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.