Thursday, 28 October 2010

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis - If you can pronounce it and know what it is, it's resulted in a 4 week walking break for me. If not then its a "pain in the heel", a condition that I'd first suffered when doing the West Highland Way back in at the beginning of the Century, and now some years later it returned to hamper my walking adventures. I don't think this was a reaction to the LEJOG, as it occurred sometime after, more likely to be playing football in some not very well supported or cushioned trainers (the bin beckons). Anyway after walks and also playing footy, the following day for the first couple of hours I could bearly put any weight on the hell, so the only cure, absolute rest. So no walking, no simulated walk on the treadmill (still near to Dornoch) and no footy. However, I'm going to attempt to restart my body, its amazing how sluggish you get to feel, after just 4 weeks rest. So time to dust off the cobwebs, and get some blood circulating. This weekend I'm targeting the Severn Way between Shrewsbury down to a place called Cresswell, 22km in total, but starting with a warm up of 30 mins on the treadmill tonight. In recent weeks, I've learnt to use Window Movie Maker and made a number of "movies" from my LEJOG photo's, set to music. These have been published to You Tube and linked to the blog (see to the left, below the big picture at the top of the blog), click on the view.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Severn Way

After a slow beginning and mid august, the end certainly kicked into life with three walks completed over the Bank holiday and the first week in September. Somehow without knowing about it I have decided to complete the Severn Way over the next six months.
For those who don't know the River Severn is the longest river in the UK and start in Wales by the River Wye, it heads over via Newtown , Welshpool and Shrewsbury to the Midlands , before heading south to Bristol.
I have completed various parts of this walk whilst completing other challenges, so it only seem right to connect the bits done. The additional three legs have been from Stourport to Worcester, Tewkesbury to Gloucester and Upper Framilode to Slimbridge, the later two covering LEJOG ground, once again returning fond memories. I did have a nasty shock during the last of these walks, I'd somehow left my cold drink at home so only had the coffee I'd made. Being 28km walk I though I'd need to buy some refreshments en route, which at the top of the Arlingham Peninsula, there is a pub, which when i saw it on the map I though "that will do", so in I went to have my usual pint of orange and lemonade (never drink on a walk), thinking it'll be £2 -3, usually what it costs, so when bill came for £5.50 , I wish I'd had a Lager, would have been cheaper, so warning anyone doing this walk - take your own drink or a mortgage with you. (Did however help myself to my "own" sarnies, god knows how much they would have cost?
The Gloucester to Upper Framilode leg, I am going to time coincidental with a Severn Bore (wave which goes upstream), this could have been done today, but for decorating.
Looking ahead to my e2 challenge, I have researched next year LDP's and provisional timing is just after Whitsun for the Southern Upland Path, and beginning of August for the North Downs (half) Path, other half the next year!
I have now become a member of the End to End club, and received my official certificate of "Outstanding Achievement" and also purchase a club fleece, now worn with pride.

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Eleven weeks gone now since arriving at John O'Groats (wish the name of the smaller, I'm fed up of typing it all in), since I have been mulling over what I should do in the future, no I haven't learnt my lesson and been put off walking!
Even joining the End to End Club, so I'll get the certificate - wow!! Existing walking projects are still on the go such as the Birmingham to Aberystwyth walk at 30%, Grand Union at 50%. These will be continued as random weekend walks. I am 60% through climbing the Wainwrights, which once again is a long term objective to "bag" them all. Next year I aim to meet up with Graham Hart, who is completing them all in one year for charity, so this will see a few more of them ticked off. Two longer projects on the go, are the "piecemeal" LEJOG I have been undertaking for a number of years, by joining LDW's across the country, here most of central England is complete, with Land's End to Minehead and 3 days in Lancashire to complete England. I was going to use the WHW and GGW in Scotland as these have been completed. Now having completed LEJOG in one, using these paths, I am considering changing this project to walking from the South West to the North West corner of England, hence adding the walk from Newcastle to the border of Scotland. The other project has me completed a continuous walk from Bath to Edale, this one sticks from the others walks as to where it goes next? This however is to form the backbone of what I am considering undertaking. Walking from Kent to Land's End has been considered, likewise, Aberystwyth to Norwich (although this still maybe done?), but purely by accident when reviewing the Heart of England path, I noted this was part of the E2 European Path. What's that, I questioned. I had seen reference to it before, but never paid much attention. But investigating future, there are 10 cross Europe Paths, E2 goes from Nice, France (yes France) to Ireland, although the Ireland leg does not exist at present, so currently Nice to Stranraer. No you get a ferry at Dover and not walk across the water! The way it traces through the UK sees it crossing Scotland, using the Southern Upland Way (one I've been eyeing for a while - see photo of crossing the SUW on my LEJOG at Beattock)), then joining the Pennine Way, via the St Cuthbert Way. All the way down the Pennine Way to Hebdon Bridge,, then to the Heart of England Way using the Gritstone and Staffordshire Way (Done some). Heart of England down to the Cotswolds, Thames Path and North Downs Way to Dover, Don't sound far does it? In France, it follows the French border all the way down from the English Channel to the Med. So, bit at a time. Concentrating on the UK legs, next year I can walk half the North Downs Way with my wife and then the Southern Upland way in 10 -12 days on my own, subject to other holiday commitments…Later the French legs could be done with mixing them with holidays etc. However, where I was considering a German language course French maybe more appropriate?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

August - not a walking month -so far

From walking almost every Saturday during July, I have gone to not walking at all in August so far. With a planned trip to Stonehenge and Glastonbury this weekend, that will only leave the final Bank Holiday weekend to remedy the situation. Last weekend however did have a walking and LEJOG theme as I spent the whole weekend retracing my LEJOG route capturing photo's lost when my camera left me at Taunton. Is nice to have a complete photo set of the whole walk, even thought some aren't from the actual days. I'd forgotten some of the route, scenery and features from the first week having no photo's to recall from. Memories of the final 5 1/2weeks have been boosted by the photo's, so now having all seven weeks I'll have no excuse. I have made sure that these are suitably backed up. Photo shown is the position where I discovered the camera was lost and the wall I almost kicked in anger!! Walking on the treadmill, as boring as it is, is still going well, keeping me ready for when I do finally get out for a LDW. I am now at Brora, walking the A9, heading for Drumrobin Castle (I remember that day walking up the country well, with the fantastic views along the coast) on my "simulated" walk down the country, since beginning at the start of July I have covered some 60 miles. (see map!)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Walk Update

