Lost in Sherwood Forest…

Sherwood ForestIt was getting dark. I was having trouble seeing the faint sliver of path as I fumbled my way along it, overshadowed by the tall pines of the forest. I could just make out the silhouettes of the trees surrounding me, black against the dark inky blue of the sky, the slightest sliver of daylight still visible on the horizon.

Soon, very soon, it would be gone and I would have real difficulty finding my way. I stomped along the track as fast as my aching muscles would allow, hoping that this was finally the path that would lead to where I had parked my car, several hours before.

If it didn’t, I was hopelessly lost.

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Stuck in a Training Rut? Read This…

WhattonI had a little revelation the other day. There I was, happily minding my own business, then wham- into my head it popped.

The revelation? I was in a rut. Sure, I was getting out there walking and stuff, but I was suddenly uncomfortably aware that I was just doing the same few routes all the time. All of them started from my house, and I had gotten into the habit of doing them because they were basically safe and didn’t require any thought or effort beyond the physicality of walking and running.

I knew just what to expect- no surprises, no uncertainty, and no I-wonder-if-there’s-a-herd-of-curious-cows-in-the-next-field.

And… it was boring.

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The Norfolk Coast Path- Day One

Norfolk Coast PathMy Peddars Way adventure ended with me ensconced in the Bed and Breakfast in Hunstanton, contemplating the rather ruinous state of my feet and my swollen ankle…

My next challenge was the 47 mile Norfolk Coast path, which I had decided on walking in just two days… but after slogging it along the Peddars Way for the past three days, with constantly wet feet rubbing blisters and twisting my ankle for good measure, the future of the walk was in serious doubt. I had decided to concentrate on getting a good night’s sleep and dealing with tomorrow as it comes…

The next morning I reinforced the compeed dressing covering my blisters with zinc oxide tape and headed down for a hearty breakfast. I was joined by a couple who told me that this was their fourth visit to the Bed and Breakfast; their first coincided with a hotel inspector’s visit, and they were rather perturbed when he pulled out a metal probe and proceeded to check the temperature of his breakfast sausage!

The owners had kindly dried my shoes for me, and as my comfy socks were still wet I had to put on a pair of the new ones, hoping that the dressing would keep them from rubbing too much. As I took my first tentative steps, the blisters and the ankle didn’t feel too bad, and looking at the sky I hoped I was going to be able to keep my feet dry today!

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The Peddars Way- Day Three

Peddars WayToday was to be the final day of my Peddars Way adventure. However there was no time for celebrating as my ankle was quite sore and swollen after yesterday’s stupid slip. I really thought I may have blown my chances of finishing but set to with my usual hearty  appetite at breakfast, listening to the rather depressing sound of the rain pattering on the conservatory roof.

The landlady informed me that the heavy showers were due to give way to lighter showers, and her husband cheerfully added that the jetstream was due to move at the weekend, giving sunny weather next week, which didn’t really lighten my mood any.

I set off into the grey gloom, which quickly gave way to showers. Mercifully my ankle wasn’t too bad when I started to walk on it, and I had dressed my blisters, so I felt slightly more hopeful and just decided to take it slowly. The first thing of any interest I passed was a dead snake on the road which looked as though it may have been an adder.

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Peddars WayI was quite excited about packing for this adventure as it was my first taste of independent long distance walking! So- what did I take for a plod along the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path…

Rucksack
I decided to use my trusty old battered Raidlight pack- mainly because it’s the only one I own! I was going to use a bum bag but like all my kit mine is fairly old and has a tendency to loosen every few minutes, needing constant tugs on the belt to tighten it, which gets very annoying very fast.

Camera
I am a bit of a camera buff and like to take my bulky DSLR. I reasoned that at least I could shove some stuff in the large camera bag.

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The Peddars Way- Day Two

Day Two- Little Cressingham to Castle Acre- 12.5 miles;

Peddars WayAfter a suitably huge breakfast as befits an intrepid endurance plodder I set off into grey cloud and the promise of drizzle. I wasn’t too worried though as I thought that today would be the shortest and easiest day of my Peddars Way adventure. Well, suffice to say I was wrong… instead it turned out to be the greatest threat to the whole adventure!

