Sunday, 27 December 2009

A day in the welsh mountains - en route to Arenig Fach

A 10 mile walk in mid Wales, the second half to the day including walking thro boggy terrian, crossing rivers and snow drifts. In upto the top of my legs at one time

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Kit List & Weight

Following is my kit list/quantity and weight:- Item..................Qty (_x)..Weight (_g) Freeflow 50L Backpack 1x 1812g Stuff Sacs 5x 144g Walking socks mid 2x 150g (Wear+1) Trousers 1x 470g (Wear+1) Base layer 2x 400g (Wear+1) Arm Warmers 1x 111g Micro fleece 1x 347g Walking Jacket - Paramo 0x 0g (Wear+1) Underwear 2x 204g (Wear+1) Plastic Compression Bags 3x 111g 1st Aid kit 1x 488g Wash Kit 1x 224g Suntan lotion 1x 196g Phone Charger 1x 99g MP3 2x 89g Washing Line 1x 45g Wash tablets 2x 121g Sunglass Case/Sunglasses 1x 107g Spare batteries+charger 1x 251g Water proof trousers 1x 261g Gaiters 1x 106g Waterproof jacket - Berghaus 1x 453g Luminous Jacket 1x 287g Baseball cap 1x 47g Gloves 1x 116g Bandana 1x 36g Hat 1x 35g Walking boots 1x 1102g Lite weight shoes 0x 0g (Wear+1) Cash 1x 100g Cards 1x 11g YHA Card 1x 1g Phone 1x 223g Camera 1x 194g Maps 1x 504g Itinery/Receipts 1x 108g Walking sticks 2x 388g Pack lunch case 1x 89g Platypus 1x 120g Compass 1x 29g Flask 1x 266g Mirror 1x 24g Knee Sock 1x 21g Stationary 1x 12g Clothew Pegs 4x 28g Phone Stylus (Spare) 1x 1g Karibian Hook 1x 9g Belts 1x 41g (Wear+1) GPS 1x 156g Seat 1x 32g Wallet 1x 37g Waterproof Phone Case 1x 42g Camera Case 1x 76g Waterproofing 1x 154g Totals 10.478Kg

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Kit now ready

Have now finalised my kit list and with Santa's arrival on the 25th all items shall be purchased and tested, although I am still debating on whether to buy a replacement pair of berghaus paclite waterproof trousers, there's my birthday for that expense I suppose. The final weight in is due and I will post the total soon. In the last month I have brought a pair of "cyclist" arm warmers, which will be worn will my T shirts if too cold or am wearing my gore tex jacket over the top (Hate waterproof jackets next to skin!!). Have purchased a Pro Shell baseball cap, which is lite as anything but is waterproof replacing a cloth, heavier non w/proof one. Have decided that my trusty GPS is travelling with me, this will be used to create a trial of my walk (MUST remember to turn it on each day) and also I have generated a series of 800 waypoints for the whole walk. That way I will have an indication of walking in the right direction and the time / distance to that nights accommodation. I usually have 100 waypoints for a days walk so will have to get used to less detail, as I can only load 500 into GPS at anyone time. Have maintained a training schedule, the 3 days canal walks weren't as wet as promised although did get soaked on the second day, my fault couldn't be bothered putting on w/proof trousers until too wet - lesson to be learnt there I think. Apart from that fell great after wanting to do more. Walked in the Malverns twice, to maintain my "mountain legs" as although no too high they are undulating and do test the calves, the last of these on the shortest day along snowy tracks. Whilst on this walk I was approached by a cameraman for Central New looking for "winter hill" shows and as there wasn't too may people around, guess who starred later that evening. Notice all the shots were from behind me - best angle???? The other walk completed was a 25km walk over the Black Mountains, this was completed half in mist but later in the day along the ridge the mist cleared for some great views. One final note, the Website is now nearing completion and the serious issue of fund raising begins - the walk I think will be easier!!!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Dry Run - In the Wet