Since last entry have completed two walks, with the fact I boarded transport bound for London on both.
Last week along with Carl (Follower) we headed into the capital to do the "Monopoly Board Walk, visiting each of the streets off the game and having a photo taken with each street name plate, Finding them was more difficult than navigating around the capital itself. A total of 28.3km was covered, partially because there is no street called Mayfair, so we hunted down the Mayfair Hotel in its place.
Question, which is the only place on the board south of the river? Answer in a later blog (As long as I remember)
Today I walked along the Severn Way (picture under M50 motorway) between Tewkesbury and Worcester, a distance of 34km, after catching the London bound coach from Worcester. The original plan was I was to drop onto some of this route when on the LEJOG on "Day 13" to get off the A38.
Well "13" is already covered on the blog dated 30 April, but because of shin problems I stayed on the A38. So I had decided to revisit this leg to sample the Severn Way stingers again. Previous times when I have encounter the Severn at Ironbridge and Bristol, I have fought and lost with plantations of stinger (today was no different)
The walk was interesting in the main but towards Worcester some diversions spoilt the walk by delivering you into Worcester on the road (bar the Cathedral stretch).
Where the Severn Way interacts with the A38, was very emotional, when doing the LEJOG I hadn't clocked the fact the path joined the A38 for around 500m, due to the distraction of pain on the day. But where I struggled due to my tight, which also hurt and resulted me walking backward on a slight incline was where the Severn Way joins, likewise on the bend in the road which follows was where I "had" to have a rest.
Anyway the legs were much better today.
Yesterday was 7 week since John O'Groats, the time I took to complete the walk, guess its getting further in the past daily, still working on the next, lets just say E2
An update on my "Simulated" JOGLE, a reminder if you forgot, whilst training on the treadmill I am recording the distance for the session and transferring it on the the JOGLE map (same route as the LEJOG) to date I have just passed the second accommodation at Latheronwheel, am on the A9 head south toward Inverness, I think this project is going to last a while, but it does help motivate me to get on the "Mill". Will publish a map in the future.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

LEJOG but not mine

This weekend I joined Richard Davis for a walk, he is over from Australia walking from Lands End to John O'Groats. We walked about 21km's, from Chipping Campden to Bidford on Avon . This walk along the Heart of England path was a repeat of the route I had previously completed with my wife in 2007. The 2010 summer continues with warm dry weather and this walk was no different, when the breeze was around it was certainly a refreshing feeling, however, this seemed to come and go throughout the day.
Richard was fully "bagged up", whilst I felt guilty in the heat just with a day sack. This being the reverse to the situation I was in just 37 days previous, the lenght of time since I'd finished.
Since finishing my walk, every part of my body has protested in some way. More so that when I was actually walking, is this always the case? My legs seem to be tighter now than when walking, I suppose I'll just have to up my "warming down" walks, starting with an interesting walk planned around the streets of the Monopoly board, in London next week, around 15 miles in total

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Back walking again

After two weeks, was back on my feet this weekend returning to probably the nearest point to home on the LEJOG route. Some of the LEJOG route was retrodden, as I made my way to the Stafford & Worcester Canal, however, instead of taken the towpath northerly to Kiddiminster, I took a left turn to follow it south to Stourport on Severn.
At the bridge, I was hit by a moment of nostalgia, as I looked to the path to John O'Groats, remembering the state of my shins last time I was here. The remainder of the walk was following the Severn Way to Bewdley, before swapping sides of the Severn and returning on a less obvious path on the other side of the river.
A mile stretch was a battle through undergrowth, thistle, hawthorn branches and nettles. Upon returning to Stourport, I made for the familiar Hartlebury Common, where I had an all to familiar dog encounter before taking a short/long cut into a cul-de-sac. Route was just over 21km, which was just the answer, enabling me to have a lie in and get hole early for an evening up Birmingham.
Prior to starting my LEJOG, I'd killed the treadmill, with all the training, this has now been replaced. The seven week walk resulted in a loss of 15lbs. I think I would have lost more, had Steve not converted me to Scottish Shortbread when I met him. Several, and I mean several packs were consumed in the final weeks of my walk.
So, I have now reverted back to stomping on the treadmill, but now to introduce a novelty factor into it I am completing a "virtual/simulated" JOGLE.
What the hell is he on about?? Well, each time I walk, I record the distance, this is then transferred onto my mapping software. I left John O'Groats last week and am 10km away at present, having lost the vision of the North Coast, yes I look at my photo's to see what I should be seeing . And NO dogs to have to worry about. Estimates at present suggest it should take just short of two years to complete, subject to continued training. Will update periodically or when something reportable happens en route.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Day 46 Back in Redditch

Now the walk has been over a number of days and I've settled back rather surprisingly easy into the routine of normality, its time to reflect of the adventure and experiences of the seven weeks of walking "end to end". Initially I had doubts of getting bored and isolated, not during the walk itself, but during the evenings. This however rarely occurred; the only time I had occasion to be bored was when I forced myself to recovery during the rest days. Early evening and nights were occupied getting food and beer, blogging often after the beer, doesn't it show and preparing kit etc for the following day (and also shopping to replace lost/broken items). Never during the 45 walking days did I not want to get up and at it, even when I overslept, I think I was dreaming about walking and going through the motions in my sleep. Neither did I even question why I was doing it, sure at times it hurt, particularly on day 13, but I also knew this is what I wanted and was going to maximise it to its fullest. I meet some great people on the walk, both walking and during the evenings, all showed great interest, attention and in some cases hospitality. In most cases the accommodation, although sourced generally from the cheaper end of the market was adequate in provision and good in the person. There was exception at both ends, some exceptionally good places which offered over and above the others with a level of almost friendship rather than just hosting, and of course the other end, which I have detailed previously. All equally have been part of the adventure and now memories to be recalled with a smile and chuckle. One of the biggest surprises was my arrival at John O'Groats. Several times during the planning and whilst actually walking, I had drifted off into a daydream state, visualising and almost practised the approach along the final straight, the road into JOG's. During these moments, I considered myself being overwhelmed by emotion and a level of accomplishment. I often wondered how I would manage to hold it together as I do not usually exhibit extremes of emotion outwardly. Reality, however was completely different, I had battled against easterly headwinds for the last 4 miles, so was quite windswept and battered during the final ¼ mile straight. This was followed by congratulations from wife and brother who were there to greet me and then a photo's by the sign post to match the ones taking at the start. Then I was sweep by an immense warm of contentment and stillness. All the planning and walking had delivered me to this end. There was no need to jump around shouting, I was just filled with a calm and quietness. This was both surprising and welcoming, as it was a nice feeling to end the adventure. One which itself recognised my solo achievement, for it is only the walker who truly knows how deep his dug. During the course of the walk the GPS could and would display walking data, most was ignored; the one which mattered most was distance. I’d estimated, ignoring what the signposts say, that the walk was going to be around 900 miles, the halfway point and mental count down were all geared on this estimate. Each day I would take down the reading direct from the GPS and post it on the Blog. Only since coming back have I added it all up and can report an error in calculation of 3.25miles, the total being 903.25 miles, not a bad guess and highly satisfying that the sum was over the 900 mile mark.
Disappearing camera and MP3 were not the only losses, somewhere in the country is just over 1 stone (14lbs) of me which I managed to drop somewhere, I remember a moment when the ground shock, maybe that was it? Or perhaps the weight lose was when I shave off the beard on the Sunday, 7 weeks was long enough. This is intended to be my last blog enter on the walk, only if sometime dramatic is remember, will I add more. I intend to continue writing to the blog on other walking encounters, none planned as significant as this. I will also do a review of kit and maybe B&B’s, but time is merging most stays into one, and it’s only the extreme ones which stick out. I hope all that have read the blog have enjoyed its content, I intend on going back into it to correct certain grammar and spelling, that's a job in itself!!!
I hope I have not offended anyone, non intent meant, but if the blog has created a smile at all, please consider a small donation on the website (to the charities and not me), as comedy this good you would normally pay a fortune for. Finally, thanks to all who made it possible and all who have encouraged and lifted me with their comments, e-mails and texts.
WOW what a 7 weeks, I remember a film called 9 ½ weeks, maybe Hollywood will turn this into an Epic, from the blog script, Lassie to take the part of the dog, and they’ll have to find some ginger and grey bearded superstar to play the hero in the movie, can’t think of any who match up to the stature of me, (large belly…………)

