Tuesday, 4 October 2011


When I wrote my last post everything was very much up in the air regarding the challenge so I figured it's about time for a bit of an update. As I'm sure most of you know, or will have guessed, I didn't get to do the challenge as planned. I went to the doctors where I was given a blood test and first thing the following morning the results were phoned through to confirm that I had glandular fever. By that point I was feeling so ill that I already knew I wouldn't be able to do the challenge but that confirmed it for me.

As you can imagine I was extremely disappointed. I am however determined to complete the challenge in the future. Due to the impending winter weather and longer nights the next opportunity is June so I'm hoping to confirm my place on a June date ASAP. 

It's likely to be a few weeks or months before I'm up to restarting my training but I aim to revive this blog with details of my training when I do. Given the 'worst winter for 100 years' is currently being predicted training could get, erm, interesting....... 

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Going down to the wire...

So, today I was expecting to be posting some sort of update about how the packing is coming together, how excited/nervous I am with 3 days to go etc - sadly things aren't exactly going quite to plan.

After last week's really negative post I continued feeling ill so went to the doctors last Thursday. The first doctor I spoke to said that he didn't think I'd be well enough in time for the challenge. The next doctor I saw said that the virus that I have (apparently it's "going round" at the moment) has been wiping people out for 1-2 weeks so it'd be touch and go whether I'd be well enough or not.

Since the weekend I have started to feel a bit better, still feeling exceptionally tired and have a bit of a cold but the hot sweats etc have gone. A couple of days ago I noticed what I assume is a swollen gland come up behind one of my ears, today more have come up and I now have a pretty 'bumpy' neck/chin area... they also feel quite painful (but I have to admit I have been prodding them somewhat) and my voice isn't totally there.

So now really I don't know what's going to happen. I'm going to try to see a doctor tomorrow to see what they say. Pretty sure whatever they decide the problem is they will probably advise me not to go ahead, so then I have to decide whether to take that advice or not. Obviously I know what the sensible option is, but after nearly 10 months of build up, planning and training I'm finding it very hard to contemplate the possibility of it not happening - of course if that happened I would do it in the future, but that would be next Spring at the earliest and see me lose quite a bit of money. What I am banking on right now is waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and well with no weird lumps in my neck....

I guess the only option now is to see a doctor tomorrow, work out what I'm dealing with then make my mind up about what happens next....I'm not the best person when it comes to last minute decisions but I guess I don't have much choice now...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

WARNING...this is not a positive post :(

Sorry, really self-indulgent, feeling sorry for myself post coming up, feel free to ignore...

So, with more than 8 month's preparation and planning, plenty of hard work and money spent behind me at the '11 days to go' mark up crops something that could ruin my chances that I simply couldn't plan for, I'm ill...

Started feeling unwell over the weekend, hot and cold sweats, feeling dehydrated, headaches and feeling very tired, I put it down to the weather, however several days later and no improvement. It turns out the symptoms are pretty similar to those that a few people I know experienced last week, put down to a virus that's 'going round'. I managed to sleep for a total of 18 hours on Sunday, around 14 yesterday and I think it'll be about 12 hours today yet still feel so unbelievably wiped out. So I'm sat (well, actually lying down) here feeling sorry for myself and incredibly frustrated that I can't do anything (I have got used to be so active). At the same time I'm also really panicking about being better in time for the challenge, or if I am better how much of my fitness I'm going to have lost by then?? For a 'planning and lists'  person (control freak?) there are a lot of variables which I have no control over right now.

So there you have it, I was expecting to feel stressed at this point but wasn't banking on this, I know I've got to just sit it out but boy is it annoying. Sorry for the negativity, hopefully I'll be back on soon in a much more positive frame of mind but right now I just don't know....

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Lists, lists, lists.....

As I'm sure a lot of you know I'm a bit of a fan of lists (and post it notes, and particularly colour coded post it notes with lists on them....) Now with just over two weeks to go until the challenge I decided it's time to get organised and put together a to do/to take list to work out how much preparation I have left to do. In the interests of sharing my Three Peaks experience on here I figure I may as well write the list straight on here:

  • Kit - need to pack my back pack, walking poles, walking boots, 3 pairs of walking socks, walking trousers, water proof trousers, technical T-shirt, fleece, walking jacket, lightweight waterproof jacket, gloves, warm weather hat, cold weather hat, sunglasses, head torch, spare batteries and bulb for torch, whistle, sun cream, insect repellent, water pouch, blister plasters, pain killers.
  • Paperwork - train tickets to London, Oyster card, sleeper train tickets, Bangor to Manchester train tickets, hotel information, flight tickets, passport, details of all train etc times, contact details for challenge organisers. Need to get some sort of plastic wallet to carry all this in.
  • Snacks - jelly babies, sports drinks, cereal bars, crisps/nuts, pitta bread and something to put on it so I have something vaguely resembling a proper meal, fruit juice, chocolate.
  • Mobile phone - I bought an external battery so I can recharge phone during the challenge but cannot find it so I either need to track it down or buy another one.
  • Camera - need to look into buying an extra battery for this
  • Clothes to travel in and clothes to change into - need to keep these light, need something to wear to travel to London in plus nightwear for the sleeper train and the hotel in Manchester. Then clothes for the flight back on the Monday. Bag to put these in, this bag needs to be hand luggage size so I can check in my walking back pack. My walking back pack has lots of straps etc so maybe take tape or something to secure them before check in
  • Headphones, phone charger, insulin pens plus spares and spare cartridges, plenty of blood test strips plus blood meter, money, ear plugs
  • Going to try to Tweet when I can to keep anyone who is interested updated on my progress, this will last as long as my phone battery does. Have set this up but need to send the details round etc. Need to explore whether I can get that to feed onto my Facebook page and/or this blog automatically, any experts out there...?
  • Keep fundraising, try to reach £500 at the least....
  • Rest up, carb up and get lots of sleep

