I went to the nurse to have the dressing changed on my wound for the last time Friday- she pulled it off and announced that my back is now healed so I need no more dressings! This is great news- it is so lovely being able to shower properly- although she did advise me to leave it another week or so until I swim.

Of course, this means that sadly the Half Outlaw is definitely off- I should have been really building up my swimming and cycling over the past few weeks and doing some open water stuff and of course I haven‘t. This is really gutting, but the Coast to Coast in July is still very much on and I am now concentrating all of my efforts on this!

I have been steadily building the walking back up and have got myself back in the gym. I did a 20 miler with Helen around three weeks ago without a pack- easy walking although some of the fields had the rights of way obscured- on one footpath the track to the road was blocked by a very large brooding rottweiler, and another path started with a bolted gate next to the footpath sign… this path was interesting as we ended up crawling under unmarked electric fences, climbing derelict stiles and negotiating swathes of nettles… so annoying when paths are not maintained! The cheese and potato pie and cake in Tutbury did go some way towards making up for it though…

Golden fields

Sunday was my first day walking with a pack since my surgery- I tried not to load it up to much and stupidly wore a cotton T-shirt instead of a proper technical one which wasn’t the best choice but luckily the wound was okay.

I picked a local route, most of which I’d done before- parking at Radcliffe-on-Trent, I picked up the cliff path to Shelford, where a quick cuppa was in order (yes I squeezed in the flask). It was a lovely day- I think this is my favourite time of year when everything is lush and green, we have some lovely sunny days and the fields are full of bright yellow rapeseed (feels slightly wrong writing that!)

Trent valley

I gradually climbed to Shelford Road, where my route immediately descended past an extensive cross country course towards East Bridgford, where I picked up another cliff path (it could actually be a continuation of the same ridge I guess) high above the Trent. This is part of the Trent Valley Way and there are some fine views across the valley.

Shelford Church

When I have done this walk before I have dropped down from the cliffs to pick up a track leading back to East Bridgford but today I decided to follow a bridleway across a wide, grassy plain by the river to climb steeply to the village of Kneeton for coffee and flapjack by the church.

Grassy meadow by the Trent

Picking up the track back to East Bridgford I noticed something brown moving on the path in front of me- it was a mole, on its back and wriggling around. I picked it up but couldn’t see any obvious sign of injury. It was quite lively, struggling to try to get out of my grasp so I put him down on the verge and he crawled away- not a good sign to see them above ground like that, I hope he was okay.

Retracing my steps to Shelford Road I took a bridleway that skirts round the now disused RAF Newton base. Although the hangars seem to be used for storage it is eerie seeing the former training offices, empty with smashed windows, and the control tower now stripped of its RAF insignia. I have a feeling that sadly this will be lost to more housing in future.

Old control tower

It was a lovely evening and I lingered a little over the last of my coffee before following the busy A52 back into Radcliffe (not as dangerous as it sounds as there’s a path!)

I realised with a shock as I was walking that I have only around six training weekends left for the Coast to Coast! Why do the years go so fast!!! The Coast to Coast is a serious endeavour- tough walking in parts, for day after day… I have lost quite  few training weeks so will need to catch up and do all I can to make sure I am ready when I stand by that sign at St Bees on 30th June.

It’s not always easy to train whilst working full time so I decided to fit in a little back to back stuff yesterday by walking to work, changing into walking gear at the end of the day and walking round Sharphill Woods and Edwalton Golf Course, the long way home. I had my pack on again and clocked up around nine miles for the day with a few ascents so not too shabby although my calves feel tight this morning.

Helen and I have a three day weekend planned in Wales for the Bank Holiday weekend, which will be excellent training as we will be doing walks every day over tough rocky stuff (an ascent of Snowdon is on the cards). Other than this I will need to continue to build up the back to back stuff, use the gym and generally try to get up to the Peak District for some tougher walking.

Not that I am panicking or anything!!

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