Thursday, 11 March 2021

February Fill Dyke


February was quite snowy and mainly sunny and quite beautiful in lots of ways, but I felt that travel restrictions ought to confine me to Crook and, maybe, at a push, Wolsingham. As far as fitness is concerned, things did come together quite a bit - there's another chart below which shows that finally, or maybe , eventually in week 4 I managed more mileage than in the same week last year. Other weeks It rained in week 3 and the snow melted and the dykes filled....  I put this increase in activity down to Li Yang. Li Yang poo-poos the idea of a walk which is less than 15 miles and would much prefer 20 or 25. We walked quite a bit together up to the summer of 2020 then lockdowns, holidays, fine malt lassitude and, general couldn't be arsed took over. But she popped up again, and some longer walks have started taking place since then.  

The chart below shows miles walked each week during February  in 2020 and 2021. Week 3 was pathetic but week 4 won the prize. (Doesn't include LTD's routine doggy walks)

In other news, the TGO challenge has been postponed from early May to mid June/end of July. JJ is OK with this, subject to the timing of some medical interventions and, if I'm honest, I prefer June in Scotland, partly becasue it doesn't really ever go dark. I like daylight. What can I say? The timing of this has squished up against my 70 hills plan and, I've been considering this and..... (picture of car crash follows...)

...I've been considering this at some length and it strikes me (the idea, not the car...) that the Lake District will be absolutely heaving in the summer of 2021 and, not only that, but that many of the heavers will be feckin eejits and many of these will be fly-camping  or, as some would incorrectly label it, "wild camping" And they'll be doing their usual thing about abandoning their cheapo tents and general stupid amounts of debris and, frankly, shite, often in the true meaning if the word and, basically, I can't be doing with this. So I've decided to have a go at the 70 hills in 2022, hopefully with a May 2022 TGO challenge as a fitness- enhancer.

So, this means that I have more time for jaunts in May and July 2021. I'll be doing some Crook Rambler stuff, but most of this is on Sundays, leaving midweeks free to wander freely , providing pandemic becomes endemic....
The picture of the burned-out vehicle by the way was taken on Doctors Gate road. It was one of three. Apparently, the fashion at the moment is to drive at a stupid pace over the bumpier bits of the moor - quarry spoil heaps, in fact, until the car becomes disabled or otherwise irrecoverable.... and then set fire to it. Given the comments above about the prospects for Cumbria in the summer of 2021, it's hard not to conclude that the British are a nation of moronic arseholes. I do know that this is mainly not true, although, it has to be admitted, that the arsehole population is quite high and, in 2021, they probably won't be going to Spain for their holibobs. 

But now, spring is springing. The sun has finally appeared through the Pietowers bathroom window, the snowdrops are running to seed and some of the daffies are flowering. The Pietowers population of sparrows (there's about 40 of them in the hedge) are attacking each other, there's a cheeky robin and a couple of little wrens and I've just bought fifty quid's worth of dehydrated food just in case I might want to nick off and camp somewhere a bit discreetly. Its probably best if this isn't mentioned to anybody just yet and I wouldn't go anywhere too far away or anywhere dangerous..... 

Monday, 1 February 2021

January - Sick and Tired You've Been Hanging on Me


January, mainly was a "propah" winter as far as globally-warmed winters go. Plenty of snow and plenty of ice. This was Just Rubbing It In. Perfect hard neve formed towards the end of the month as a result of some freeze/that cycles and a large amount of snow over on the Weardale Fells, all of which shone bright white from a distance in any sunshine that happened to be going.  And that was the problem with January. The temptation to sneak up to the far-distant parts of Weardale and go and play on the deep and hard snow tempting. But I didn't. Instead, me and LTD were confined to the immediate vicinity of Crook, with the odd adventure from Wolsingham. This was doing my training for a BIG walk in July no good at all.

The chart above (which, I believe is the first chart ever to appear in this Pieblog) shows this year's mileage as compared with last year's mileage by week. As you can see, whilst there was a good start, fueled by enthusiasm and some remaining Christmas cake and booze, things didn't really get going. This was partly due to some really poor weather and partly due to the shackles of Covid 19 rules and partly due to an inability to get up early enough to do a long walk. I did manage a couple of ten-milers and even a fifteen mile walk, but 2020 had a 20-miler.......  The Christmas cake and fine malt whiskies are now used up.  The bottom lines are that  in January 2021 I walked 116 miles as opposed to 159 in January 2020 and I need to do more, not less.

