Friday, 20 December 2013

#39 Barton Hills

10.87 Miles
273 Metres Ascent

Back into the Barton Hills for a muddy adventure!  Bedfordshire generally has two types of mud, claggy boot clinging mud across some fields and slippy slidey gloop along tracks.  This walk happily had both!  The day was unseasonably warm above 10c, so I managed with just a shirt.  Layering is proving complicated this season.

From Deacon Hill
I followed the same route as this walk in May.  With a slight variation up to the top of Deacon Hill to eat a pork pie, well you can't eat a pork pie without reaching the top of something can you!  This hill has great views over towards Bedford, and could be a good wild camp spot, although the beer cans in the bushes suggest it wouldn't be quiet in summer...!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

You're not in Kansas anymore...

Follow the yellow planted road, follow the... ok you get the idea....

Sunday, 1 December 2013

#36 Win Hill and Ladybower

9.44 Miles
433 Metres Ascent

Today was somewhat of an experiment.  I was driving back down south, and usually take the motorway, by the time I leave and get home I have 'lost' a day.  So today, I was going to go home via the Peak District, which is actually a short distance route, but about 1 hour longer.  This meant I could do a reasonable walk and drive south.

I picked a relatively easy walk up Win Hill and then back through the woods to walk along Ladybower.  I had done this walk a few years ago so knew the route without much (any...) planning.  Parking at Hatherdene, I wandered down past the dam towards Yorkshire bridge.  I had 2 choices to get up Win Hill, the steep, muddy, slippy, Parkin Clough path, or a slightly less muddy path towards New Barn before cutting back towards Win Hill.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

#35 Watergrove and Clay Pots Hill

7.64 Miles
485 Metres Ascent

It was an early start on a cold day.  I was out before 8am into a cold dawn.  The thermometer said 2 degrees C and it certainly had a chill to it.  This was a quick walk with the limited time I had available, it was the Rugby World Cup final in the afternoon so I was off to Old Trafford for the first time in years.

The plan was to head to Watergrove then follow the Pennine Bridleway towards Clay hill, a quick stop at the shelter and then back to the Bridleway.  For once I followed the plan!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

#34 Brampton Wood + Grafham Water

14 Miles
144 metres Ascent

I really wasn't in the walking mood.  4 hours sleep then into work for a 2 hour team meeting wasn't the ideal preparation.  I had taken the walking gear to work so the nagging in my head took control and off the Grafham we went.  I had a walk in mind, a variation of the usual Grafham loop, that had appeared in 'Country Walking'.  It was tagged as challenging, though this was just because of the distance (8-10 miles is CW's standard distance). 

Starting in Brampton Wood, Cambridgeshire's 2nd largest wood no less, the walk followed the 'main ride' through the ancient woodland.  Apparently the wood was completely felled during one of the world wars, so I'm not sure how it qualifies as ancient, I guess I'm missing something?  After 10 minutes I broke out of the wood into farmland, maybe being Cambridgeshire's 2nd largest wood isn't the highest bar...

Friday, 15 November 2013

The wonders of the Fitbit One

I had been carrying a pedometer for a few years but to be honest I didn't really bother to much with the readings.  I tried to do my 5000 steps a day but didn't really put that much effort into it.  It was good however, to see on a day hike how many steps I had taken compared to a 'normal' day.  It had a major flaw in that it had a habit of resetting it self to zero, usually on a long walk.

The Fitbit One
I stumbled upon the Fitbit One back in February and it looked like something I could use.  I'm overweight and frankly needed a shove to move my arse.  For the first month and a half I didn't do anything different to normal, this was a conscious decision to give a baseline of what I normally did.

Friday, 8 November 2013

#33 Rooley Moor and Cowpe

14.29 Miles
761 Metres Ascent.

I have previously walked most of this route before, but todays plan was to see if I could make a nice extension (of about 2 miles) so I could use this route in winter when the conditions are a lot rougher.  Basically I need a route I can use in all weathers, to take that excuse away from me!

The Pennine bridleway is such a route, it might get a bit slutchy in places, but in the main it's useable all year round in all weathers.  The Rossendale Way round Cowpe Lowe could meet those needs.  Today was a good excuse to have a look.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

#32 Watergrove Wander

8.14 Miles
467 Metres ascent 

Back up north for a short visit so it would be rude not to go for a wander.    I had planned to get here in time to do a decent walk (3rs ish), so with sunset at 1630, I needed to get to Whitworth for about 1300.  In the end I set off on the walk at 1530, with only 1hr of daylight to use.  Fear not, I took a torch!
Heading up the Rake it was satisfying to do it with any breaks or stops to catch my breath!  I am getting fitter and am still losing weight, even though I don’t think I look much different.  (The scales, the change in clothes size and general fitness say otherwise).  I decided to head towards Watergrove reservoir and then up the hills, to come back round to the Rake.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Challenge Update - Work to live? or...

Work to live? or... live to work?

It's come up in my mind a few times this month!  Due to staff shortages there is plenty of overtime available and I have grabbed quite a few extra shifts.  This has the obvious knock on that I have little time to go for a walk.  Doing 8 twelve hour shifts in a row is probably too much, especially as it was 4 days then 4 nights. 

In the end I did 3 walks, which is rubbish.  The plan for next year is the JMT in America, 3 walks will not cut it on the training front.  I could of done more, I should of done more.

October - 27.97 miles and 643metres ascent.

September - 71.40 miles and 4129 metres ascent.
August - 62.63 miles and 913 metres ascent.
July - 16.24 miles and 258 metres ascent.
June -  82.05 miles and 1063 metres ascent.

