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Backpacks and blisters - the walking thread

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    Backpacks and blisters - the walking thread

    I walked the TGO Challenge again this year walking from Kilchoan on the west coast to St Cyrus on the east coast. When I did it I first walked west and managed to stand at Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly part of mainland Britain. I had a terrific walk which just got better and better as the two weeks went on. Now though it's time for another walk and I'm off to do the Kintyre Way in a few weeks time. It's a 100 mile long distance path stretching all the way down the Mull of Kintyre. I was hoping to do a week starting the SouthWest Coast Path but the dry weather has forced me up north to rather cooler climes. It enables me to visit the village of Southend (I often wonder if there post ever goes via Essex before arriving with them) and also to bag the summer only Campbeltown - Ardrossan ferry although buying a sail-rail ticket for this service is proving problematic. If I successfully complete the Kintyre Way it'll be my 20th long distance walk.

    Anyone else interested in walking?

    #2
    A group of us did the Dales Way from Ilkley to Windermere last summer. We usually do quite a lot of walking, but this was the first real multi-day event that we had attempted.

    Very much enjoyed it, and we have plans to try the Cumbria or Cleveland Way in the future.

    A long-term plan of mine would be to link multiple long-distance footpaths together, and spend several weeks walking them.

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      #3
      I really enjoy it, though I've never had a walking holiday or trip, just single day hikes in places like Devon and North Wales as part of a general holiday. I also live about three miles from the South Downs so I have a few regular routes that I enjoy. I'll often combine a walk with birdwatching so the pace tends to be pretty leisurely.

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        #4
        Frau imp and I did a four-day jaunt across the Hartz Mountains two years ago at Easter, and it was one of my favourite breaks in years. It's not just the exercise and seeing new places, and feeling like you've earned your Pilsener and Schnitzel at the end of the day. It's also that, as a couple, you seem to rarely get the time just to talk untethered without any other kind of distractions - walking allows that, as well as the time to mentally unwind and get around to topics you don't have the time to broach over breakfast.

        So for my birthday last month she gave me/us a three-day walk above the Rhine Valley this weekend - just about to head off. I'm not sure how the arthritic knees will hold up so soon after last weekend's reffing trauma (though they feel almost fine now), but my doctor told me to give it a try with the aid of my now purchased Nordic Walking sticks. If it doesn't work out, we can always go down into the valley and take a boat.

        In the long run, though, I definitely want to do more holidays like this, over a week or two. I don't like sightseeing much, and I'm not that bothered about sitting around on a busy beach for more than a couple of days.

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          #5
          I just spent a week hiking up and down (I did a 1900m descent one day, my poor knees...) a corner of the Italian Alps, spent one night at my cousin's rifugio and I had the best beer ever at a 2600m asl rifugio, with a big glacier as a view, after a 2h40 hike up from the valley.

          I had a great time....

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            #6
            imp, when you were in the Hartz, did you stuff your face with Windbeutel as well? The one time I was there, that was all anybody did. They'd put on their checked shirts, zip-infested trousers and clunky boots, walk half a mile to the nearest café and then spend the rest of the day scoffing Windbeutel.

            Although I must admit I was impressed by the "Herrengedeck" there. A large beer and a schnapps called Dagobert Dimmels Hosenbrummer, for four deutschmarks.

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              #7
              I used to do a lot of hiking, but haven't really done any since my near death experience on a Scottish hillside in 2009. This is for a number of complex, interlocking reasons and not as a direct consequence. I had actually been hoping to go to the Essex coast for a couple of days' wandering this week, but health intervened. What I used to enjoy wasn't quite so much climbing mountains (though that's good, and in winter astonishingly beautiful) but getting out somewhere wildish, camping and just being on my own somewhere like Sandwood Bay, Mull or Barra. I really miss Scotland.

              I was hoping to do a week starting the SouthWest Coast Path

              I've walked the Minehead to Ilfracombe section. Exmoor is gorgeous and Lynton/Lynmouth a fascinating place.

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                #8
                Ah jeez DM, pop over Manchester and I'll take you out wildcamping in the Peak District...

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by delicatemoth View Post
                  I used to do a lot of hiking, but haven't really done any since my near death experience on a Scottish hillside in 2009. This is for a number of complex, interlocking reasons and not as a direct consequence. I had actually been hoping to go to the Essex coast for a couple of days' wandering this week, but health intervened. What I used to enjoy wasn't quite so much climbing mountains (though that's good, and in winter astonishingly beautiful) but getting out somewhere wildish, camping and just being on my own somewhere like Sandwood Bay, Mull or Barra. I really miss Scotland.

                  I was hoping to do a week starting the SouthWest Coast Path

                  I've walked the Minehead to Ilfracombe section. Exmoor is gorgeous and Lynton/Lynmouth a fascinating place.
                  What happened in 2009? Genuinely curious.