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Day 44 latheronwheel to watten

Last but one day was 31.0km long. The A9 suddenly turned left a mile or so after leaving the B&B. The A road suddenly acquired another 9 to become the A99, which I followed for another 4 miles passed Lybster and its land based oil rig. This was a change from seeing the two sea based ones which have been to my right for the last day.
Turning right onto a single track lane that was the last of the A roads to just before John O'Groats.
The single track lane has had lots of long, and do I mean lang straight, which have seemed to go on forever, upon finishing one you round the corner to the next. All the scattered houses along the lane seem to have dogs running free in the front, all welcoming me with their own barking "hello". Behind fences there ok, when I met a woman walking 3 unloosed then that was different, first excuse was, don't see many people around here (meaning get the hell off out land), its your bag, his happy to see you...., can't you control your dogs and whats the next excuse, were mine, at which her reply was "you don't have to be like that".
Dogs over the last few days have suddenly returned. Mid Scotland was wonderful, not a event anywhere, but dogs are certainly back on the menu.
RAF have been impressing me again, but I wish there'd give me more warning for a decent photo.
Worked out today that the walk will be around 1,843,200 steps long, any of which, if taken wrong (twisted ankle etc.) could have been the last, lucky that has been the case.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Day 43 helmsdale to latheronwheel, todays mileage 28.8km

Day 43 Helmsdale to Latheronwheel

This morning I left the hostel at the same time as Jay, the End to End cyclists. Within a short time he was well ahead on the long incline out of Helmsdale. He was due to finish today, whereas I had 3 full days walk ahead. Realising I had given my latest Police escort the slip, I was on my own again, the I realised, the police had handed over the role to the RAF, who's tornado fighters, continue to track me all day, with low level flight overs.
But the time I had got my camera out for a photo they were well away, probably at my end of the day destination, before the lens was out.
End to End in one of those next I think.
Scotland and particularly the section north of Inverness has surprised me how long it is and the fact you go North East not North, so I thought what could be best done with it for the benefit of future Lands End to Inverness walkers, then my idea!
Transplant it into the Irish Sea to infill the gap between Wales and Ireland, the benefits being, the mountains here would be closer to the Midlands and a new walk from East Anglia to Ireland, crossing England, Wales, the new located Scotland top bit and Ireland. What an idea, will have to write to "Jim will fix it"
Well tomorrow night joined by my wife and brother, so. The last night of isolation after 5 weeks, since rest day 2 in the Midlands and 7 week since the start. Will they recognise the new "slim whitmore" the athlete with the new bearded look?
Blog maybe a bit short tomorrow, so I'll just finish by mentioning my feet. They have been the stars of the show, not complaining, supporting throughout and no blistering once. So a toast to my feet...........

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Day 42 Gospie to Helmsdale

Day 42 Gospie to Helmsdale

Hoping this blog will be more successful than last night which for some reason was truncated. Even after numerous, downloads neither the pictures or the lower half came there. Hope to rectify this when home.
How come lots of towns I have past thro have 2 Greggs where if you resist the temptation initially you can't the second? Yet not one for the last 100 miles, not even a Mcgreggs, can I survive without a sausage roll much longer, especially as this place I'm staying at doesn't even do breakfast.
No sooner than I shake my Police spy, (Blair from New Zealand), do they fin d a replacement. Upon arriving in Helmsdale, I was chatting with a End to End cyclist, and yes a copper.
Had a great evening's company, having a mega meal in a restaurant, which was very pink.
Today's 29.6km was largely spent on the less than spectacular A9, with a lack of verge, so attention to vehicles always required. The first 5 miles however was along the coast and on the beach passing Dunrobin Castle, a real Disney castle if ever there was one.

Day 41 tain to gospie (take25)

What was meant to be a shorter day was voluntarily extended to 29.4km. Upon leaving Tain, I was to join up with the A9, this is to be the main source of road to take me up the North East Scottish coast.
After consultation with last nights host, there was an option of getting off the A9, only shortly after joining it and crosssing the Dornoch Firth by means to the recently opened bridge (1991). Following the bridge, there was a descent down the bank, which lead to a track and road leading to Dornoch

Monday, 31 May 2010

Day 41 tain to gospie

Day 41 Tain to Gospie

What was meant to be a shorter day was voluntarily extended to 29.4km. Upon leaving Tain, I was to join up with the A9, this is to be the main source of road to take me up the North East Scottish coast.
After consultation with last nights host, there was an option of getting off the A9, only shortly after joining it and crosssing the Dornoch Firth by means to the recently opened bridge (1991). Following the bridge, there was a descent down the bank, which lead to a track and road leading to Dornoch