Phew, that is a lot, and a lot of things still to sort out - any suggestions of things I might have forgotten etc very welcome......best get on with it I guess!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

A route I will NEVER walk again....!

Today's walk was from Reedham to Brundall, a route in the most part following the line of the river which I have done many times before, and a route that I usually enjoy. Unfortunately due to an incident today I don't think I will ever be able to bring myself to do it again.

I was less than a mile into my walk when I noticed ahead of me a couple looking earnestly at the ground. As I approached them I said I hoped I wasn't about to tread on something, to which the man replied " oh no, it's just a cute little field mouse, aww look, he's hiding...". No, any of you who no me well will appreciate the seriousness of this, but for those of you who are less familiar let me explain, I am absolutely terrified of anything rodent like, not in a Tom and Jerry, standing on a chair with a broom style, in a completely and utterly want to cry kind of way. I'm reluctant to call it a phobia, as that implies that there's something irrational about it, and to me it is a totally rational thing. Suffice to say therefore that the idea of being anywhere near one, let alone actually seeing it (I did) really isn't the best start to a walk I could have. Now, I know what you're thinking, does she not realise that on all these walks she's done she must have been near plenty of these creatures?? Well yes I do know that logically, but so long as I don't actually see them then I can convince myself they're not there - yes, maybe that bit is a little irrational.....

It may not sound like much to most people but I have to say I'm quite proud of myself for continuing the walk after that. Yes, I may have spent the rest of the walk with my head down, scrutinizing the irritatingly long grass that I had to walk through and audibly whimpering every time the wind made the reeds rustle that little bit too much, but the point is I did it.

The rest of the walk was reasonably uneventful. I did find the going tough, feeling the two preceding days' long walks in my legs. I did discover though that I have developed the knack of keeping going, even when every fibre of my body is begging me to stop - I'm thinking this skill is going to be quite important on the day itself!

The end of the walk was broken up nicely by a mini air show I stumbled along - I like to think it was a private show for me but I think it was actually just a private individual having fun with his plane. Equally I like to thing the heart shape he made in the sky was aimed for me, however unlikely that is....

for me?

The walk was rounded off by a lovely roast dinner at my Mum's house so thank you to Mum and Tom for that (I promised them both a mention) a perfect reward for 3 days of training.....

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Norfolk Coast Path - Sheringham to Salthouse

Today marks three weeks until the challenge, so is my last week end of really  'going for it' with the training before I start to taper it off. So despite yesterday's long walk I decided to do another one today, and will do the same tomorrow. As it stands I'm feeling ok, hopefully a good sign that my recovery from one walk to the next is good.

Today I took myself up to North Norfolk and followed the Norfolk Coast Path from Sheringham to Salthouse and back again, a total of 10miles. I've done parts of this path before, but never gone as far in this direction so it was a nice novelty. It being a sunny day the path was quite busy, but not so much so that it was a problem.

Leaving Sheringham the path follows the cliff top towards Weybourne, a pretty hilly landscape (again, by Norfolk standards) so a good training ground for me. Once through Weybourne I was surprised to see the cliffs more or less disappear, and the route on to Salthouse continued along gravel banks along the beach. Now, I know a lot of people say that walking on sand is the best walking exercise you can do....these people have clearly never walk along gravel banks. It was hard work, and added about 3 minutes per mile to my walking pace - a good thing training wise I guess but not fun at the time!

boo to gravel banks....

All in all though this was a good walk, and it was nice to go back to exploring somewhere new. The only disappointment was that I finished my walk with a blood sugar level of 2.6 (with no hypo signs) - I'm hoping that this is a consequence of the heat rather than a sign that I still haven't worked out what carbs I need for the exercise. For yesterday's walk I started on 7.4, was 4.6 midway and 6.2 at the end, couldn't ask for better than that so hopefully today was just a blip......

Friday, 2 September 2011

Here comes the sun.....

I think most people would probably agree that the weather this summer hasn't been great. Disappointing though that is it's actually been quite handy for me training-wise. Today however the sun appeared and reminded me how much I don't enjoy it while exercising. I know a lot of people are hoping for a nice late summer but I have to say (sorry!) that I really hope we're heading quickly into Autumn, really don't want a hot day for the challenge itself.