Friday, 18 October 2013

#30 Barton Hills - Hills, Hoo's and Hoe's

12.93 Miles
393 Metres 

Great Day for a walk, not raining, not hot, not cold just a bit grey.  The day didn't start the greatest due to some road range, sign language and a burst of anger.  So relaxing in the hills was the best antidote!  Earlier in the year I did a 10 mile walk from Barton-Le-Clay round Pegsdon and back again along the Ickneild Way.  Needing a few more hills, I decided to follow the same walk with but with a walk up the Pegsdon Hills and back down again.  This side 'loop' had no other reason than to climb a hill, it makes no logical route sense and didn't get me any 'further' away.

Pegsdon Hills
The first 3 miles is along the base of the escarpment (that makes it sound higher!) following the John Bunyan Trail.  It's pretty flat countryside, with the added bonus of the Hexton Tea rooms.  A cross between a tea room, gift shop and bring and buy sale.  As it was only 1.5 miles into the walk I couldn't really stop, plus I'm on a diet, plus it was shut!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Challenge Update

All in all a good September, I got up in the hills so the ascent totals got a bit of a nice boost.  Also got to a few new (ish) places which is always good.

September - 71.40 miles and 4129 metres ascent.

August - 62.63 miles and 913 metres ascent.

July - 16.24 miles and 258 metres ascent.

June -  82.05 miles and 1063 metres ascent.

In the last four months I have done more miles than the preceding eight.  The walks are getting a longer too, with more and more in double figures.  The hard bit now is keeping it going through winter.  October could be tough too as I'm scheduled to do 288 hours at work, leaving not much time to wander.

Monday, 23 September 2013

#27 Rooley Moor and Top of Leach

11.81 Miles
578 Metres 

The weather was warm but misty, meaning no views and hot and sweaty!  Today’s walk was partly to find a good long walk for winter when staying in the area.  I wanted something that I can do in rough weather, that wouldn’t involve sinking and had a good mileage and ascent.  Rooley Moor road fits that bill.  It’s a track up onto the moors and is mostly stone slabs. 

Walking from Whitworth down a short section of the Healey Dell nature reserve brings you to the Pennine Bridleway and the Mary Townley Loop.  This begins the climb up to Rooley Moor on mainly farm tracks, through Prickshaw and onto the Moor.  The landscape is quite strange in parts with lumps and bumps, probably tailings from the mines and queries in the area.  Unfortunately some people still use the area for dumping waste, the ease of access can be a bad thing in places.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

#26 Crook Hill to Brown Wardle

8.70 Miles
495 Metres 

Last Wednesdays walk up to Copy Clough had given me a few ideas so I set off today to explore a little.  Following the same route up to Copy Clough brought me out at the top of Ramsden Road, from here I planned to take the ‘long Causeway’ onto Crook Hill.  However I couldn’t find an obvious path, especially one with such a grand name!  So I went off piste up the hill to the obvious footpaths on top.  

I headed over Crook Moor heading towards Crook Hill and had planned to just wander over the moors between the paths.  There was however a well walked path in the general direction so I just followed that.  This led to a well-made stone circle shelter with great views across the whole of Manchester.  Even on an indifferent day in terms of mist and smog, it was still easy to make out the tower blocks in the city centre.  Might have to come back up here on a clear day!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

#25 Snowdon - PYG Up, Miners Down

8.51 Miles
846 metres 

The weather was forecast to be rubbish and it didn’t disappoint.  Ideally we should of set off later in the day but the morning fitted in better with Marks day off, so it was an early start to the day.  Leaving Manchester before 6 meant we were the first in the PYG car park and hit the trail just after 7.30.  Admittedly the empty car park may have been due to the weather forecast!

Sorry it's blurry....did I mention the rain?
 It started raining soon up the first climb on the PYG track so the full waterproofs were called for.  It then got wetter and wetter! Oh and windier!  The rain varied between sideways and torrential.  It was a hard climb and going this way round involved a harder initial climb than the Miners but got some of the climb out of the way! 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

#24 Copy Clough

5.84 Miles
368 Metres

After a flight back from New York Yesterday and spending most of the day in the car driving up, I needed to get out and about before tomorrow’s big walk up Snowdon.  So I headed up Waingap Hill and onto the Pennine Bridleway.  Normally I head down towards Ramsden Road and Watergrove, but headed up towards Rough Hill instead.
I had a bit of a time limit on this walk plus I wanted to be down of the hills before it went dark so after getting to Copy Clough I decided to turn around.  This short leg stretch gave me a few ideas for another walk which could include Rough Hill, Middle Hill and Brown Wardle.  Depending how I feel I might get to do later in the week. 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

High Line to Staten island ferry

5 miles
50 metres

Whilst urban walking isn't everyone's cup of tea it can give a different look to a city. The High Line is a 1.1 mile long urban park built on an old elevated rail Road.  Run by volunteers the park is a green oasis and is well tended.  It's only problem is that it is not long enough!

Running from 30th street to Gansevoort Street (it's like I'm a local!) the park cuts a path between and at times through buildings.  It runs parallel with the Hudson River a block or two over, and forms part of an urban renewal turning the old warehouses and tenements into a trendy area.  A small park (run by volunteers) has helped form a renewal of an area, a quite inspiring idea!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Challenge Update - August

After a relatively poor July the wheels where firmly stuck back on in August.  However most of the walks were my 'usual's' and lacked variety.  It is good to be out and about ticking over a few miles though. 

