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!!)

1 comment: