Sunday, 26 October 2008

Grand Union Canal – Out and Back – (Middlesex) – 26/10/08 – 10 Miles – 9kg – Myself

If I am doing a door to door ten miler along the Grand Union Canal that usually means I am trying to squeeze a walk in when I am tight for time (in this case trying to fit it around movies at the London Film Festival). However I had been looking forward to this all week, especially as last weeks shift at work left no time for any sort of exercise. Not only that though, but it is now over a month since I did a walk in the double mileage figures range (although plenty at less than half that distance). Now as such there isn’t much to report on the walk itself, other than it was constantly raining and was a very gloomy day. There was a small smattering of human and canine activity around Hanwell Locks, and a bit more minus the dogs at Southall. Beyond that the canal towpath was mainly deserted. Also for reasons I have yet to figure out, I decided to leave my spanking new £114 waterproof Berghaus jacket at home, and go instead with a £10 coat I bought some time ago at Primark. Suffice to say that said coat isn’t really waterproof and I did get progressively damper as the walk went on. On the other hand it is worth noting that although I did wear my £40 ‘waterproof’ Berghaus trousers, when I got back the bottom 6 inches of each of my inner trouser legs were sopping wet. So now onto my boots.

You see what this walk was really about was a chance to pick up on the long distance weight carrying idea, which crashed disasterously on my walk on the 10th September (the last time I tried it). Like then I was wearing my Peter Storm boots, only this time with new £11 Sorbothane inserts, and like then I was also carrying 9kg of water in my rucksack. Along with the new inserts a few other things should now be going in my favour. Namely in the last fortnight I have spent a full week wearing these boots (+ inserts) as I did my conservation bit for the National Trust. Also I have been doing a couple of Urban 4 mile walks per week (since the heels healed up) carrying up to 22kg in weight in my rucksack, only in that case wearing trainers. So by today my feet should be capable of carrying 9kg for 10 miles wearing boots, yes ? Well I have to tell you it was a close run thing, and that although my heels didn’t blister or have the skin ripped off, by the time I came to take the boots off that was what I was expecting to find, as both of my soles felt as if they were on fire. Thus once indoors in bare feet, it was a good twenty minutes before I could support my body weight on them.

So in summary the fitness benefit of carrying weight in my rucksack is for real but there is going to have be limitations as to how far I can take this idea. The way I now envisage it is: Walking with other people = no additional weight. Walking by myself on a double figure country walk wearing boots = 9kg additional weight. Walking by myself on a four mile urban blast wearing trainers (not featured on this blog) = 22kg additional weight. I hope you have all got that now.

Monday, 20 October 2008

4 x North Devon Walks – (Devon) – 12th-15th-16th-17th/10/08 – 3/5/2/2 miles approx each – 0kg – N/Trust Working Holiday + Helen.

No this wasn’t a walking holiday, but rather an initiative of Colin, the leader on the Exmoor based National Trust conservation holiday for Arlington Court. As such Colin, a real last Mohican, organised a short evening walk after every working day as well as a longer walk on our midweek day off. Cooking duties and general fatigue, meant that me and Helen didn’t make the walks on the Monday, Tuesday and Friday (although we did do a walk of our own on the Friday which is also included here).

LYNMOUTH COASTAL PATH – With only half a day of work behind us, everyone was still full of energy at this point and up for the daily extra curricular activity. Needless to say as the week went on, there was something of a drop out rate (myself and Helen included). This first jaunt however was a beautiful evening walk that started from the Exmoor basecamp, with our party making their way along the coastal path towards Lynmouth. At the highest point Helen took a couple of amazing group photos (given the low light) minus flash, before we all headed back via Beacon Tor in the direction of the fullish Moon. Apparently we passed the landward side of an Iron Age hillfort in the process, however as the light was virtually gone by the time we had reached the basecamp, I for one don’t recall seeing it.

WOODY BAY to HEDDONS MOUTH circular – The heavens had opened for the start of our day off, meaning that when we set off from the Woody Bay car park, waterproofs were definitely the order of the day. Thus the walk started off with a gentle climb towards the coastal edge where we discovered the roofless remains of some type of structure perched on the cliff edge. What followed from that point however was an absolute pig of a climb, that never seemed to come to an end. This took care of three of our party who wisely, given their age and/or weight levels, abandoned it at an early stage and returned to the start point for some refreshments. I on the other hand adopted my usual tactic of going at it as fast as I could (save for the etiquette of not overtaking the leader) so that I could have minimal painful climbing time during, and maximum recovery time at the end. It works for me so don’t knock it. Anyway with the rest of the party having caught up we then undertook a far more gentle gradient until we reached Selworthy Beacon, where it was proved once more that I am the only person with the sufficient expertise and specialised knowledge required, to be able to operate my camera. The views from this highest point were stunning if a little overcast; but not so overcast that we couldn’t see the Hinkley Point radiation factory glowing in the distance. However we were now in a descent mode which culminated in a scrumptious coffee and cake half hour, at a National Trust tearoom at Hunters Inn. The walk was then rounded off along Allerford Woods before returning to our start point at the car park at Woody Bay, and a rendevous with those we had left behind. As such the walk took up half of our day off, with the other half spent exploring Dunster Castle.

FORELAND POINT LIGHTHOUSE out and back – Well that was the plan anyway as our five man team set off from the basecamp, once more on the coastal path. Unlike the Sunday one though, this was going in the direction away from Lynmouth. However a combination of: the hard days work just undergone, the failing light, a real drop off in temperature, and the need to get in the showers before dinner, meant we were soon wimping out on our leader Colin. Thus it wasn’t too far along, probably at the point where we admired the badly sheared sheep (singular), that we left him to carry out this mission on his own, whilst we headed back the way we came. A big mug of Coffee before setting off had seemed a good idea, however by the time of our retreat it was getting really cold. All of which meant I had to skulk at the back of our now four man group until a suitable opportunity arose to contribute to the global rise in Sea levels.

ARLINGTON COURT CIRCULAR WALK via THE LAKE and WILDERNESS – A couple of hours between the half day end of our last day, and a promised cream tea, gave me and Helen the opportunity to explore the circular walk in the grounds of Arlington Court. As such it is advertised on the signpost as a 60 minute walk which turned out to be fairly accurate. We started off holding hands on this one but the excessive swinging action caused by the steep drop at the start, meant we gave that up as a bad idea before any limbs were dislodged. On our downward trek Helen was nearly stranguled by a Monkey tree, and on my prompting competed with a wooden bench as to who could do the best impression of Edvard Munch’s THE SCREAM. Not long after that we ended up at the lake, and read up on the history board the Chichester family’s failed aspiration to build a suspension bridge over it. Now as you know what goes down must come up, and to round the walk off we had to make a reasonably steep climb before ending up back at Arlington Court itself, via the site of some of our Rhodadendrum bashing. The afternoon was rounded off with a look round the house, the previously mentioned cream tea, and a short horse and carraige ride. Then it was back to basecamp before me and Helen wimped out once more on the last of the planned evening walks.