August - 62.63 miles and 913 metres ascent.

July - 16.24 miles and 258 metres ascent.

June -  82.05 miles and 1063 metres ascent.

Need more hills to meet the challenge and to get ready for events next year.  Though it has to be noted that 160 miles (in 3 months) is more than what I did in 7 months from October 2012 to May 2013.  In fact in the 8 months before this challenged started I did a total of 213 miles, which will be surpassed in September this year (25 miles done already).

So all in all, much better than the last challenge, though I'm still missing days where I could of done more!

I have also made a few changes (minor) to the blog so I can post on the move (via an app) and post pictures without formatting issues.  Modern technology is great!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Thursday, 5 September 2013

#21 Peaks wandering and Breaking the rules

13.73 Miles
703 Metres

First off, confession time, I didn't intend to walk 13 miles or to walk this route.  Therefore I broke many rules in the safety handbook.  I survived, others may not.  Today was planned to be a fairly simple walk of about 8 miles, from Edale, up Chapel Gate, along Rushup Edge, Mam Tor, Lose Hill down to the train station at hope.  Easy.  It was another dry day and was actually quite warm, short sleeves the order of the day.

I've been up Chapel Gate a couple of times and it's another walk I wanted to use as a test of any improved fitness.  It was actually better, still hard work and sweaty, but not quite as many breathless stops.  On planning walks for Edale I had often thought of doing a loop from Kinder over Brown Knoll, but every trip report I saw mentioned bad bogs and general sinking.  I mused that it had been a dry summer, not rained in a week and the forecast was due to change to heavy rain from tomorrow.  I could go and see how bad it is...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

#20 Ringing Roger

4.45 Miles
596 Metres

My initial thoughts on this walk were posted earlier as I slowly collapsed into a sweaty heap in Hills 1-0 Andy.  Now I have to say I was a sweaty mess.  Much more than I thought I should be.  However, I got up, ate some Jelly Belly beans and carried on.  The plan had been to go up towards Ringing Roger, round the top and back down via Grindslow Knoll.  In to the pub and job done.  A nice warm-up at the end of the day.

In the end I was a bit late and with the light fading I decided that as I didn't really know how far it was round (I guessed 5 miles in total) I better just do a short walk and drop back down.  After my moment I headed up Golden Clough onto the tops and up over Nether Tor.  I was enjoying myself, it was dry and the paths good (too good in places!).  I got to Upper Tor before I figured it was best to turn back.  

Hills 1 - 0 Andy

This is as good a time as any to test this blogging app... So here I am sat on a rock half way up towards Ringing Roger. I've blown a gasket already,sweat poring and feeling a bit demoralised.

I didn't think hills would suddenly get easy, but after losing 20kg's and doing a lot more walking I though I might notice a tidy difference.  As it is I'm all for walking back down and packing the tent up!

Admittedly it's a hot day, I spent 3 hrs in a car, put tent up quickly and headed straight up here but tonight was meant to be a warm up for longer walks over the next two days!  Oh well at least I'll be having a steak for tea!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

#19 Thurleigh Loop

11.74 Miles
69 Metres

A new walk, finally!  I've been trying to push up the mileage a bit recently, in some ways to make up for a lack of hills and ascent.  Admittedly this walk was flatter than I had thought, with 69 metres of total ascent.  The plan was simple, park on the airfield (I work there) and walk round the outer perimeter.  There is a bridleway that covers pretty much the whole distance of 9 miles, but by parking the car within the perimeter I added close to 3 miles to the total distance.

The old control tower
The path on the whole was wide and well kept.  A few areas of brambles to watch out for but generally good.  All those brambles meant there is a good mile of blackberries round the route, unfortunately they are about a week or two off ripening.  I might come back and walk and feast.  There were a lot of them, and with the path so quiet I could get a good crumbles worth!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

#13 #14 #15 Deja Vu!

OK I really need to plan a few new walks! 

#13 Twinwoods + Yarls Wood (with cow diversion) 11.08 miles and 194 metres.
#14 Twinwoods (with cow diversion) 8.03 Miles and 143 metres.
#15 Twinwoods 7.52 miles and 125 metres.

The main excitement was avoiding a field full of cows.  Now I'm not usually bothered by cows but this lot seemed a bit too interested in me.  A mixture of cows and calves at dusk?  Rather just avoid it really!  Other than that the main interest was the harvesting of the rapeseed and wheat.  Ploughed fields and footpaths don't always mix well.  At least it's dry! 

New routes this week I promise... for my sanity if nothing else!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Challenge Update

After a strong start in June, things fell apart slightly in July.  Work and a lazy arse led to a poor month.  I wasn't inactive in the month (ave. 12,000 step a day), I just didn't get out on that walks I wanted. 

June -
82 miles and 1063 metres ascent.

July -
16 miles and 258 metres ascent.

As you can see it's well below the averages needed. 

Expect August to get things back on track.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

#12 Twinwoods

7.52 Miles
125 Metres

Ahem, it's that Déjà vu feeling.  Sight change to the ordinary in the fact I did the walk after sleeping all day and before the next night shift.  Time restraints mean that this walk is going to be a lot more common than I want.   I feel the need for some hills, yes I did just say that!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

#11 Twinwoods

7.52 Miles
125 Metres

Yep it's the same local walk.  I really need a few variations on this, but for now it does it's job of getting me out in the sun.  Ok the sun was hidden by cloud, ominous dark foreboding clouds but I'm sure it was out there somewhere.  I finished work at 8 in the morning so spent most of the day in bed, this walk fits in well.

