Thursday, 28 May 2009

A two day walk

Employing the basic method of measuring a route on a map (marking a strip of paper against the route shown on the 1:25,000 map and then measuring the total length) produced a distance of 15.6 miles between my start point in Caterham along The North Downs Way to my overnight stop at Dorking. In all probability it was less than that but to me, on the ground, on the day, it seemed much more. I put that down to the state of my fitness rather than the condition of the (well manicured) paths of Surrey, downland England. And to my measuring method.
On my way
The reason for the walk was to test my fitness, in particular to see how I would cope with walking a distance in excess of 15 miles. So I set off from Caterham on the morning of Friday 22nd May, spent the night at a Bed & Breakfast in Dorking and returned along the same route the following day.

The section of the National Trail that I walked is a well trodden route and waymarking is fairly good. Despite that, and the glorious weather, and that it was the Friday before a Bank Holiday Weekend, there were few people on the trail. Surprisingly, there weren't many more on the Saturday either. The description of the route is well documented elsewhere so I'll not elaborate here other than to say that there are many interesting places along the way (Reigate Fort for example) and fine views overlooking the likes of Redhill, Reigate and Dorking.

View west to Box Hill from Colley Hill (TQ 245523)

As I said, the aim was to test my fitness. Well, I completed the walk of course and from the knees up I was just great. Plenty of puff. A feeling of elation to be walking with a pack on my back again - the Osprey Exos 46 (made up to a packed weight of 22lbs on this trip) is fantastic. Luxuriously comfortable, practical, attractive - Cool!

My knees and the soles of my feet would tell a different story though. They started to complain after about 5 miles and were really shouting by the end of each day. It may be that it is to do with the way I walk - I have had knee problems in the past and the pain/discomfort was not evident on the uphill sections. However, I'm hopeful that it's more about a need to get fitter. Although I was wrecked on arrival in Dorking, I was fairly well recovered after an early night and a good sleep. It wasn't as bad on the second day either. We'll see.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Short term targets

I promise not to go on about it in future blogs but I have to record that I have met my short term target to reduce my weight by 20lbs. When I stood on the scales on Monday morning this week, I was 20lbs lighter than I was on 9th March when I had decided I would try to lose that amount. I'm keen to remind myself that I have not been, and am not on, "a diet". I've changed my lifestyle so that I eat mostly the same things as before but less of them - mind you, my garden compost heap is testament to the fact that I am eating a lot more fruit. And I am more active of course. My efforts have paid off over the last 10 weeks and I am very pleased (not too smug I hope) with myself. I am still overweight but I'm confident that more pounds will go in the coming weeks. I'm not in a rush though and I am no longer focused on the issue.

This week, I hope to complete the other part of my short term target; a longish walk. On Friday I plan to walk from Caterham, Surrey, west along the route of The North Downs Way to Dorking. I'll stay at a Bed & Breakfast overnight (no wild camping on this trip) and then return along the same route on Saturday. It's about 16 miles in each direction.

Some may wonder "Why The North Downs Way?" Well, my start point is close to my daughter and family's house and they will put me up for the night before and after the walk. And, more importantly, they will look after my dog Holly - a 10 year old Border Terrier who loves to walk but wouldn't be able to manage the distance I hope to cover.

My Weight: 12 - 18 May -2lb. Since 9 Mar (10 wks) -20lbs.

Monday, 11 May 2009

The excitement is back

The excitement that I felt whilst prepararing for my first long distance walk (The Cleveland Way) many years ago was accompanied, naturally enough, by a feeling of apprehension. I was setting off on a great adventure. Would I be capable of completing the course? The same excitement was always resuscitated during the build up to subsequent long distance walks and it is with me now. The apprehension was not long-lived after embarking upon that first walk but it has returned. It has been a while since I have walked 15+ miles a day so I'm not sure how well I can cope. The mind is willing but I have yet to see if the body is still able. "You'll be alright!" I hear you say - well the kinder folk out there will be saying that.

I'll have some idea later this month of what I'm capable of when I take a two day walk in southern England, and then a better idea in July when I spend a week in the north-west. "I'll be alright!" I hear myself saying.

Later this month I plan to walk a small section of The North Downs Way - fifteen plus miles in one direction (staying overnight at Bed & Breakfast accommodation) and then walking back to my start point the following day. More about that in a later blog.

In July I aim to spend a week in The Lake District. I'm spoilt for choice on where to go of course but the general idea is to find a demanding, continuous route (camping & Bed & Breakfast). More about that in a later blog (as well as blogs en route) too.

Three sets of excitement. I hope I can cope with that as well.

My Weight: 5 - 11 May -1lb. Since 9 Mar (9 wks) -18lbs.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Shangri-La 1 & Big Agnes Air Pad

I used my Golite Shangri-La 1 and Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad overnight for the first time at the weekend and I'm very pleased with the outcome.

The Shangri-La is excellent. It's lightweight of course and, packed away, doesn't occupy much room in my rucksack. Erecting it is simple. Admittedly, I put it up in bright, dry and calm conditons on a level garden lawn. Putting walking poles to a second use as tent poles is a great bonus. Inside the shelter there is plenty of space for me, my bed and rucksack. Just one slightly negative comment which is that there was quite a build up of condensation overnight. In defence of the shelter, it may be that I restricted the airflow by pegging it out close to the ground. Overall - five stars so far though.

Five stars for the Big Agnes Air Pad too. I'm a light sleeper and prefer a soft, warm bed. The Air Pad is both. I sleep better when using two or more soft pillows as well so I cheated on this first night by using a couple of pillows that won't accompany me on any walk. On this occasion they helped ensure a comfortable night.

My Weight: 28 Apr -4 May -3lbs. Since 9 Mar (8 wks) -17lbs.