Tomorrow, starts 3 days of walk in preparation for next year. Up to now single 20 mile walks have made up the training schedule along with some regular treadmill (boring!!) work, whereas tomorrow and the following 2 day I will be covering 20miles+ per day. Initial route planning was to follow the Severn Way from Bewdley to south of Gloucester, but due to the recent and predicted weather (flood up Cumbria etc) I have chosen to stick to the canals(which don't flood?). Essential is good path finding as it is dark from 4.15 onwards, so the time will be spent walking not scratching my head looking at maps. Well that's the plan. Along with the distance I will be carrying 3/4 weight of the predicted pack of next year. Long distance paths are not new to me, neither is 20miles a day on a long distance path, its the duration of the walk which motivating me to step up the training. An a different subject, entertainment during the walk is being addressed, with the purchase of a second 8Gb MP3 player with FM radio. The current 4Gb MP3 player will have some audio books loaded and hopefully an English - Spanish language course - well I can try to educate myself - or is that too late (Future blogs in Spanish????). On the second MP3 player will be music and lots of it. Currently going thro my CD collect including Disco from the Seventies, everything from the 80's etc and load on to the PC to download onto the MP3. Both the players are cheap (£25) and not the Ipod standard, but the beauty is they run on AAA batteries so recharge from a computer is not necessary. I am thinking of taking rechargeable AAA batteries, which is subject to getting a camera with AAA batteries - another story. So with the exception of walking busy roads I'll have the music on singing or spouting some "Brummie" Spanish whilst walking along. God help anyone who see/hears me. Other than that the other form of entertainment, as summarised in one of the many LEJOG books is "Skull Cinema" This is playing visions in your head as walking along, maybe scenes from the past, who knows, but I'll certainly have plenty of time to do it. Just looked at the forecast for the next 3 day wet, windy, you get the picture, drowned rat, lets hope the kit holds out.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Maps continued

Each laminate in the top Rh corner has been left clear to enable the attachment of a small mirror to it. The mirror, brought from Cotswold Outdoors comes pre pierced, so by hole punching the laminated the mirror can be attached with a brass fastener with split legs (If I can find them as Staples have discontinued them), but why? Is it to check on my complexion as I walk along Britain's wind sweep roads - Answer No, Check on my own natural beauty - No, not so paranoid, then why? The answer is, when walking along the road, walking into traffic, you can assess easily vehicles approaching. You would hope all vehicle behind were approaching on their side of the road, dual carriageways shouldn't be an issue. The problem arises when a vehicle behind is overtaking and enters the side of the road you are walking, behind you, when wearing a backpack and after a while repeatedly looking back becomes a major pain, therefore a mirror attached to the map which, I always generally carry can be used to assess the road behind and decide whether I need to take action, like drive into the hedge! Having read other Blogs, this is by far the worst factor of road walking, as when overtaking, if there isn't a vehicle then overtaking commences. Additional to the laminated maps, I will have the whole of the country with the waymarked routes downloaded on my phone, when used with the GPS it becomes a very useful tool to locate exactly where you are on a map formatted. This also give the ability to view the wider area beyond what is included in the "strip maps". The telephone will allow me to update the Blog and download pictures during the walk (subject to signal!), capture addition photo's and access route and iternery details within excel and powerpoint. (But not do work!). Oh and almost forgot phone home. Once again the maps has been achievable due to the Pocket Anquet software, which although is less than the PC version is more than satisfactory for my needs.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Mapping /Jacket Selection