Monday, 8 July 2013

#10 Thurleigh to Milton Ernest

4.36 Miles
48 Metres

Well after walking in last night, I have to walk home today.  It was surprisingly cloudy but after yesterdays heat was pleasant.  I was, it has to be said, very tired.   I'm not sure If I'll ever walk all the way home.  The 9 miles are not a problem, it's just how tired I am!  Even a fresh breeze didn't seem to wake me up.  I had intended to do the same walks again for tonight's nightshift, but I'm just too tired.  Off to bed!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

#9 Milton Ernest to Thurleigh

4.36 Miles
85 Metres

Sunny Day? Check.  Need to do a walk? Check.  Due in work to do a night shift? Doh!  12 hour shifts are a killer for various reason, a big one is the fact that it's really hard to do anything apart from sleep and go to work.  Walking from home is an option and I'm lucky that following the footpaths I could get to work in about 9 miles, however walking into work (3 hrs), a 12 hour night shift, then walking home (3 hrs) is tough.  In fact, I'd go so far to say I might do it once to prove I can, then file it under zombie sleep walking.

Wind tunnel site
Option 2 is to walk from a convenient mid-point.  It just so happens there is one from Milton Ernest.  I can park the car and be walking into work about 1.5 hrs later.  We have a shower in work so with some forward planning (shower stuff, towel), I don't have to carry that much.  Well that was the idea, laptop, food, change of clothes, etc, meant that the pack ended up in the 7kgs range!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

#8 Twinwoods

7.52 Miles
125 Metres

Finished off the month with a usual.  Weather has started to warm up, which is nice.  Might have to start wearing sunblock.   It is noticeable how much my Berghaus Freeflow 20 has become my bag of choice.  Just perfect for days like this.

Stats for the month are encouraging.  82 miles walked in 8 walks.  Well on target!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Norfolk Coast Path

Well the walk is done and dusted and my foot is still sore and knackered.  All in all I'd say this is a good walk with a great variety of coastline to walk along.  It's better than the Peddars way in terms of variety and facilities (campsites, shops, ice cream).  Some sections are surprisingly hard work, especially the shingle!

Going into this walk I've lost weight and actually done some walks in advance, almost training!  So it was good to note that I felt 'better' in the legs, and I didn't really suffer any major aches or pains.  After other multiday walks I've had to hit the ibuprofen hard and felt very stiff.  However, my feet suffered a bit more than usual, which is a slight worry.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

#7 Norfolk Coast Day 4

Weybourne - Cromer

9.89 Miles
296 metres

After yesterday my feet were a tad sore, but walkable!  So instead of cracking on with the walk we decided to spend 2 hours in the tank museum next to the campsite!  The tank museam is a really good place, and a lot better tahn we expected.  Plenty of exibits and big tanks and a nice cafe for breakfast.  With our running trend of being lucky with the weather, we avoided a torential downpour that thundered on the roof.

As we set off it was lightly raining but nothing to bad, in fact the waterproofs were off after a mile.  The walk started back on the shingle for a very short distance before a steady climb up and along the cliffs.  The coastal erosion is readily apparent and in contrast to the well defended coast a few miles back.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

#6 Norfolk Coast Day 3

Stiffkey - Weybourne

13.02 Miles
70 metres

After a night of troubled sleep (condensation, heavy rain, repeated deflating of airmat) we woke to more rain, and in typical fashion we started slowly with a lazy breakfast and slow packing up.  However our slow start had the inadvertent consequence of allowing the showers to pass and giving us an OK weather window to walk in!  I'd like to say it was planned...

The walk follows a good path between the coast and the marshes.  It was quiet and everything was feeling Ok.  I had a small blister under one toe and one on the opposite heel, but nothing much to worry about.  The rain began to threaten again, but as soon as the waterproofs were on, the rain had gone.

Friday, 21 June 2013

#5 Norfolk Coast Day 2

Burnham Deepdale - Stiffkey

14.61 Miles
41 metres

We had a late and lazy start to the day, after last nights rush, by making use of the café for a relaxing breakfast.  We also bought a guide book to solve our map deficiency!  Whilst the walk was very well sign posted, I always quite like to know where I am.  It's also useful for estimating times and distances to the nearest ice cream stall or pub.

The weather was OK but rain was again forecast.  Setting off from Burnham Deepdale the path follows the sea defences round the marshes and reclaimed land.  The vantage point of being on the sea wall was a running theme of the middle 2 days of this walk, and gave great views all around.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

#4 Norfolk Coast Day 1

Holme next to the Sea - Burnham Deepdale

10.71 Miles
81 metres

It was a slightly inauspicious start to the day, I was late packing, we got side tracked in Go Outdoors, didn't have a campsite for the last night, no plan for where to leave the car, a misread of how long the bus would take and I forgot the guidebook (hence the maps!).

Marsh and beach, needs a bit of sun!
So we didn't actually start the walk until 4.30 (despite leaving Bedford at 9) and didn't know how late the pub served food.  It was a bit of a rush and we didn't have time to hang around and admire the fact that it had stopped raining and it was a lovely evening.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Why do a challenge?