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Day 40 Dingwall to Tain

Having arrived at the Tain, I have now completed the the west to east coast to coast, five days now left to completing the south to north coast to coast. Today's was a hard 38.1km, for some reason since leaving the Great Glen Way, I have been tried during walking, not necessary physically, but have just wanted to close my eyes. Extreme measures necessary in Alness to with a strong coffee in a pub followed by a tin of Red Bull. This I was going to purchase in the pub until told the cost, purchasing over the road at a supermarket was half the cost.
Now I am back on the roads, the poles have come into play, particuary the one with the hi vis flag, to warn oncoming traffic of my presence. Yesterday, this help attracted the attention of a motor cyclist who past me dragging a bag on the floor behind him. As he passed I waved the flag until he stopped a few hundred yards on. As I approached he had dismounted and was just scratching his head on how he was going to put it back on. A thanks would have been nice but the ignorance sod hardly recognised my existence even though when he pulled over he looked back to understand the issue. Wish I hadn't bothered, even when he passed later, no nod of recognition.
I have now had plenty of time to develop differing techniques with my poles and also use them for differing fun activities to help the miles pass.
On the technique front, there are several style of use, activity, like the downhill ski two poles together, the individual co-ordinated with foot going down, or the harder uncoordinated style. Then these were to put the poles when not in used (excluding motorcyclist body parts), these the downhill mid position or for the extreme look downhill tucked in under elbows, or on the rucksack. Hours of fun.
Talking fun, poles sports I have been developing include dandelion head golf, where you smack the heads of dandelions. My best score so far is a 4 under par round on the A82.
Finally there's spearing insects to compile a insect kebab, which can be heated and eaten later, I'm currently struggling with the flies and getting them speared. The slugs and snails are easy, but not as tasty (kids don't try this at home, eventhough it'll probably be taster than your mum's cooking)
One final note on my poles, they are lite weight carbon ones, which has 3 benefits, lightweight, the don't conduct lighting, so I can dry clothes on them during a thunderstorm and finally, they're my carbon offset.
Onto today's walk, mostly dry, one shower and sun at the end. Russ the hero, rescued a lamb stuck between two fences, and like the motorcyclist, the lamb didn't say thank you either. Lamb shank tonight me thinks.
Saw horses being used on the land, say a classical car rally twice, half way throught walk and at end. And met a bloke who recommend a different way back throught mountains by car, he said, "it'll make you want to shout", I know exactly what he means, I've been shouting (and singing loud) for the last six weeks. What a great land, you just have to open your eyes.
Had to take picture of road sign as they look like there walking with poles (I know its eldly people, but this sign was in the middle of nowhere, I even had to interupt a telephone conversation with ma and pa to take it, it seemed to fit in with what I was thinking about-a bit of lateral thinking required)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Day 39 Drumnadrochit to Dingwall

What a difference a week makes, from the glorious sun of last week to the rain they've been promising for the last few days. Even then the day started off brightish, and I though great the weather forecasters got it wrong again. It lasted like this to 11.30 when a little drizzle gradually turned into a steadier flow, but still within the capabilities of my trusty umbrella.
I'd been road walking all morning with fantastic views and then walking through the town of Beauly and the Muir of Ord, I'd been lucky enough to have a pavement. This is good for two reasons, firstly, it gets me slightly away from traffic and because of this I can listen to music. Something I'd had no restriction on for the last few days. As I was saying pavement is good, but just out of the second town, it disappeared and the grass verge returned. It was at this point, that almost 6 weeks exactly into the walk the heavens opened. Gore tex would have to come to the rescue both both me and my umbrella, who were both being drowned by the monsoon that had been building up over the last 6 weeks.
Whilst climbing into my matching gore tex outfit, getting as much cover from an old oak as possible, I saw a stream, turn into a flowing river in the gutter of the road infront of my very eyes. Such an event is not usually significant, apart from when you have to walk the next 6 miles hoping between the road and gutter, avoiding walking in the larger collections of water (puddles) or being by one when a speedy car approaches, and sending a crashing wave in your direction. Two hours of dodge the water, made the walk pass surprisingly fast. But I think all thing considered I lost.
Still 6 weeks of generally dry weather, I can't complain.
Having told my hosts last night that I would be having breakfast at 7.45, (this is my usual time, which generally sees me walking by 8.30) I woke, having not heard either alarm or their repeated snoozes at 8.30, having oversleeped. Even after a rushed breakfast, I was not walking to 9.30, despite this I arrived into my B&B at 16.30, in drowned rat mode having covered the 33.9km in 7 hours. This is the B&B which was rearranged, due to the one I'd booked with going away, all was well until I realised no picture on the TV and tonight being Dr Who night and Eurovision Song Contest. Panic over, I'm now in a different room with picture, TV heaven.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Day 38 Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit

The final walk up Loch Ness was a short walk of only 18.8km, however it all started with a long climb up the side of a hill, which seem to last forever.
Food arrangements today are similar to yesterday, with only a cereal ber for break, a break for a Mars bar at 10.30. Upon reaching Drumnadrochit, I settled on a pub light lunch and a Pot Noodle later, those noodles seem to be becoming a greater part of my diet, having had one the last 3 days.
Have now learnt to pronounce the town's name properly, something I've been struggling with since putting the plans together and particularly embarrassing when phone to book accommodation, its pronounced drum-na-drocket and no chit at the end.
This is the town were all my aspirations for walking end to end started. When walking the route previously in 2004, one of the group mentioned she was doing the walk over a length of time linking long distance paths together, I thought what a brilliant idea, and there started my similar scheme, linking paths over time. Having completed probably 50% to date, (Minehead to Inverness minus a few locations in Lancashire and South Scotland). This opportunity has previously been blogged so no need to go into that again.
That explains the how, but not the why?
Onto beard watch, it seems to have stopped growing this last week. Now debating at what stage it should come off, options are:- night before I finish, so the photo at end is clean shaved, when I get home, so photo at end is a far representation of the walk or not at all and continue to grow it, at least for a short time. I'm with the third at present.
RSPB might have something to say as I've a pair of breeding Ospreys in it at the moment.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Day 37 Lagan to Loch Ness

Before I forget like yesterday, 31.4km, yesterday and 32.6km today. Well sitting here in the YHA beside Loch Ness, no sign of Nessie though. It just started raining and hailing and beside the odd shower the first significant rain of the day. The doom and gloom forecast never materialised, most of the day once again was in sun, albeit cooler than recent.
Once again away from any significant habitation, and no meals served, so I considered utilising my developing survival knowledge watching Bear Grylis and I'm a celebrity and living off the land, only problem was a lack of choice and the slug the only option, not even a bit of lettuce to go with it.
After long consideration and a lack of salt to go with the slug, I opted for Fish and Chips in Fort Augustus at lunchtime. Beside the canal and locks.
Further developments on the walkers of the Great Glen, there all European and mostly German, but a breakthrough today, they responded back and conversation occurred. After consideration I think they must have heard I'd be able to speak German by now from the language course I was meant to be learning from, so was waiting for me to greet them in German. However, this was not needed for those who spoke today, a single lad camping and taking his time from Glasgow and two young ladies, just doing the Glen.
Back to walking solo, I am back to the loud singing to my MP3 player and letting my mind go and general watching it all flow past me. Another observation is I'm the fastest thing on the trial, nothing seem to pass me, but I seem to fly past other, is this a result of the new level of fitness built up over the last 5.5 weeks, or cause I stink so much people slow down and let me past, the clothes pegs on their noses might be a give away.
Got. Trouser story developing as the next piece of kit I'm having issues with, will go into detail in a future blog, once it settles down.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Day 36 Fort William to Laggan

