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