Well it's part training and part challenge to be honest.  I have 2 big holidays/treks next year that I need to be fitter for (less fat, more strength, more hills).  I wanted to do both for a while, the last 2 years, but I just haven't been fit enough.  The last challenge was meant to get me fit for this year... that ended well! :-)

I might as well put it out there what I want to do next year.  Everest base camp in March and the John Muir Trail in September.  Both very big and very challenging for a fat lump like me.  So far this year (Since March) I've lost 15Kgs, which is probably more than I have ever lost before, so I'm on the right track.  I probably need to lose another 35Kgs to do Everest base camp (along with getting 'hill fit) and another 10 on that for the JMT (along with lots more hills and learning to how to poo in the woods...).  Those are guidelines, I might be fatter but fitter in the end, but I'm happy to guess those figures for now.

I can afford it (or will have saved enough for both) and my planned dates for the treks fall nicely with my shifts, so I have the leave to do it.  All that I need to do is in my control.

Everest Base camp will be a big challenge in just over 9 months.  Opinions of fitness range from 'reasonably fit adult' to someone who can do the PYG track in 2 hours 15 mins carrying 10kgs.  So if nothing else, I'll have to get out in the hills a lot more.  Starting next week along the Norfolk coast....

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Challenge MKII, The revenge...

OK, the last one was a failure.  I have been walking a lot more recently, especially over the last year, but it's not enough for various reasons.  So the Challenge has been reset, with a few tweaks.

From 1st June 2013 to 31st August 2014, I will try to do 120 walks, 1000 miles and 40000 metres of ascent.   I will also spend 60 nights under canvas, tent, bivvy, bothy, etc.

Basic rules -

- Minimum walk is 3 miles, anything less is just a stroll.
- No walks to the shops, etc. are counted.
- Walks to be predominately in the countryside/off road. i.e footpaths, bridleways, country lanes.
- I choose whatever walks I want, no restrictions on doing the same route over and over (would get boring mind!).
- I can do as many separate walks in a day as I want (though they have to be separate, not before and after McD's...)
- Long distance trails counts as multiple walks (4 day LDT = 4 walks).
- To count I must do a trip report/blog (Unless I'm doing the same walk over and over...).
- Mileages and ascent taken from GPS/Getamap/bikehike or the best I can calculate if abroad.

The basic rational is that I'm doing (if I walk enough) a big trek in September 2014, so I have 15 months.  I want to walk on average 8 walks a month (which is just less than the last challenge, but more likely to happen).  I have upped the average mileage to 8 miles and upped the ascent to 300m.

8 walks a month, over 15 months = 120 walks
8 miles average a walk = 960 miles (close enough to a 1000, to make it a nicer number!).
300m average a walk = 36000 metres (again its close enough to round up to 40,000).

So that's the plan! The numbers are big, but If I get ahead in the summer, I have a chance to keep it up over winter. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

#3 Twinwoods

7.52 Miles
125 Metres

Back to the usual! Not much to say really apart from it was nice and sunny! 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

#2 Twinwood & Clapham Park

8.2 Miles
149 Metres

Another day and another walk around the Twinwood area.  I'm afraid I might be doing this quite a lot!  Due to working shifts I often don't get out of bed till late, and in the past this has meant I don't go out for a walk as I can't be bothered to plan a route or drive anywhere.  So heading north from home, out towards Twinwoods is pretty much the only option (unless I walk more on the roads).

Today was pretty much my 'normal' route, with a slight variation towards the end.  I added 3/4's of a mile onto the route by walking round Clapham Park.  In theory (according to Satmap) the path cut through a wood and into open fields.  It looks like the woods have been allowed to expand a little (up to date maps show this!), so I ended up walking through more woods than planned as it was getting dark....  But it was good to get out in the sun beforehand!

Berghaus Freeflow 20 Rucksack

The Berghaus Freeflow 20 Daysack is a great little bag, ideal for a short day or for when you are traveling light.  At 20 litres it's certainly at the smaller end of the rucksack spectrum.  I have used this bag a few times now on day walks and it is about the ideal size for a summers day.

A lovely blue.
The capacity is enough for a jumper (or waterproof) and a packed lunch.  It's also big enough for a few odd and sods (camera, wallet etc) and comes with a few zipped pockets.  A small internal pocket is good for keys and wallet, whilst the external pocket is about right for a camera/GPS/etc. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

#1 Twinwood & Oakley Little Wood

10.51 Miles
176 Metres

Well back to the drawing board as far as the challenge!  So it was best I started someway as I meant to go on.  Exploring more of the paths around the North of Bedford seemed like a good plan.  There is plenty of good history up there, even if the landscape is quite flat and arable. 

Up a slightly hilly bit
Following my now usual route towards Clapham, I again headed up past the golf course towards the old RAF camp.  Instead of heading straight along as I have on numerous occasions I took a left towards Twinwood, an old RAF base, now used as a farm, museum and festival venue. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Challenge - Fail

Well it's becoming obvious (Ok it was obvious a while ago!) that I'm going to fail to hit my targets by September.  Even being very optimistic with the number of walks I can fit in between now and September, I'll still be quite a bit off!

At the end of June I had done 33 walks that qualified, leaving me 67 walks to do in 3 months...

On a positive note, the walks I had done averaged out at 6.45 miles and 278m per walk, which is pretty much on target.  I just didn't quite do enough.  I blame winter, but that's a bit of a poor excuse really and one that I allowed to grow.  I do own waterproofs(!), so I could of kept the walk numbers ticking over, leaving the miles to the nicer days.

Oh well.  Gives me a few ideas anyway.  Plus the 'event' that was planned in September is now a September 2014 plan, so maybe I need a new challenge?  Challenge MkII The Revenge?  Hmm planning...

Friday, 31 May 2013

#32 & #33 Twinwoods and Manton Lane.