Now back on earth after some excusion to some sort of spaceship, (maybe that's why the rest day flew by so fast?) made good progress today arriving at South Laggan at 14.45. Followed this early arrival with what was meant to be a quick quip, but woke at 15.30 feeling more groggy than ever. (Excuse for blog quality tonight, I haven't one for other days)
Made my way down to the Great Glen Water Park (not a slide in sight) for dinner as the boat with a restuarant at the beginning of the Laggan stretch of the Caledonian Canal is closed to all for a private function, good job there's somewhere else to eat, otherwise I'd be cooking the food on offer at the hostel. (choices of pastas - yukk!!!)
Like the WHW, I have previously done the Great Glen Way, back in 2004, but once again I must have done it with my eyes closed, not looking back, to the sides or front, instead looking down at the floor, cause last time I can not remember this stretch being memorable, but it certainly was today. Mind you, last time we arrived in at around 18.00, dripping wet, plus I had to put up with Clive all day.
Today had the views and for the most of it knew what I was looking at, but I thing which stood out was, in comparison to the WHW last week where everyone seemed welcoming and willing to chat, today I seemed to get little in return for my greetings. Noticeably, last week most the where either, American, Canadian, New Zealand or Scots, today has been €uropeans. Will monitor this hypothesis over the next few days.
Other observations of the canal are its size in comparison to all others I've seen apart from the Mancester Ship Canal, lack of dogs and owners and so far no rain. The later looks like it might change tomorrow.
One other thing pasted today, whist walking up Neptunes Staircase, a set of locks at the beginning of the canals was the bollard, which I attempted to sit on 2 days ago whilst phoning my wife. These are domed and painted on shiny, slippy white gloss paint, the outcome being me sliding off with full pack on and ending up in a heap on the floor. Other local to me looked on in bewilderment and I just burst out laughing

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Rest day 4 (know picture is out of synch-come on what to you expect)

Star date 25052310, 300 years in the future, when a deep space time hole creates adnormal deep space conditions

The crew of the star ship enterprise under the stewardship to Captain James T Kirk go about their usual duties.
Down in the transported room, Engineer Scottie has just beamed up a being. Upon seeing what has been beamed up, he summonsed the Captain and Science Office to the Transporter Room.
Kirk, "what is it, do we know"
Scottie, "no idea Captain, scanners says its been extracted from 21st Century Earth".
Kirk, "why does it smell so much"
Spock, "if I may, interject Captain, that's sweat, otherwise known as BO, a complaint that humans used to suffer from before sweat glands were made obsolete in humans , Captain"
Scottie, " well it don't arf smell nice, that what a engineer in an hot engine room should smell like".
Kirk and Spock both look to Scottie with initial disbelief, then accepting his origins from a country that did not show England matches, they understood a certain Scottish quirkiness.
"Captain", said Spock "we need to get Dr McCoy to look at him"
"Yes Spock", opening up comms on the console, Kirk summons 'Bones' the ships doctor to transfer the being to the medical deck.

Later after the medical assessment, Kirk and Spock go to the med deck in those get evevators they have on the Enterprise, where they find 'Bones' by the being.
Seeing the two enter, he addresses them in his usual 'outstanding' medical manner.
"Well Jim, it human, just. By the look of it, he, a fine specimen of a male, has just encountered a sustained period od physical activity"
"You mean like walking, how primitive, has he no Transporter where he comes from"
Jim, says Bones, "his like us, human, from Earth, around 2010AD. God knows how he got transported"
"Continue with the assessment"
"Well I'd say his covered 710 miles, walking, feet in good condition, non of those water blister thingies they used to have. Legs, showing a slight trauma to the shin areas and other muscle slight aches"
The Vulcan called Spock interrupts "Generally in good shape then, do you feel he could continue say another 190 miles"
"Undoubtedly" replies Bones
" And the rest of him" says Kirk
"Great shape physically, shoulder sore and slight abrasions to the torso, great skins colour must have been exposed to the star thet call the sun, notice the top of his head is particularly glowing"
Just then uhura, the only female on the deck's management team came in to delivery Kirk, a message, but upon seeing this great human specimen lying on the table, she completely loses any decorum, her legs turn to jelly, and is left a wreck for the remainder of her trekking days.
Getting back to the assessment, Kirk instructs Spock, to complete a Vulcan mind probe.
"But Captain, if there is any mental weakness there it might be enough to push him over"
The Vulcan mind probe is administered with apinch to the top of the spine.
"Well Spock"
"He's been on an isolated rollercoaster of emotions, but mental reasonably stable, but hey, this guys smart, high IQ, intelligent, whitty, 'what a guy' " (sorry that's from red dwarf, mixing the sci fi shows), but yeap good to go.
"Right then lets return him to, the co-ordinate, where we picked him up from" Kirk instructs.
Having just picked him up from Fort William, Scotland, home of the GB's highest mountain, Scottie made sure that the insertion back into 21st Century existence, did not mistakenly drop him on top, That would have completely knackered his knees coming down.
His clothes are washed, his hair cut.

And they all lived happily ever after.

These are the views, dredged from the deep psyche of the author. Any resemblance to any person is purely by accident.
No harm or distress is intended............

Monday, 24 May 2010

Day 35 Kinlocheven to Fort William

Weather today has been a repeat of the last few days, of cloudy and drizzly to start, with a gradual dispersal of the cloud throughout the day ending in perfect sunshine at the end. This resulted in outstanding, clear views of Ben Nevis from all angles as we descended into Fort William. I say we as for the forth day I have walked with Blair, my New Zealand Police spy. Been on best behaviour apart from the theft of orange juice and toast from all accommodation, and the old dose of spicy language, particularly today on seeing the destruction of the forestation leading into Fort William.
Regarding this, I had visions of a point on my previous exclusion on the WHW when on the last day after suffering with an issue with my foot that I launched, yes launched into a run up between a column of trees, not to stop (poetic license) until Fort William, some 10km later.
I was looking forward to this column of trees, I had a visual representation burn into my memory, which I looked forward to revisiting. The image was shattered as all around the area had been environmentally vandalised, with trees chopped down and the landscape left savaged. The columns no more than stumped, my mental memories shattered.
This has really left a bitter taste in what has been a great walk, how it been allowed to happen?
Upon entry to Fort William and the required photo's by the sign at the end of the walk, emotions were mixed. Usually the end of the physical challenge and the start of personal celebrations of ones achievement, this was just a shift of one stage of the walk into another, albeit the penultament (know its wrong - but no alternative options offered on smell cheque) stage along the Great Glen and Loch Ness.
Accomplishment was toasted in with a large hot chocolate speciality with cream and marshmallows. I have recently been becoming more aware of how I can store food with my beard, not always a voluntary action, but later I find all kinds of remnants of previous meals, and mixed they become quite a differing taste sensation, never repeated and always different. Interested to find how tonight's sweet and sour chicken mixes with the mars bars and peanuts, yummy, sound like a great supper later on.
Tonight I have come across a major flaur in my planning, they don't broadcast England games, particularly those with are practising for a World Cup that Scotland haven't qualified in Scotland. So no footy tonight for Russ, should I have walked north to south to allow for this, I'll let you know tomorrow when I know the result.
One final observation tonight. I have notice a increasing level of comments made on my beard and its colouring. I'll just make people aware on how's its been fashioned. Some might think it has a "Malan's" grey streak (remember that old TV series), but no, it takes "stripe" out of the gremlins film and his central grey hair stripe as its inspiration.
Mileage today was 31.2km

