharing my germs with my Mother’s lowered immune system wasn’t looking to be quite such a clever plan. So, I moved Friday to Saturday which in turn moved Saturday to Sunday. That meant that I wasn’t going to get my walk on Sunday.

Arriving to work on Friday morning (still feeling a little under the weather but figuring that I would feel better once I got moving) I hatched a new plan that I would leave work somewhere between 11.30 and noon and fit Sunday’s walk in on Friday afternoon. I would be walking by 1pm, which would give me 4.5 hours to do a 15 mile circuit over local (very muddy and rutted) fields.

Being in training for this year’s Keswick to Barrow walk (more of that some other time), I was reluctant to miss out this weekend’s training altogether, so even when I didn’t manage to get away from work until a quarter past one, I still thought that I would fit my walk in.

What I failed to consider was the fact that being delayed by an hour meant that I now only had just over 3.5 hours of daylight to fit in the same 15 mile yomp over muddy fields that took us 5 hours last weekend (albeit this week I wouldn’t need a lucnhbreak, nor the time spent map reading).

It was 3.45pm, at which point I was still approximately 8 miles from home, when I realised that I had omitted to re-calculate the daylight remaining based on my actual departure time.

Well, that was one heck of a speed walk for the next 6.5 miles! I did have a couple of bail out plans up my sleeve, but as it went, I just managed to get myself off the canal towpath onto the road a full dusk fell, and made my way round a local lake, across some recreation ground and into the village proper with darkness around me (big kick to myself for having considered and dismissed taking a headtorch with me when I set out; I was only walking over local fields and it seemed to be a bit of overkill. I won’t make that mistake again).

The stats were 12.5 miles walked in three hours and fifty five minutes. Not too bad considering the muddy and slippery conditions underfoot. Admittedly the calf muscles hurt for a while afterwards, but a hot bath soon sorted that out.

Saturday saw me fitting a couple of new locks for mother and standing up a ladder doing a bit of pointing, so all in all, all of the required activities got accomplished. I can now start the new week with a clear conscience and counting down to next weekend’s trip up to Keswick.

Thursday 22 February 2007

Am I sufficiently technologically advanced to do this?

Back in the days of computers that had green screens, when all I was expected to do was to type letters, I used to consider myself to be reasonably able with a computer.

These days, although my CV still claims that I’m computer literate, what I actually mean is that I can type and I can drive the usual Office programmes and a few other bespoke database systems. When it comes to setting up a website or creating a blog I’m lost within the first sentence of the first google result. The world of HTML confounds me. I feel a learning curve coming on.

But, here I am. I’ve managed to set up this blog (they said it was easy in the blurb – what they meant was it’s easy if you’ve already thought about a title and the like; if you haven’t and if you’re an indecisive person you could be scratching your head for hours).

So, what thoughts am I going to share with the world? I’m not quite sure yet, but it’s pretty much all going to be related to walking and backpacking. I like the outdoors. I like mud. I like kit (or kit likes me; I seem to have accumulated a lot of it either way).

I’m hoping that I’ve got enough to say and can find the time to be able to blog on something approaching a regular basis – only time will tell.

But for now, this is just my first test post to see what I can do with this blogspot thing.