#32 & #33 Twinwoods and Manton Lane.

7.52 Miles
125 Metres

I am trying to get out and about more often, so using a few local walks seemed a no brainer.  This walk is mainly around arable fields and whilst I would never describe it as amazing, it is nice enough, and more importantly it's outside!

Yellow is so on fashion this season...

The paths on the whole are good and the field margins wide.  On a good day you do get decent views across Bedford with the twin hangers of Cardington clearly standing out.  Twinwoods itself is an old RAF base, and it's most notable claim to flame is that it's where Glenn Miller took off from before disappearing.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Keen Targhee II

Now Boots and shoes can be a tricky subject on forums and blogs.  It's a subject which seems to elicit strong views and opinions, shoes? boots? Leather? Gore-Tex? etc.  Any opinion on this subject should come with a clear health warning and disclaimer - My feet are personal, what works for me might be torture for you.

Now I love (and hate, but it's loving first) my Keen Targhee II's.  They fit my feet (Size 8 to 8.5 feet, usual shoe/boot size 9, wide fitting) quite perfectly.  I can wear them out of the box and do a good (8 miles +) walk without any issues.  No breaking in, no hassles.  I have worn them on the SWCP where the year before my boots caused me multiple blisters on the same section.

I like them immensely.  They just work for me. Just.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

#31 Snowdon

#31 Snowdon

8.51 Miles
1923 Metres

I had planned this trip for weeks, so had been watching the weather forecasts intently.  Up to a few days before, I was going to cancel.  Forecasts of heavy rain and snow on a mountain I had never been to, was not an inviting idea.  But thanks to the Mountain Weather Forecast at the Met office it became apparent that we might have a window of opportunity.  It would mean an early start but we should get up and down before any rain hit.  Still had high winds mind you!
Parking at Pan Y Pass (£10!!!) we had planned to walk up the PYG track and back down Miners’ track, however as the car park was nearly empty (8am) we had parked next to the gate to the Miners, so thought why not, there can’t be that much difference!  The first 2 miles or so was along good quality tracks and fairly flat, so a relaxed start.

Monday, 13 May 2013

#30 Watergrove

#30 Watergrove

Distance - 7.21 miles
Ascent - 455 metres

A late start to today, the weather was pretty ropey in the morning, so when a gap in the cloud was spotted I was off out.  I had a big walk the next day, so I wanted to do something fairly easy, but at the same time I wanted to try a few different places.

Pennine Bridleway

Going up the Rake I followed the same track as the other days.  The views over Manchester showed how close to a drenching I was.  Black skies blocked the views towards Saddleworth and made a sharp contrast to the blue skies above my head!  Again the wind was strong, battering the ears. 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

#29 Ramsden Road

#29 Ramsden Road

Distance - 5.43 miles
Ascent - 387 metres

Today was a short (ish) walk on the other side of the Whitworth Valley from yesterdays.  Walking up the Rake gets the blood going and also gets you on the tops pretty quickly.  In the sun it was quite warm, but as soon as you got on the open ground the strong cold wind kicked in.  On the way up the wind was behind me, battering my ears.  So hood up and onwards!

Whitworth Valley

Joining the Pennine Bridleway the path flattens out round the bottom of Brown Wardle, so a quite an easy coast along.   The path drops into Higher Slack Brook, along an old track way which looks so completely out of place.  The trackway would of crossed the brook to join up with Ramsden Road.  This old road joined a number of farmsteads before they were cleared when Watergrove Reservoir was built and the lower valley flooded.

 I only had 2 hours to get the walk in so I ended up turning round soon after.  It was a nice day and this walk opens up a number of future routes.

Friday, 10 May 2013

#28 Cowpe Moss and Rooley Moor

#28 Cowpe Moss and Rooley Moor

Distance - 9.07 miles
Ascent - 534 metres

Whilst up north for a few days I decided to take the dog for a wander on the moors above Rochdale.  Heading up the old pack horse trail of Rooley moor Road you soon leave the suburbs behind.  While at the same time you never quite leave behind the modern world with the Scout Moor wind farm in prominence and occasional views all the way across Manchester (I say occasional, as it depends on the rain clouds!).
Scout Moor

Rooley Moor road is a cobbled/packhorse track that was rebuilt in the 1800’s.  Not sure why these trails go straight up and over the moors whilst all other roads take to the valleys.   However they do give quick firm access to the moors (some people abuse this by fly tipping…) and now form part of the Mary Townley loop and Pennine bridleway.  The cobbles will give a quick descent on a bike but I’m guessing the bone shaking cobbles will remain in the memory of many!

Friday, 3 May 2013

#27 Barton Le Clay

#27 Barton Le Clay

Distance - 10.0 miles
Ascent - 217 metres

Two walks in two days?  I'm getting extravagate! Todays walk was a planned 8.5 mile wander around Barton Le Clay and the edge of the Chilterns.  The weather again was pretty perfect and warm enough for short sleeves and sunblock!  Nick was visiting from the South so I dragged him along.

The Chilterns

Heading North/east out of Barton Le Clay along the John Bunyan trail the path is wide, flat and easy walking.  The views are across open pleasant farmland with 'big' horizons.  The scarp slope of the Chilterns is obvious to one side and contrasts sharply with the flat farm land we was walking through. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

#26 Great Barford and Roxton the Sequel.