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Day 34 Ineroran to Kinlocheven

By quick estimations I must have gone through the 700 mile mark, or close to it, leaving 200 to do in the remaining days. Just one more day now before my next and final rest day. I certainly need it to catch up with cleaning duties, me and all my clothing is "humming". Its all neutral to my nose, but with the heat off recent days, I must really be fragrant when I arrive at a town at the end of a day. This last week has been helpful that at least I'm not the only one, with all the other whw walkers.
Well today completed a 31.9km legs other the highest point of the whole way. Devil's Staircase is the climb out of Glen Coe, the sight of the Macdonald's massacre, for those who know their Scottish history. There is a steep 270 meter climb, but views, like the whole day are stunning, with +1000m mountains and the bleak Rannock Moor.
A regular activity as well as taking a sample of orange for my days walk, is taking a round of toast, which usually gets eaten at 11.30. Today, whilst resting on a bridge, eating my toast a team of American's can through, in groups of 2-3, I usually greet and have a quick chat as they pass through, the the last group, a lad and girl, stopped and the lad thought I had prepared the toast their, middle of nowhere, (definitely no electricity) with a toasted sandwich maker. Found out later, they're all students at Glasgow University - ummm?
Today I met up with another End to Ender called Patrick, he is making his way day the country zig zagging from one side to the other. I was the first that he had meet up with, and he chased back when he found out to have a chat, as I had headphones on he almost made me jump out my skin, when he suddenly appeared.
No trouble at the hotel last night, had a great sleep after Dr Who, the Euro Cup Final, a Daily Milk bar and shortcake biscuits, what a receipt for bliss. To long from civilisation?

Day 33 Inveranan to Inveran

Last night at the Drover's was a mixture of good and bad.
Following Eddie Izzard, I've done the cold baths, now it was time to repeat the carb intake to get energy for the follow day with the boiled potatoes, certainly didn't work for me either, didn't make me fly either. Besides that the meal was good.
On the bad side, the Drover's lay entertainment on, to bloody one o'clock in the morning. If I'd thought the Queen's hotel was loud, late, then the Drover's trumped them. Lying I bed trying to sleep was impossible with all that noise, whats up with pubs that also think their accommodation providers, they certainly fail the later.
Endedup listening to my Mp3 player, at least had my choice of music.
Hopefully I'll sleep tonight, certainly felt it on my 33.3km walk today in the sun and heat of the day.
Given the heat, I repeated paddling in a stream to cool down, an activity I hadn't done since Cornwall and the temps I had there. The stream, a few mile before the Bridge of Orchy, was the place we'd stopped prevoiusly on the whw, were when leaving last time, I'd climb a stile, when then gate next to the stile was wide open.
Another day with company whist walking and lots of contact with walkers of all nationalities, all welcoming and very talkative, will certainly miss it when I move away from the long distance paths.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Porridge factory just for dad

Day 32 Rowardennan to Inverarnan

21.7km's of excellent Long Distance Path walking. Leaving the YHA this morning, the course of the walk followed the east side up Loch Lomond. Progress was slow due to conditions under foot. Those who know the West highland way will appreciate the slower speed over rocks and tree stumps, however time was never an issue.
I have mentioned before the Police's proximity to my walk, throughout. Never being far away, now they've sent undercover police in to follow me and check thing out. To be cunning, they've disguised the fact future by making he a different nationality. What am I on about? Well, yesterday arriving at the YHA early, I starting talking to a lad from New Zealand, we ended up together at the pub last night and doing the walk together today. His job, a policeman, coincidence?
Seriously, having company has made today fly by, usually at some point when walking alone, I thing about the blog entry, today, I sat down for the first time not knowing what to type.
Steve, a couple days ago was saying all the people he was due to meet up with, as he heads south, but with the exception of the great walk into Taunton, with Helen and the final couple hours into Drymen with the Canadian ladies, my walk has been a solo affair. It's amazing how it flies past with company. Graham mentioned it in a recent comment, I'd met up with Graham when I was doing Offa's Dyke and he was on his End to End walk and his so right.
One other memory jogged today was the pain I suffered last time walking the WHW, the arch in my right foot was incredibly painful, painkillers provided by Sharon, helped me through. Thank God, no such hardship this time.
Staying at the Drover's Inn tonight, full of old character, fittings, cobwebs and ghosts.
(no one told me I'd jumped a day in my blog headings at Kendal, thats why todays is 32 again - I'll have to renumber the others when I get back0

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Day 31 Drymen to Rowardennan

A short day and hence short blog entry. Only 17km's today, the first of two shorter days, deliberately inserted due to the next full rest day being at Fort William, another 4 days off, and a week and a bit since the last. After leaving Drymen at 9.30, I was in the Rowardennan Hotel bar (Row) at 13.00, will eat there tonight, as staying at Row YHA. Speaking of evening meals, last nights at Drymen with Steve was great, never stopped chatting, certaining a change from lots of the other (on own) nights. Steve has now headed off south and me north walking in each others foot steps, well certainly today for Steve and the rest of the walk for me. Walk across a field of cows this morning and they stayed well away, I was just ready to start clapping, had they come. I noticed recently no dog events, although last night I got stared out by 2 dobermans, they definately won, but no snappy dogs. My theory is the dogs here are scared of the wolves, so keep quite, with let you know if I see a wolf instead.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Day 30 glasgow to drymen