Although the route of the walk was planned very early, and since all the accommodation booked, it is only recently that I have considered the issue of maps for the walk. Having read other blogs the number of 1:50000 maps needed to cover the country is 30+, this leading to the logistics issue of carrying the maps or posting on the maps to strategic points etc. with weight being a major issue. To overcome this, I have from my Anquet computer mapping software, printed of the entire route on 90 off A4 sheets. I have had the entire country at 1:50000 scale for a number of years now, (for previous walks) so this then hasn't been an expense incurred as a result of this walk. The 90 maps have been cut up into strip maps and laid next to each other and laminated for waterproofing. Using both sides of the laminate, this has resulted in 23 A4 laminated sheets covering the whole country. This however has been a time consuming activity taken the best part of 10 hours to cut and lay out, but the result is foldable maps which will fit neatly into pockets and can be disposable, en route. As the second rest day will be a home I can leave 14 at home for the first part of the route, taking just 9, this will reduce weight as well. An alternative of printing on tough, waterproof paper presented itself after having printed the 90 off, this may have been more appealing, but considering the expense of repeating the printing of 90 pages, I decided against it. Changing the subject, I was getting increasingly dis satisfied with my choice of jackets for the walk, recent rainy walks have lead me to the conclusion that I was making the wrong choice.The initial plan was a micro fleece for warmth and evening, North face lite weight soft shell, Berghaus paclite jacket and a Hi vis "cycling " jacket for visibility on the busy roads. The issue was, the soft shell is not water proof at all and the slightest rain soaks the jacket and is slow to dry (even though the jacket has been proofed?) I have now invested in a paramo light weight activity smock for £170. this will replace the shell and depending upon drying time, potentially the fleece as well. It is waterproof and will be used on cooler/wet days. The paclite will be used on the warmer wet days. Hopefully there won't be to many wet days!!!!! I used the Paramo top yesterday for the first time, completing a walk from the centre of Birmingham to Tamworth, some 30km's. It was a cool bright days and the breath ability worked great, the laminated map fittedd in the front pouch and all was well. The walk was an interesting one, walking out of the centre on the same canals as the Grand Union walk (previously done), the heading of through the industrial area towards Aston, similar to the walk through Smethwick a few weeks ago. then underneath Spagetti Junction and along past the old "Rover Apprentice Training School" on Tyburn Rd where I spend a year in my apprenticeship years (1980). Then past Fort Dunlop, Jaguar Cars, the old Cincinnati factory toward Minworth and Curdsworth. At Curdsworth when through the tunnel which measures 53m a bit shorter than the Neverton tunnel at 2800m completed a few weeks ago. Then under the M6 Toll, past the Villa training camp at Bodymoor Heath, along the Hearth of England Way (previously done) to Drayton Manor Park and then Tamworth.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Moel Hebog aborted, Plan B the Brecons

A couple of years ago, the day following Boxing Day we had to abort getting to the summit of Moel Hebog due to gale force winds. The same fate laid ahead today, following the fore casted 80mpg Storm Force gusts that were predicted. To abort once was bad enough, so when the same prospect presented itself, then a decision was made at 5.30am on the day to consider plan B. Did plan B exist before 5.30am, No, but it was soon hatched with us select a walk from a list rapidly assembled. This instead took us to the Brecons, to hopefully a better weather forecast.
Well if constant rain and gales (not quite storm force) was better then we certainly achieved our aim.
So today saw us summit Fan Ned and another couple of unpronounceable named summits. In total the 17.3km walk topped out at 725m and despite the weather conditions I think all enjoyed.
Monday sees the family off to the Lake District, not walking but at Centre Parcs. May be able to get away for 3 hours to complete Binsley, a summit of only 400 odd meters, but it will be nice to complete it as its a Wainwright out on its own. Will let you know.
On a completely different note, my mate "Ade" is working on a website which will be linked off the Special Olympics site for the walk next year(This, after doing the Brecon walk today).
Ade working out which way to go (His websites are better than his navigation)
The aim is to:-
Have a facility for online donations for the walk
Hold all the route an walk details
Read in the blog details - so my planned daily enters can be viewed by those visiting the site.
By the look of it development is going well, in fact you may actually be reading this account on it (in the future), so what do you think???

