A long walk in the Dark Peak

Eek! I start the Coast to Coast five weeks today!! How the heck did that happen? It felt like ages away and now it’s knocking on my doorstep…

I have been training. Back to back walks at the weekends, walking in the evenings, running up hills and hitting the gym- concentrating on inclines on the treadmill and using the summit trainer. I have had a bit of a niggle in my right Achilles though so have had to ease off a little this week- can’t risk injury now!!

Helen and I completed a long walk in the Dark Peak on Sunday. We haven’t done much walking in the Dark Peak area of Derbyshire- we both confessed it scares us a little- so when Helen found a route in a walking magazine we decided to go for it.

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Training update for January and February

As promised at the start of January 🙂 here is an update of my training progress…

I have been gradually building up the running and walking in preparation for the Millennium Ultra and have been regularly running 8- 10 miles with a few longer walk/ runs, although a nasty cold this week has meant things have hit a hiatus. Helen and I have done a couple of walks, one from Castleton up Mam Tor and along the ridge to Lose Hill and Back Tor. It was a gorgeous day, and as it was the New Year bank holiday predictably busy- we could have literally danced a conga along the ridge!

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Event Report- the Wilmot Wander

A couple of weeks ago saw me taking on my first challenge of 2017- the 32 mile Wilmot Wander. Run by the Chaddesden Scout Group, the walk starts from Chaddesden in Derby and takes in a circuit around the city.

They have this slightly odd system where walkers and runners are sent off in batches every two minutes, and as my start time was earlier than Sue and Elaine, my walking companions‘, I hovered outside in the dark trying to keep my balance on the icy pavement.

Reunited, we set off through Chaddesden Park- one drawback of not having a mass start is that there was nobody in front to follow. We had some rather poorly printed maps and a route description that was sparse at best so had to ask a local lady for directions on leaving the park.

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The Pride of the Peak Walk

Pride of the PeakIt was pitch dark- all we could see was a little circle of ground a few inches in front of our feet, partially obscured by the persistent rain drops lit by the beams of our head torches as we trudged uphill through the mud. We had no idea what time it was, but we knew it was late… and getting home depended on reaching the exact spot where there was a gate through the woods- not easy when you are in a meadow a couple of miles wide…

Helen and I had decided that we needed a big walk as the culmination of our training for our Cornish Challenge in three week’s time. I had planned to enter us into the 26 mile Bassetlaw Bash, but decided that we needed to up the ante a little and do something tougher…

So I raided my walking books and found the 30 mile Pride of the Peak walk that I had done with mum and my two sisters several years ago… the difference was that then we walked it over three days, not one!

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A Walk Along the Monsal Trail

Monsal TrailAs we piled in the car and set off for Bakewell it promised to be a perfect Autumn day- sunny with clear blue skies, showing the colours of the dying leaves to their best effect. My friend Helen and I had decided to undertake an 18 mile John Merrill walk, which takes in the Monsal Trail then returns over fields and through villages, in preparation for the 26 mile Spires and Steeples Challenge.

We took Helen’s dog Spud with us, and climbed out of the town to reach the trail. The Monsal trail runs for around 8 miles from Bakewell to Blackwell Mill, and as it follows the line of a former railway (and what a scenic one it must have been!) it is easy walking. The worst hazards along the path are large families out for a day on their bikes who like to take up the whole path and decide it’s a good opportunity to teach the kids how to ride- after several near misses one little girl managed to run into me. By the end of the trail I was ready to push people off!

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Event Report- The Dovedale Dipper

dovedale dipperIt was a cool, cloudy morning as around three hundred walkers and runners set off from Hartington Village Hall for the 13th annual 26 mile Dovedale Dipper challenge walk. This is a justly popular event right in the heart of the White Peak, and it passes through some spectacular classic Peak scenery.

Of course, being the Peak District there is also plenty of climbing, the first ascent faced as we left Hartington and climbed the slopes of Carder Low, heading for the High Peak cycle trail and the first checkpoint at Sparklow.

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Baslow Boot Bash- Event Report

Baslow Boot BashI had only done the Baslow Boot Bash once before as I have managed to be on holiday ever since. The Boot Bash is an event where there is no route description; just a list of check points which must be visited in order and so a map is needed.

I was in two minds whether to turn up as I got up at 6am, as, after a warm and sunny week, Saturday saw Britain lashed by torrential rain! It had started raining the night before and poured all night, meaning that it was going to be lovely and slippery underfoot.

But as this was potentially my first challenge event this year (shocking!) I thought I had better make the effort, and so drove through sheets of rain to the sodden field in the Chatsworth estate that was being used as a car park and waded my way to register at Baslow village hall.

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A Mid Week Skive to Bakewell

BakewellWorking the 9-5 (I feel a Dolly Parton song coming on…) I usually have to wait until the weekend for any long walks or epic adventures, but just for a change I decided to skive off work today and have a little adventure instead…

Well okay technically I wasn’t skiving as it was annual leave. But it did feel odd to be going off on a walk instead of heading off to work like everyone else.

I picked a 15 mile route from John Merrill’s book ‘Long Walks in The Peak District’ which started and finished at Bakewell. I timed it right as the weather was gorgeous- a perfect sunny Autumn day. I climbed out of Bakewell into the rising sun and soon discovered that it had rained more than I realised as paths were decidedly muddy and slippery underfoot. Ah well, the views more than made up for it.

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Event Report- The Leaden Boot

Leaden BootThe sweat crusted on my face as my lungs heaved and I tried to force my feet to lug my body ever upwards. The heat was relentless and I had been walking for hours now. Every part of my body demanded that this was madness and I should just stop right now…

This madness was the 26.2 mile Leaden Boot challenge walk, which I had first completed two years ago and remembered steep climbs and oppressive heat. Over 5,000 feet worth often steep ascent to be exact, much of it really steep. As I drove to the start in the tiny stone Peak village of Alstonefield the sun was already high in the sky, promising another very hot day.

The Leaden Boot has a charming and unique tradition called the Blessing of the Boots. A short service is conducted in the Old School Gardens opposite the village hall by local Vicar Rev Anne Ballard. At the end all walkers file out singing a heart rendition of Jerusalem, and as they leave the Gardens, she sprinkles water over boots and shoes to ‘bless soles’ and keep feet blister free.

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