Today, was just a great day, despite the sun never appearing once and it being hot, steamy and sticky. The stay in Glasgow, had been a pleasant one, well above expectations. Had a great meal by the YHA, the YHA itself had surprises, such a a shower en suite, although I only found that out after searching all floors of the hostel, then embarrassingly asking at reception. Had my first continental breakfast on the trip, cheese and ham croissants, more of those to follow at the remaining Scottish YHA's. Leaving the hostel through the cities "west end" is really nice, rows of Georgian properties made it a delight and I was soon well on my way to Milgreive, start of the West Highland Way (WHW). En route, stopping off at asda,s to replenish stocks and i just had to borrow a better means of shifting my rucksack. I was stopped exiting the car park and told to take the trolley back? So enter the next stage of the walk, finished was southern Scotland and here's a part I've partically been looking forward to. Of the roads for two weeks and into the country and mountains. Starting the walk, once again I was in isolation, most start on Saturday. Also having walked up from Glasgow it was now 11.00, others would be well on their ways. Memories of its of the walk returned, having done it some 8 years ago, but after the last days, it was so pleasing to the eye. Walking with a renewed bounce, I came across a group from Canada, doing the walk, a group who I finish the day with walking into Drymen. I can not recall whether I have mentioned Steve before, but after I started the walk, my wife had mentioned another person, Steve, from Redditch was in the paper walking the other way. I noted that we both were in Drymen today, so after contacting him, via his blog we arranged to meet in drymen. Steve, had arrived early and couldn't get into his room, so was sitting in the pub. I just had to meet up with steve, and for the first time this walk ended up having a pint before the end of the walk. Steve and I immediately exchanged stories and experiences and the following hour flew. Meeting later to continue. My B&B madness has occured again. Dingwall, where I'm staying on the 29th, phoned up as I was leaving Glasgow to explain how although taking the booking, she will not now be there. Would I like her to make an alternative booking? I explain where I was and I had neither desk or pen to write anything down that it would be good if she could and text me the info. Text, she said, I can't do that (scottish accent) so her son will tonight, I hope. What gets me is we have enter a mutual contact, I know that cause I've done contract law in my A Level Law, if I don't turn up, I have to pay, yet they can change their minds. Arrrrrrrhhhhhhh! It really has been a great day and a wonerful 32.0km,s.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Day 29 Larkhall to Glasgow

Arrived at Glasgow YHA after a pretty un eventful walk of 27.6km. Arriving early at 2.45 has given an opportunity to do some laundry activities, as well as visiting an Outdoor Shop on the way to buy some replacement kit, which has worn out. Looking at the soles of my Asics trainers, I am having doubts on their longity and whether they'll make it to the end, as they've had a punishing last week. Will switch more to my Berghaus boots up the West Highland and Great Glen Ways. Whilst least looking forward to this of all the days walks, it has no been, that bad. Little other than usual cityscape sights. Walking through the central street was certainly a change to the isolated walks of recent. Some of the fashion statements, were different. But did meet up with my mate the motorway at the end, although he has changed into his m8 guise, that winds its way through the city. I'd had a lie in this morning, usually I breakfast at 7.45, and on the road at 8.30, but this morning I wanted to give the kids chance to get to school and off the streets before starting to walk. The plan worked well as I didn't have to put up with any of the cheek that had welcomed me into Larkhall, the day earlier. This was not a great problem, but you just have to ignore them, regardless of what they comment.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Day 28 abington to larkhall

Today's mileage was 34.6km

Day 28 Abington to Larkhall

The final road of the day into Larkhall, was unpaved and the fast traffic reminded me of the walk from Church Minshull a few weeks ago, albeit straighter. Along the road the view suddenly widened and view of Ben Lomond and Conic Hills were a feast for my eyes. Unfortunately, the urban mass of Glasgow is ahead of progressing to the start of the West Highland Way. Leaving Abington Services the roads had well paved areas away from the road itself, which made for very pleasant walking, the views were improved also by the route moving away from the Motorway, you couls say prefect bar one thing, the litter. All along this pictures route, was litter some thrown from passing cars, but lots dumped as mounds of stuff were left to rot. Washing machines, fridge's a chest freezer and a caravan (the last could have been destroyed by Top Gear, given their history) were all observed. A real pity. Through Blackhall, the pavement suddenly deteriorated to being lethal for ankles injuries, I spent all my time looking at the floor finding a way through the assault course I found in front. This only after a short time, speaking to someone regarding how this whole adventure could be halted by such an injury. I was taking no chances. Prior to the paving episode, I walk walking when a lady, exited her car and went to a roadside bench, sat on it and returned to her car and drove off just as I arrived. Seeing her move I'd though, given the fact this was the first bench and I was due a rest that I would use it to sit. Next, a van pulled up and two workers got out, thinking they were going to do something in the road I ignore them. Suddenly they were on my shoulder asking me to move my bag as they had a plaque to secure to the bench. Whist doing so, I questioned the use of different screws and how level the plaque was, but I think this went over their heads, or they were being polite and just didn't understand me. The plaque read second chance 2010 -they did not know what that meant either, nor do I. Finally, forgot to mention yesterday bumping into my second end to end walker, a young lad named Sam, having walked 16 days to that point. I'd seen him and chatted about 14.30, he was targeting Beattock, where I'd set off from, so wasn't due to finish until 19.00

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Day 27 Beattock to Abington

Today started off the same as the previous, with a walk along the B7076, however, the scenery had taken a dramatic turn for the good. The previous day, largely on the flat was replaced by developed views of the Southern Lowlands. Once again the constant companions were there, including the electrical pylons which seemed to interfere and ruin every good photo opportunity. There was an addition to the crew today. A river joined in the fight for the space as all progressed up the valley, progressively ascend to the to of Beattoch Summit. The river didn't make it, it veered off to the lh side but all the other plaited there way up. The rail line sometime of the left and the driving under the road and appearing on the right. With little distance covered, there was a new noise appearing, louder than the droning motorway, a kinds "crunch, crunch" noise. What could it be, it was lond before I sussed out the source, suddenly, around my feet appeared mass of snail, very colourful ones as well. It was difficult to see who was the slower, them or me. Glasgow being my target, theirs being "god only knows", as they were heading in all directions. Some making a mad dash across the road between cars. It was then I started my dance, trying to avoid them, to anyone watching this must may been a sight. Some of those dashing snails might have actually made it, as the frequency of cars a this point was once every half hour or so, most of these being police (keeping their eyes on me again, I suspect). This changed later in the day, but with ever frequent waves of motorbikes. It was just after the snails that it happened, today's little event. Well you could say it started over breakfast if root cause is really to be understood. Each day I am accompanied to breakfast with my Sigg bottle. The fruit juice which comes with breakfast is emptied into my bottle, to be drunk in the afternoon. Some place just offer a glass, other help yourself. This morning was the later, so I had a nice healthy quantity stored. Only in my rush to avoid the eyes of the owners, the lid had become cross threaded. It was in this state that it was placed into my rucksack. Climbing higher, the cool air under the dark cloud which never dispensed their rain, made me change from a fleece top to a top with wind resistance. At this point the rucksack, tilted from upright and the contents, nice sticky orange juice was emptied into my rucksack. The commotion, swearing, emptying of bag and pouring the juice out I won't go into in details but the resultant sticky mess was back on my back in 10 minutes. One objective now, get to the Abington Services, were I was staying and wash the lot. All contents inside the rucksack are stowed in waterproof and orange juice proof sacks which helps, but these would need cleaning. So here I am, got in from the 30.8km wall at 15.15, good timing as I'd only had one break. Washing completed, motel room looks like Window Twankies Laundrette (Aladdin), but sticky mess sorted. Lesson learnt, which should have been learnt after the last fluid spillage, (I could work for BP after the amount I've spilt) is check and recheck those fluid tops.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Day 26 Eccelfechan to Beattock