The task ahead is further complicated by what appears to be a further complication. The idea was to do a walk covering 70 mountains in my 70th year in July, starting on the 10th of July (10X7=70). Part of the training regime would be the 2021 TGO challenge which is planned for May 2021. But now, the organisers have announced that maybe, only maybe, though, that the TGO challenge could be moved to June or July. My priority would be to do the TGO challenge whenever it happens and, I believe, JJ has the same view. So, I'd have to do the 70 tops later on - probably September when the schools are back and the warmth and daylight are still with us.
I have the list of hills and a provisional route (the second attempt at a route) Thus, the attempt would begin at Haweswater and end at Langdale after performing a kind of figure-8. I would probably camp, mainly wild camping but with the odd campsite and fish and chip shop. I would aim to take LTD with me, which also provides another logistical challenge.......
This challenge involves Lucky's supply of kibble. The problem is that kibble can only be bought in quantities which are too big to reasonably carry. LTD can carry about 3 days supply and I could carry a similar extra amount, but at some point, re-supply would be needed. I might have to suggest to Mrs K that trips to Keswick  and Eskdale in September (Or July) would be Just The Thing.
Its all still in the planning stage - I might add a day or two as rest days. In the meantime, I think I need to do a really long walk or two....

Finally - the charity bit - last time I did this sort of thing, I managed to raise a fair amount of spondoolies by using those "reviews" that bloggers used to get to do, in which they got given free kit and had to write about how nice  and sploshingly good value for money whatever it was a company wanted reviewed. The companies were really very open to the suggestion that they send two bits of whatever kit it was and let me sell one and keep the other.... but nobody asks for reviews any more....  So I'm occasionally having a "trying-to-think-something-up" session and not being very successful about it, yo be honest. Some people raise charity cash by just asking for it, but I'm not really keen on that. I like people to get something in exchange.... other than a brief feeling of smug saintlyhood...  Not that there's anything wrong with a brief feeling of saintlyhood...

Monday, 11 January 2021

What Should I Do With My 70th Year?

One thing is for sure that I'll never have another 70th year. I might well be at the summit here and, as it's probably all downhill from now on, I was thinking that I should mark the year with something special, somehow. And maybe do something charitable such as re-establish my fundraising for Mind wot I did a few years ago and which was mildly successful, though I say it myself. The idea that I came up with, one boozy Christmas night whilst being locked-down, was to climb 70 2000 foot hills in one continuous expedition. Withe a tent. And a small black and white dog. The most convenient place to do this would be the English Lake District. This is because it's quite handy for knipetowers and the hills are generally (that is to say, most of the time)  grouped together in closely-packed, friendly groups. And in-between there are outdoor shops where dehydrated food and equipment can be bought should the need arise. These outdoor shops are also in small towns which are fully equipped with hostelries, pie shops and off-licences. I though this was a smashing plan.

And then I had a desultory look at an on-line map of Cumbria with all the Hewitts and Nutalls marked on it and added up some of the distances and ascent. And I thought....."bugger"  This looks quite a hard thing to do for a 69-year-old, fat, type 2 (the best type) diabetic with a dicky ticker and a lazy dog. And, not only that, but the entire country is currently in lockdown and we're not supposed to travel very far for exercise, so access to hills with closely-packed, not to say over-friendly contours is not only verboten but also anti-social, unpopular and a bit dangerous. So training for this could be difficult. Training needs to be up big, steep hills with lots of uphill and over several consecutive days and this sort of thing isn't available just now.

But we travel in hope. In May 2021 me and JJ are booked in to do the TGO challenge and, whilst we don't have a specially hard route, 14 days of walking with big packs should be really helpful. This is planned for May, so the big hope is that it will actually go ahead. It will be a close-run thing I suspect. All digits are crossed. In the meantime, I'll just have to walk as much as possible. Maybe I'll be able to sneak up Weardale soon for some walking in deep snow.

As far as the charity fundraising is concerned, I'll try to use the same strategy as last time - the philosophy being that whatever I do will avoid the "sponsor me on a jolly" type of thing in favour of a presumption that contributers will actually receive something in return. I'll need to think about this. Last time there was some level of sponsorship for my involvement in the North East Skinny Dip. If people paid enough, I would keep my pants on. Just like everything else, the event might take place, and, if it does, all other things being equal, I will take part.

 All the pictures in this post are from very recent local doggy walks. None of these are enough to get fit enough for climbing all those hills. I need to walk further at least and, hopefully, I'll get enough mojo to work on this starting now.. or at least, soon.