If yesterday was dominated by forest walking, then today was all about road walking. I must admit that this first part of the Peddars Way isn’t as interesting as the latter stages, and I probably wouldn’t choose to walk it again.

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The Peddars Way- Day One

Day One- Knettishall Heath to Little Cressingham- 14.5 miles

Peddars WayI had committed myself to walking the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trails, but it was an adventure in itself just getting to the start of the Peddars Way at Knettishall Heath. I had driven down to Mum’s caravan the day before, so I caught the Coast Hopper bus from Wells to Kings Lynn, the train from Kings Lynn via Ely to Thetford, where the excellent Suffolk Links Brecks Bus was waiting to transport me to the start. This truly is an amazing service- bookable in advance, a minibus will collect you from the station and deposit you at Knettishall Heath, all for the princely sum of £1.80.

The lady who collected me advised that this is a local community service used to take people to Day Centres etc, but like all public services it is under constant threat from Government cuts. It would be a great shame if it were lost.

Once we reached Knettishall Heath, she drove off with a cheery good luck, leaving me to have a good faff with my rucksack and to feel a little nervous and lonely… this was it- no backing out now! The start of the Peddars Way is very unassuming- a solitary finger post next to a car park in the middle of the forest marks the start of the adventure.

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The Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast Path- Preparation

Peddars WaySo the decision was made… in July 2012 I was going to walk the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path long distance trails– a total distance of 96 miles.

The Peddars Way follows the line of an ancient Roman road and runs from Knettishall Heath through the flat agricultural landscape of Norfolk, ending at the coast at Holme-next-the-Sea. By contrast, the Norfolk Coast Path (Henceforth to be known as NCP to save me valuable minutes of typing time… I am not an endurance typist!) is a newly created path and runs from Hunstanton to Cromer, hugging the sandy beaches, jagged cliffs and salt marshes of the Norfolk Coast. As the two paths meet at Holme-next-the-sea, they are usually walked together. Read about the Peddars Way and NCP in a little more detail in this post.

Why I Chose to Walk the Peddars Way and NCP

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The Spires and Steeples Challenge- Event Report

Spires and SteeplesIt was not the most promising of starts for a 26 mile cross country plod. As I drove along the A52 in complete darkness, the rain kept an unrelenting splatter against the windscreen and I desperately tried to coax some warmth out of the ancient heating system. The thought of walking for hours against driving rain was rapidly losing its appeal and I started to question why I hadn’t just rolled over after being woken by the strident call of the alarm clock and drifted back into sleep.

But I am a bit of a purist at heart, and I had entered this event so I was bloody well going to walk it. That and the fact that I’m also a bit of a tight wad and couldn’t bear the thought of my entry fee going to waste. It was mainly this that kept my car on the road towards Sleaford and the pick up point for the Spires and Steeples challenge.

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On The Wishlist (Maybe!)- Spartathlon

spartathlonWhat is it?

Now I really don’t want to get obsessed with this race… I really mustn’t. As a slow plodder it doesn’t really have any business being on the Wish List at all… but, oh, there’s something about this challenge, the toughness and the history of it that intrigues me…

Spartathlon is a historic ultra race which takes place in Greece every September. It retraces the journey of the Athenian Pheidippedes, who could well have been the first ever ultra runner. In 490 BC, on the eve of the Battle of Marathon, he ran from Athens to Sparta to seek aid from the legendary Spartan warriors against the invading Persian army.

Pheidippedes apparently arrived in Sparta the day after he left Athens, after meeting the god Pan on Mount Parthenio (the first ever case of ultra-induced hallucination?). At first thought to be a myth, in 1982 five British Royal Air Force officers who were keen ultra runners and who were intrigued by this story decided to see if such a journey between Athens and Sparta was possible in just two days.

Well, they made it and found it was not only possible but would make a cracking race so that many others could experience the torture too… and so Spartathlon was born!

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