Well 4 weeks after leaving Land's End, I find myself in Beattock at the foot of the Southern Uplands. It is those Uplands which have been the main feature to look at today, although they did not come in view properly until three quarters the way into the walk. For the first three quarters there was little to view, the B7076 never more than 100m from the M74, and the constant drone of traffic was a companion. Of the 4 weeks walk to date, visually it was probably the worst, with a lot of sameness. The weather, with the exception of one sharp shower, was ideal walking weather, being bright but cool, T shirt weather once again, so at least that made thing better. Leaving Eccelfachan, the next town was Lockerbie. When I looked at my strip maps last night, it appeared the two town where next door to each other, in fact they are a far distance apart. When producing my maps, last Christmas, I'd printed them all and cut them into strips, then laminated them for waterproofing. Somewhere the strip following Eccelfachan, didn't get laminated and is probably somewhere in the spare room as I certainly didn't have it today. Route finding between the two towns was simple enough, straight up the B7076, with M74 on left and main West Coast trainline on the right. Where the map would have come in useful, would have been to settle an issue which was developing as I walked. The distance to Lockerbie was initial signed as 6 miles, some way into the walk the next signpost stated, Eccel 2.75 (the distance I'd walked) and Lock. 3 miles, totalling 5.75 miles. Soon after the next stated, Eccel 3, Lock. 3, back to 6 miles in total, but I'd just walk 1/4 mile and not credited for it. Then, a while later, it was Eccel 4, Lock 2.25. Now, 6.25 miles in total. So looks like the walk total is now 900.25, hope this doesn't happen to often, it ain't good for morale. What was good for morale was the the vision I had in front of me, when leaving Johnstonebridge. There in front of me was a group of a dozen females, in fancy dress, walking for charity. They had only 1/4 mile left, unlike my 350 miles. They certainly brightened my day. A break from the sameness. I'd captured this image as it came towards me on my camera, but as I bury my phone camera deep inside my bag, I couldn't take the picture with it. As all the images on the blog are captured on the phone, I can't upload this shot. You'll have to come to the slide show to see. The walk through Lockerbie, was certainly charged with emotion, thinking back those 25 years when a plane was brought down on the town by terrorists. The 32.8km's was covered by 15.40, which enabled me to watch the second half of the FA Cup final, before completing other regular tasks and watching Dr Who

Friday, 14 May 2010

Day 25 Carlisle to Ecclefechan

Certainly a change in the weather today, yesterday, surprisingly ended up with me burning my head in the sun. There was certainly no chance of that today, being grey all day and actually raining for over half of it. I ended up wondering where the canal was, as it was so wet. So the march into Scotland was a wet affair, but this didn't dampened my spirit when crossing the border at exactly 12.00.00, following all the essential photo's. Well Cumbria and England are now passed and a long walk up the B7076 to Glasgow ahead, hopefully with a bit brighter weather. This road used to be a main A road, but with the M74 now alongside and taking most of the traffic, is now reasonable quite, but cars still travel along it as fast. Prior to leaving England there was one final challenge on the map reading front. I new a new bridge over the River Esk existed, but the maps I had did not show how to access the bridge, playing safe I chose the long way around, one which I could see largely on the maps I had. Only to find out a more direct road exists, so an additional 2 km was added to the day's 34.0km total. On the navigation front, twice today a road has change its number for no reason, Being on the a6 and getting quite attached over the last few days, it suddenly became the a7, at an island at the top end of Carlisle.Why change here? I had crossed lots of islands previously and there had been no road number change, then at this island its the a7. Likewise, the M6 changing into the a74m, although I can't actually say I was on that road. I think I would have noticed if I had of wondered onto it.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Day 24 Great Strickland to Carlisle

Today's 37.5km's along with yesterdays 41.5km's adds to to a total of 79, or in old speak a tad off 50 miles in the two days covering the majority of Cumbria and the climb over Shap. And god do my feet know about it. On the medical side however my shins are much better with 3 trouble, painkiller and cold bath free days behind them. Only a slight twinge, leaving Kendal YHA has been felt, so hopefully that's the last I'll hear from them. Today's walk when planning was the longest, however, others have proved longer, with diversions, there where non of those today. Pinrith was the first major town I had to navigate through, this almost went totally to plan, but I couldn't help the gravitational pull of Greggs and another sausage roll. Penrith has two Greggs, 100 meters from each other, I did just resist the pull from the other one. I think my additional mass from the first sausage roll help me divert and oppose the attraction, or is it I'm not that much of a greedy............ The second diversion, was to an Outdoor Shop which I had discovered last year. I had to buy a new flask, the latest bit of kit to fail me, in the worst possible way. When making a hot chocolate drink this morning, I'd screwed the top on, but over the last few days it hasn't been securing properly. When shaking to mix, the top flew off and contents escaped. All over the floor and down me bag, having done my best to clear the mess, the flask ended up in the bin, where the top went I've no idea. Last night in England before I cross the border tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day 23 cont Shap to Great Strickland

Having typed my blog whilst eating my meal in the pub, I decided that I would send it, as a) I had a signal and b) what else would happen. Well, leaving the pub things were going to being to happen, I should have know this morning when first when I tried to opened a sachet of brown sauce across the top and it opened length ways dumping sauce all over my hands and soon after my sausage ended up on the floor. Today was gonna be a trying day. So 16.30 all was well, I was heading for Thrimby, reckoning I'd be there by 18.00. Well Thrimby isn't a place it's an area along the a6 and Thrimby Farm was not sign posted, so I overshot by 1/2 mile. At the last building ,I knocked and asked, they guess by elimination of it couldn't be any of the oters, so back I went. Yes, I had tried ring, but no answer. So when I was at the house , I rang the bell, no answer, tried again, same. Still not sure whether it was the right place, I rang and listened thro the letter box, yes it was ringing, but no answer. Time was passing. I decided I would wait 20 minutes to 19.00.(They had £10 deposit as well). Seven came, time for plan b, which was develop a plan c for such circumstances. I knew the next village was 2 miles ahead, but no accommodation, but I'd try, if not I'd ring Penrith and see if there was a Travelodge and get a taxi, returning back tomorrow, I could sleep rough or , have a rst and walk to Carlisle overnight. On I walk, its now 19.15, not gonna phone wife yet, might panic her and only one bar power on my phone. Then, a sign, was I seeing right, was it a mirage, was I delirious and I just waffling??? Pub at Great Strickland, great beer and B&B, with a number. Sign ahead says 3/4 mile there. So I phone, please have room. Start with sympathy line, then please have you a room. YES. Off I stride, arriving at 19.45, pint first, before room. 41.1km today, upped by doubling back. Wait till I speak to her, at least the "Queens Hotel" was open. Got to say the Great Strickland is a great place and would highly recommend it. Just to finish off thats for all the messages, both comments and mails and sorry for getting the shop name wrong Simon