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 27 April 2011

Random Thoughts


Random photo: sunset from the campsite at North Berwick

How has a week passed already? Okay, so I did spend three days of it walking the Missing Days, but the rest seems to have disappeared in a rather mysterious way. Tomorrow we’ll be heading back up to Inverkeithing for Part 2 of our adventure.


A couple of evenings ago I re-plotted, on Anquet, the section of the route that we’ve walked so far, to reflect the route that we actually took (on-the-ground variations to the plotted route are common; one day in particularly we barely followed any of the intended route).  I was very surprised by the results, as I would have reckoned that more often than not our amendments  cut corners, rather than adding mileage on.

What I found was:

- According to the originally plotted route, we should have walked 553 miles to Inverkeithing

- According to the tally on the blog, we have walked 556 miles

- According to the re-plotted route, we have walked 559 miles

So, not any great variance at all.


The Royal Mail has not been kind to us over the last week. Things that were put in the post in time to arrive before we leave tomorrow (even taking the Bank Holidays into account) have failed to arrive. Mick’s going to be setting back out without his merino wool short-sleeved t-shirt; Susie’s going to set out with a leaky seam (which hasn’t been an issue so far on this trip, but even with our weather luck to date I do feel like we’re living on borrowed time); and I’m setting out still without a tip on one of my Pacerpoles.

I did receive the replacement tip for my pole, but the old tip is proving very reluctant to part company with its companion of four years. So, after a chat with Heather and Alan at Pacerpole yesterday they kindly put another new section in the post to me in the hope that it would arrive today. It didn’t, so there’s now another section going in the post to meet me in Fort William. That will be the fourth pole section they’ve sent me so far this trip. (Mick is suggesting that we should rename the trip accordingly: from ‘E to W’ to ‘from pole to pole’.)


I’m struggling with shoe decisions this year. My last minute change before we set out in March didn’t turn out well and even though I’m pretty sure that the blame lay with the footbeds, I’m not risking returning to that pair. I then switched to some XA Pros, which have been superbly comfy, but (a) they haven’t got enough life in them to finish the trip; and (b) they’re not best suited to traipsing over Scottish lumpiness. Last weekend I tried out my Salomon Elios Mids (I used a pair extensively in 2008 with great comfort), but they didn’t work out either. So, here I am, 12 hours from the off and I still don’t know what shoes to wear. Guess a final decision will be made sometime before I get on that train…


I very nearly switched to my OMM Villain for the rest of the trip. I got as far as packing it today. The problem with the Villain is that for a long trip like this, with a few days food on board, I find that it’s full to the gunwales. The issue is even worse this year as I’m using a Thermarest NeoAir, so I can’t use my sleep-mat to double up as a back-pad, which means more space is being taken up in the pack. Everything did fit, but it fits a whole lot more easily (and more accessibly) into the Exos. So, the Exos will remain the pack of choice for this trip – even though it’s heavier and bulkier.

Lofty Down

On the vast majority of camping mornings on a long trip we get up early, pack our sleeping bags away and aim to be walking by between 7.30 and 8. The problem that presents is that the sleeping bags don’t get a chance to air. Add in a few long days, and we’ll find ourselves pitching in the evening and very soon we’re sitting in our sleeping bags. Even though I do try to air them when possible (when we camp early on a nice day; when we’re in a B&B), there is inevitably a build-up of moisture which can affect them. Last year Mick’s bag suffered particularly badly. I think that he must have had a sweaty night early on (which is quite astounding considering how cold the weather was; there was probably an incident involving him falling asleep fully clothed…), and his bag went all clumpy and stayed that way until the end of the trip when we had it professionally cleaned. Obviously, clumpiness caused a big drop in warmth. And none of our shaking and teasing of the down in warm B&B rooms served to restore it.

This year the moisture hasn’t taken its toll too badly, except around the hood areas. Presumably when the hoods have been done up tight there are times when we accidentally breathe into them in the night.

I would have thought that the only remedy would be having them cleaned, but last week I stumbled across the tip that as an alternative to a full wash you can pop them into the tumble dryer with a damp towel, the theory being that the moisture from the towel is enough to separate the down as it dries. Worth a try, I thought (obviously, it was worth a try on Mick’s bag first, just in case it went horribly wrong).

Well, what a revelation! Wish I’d known that tip last year! The bags are de-clumped and lofty once again. Even better, it’s something that can easily be done at a campsite that has a laundry.

Other down loftiness

Mick’s jacket is all lofty again too. And it doesn’t smell any more. I think that four years without a wash may have been pushing it just a little bit…

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, more to come! I'll let you know when Millicent arrives, should be today, I'm staying in to make sure. Good luck for the next leg!