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Update on training walks

This weekend off to Moel Hebog for some uphill stuff along with the two mountains that neighbour Hebog. In October this far have completed a 19 mile walk around the Breacon's summiting Corn Du, Pen-y-Fan , Cribyn and Fan-y-Big , this was done in rain and gales force bluster winds up on the ridges. Also, done leg 1 of the Birmingham to Aberwysth walk out of Birming to Stourbridge on the canals. This walk will feature progressively more in the training, but the big feature of leg1 was walking through the Netherton Canal tunnel at 2800m in the dark (head torch on). This strictly isn't the route in the book but I couldn't resist, as I'm also working on covering all the canals within the Midlands ring of canals.
Planning 2 days off in November to cover more legs of the Thirlmere Way as I'm still interested in completing JOGLE but day and weeks walk(on a different route to next years epic.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Countdown at 192 Days 13 Hrs 49mins 40 Secs to what and why

Another month gone, another month closer to Walk Day 1, The countdown on the computer is identifying exactly 192 days 13 hours and 49 minutes to walking away from Land's End. I'm still trying to establish whether its ages away or really near, suppose it depends on whether I'm thinking about state of readiness or anticipation of starting. With Christmas and a birthday in between there is still opportunity to refine and buy any new equipment, more of that later. On a positive note accommodation booking is nearing completion, some 80% actually booked and locations for the other 20% known, it'll be a weight of my mind when it's 100% confirmed. In booking some of the accommodation I have sent deposits / payments so in doing so there is now significant financial commitment to the project. "In for a penny in for a pound….." . Along with the financial commitment, booking the accommodation has committed the route, to a large degree, local adjustments I'm sure will be made during the journey, based on terrain and how energetic I'm feeling day to day, but the start and finish are now known. These will be loaded to the Blog sometime soon along with the more detailed route. Walking the length of Britain has been an aspiration of mine for a number of years now. Up to 8 months ago, when I schemed this walk, I was working my way from one end of the country to the other in sections, sometimes in lengthier one week LDP walks, such as Offa's Dyke, West Highland Way, Great Glen and the Cumbria Way, and also in individual day walks interlinking these paths. This had no end date but it always felt that the continuous walk challenge was not being addressed. So, with a sudden moment of madness I wondered would it be possible to complete, using all my annual holiday for one year, plus optimising bank holidays, around April/May. 2009 would have been a great time to have done it, with the timing of Easter and its holiday, however, this was too soon for planning and financial preparation so 2010 was seen as the optimum timing. A plan was hatched, permissions were sort from family and work and as the snowball gained momentum, shifting to freefall. The planned activity was now declared to an increasing audience, that was it, no going back, so before a penny was spent, the project was really committed. It was at this point that the opportunity of the "Sponsored Walk" came to mind. I have in the past completed walks such as the Coast to Coast for sponsorship, so why not this one? Two charities, both of which I have walked for before immediately came to mind, these being Special Olympics Redditch, a group that I actively am engaged with and JDRF, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, as I like many I have a family members with diabetes. I'll talk in more length in the future about these causes and my links to them. So there it is the walk, the charities, next came the planning, this was completed using the Anquet mapping software. I had worked out that the shortest distance was approx 900 miles, I made it 49 days continuous holidays available, of which 4 would be assigned as rest days, so 45 walking days, that equates to 20miles/day average. (Always good at maths). This left me with a dilemma, the walk that I would chose to do would be off road all route, using the Pennine Way as the main path up the north of England. After buying a number of books on the subject and reading numerous blogs, this seemed the most popular way of doing it, only the length increases to over 1100 miles, too much for my 45 days. So, with regret, a more direct route was traced up the country, using major roads as the shortest way. From here, minor roads, parallel tracks, canals, rivers and paths which roughly followed the shortest "road" route, substituted the main roads. South West and North East will need to be road primarily due to no viable short alternatives. The major decision which had to be made was the route through Scotland, two options were available, one following from South of Glasgow to Inverness via Edinburgh and Aviemore, and the other preferred route following the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. Both of these paths have previously been completed, but the major consideration was accommodation choice. Besides I can do the other when I return to the original plan of long term LEJOG. The final decision to be made was, to complete individually or with someone. As I could find no one mad enough, the choice was taken out of my hands, so on my own it is. This does have benefits of setting ones own speed (within limits of reaching the accommodation at the end of the day) and not having to consider others. During the training to day I have done a lot of the training walks in isolation, this does not bother me, as I enjoy being totally accountable for route finding etc, but the nights of being on my own will be the biggest challenge, although writing the blog daily and preparing for the following day will keep me busy (Plus lots of food and Beer!!)