                  I would recommend the Essex coast to anyone wanting solitude, but not at the moment due to the intense heat and lack of water. Even then I wouldn't drink from any streams or rivers, and the heat just makes that much worse. I'm thinking about the southwest coast path, but only in stages. If I don't get on the TGO Challenge next year, pretty much all my leave will be spent on walking that instead.

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                    #10
                    Ah DM I hope you can get out there again.

                    For two years when I was 17 and 18 my mate and I made two feeble attempts on the Cornwall Coast Path, both commencing in St. Austell. We were completely inept and probably walked a total of twenty miles in the two trips. Went further by taxi.

                    Would love the time and opportunity to do some decent walking nowadays.

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                      #11
                      What happened in 2009? Genuinely curious.

                      I thought I posted about it on here before or I'd have said a bit more. When I got made redundant (April 09) I headed up to Scotland with my money for what was supposed to be a lovely month of backpacking leavened with the odd nice hotel break. At this point I had reasonable experience walking and backpacking in the Highlands. I got off the train at Dalmally or thereabouts and headed up with the intention of walking through to Glen Coe and meeting up with some pals off the Outdoors Magic website. The weather was dreich, but I had good kit (i.e. it could get soaked and I'd stay warm) and was familiar with this weather, or so I thought. It was relentlessly pissing down. I camped, and as the weather was still appalling when I woke up I got lazy and decided to chill rather than move on. This was my first big mistake. It kept pissing down and pissing down. I spent another night in the tent and it was still pissing down in the morning. I decided to head back down and find a hotel or hostel to dry out. But by now all the streams had risen. I came to one that I'd hopped over on the way up and it was a torrent. At this point I should have readopted my original plan, gritted my teeth, and headed back up, but I didn't. I tried to jump over the stream, throwing my pack first. I got unbalanced, fell into the torrent and was swept downstream at breathtaking pace, just shielding my head and thinking fuck. After a few seconds I got spat out on the other side and started to recover my breath while I watched my pack get pummelled by the awesome force of a highland stream in spate. Gradually the pack shifted over to my side, and I managed to grab it.

                      So, no bones seemed to be broken. My saturated pack weighed about 150%, and I tried to put it on. I couldn't, because I'd sprained my wrist. I still can't believe that's the worst physical injury I suffered. I knew the road was only about a mile down the hill, so I set off again, dragging the pack behind me. Got to another stream in spate, this one bigger than the one I'd fallen in. Didn't know what the fuck to do. Looked in my pack and, stupid as I may have been in other respects, I'd done a good job of packing electronics in waterproof containers, so my phone was working. I phoned a friend and discussed my situation with her. I was stuck between two streams I couldn't cross. She wisely pointed out that I could phone the mountain rescue to talk to them without it meaning I was begging for a chopper, so I did that. They told me to stay put while they sent teams up to check my situation, so I got in my orange survival sack to wait. Despite my nice waterproofs I was really starting to shiver now. Mountain rescue ascertained that I was indeed stuck and I ended up getting a ride to the road in the Sea King while they made me devour glucose gel. Then the nice policeman drove me to Oban and I recuperated in a hotel for a couple of days. I got the ferry to Barra and spent the rest of the trip gently bimbling through the Outer Hebrides (wondrous) and made a decent donation to Oban Mountain Rescue when I got back.

                      Ah jeez DM, pop over Manchester and I'll take you out wildcamping in the Peak District...

                      That's really sweet of you, but I thought Park authorities were pretty down on wild camping when it's been dry for ages, because fire risk. Peak District is best when frozen imo. I do want to do the overnight bivvy within reach of London thing anyway, I've met people who do it frequently - Epping Forest, North Downs etc. Wouldn't want the tent for that though, too cumbersome.

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                        #12
                        I hadn't read about your mishap in the Highlands before delicatemoth but it really quite frightening how quickly the water can rise on Highland streams. Likewise, how quickly they go down to being just a trickle again. I've only suffered from hypothermia a few times and when it strikes it takes a lot to recover from. The worst bit is that it slows your brain down and your ability to make decisions and you end up doing things which in hindsight weren't the most sensible. I got lost in a whiteout on the Cairngorm plateau about 15 years ago and the fear of that day still lives with me today. I had ascended Cairngorm and was going round the northern corries when all of a sudden the cloud came down and merged with the white of the snow and I couldn't see more than about 20 yards in front of me. It wasn't snowing, just thick cloud and snow (it was February and I had ice axe, crampons etc). I ended up keeping a ridge of pure white snow to my right as I had correctly identified that this was a cornice. I kept a good 20 yards away from it on the ice but I followed the cornice line along, up down, in and out of some hollows and eventually down. I popped out of the cloud all of a sudden and could see the way down to the top car park. I was terrified for about 4 hours and it's a fear that stays with you, that even now, on a cold day sat in a pub with a pint of beer and a warm fire, I can still feel the fear I had that day.