#26 Great Barford and Roxton

Distance - 7.19 miles
Ascent - 28 metres

Earlier in the week I did a 5 mile walk along the Ouse with a loop round Roxton.  I thought I'd come back and do the full Great Barford/Tempsford loop, mainly before the nettles get much higher (they are growing and growing!).  The weather was perfect, I arrived with plenty of time, I was in no rush, what could go wrong?

The Ouse

The section between Great Barford and Roxton is fairly well known to me now.  It's a flat walk along the river, it's quite nice and easy to follow.  As I mentioned last time the rubbish in the trees does detract a little but it is/was offset by the wildlife on show, swans, ducks, birds (I'm such a twitcher...) and butterflies.  The river is very slow (artificially so due to the weirs and locks) and you would be hard pressed to work out which direction it flows in for most of the walk.

Monday, 29 April 2013

#25 Great Barford to Roxton

#25 Great Barford to Roxton

Distance - 6.21 miles
Ascent - 11 metres

Back to regular haunts down the River Great Ouse.  On a nice Saturday afternoon I had planned just to take a wander to Roxton Locks and back.  Should of been about 5 miles long but I decided to extend it slightly with a walk through the village of Roxton.

The river walk was as quiet as usual and it wont be long before the nettles invade again.  The river bank was showing signs of the wet winter, a clear brown 'tide' mark along with (unfortunately) quite a bit of rubbish caught in the tree branches.  It spoilt to whole calm river ambiance to be honest, no thoughts of a wind in the willows style of scene when their are carrier bags blowing in the willows.

The lock and weir had more water flowing through it than I had seen in a while (I avoided the path in the floods), last year it was more like a trickle over the weir.  This year there was more of a rolling rumble.  Much more exciting (if weirs can be exciting to a passer by, more exciting to a boat owner I'd guess!).

The village of Roxton was very pleasant and quiet.  Didn't spot a pub or a shop, but that's quite normal these days.  However even on a quiet Saturday you never escape the 'hum' of the A1.  Would be nice to live in the middle of nowhere someday!

Well a short and sweet posting!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

#22 Grafham Water Loop

#22 Grafham Water Loop

Distance - 8.82 miles
Ascent - 80 metres

After a few false starts I decided to try and get the full loop in.  On a nice day at the weekend I feared the worst as far as crowds go.  It turns out I was justified!  The first car park was full of bikers, with BBQ's etc (it's about the size of 3-4 football pitches, a big car park).  The second was taken over by the Riding for the Disabled.  And the third?  Nearly empty, phew!  Luckily Grafham has more parking than most town centres!

Almost like the Seaside
Starting from the opposite side of the Water, I decided to go clockwise for a change (oh I live on the edge!).  It was busy with bikers, walkers and families due to it being the weekend, but not that bad.  The path is pretty wide and generally caters for all!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

#20 Grafham Village Loop

#20 Grafham Village Loop

Distance - 4.5 miles
Ascent - 28 metres

Ok the plan was to do the full loop but yet again as far as Grafham goes things conspired.  We arrived to late to do a full loop, the car park closed at 5.30pm.  So first plan was to walk to the nature reserve and back, Nick then had the inspired idea to make it a loop via Grafham village.  For the most part it was a good track until we hit the field edges.  Then it was hard to see what was path and what was water...

There's a footpath there... really!
Decent quick and short walk, not much more than a warm up, but that seems to be more than I have managed recently!  Not much of a write up...meh!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

#19 Edale to Jacobs Ladder

#19 Edale to Jacobs Ladder

Distance - 6.15 miles
Ascent - 459 metres

Ok I will admit at the start that this wasn't quite the full route planned!  The plan was to walk to Kinder Downfall and back, the weather was due to be rubbish and the idea was that this would give me a good walk whilst sticking to a good path for navigation and sinking.  As it was, my legs never got warmed up after yesterdays walk and in the back of my head I had the idea of going home early and taking the tent down in the dry.

Mam Tor and Rushup Edge
Following the Pennine Way, the path is well maintained and well marked.  The weather today was meant to be worse than the day before, however apart from being overcast it was fine, no rain or snow.  Kinder was to the right and it looked like the rain of the night had fallen as snow, and to the left we had great views of yesterdays walk.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

#18 Edale to Hope

#18 Edale to Hope

Distance - 8.76 miles
Ascent - 605m

This time last year I was getting a tan on the SWCP, this year I'm in a tent and its a bit nippy outside!  I suppose that why we love the weather in the UK so much!  A few days in the peaks was much needed and an awful weather forecast was not going to hold me back!  I arrived late the night before and hardly slept with the rain pounding the tent, remarkably it was only a few spots the next morning.

That's where we are heading, up there...
The walk started fairly easily from the Fieldhead campsite to Barber Booth.  The hills where I was heading were covered in low cloud and along with the lack of sleep were not encouraging me along at any great pace.  Oh well at least I get to try out my waterproofs!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

When online shopping goes wrong - Update

In good news, the shelter appeared!  Admittedly it appeared back in America but at least it was found.  The packaging suggests that Royal Mail attempted delivery, but no one collected it.  Probably because they forgot to ask me to go and get it... Of all the deliveries I got a Christmas (all with the correct cards posted through the door) they had to cock up on this one!

Ron at MLD posted it back again, so this week I received my Duomid.  I have entered the lightweight shelter world.  The way MLD dealt with an issue that was out of their hands (postage) was exemplary and couldn't be faulted, they re-posted it at no extra cost and answered all emails swiftly.