Friday, 4 September 2009

Where did August Go????

A while now since the last entry.
However, have been busy walking the Malverns, Moel Famau (Offa's Dyke), Hay Bluff (The Black Mountains) and finishing off the North Worcs Path,
More recently completing the Dalesway Walk, 84 miles from Ilkley to Windermere. This is the last long distance path being done in one before "the walk" next year and all went off ok.
Was able to test some kit and also buy some when in the shopping heaven of Ambleside. photo's off the walk are attached (not all as took over 500).
Following coming back did a 20 miler from Himley in the Black Country using a disused railway and canals, not much elevation but pleasant all the same.
Now looking forward to a 3 day stroll in the lakes mid September with all our kit carried on our back. Just contemplating having this as a trial run for all the kit I'll be carrying next year, Although i won't need it all. We're planning a fair few ascents, 21 summits in total so should be a test for the kit and me.
Most the kit I originally spec'd is brought however i am debating options in my head constantly and probably will until day 1. A blog of someone who has recently finished that i am reading went thro exactly the same so I am not alone in my indecision.
Well 224 days to go, can't wait

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Quick update

Managed a 29km road walk to Solihull and back yesterday, completed in 5 hours (walking with absolutely no pack etc. Training going well it has to be said. Next week plan to go up to the Lakes and gets some mountains in. On the equipment front, had a smaller 1st aid kit for Fathers Day. Save some weight, the kit is not comprehensive so I will add a couple of things like blister plasters, tablets etc but should make an overall weight saving. Got a new phone which I have loaded my Anquet maps to and loaded Route 66 sat nav to back up the strip maps I am going to print off and navigate to. Some tech issues with Anquet I am trying to solve, but now have 283 days to sort it. Phone comes with Windows software so can save walk details to it in Excel format etc. Not buying any clothes yet as still trying to lose weight (lost to date 1 stone) targeting 3/4 to 1 stone more - dieting harder than the walking, hopefully as the training increases this should help. Started off by calling this a quick update, but probably the longest yet - learning is enter the title after the text - shall do next time

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Waun Fawr Nite Walk

Just completed the 26 km circular walk onto Waun Fawr in the Black Mountains (Wales). Walk started from a village called Llanbedr and involved a 1064m ascent in total onto Waun Fawr and surrounding mountains. Difference this time was the walk was completed during the night, which made navigation hard, particularly during the 2 hours of rain and mist. Made Waun Fawr for sun rise but once again (after the same on the longest day previous year-Fan y Big) was disappointed by the non event due to cloud and mist. Arrived home tired due to no sleep but enjoyed it even though not all could make it (some cried off with feeble excuses)

Friday, 5 June 2009

One Year to go

Exactly one year today (all being well) I will have finished "the walk" A few celebration drinks this time next year at John o' Groats?????????

Clee Hill Training Walk

34km walk on the Clee Hills completed on what has got to be the hottest day of the year so far. 10 hours walking in total, felt quite drain by the end. Had Clive's company with a description of every bird we saw, however, they all scarpered before any decent photo's could be taken. Over 1100m ascent in total, a walk harder than any planned!! next year.
Followed large sections of both the Shropshire Way and the Jack Myton Way

Sunday, 24 May 2009

North Worcs Path 10miles

More of a warm up for the Dales Way (Aug09). A 10 miles walk along the centre of the North Worcs Path from Hagley to the Lickey Hills, including the Clent Hills and Wasley Hill, 642m ascent. Lovely weather......

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Getting Prepared

My name is Russ, live in Worcestershire . This blog will be my account leading upto and including walking solo from Lands End to John o' Groats.
Initial entries will be getting used to "blogging" and details of getting ready. Apologies for the un professional approach but it will get better.
Walk proper starts 17th April 2010....bring it on