                        Edited to add:

                        Just out of interest what did mountain rescue, the police etc. say to you about what happened? I'm always curious as to what they say to people after things like this. Were they supportive of your decision or did you get a critical debrief?
                        Last edited by Paul S; 04-08-2018, 10:49.

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                          #13
                          I walked a couple of sections of the SW Coast path a few years back, Sidmouth to Exmouth and then Exmouth to Torquay the next day; very pleasant, although parts of the path are a little challenging.

                          I must be daft but I enjoy canal walking; a particular favourite is Springfields in Wolverhampton to the Gas Street Basin (Birmingham) at just under 15 miles. Then lunch and a drink in Birmingham before turning round and heading home. A route with plenty of contrasts; derelict and productive industry, attempts at regeneration ongoing, residential areas, boat yards, empty areas and then Birmingham City Centre appears out of nowhere. Strange, as I will agree that it isn't the most appealing landscape in most people's eyes but it appeals to me.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by Post-apocalyptic Pete View Post
                            I walked a couple of sections of the SW Coast path a few years back, Sidmouth to Exmouth and then Exmouth to Torquay the next day; very pleasant, although parts of the path are a little challenging.
                            Bloody right they are. My wife is still complaining about the time I took her along carrying, apparently, the heaviest rucksack ever loaded by a human being.

                            I've just got back from a few days in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. It was a good trip, though not as interesting as the Taurus or Ladakhi mountains which they most resembled.

                            The trails were much tougher than I expected. One woman in our group, who's done EBC and Kilimajaro and thought that was some sort of qualification, was evacuated on a mule after falling and injuring herself. IMO if there hadn't been the Western/developing world dynamic between guide and trekker, she would never have been allowed to try the route. Morocco was fab though.

                            On Friday I'm doing all the pubs on the Gloucester-Sharpness canal in a day. Harder than it sounds as the rules state you have to have a drink in every pub and the first one in Sharpness doesn't open until 12.

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                              #15
                              Everyone at work thinks I am a loon as my every day carry is a GoRuck Rucker with a 20lb ruck plate. Not sure what trail run I am going to go for but there are plenty in NY and Vermont that look pretty interesting and exceptionally foolhardy.

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                                #16
                                I have a geology question.

                                I have been to the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland and seen all the hexagonal shaped rock. However, someone once told me that similar shaped rock can be found on the Mull of Kintyre. Does anyone know if this is true?

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                                  #17
                                  Yes, it is

                                  List of places with basalt columns

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                                    #18
                                    No, that's all on/by the Isle Of Mull. Mull Of Kintyre is actually some distance away at the bottom of the Kintyre peninsula.

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                                      #19
                                      Shows what I know. I've always conflated them.

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                                        #20
                                        Don't try to work the difference between Tarbet and Tarbert...

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                                          #21
                                          I'm going to leave that one to the professionals

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                                            #22
                                            Originally posted by delicatemoth View Post
                                            What happened in 2009? Genuinely curious.



                                            Ah jeez DM, pop over Manchester and I'll take you out wildcamping in the Peak District...

                                            That's really sweet of you, but I thought Park authorities were pretty down on wild camping when it's been dry for ages, because fire risk. Peak District is best when frozen imo. I do want to do the overnight bivvy within reach of London thing anyway, I've met people who do it frequently - Epping Forest, North Downs etc. Wouldn't want the tent for that though, too cumbersome.
                                            Always happy to help out a fellow wildcamper. Yeah, right now it's probably a bit tense doing so in the PD, just the other day park authorities posted pictures of idiots fires by trees, Ladybower attract every single imbecile living in Sheffield, alas...(that said, I do have two excellent regular pitches in the Upper Derwent valley, well away from the reservoirs shores). It's so dry now you could cross Kinder without mucking a pair of white trainers...

                                            I do need to get a bivy night sorted by Formby beach, scouted a number of excellent spots by dunes/woods away from honeyspots (and patrols), would be a nice easy one, with little to carry around really aside from sleep stuff and a pot to prepare a brew...

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                                              #23
                                              Formby's National Trust. If you're a member (I assume you are) I imagine that entitles you to some sort of rights to camp?

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                                                #24
                                                God no, NT are not keen on wildcampers!

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                                                  #25
                                                  Originally posted by ursus arctos View Post
                                                  Thanks for this, there are some places I will put on my bucket list of places to visit. And yeah, you did confuse the Isle of Mull and Mull of Galloway.

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