Unfortunately the inner is still, after 5 months, undelivered.  No answers to emails (1 a month as not to pester) and a text (as suggested on website), so I have no idea where it is, if it's in a queue, lost in the mail, lost in the production queue.... humph.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

#17 Minehead to Porlock

#17 Minehead to Porlock

Distance - 8.86 Miles
Ascent - 582 Metres

Well it had been a while since my last walk, I blamed the weather, everyone else blamed my laziness.  So what better than a stroll on the coast, something to ease back into it, fresh air, the sea, and a section of the coast path rated Challenging, say what?  Challenging?  Well that's a bit harsh!  So of I went to the coast to meet up with Nick, now a local to Exmoor.

The start of the SWCP
The first 3/4 mile is flat and mostly tarmac, this is to lull you into a false sense of security and is only just long enough to get the legs going.  The path soon starts climbing, with a short sharp section in the woods.  Despite the recent bad weather, the path is in pretty good nick, with only a few trees still blocking the path or muddy underfoot.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

When online shopping goes wrong

When online shopping goes wrong

I buy a lot of things online, too many things to be honest...  However it's very rare that I have a problem with an order, issues are usually with the courier employed by the store (looking at you Amazon).  However a recent order (OK not that recent as the story will show) has left me in a huff.

Back in October 2012 (about 20 weeks ago) I placed 2 orders for items that will form my new shelter.  The tent/shelter was from the USA and the inner from the UK.  I have still yet to see either, which is the frustration.  Yet in both cases there seems to of been unfortunate circumstances.

With the shelter, it's basically got lost between the USA and UK.  Not much I can do and the manufacturer is going to send out a new one (which is good service I think), and did so with out any quibbles.  I alerted the manufacturer on the 1st of Jan and he suggested waiting a few weeks to see if it been returned.  He has now offered a replacement as it's clear it has disappeared.  The extra bad news is that the colour I want is out of stock for 8-10 more weeks, I'm not having it in yellow!

The inner has also not arrived due to issues with manufacture.  Postings on other blogs mean I know why it's likely to be late, and it's a unfortunate circumstance that I know too well can effect all sectors of one's life.  I have sent emails enquiring what timescales we are now on, but yet to receive any reply.  I am hesitant to send more (3 emails since 1st Jan) as I don't want to be a pain and hassle the guy.  However it would be nice to at least get a reply, even if it is bad news.  I have no idea on timescales or even if it has also been shipped and lost. 

*Not naming names due to the issues being outside of there hands.  It's not their fault just very annoying for me.

Friday, 18 January 2013

#16 Clapham and Twinwoods

#16 Clapham and Twinwoods

Distance - 8.03 Miles
Ascent - 113 Metres

Today was the first day of Snowmageddon so I had planned to get out early, do a walk and get home before the roads descended into anarchy.  As it happens the snow came early so I was stuck at home.  I then remembered it was actually possible (!) to start a walk from home and you didn't have to drive somewhere for a walk.

Heading up the Baulk
I decided to have a wander up past Clapham towards Twinwoods.  This is mostly arable fields, so isn't the most interesting but with the snow should be fun.  From the Baulk onwards the road/track wasn't gritted and even some locals were struggling.  The track leads up to the old Twinwoods airfield camp and the old huts are still used by farmers.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

#15 A short wander to Gratham

#15 A short wander to Gratham

Distance - 3.02 Miles
Ascent - 30 Metres

Well this was meant to be a full lap of the Water (9 miles ish) but descended into farce.  I had intended to get there around 10, have lunch halfway round and back in the car for about 13.30.  As it happens I got there at 13.00 giving me just enough daylight to do the lap without a break.  So I was rushed before I got there.

My GPS then died in the carpark.  I had no other map but it was fairly obvious where to go, I mean just keep the water on your left, easy.  Which is fine, unless you are meant to stick to footpaths not just dog walking tracks know by locals. 

On top of this the path I followed was very wet and muddy.  I had in my head a vague memory that the footpath was good as it was also a cycleway, this is true where they follow the same route!  The beginning mile or so was horrible.  In the end I did a mile and a half and turned round, just fed up and wasn't enjoying it.  All my own fault, was late, rushed, no map and hadn't charged GPS (or so I thought).

Monday, 7 January 2013

#14 Cowm Resevoir and Healey Dell

#14 Cowm Reservoir and Healey Dell

Distance - 7.83 Miles
Ascent - 282 Metres

Second walk in a week, I must be ill!  Yet again I was trying to tire out the dog and myself, but failed again on one count!  Those collies have too much energy.  I started the walk by again going round Cowm.  The weather was a little better, the cloud base was higher and the hilltops revealed themselves. 
Cowm Reservoir
I actually did 2 laps of the res, mainly because the dog likes chasing a ball!   From the res it's a short but flat walk along the valley to the Healey Dell nature reserve.  This part of the valley was heavily used during the industrial revolution and it's impact is noticeable.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

#13 Cowm Reservoir and Rushy Hill

#13 Cowm Reservoir and Rushy Hill

Distance - 8.97 Miles
Ascent - 484 Metres

My first walk of the year and for me was my Christmas Walk, I worked all Christmas so only got my pressies the day before!  The weather was grim (foggy) but surprisingly dry for Whitworth, the land was sodden but for once none was falling from the skies.  The track round the Cowm reservoir is well maintained and flat (once you have walked to the top of the dam!).  It's a popular dog walk area but was fairly quiet and remarkably free from Dog poo bags dumped in trees!

Foggy Cowm Reservoir
After a lap round the reservoir we took a track out of the back of the res which follows an old quarry road.  This area was very wet underfoot, with water flowing out of what seemed every part of the hillside.