Today I took myself off to Whittlingham Country Park and followed Wherryman's Way as far as Brammerton Common before turning round to head back. A total walk of just under 13 miles with an average walking pace of 17 minute miles which I'm pretty pleased with given the weather. I've done this walk in the past, very pleasant along the river and it was nice to see so many other people out and about enjoying the scenery and weather. The one downside of this walk, as I described when I did it before here ) was that you have to walk past a particularly smelly sewage plant. Unfortunately I have to report that this was as bad as I remembered it, not a pleasant experience.

A mention does have to go out to the man walking his dog in front of my for a portion of the walk back. This man was having a great time throwing sticks for his dog to catch. Unfortunately he decided to throw the stick behind him, without looking round. I'm assuming he also had headphones in as he seemed oblivious to my high pitched yelps every time the stick hurtled its way towards my face. It added an element of jeopardy to the walk I guess.....

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Halfway up the stairs......

Well, I had an interesting week...having now passed the 4 weeks to go mark my feet are still firmly in the nervous/terrified camp. I think logically I know that I have done a lot of training, and should be fine but there's still part of me that worries that I haven't done enough....

Had a bit of an odd weekend training-wise. On Friday evening I read an article which say ' walking up and down the stairs 275 times is the equivalent to climbing Snowdon.' As a novice on the marathon-stair-walking front my first thought was that 275 didn't sound like that many and so resolved to give it a go. If anyone else agrees that this sounds like quite a simple task I urge you to give it a go, and please, please tell me how you get on. Despite setting up fans at both the top and bottom of the stairs I was pretty much exhausted after around 15 times. However, as anyone who knows me will confirm, if I say I'm going to do something there is no way I'm going to give in, no matter what happens. So for the next few hours I struggled up and down those stairs, finally reaching the 275 mark. I'm still feeling the pain in my legs 2 days later, not fun!

The plan had been then to do a long walk on Bank Holiday Monday. Unfortunately I woke up with an irritating cold. I took a lot of persuasion but I eventually agreed that training while ill wouldn't be the best idea, however close to the challenge it is. I'm going to make up for this with long training walks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week instead! Outside of the training walks I'm still going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, on the days that I don't I'm going for evening walks and I'm spending my lunchtimes walking up hills where I can so the training's definitely still ongoing, despite this weekend's blip!

And just because the momentum seems to have slowed I'd like to end with a quick plug of the fundraising page.... http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Amys_3_Peaks_Challenge

Monday, 22 August 2011

getting scared...very, very scared......

This weekend saw me pass the 5 weeks to go mark, and saw me move from general excitement and into something far closer to paralysing fear...! The challenge suddenly seems very soon and very very real. Hopefully I'll soon move away from this and back into excitement soon.....

Yesterday's walk was, I have to say, pretty dull. I didn't want to go too far from home so contented myself with the two mile, along city roads, walk to Mousehold Heath followed by 8 miles traipsing back and forth over the heath before heading home. So I got ten miles in, which isn't bad, and luckily Mousehold provides lots of 'up and down' opportunities but goodness was it dull! I think the problem was that I just wasn't aiming to get anywhere. In all my walks, however much I've not wanted to go out I've always had that achievement of getting somewhere, yesterday's walk seemed, well, pointless. The one aim I did have was to try to cover as much of the heath as I could, as this GPS screenshot shows I didn't do too bad a job....

Next week I definitely want to go back to a 'proper' walk. Not sure where yet, the coastal walks are definitely the best but I'm reluctant to venture that way over the Bank Holiday weekend. It may therefore be that Wherryman's Way is graced with my presence once again.

One highlight of yesterday's walk (I use the term loosely) was this stone (I said lightly!) - maybe I was just desperate for some light relief but I'm sure there's a smiley face in there;

In other news, I think I've finally bought all my kit, including my new head torch which I could resist trying out this evening.....

Just a quick thank you to everyone who has sponsored me to do this challenge to date - I know I go on about it a lot but it really does mean a lot and I am very very grateful for your generosity. Of course, if would be remiss of me not to say, if anyone out there still wants to join that list of great, generous people there is is still time.... just click here 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

3 a Day - Part 3

I can't lie - the idea of getting off the sofa to go out for my third ad final walk of the day was tough. I made the silly mistake of having a short nap (20mins) which just had the effect of making me more tired.

When I eventually did manage to haul myself out of the house I went for a short 4mile walk, round to Eaton Park  and back again, repeating much of today's first walk but today was about endurance, not nice views. One thing that did surprise me was, despite how tired I felt going out, physically I didn't seem to struggle too much. The bigger challenge psychologically making myself keep walking even when I didn't want to, a taster of what I'm going to need for the challenge itself I think!

All in all a total of just over 17 miles today - not bad work if I say so myself and I think I deserve the ice cream, glass of wine and trashy TV I'm now sitting down with.......

3 a Day - Part 2

So, just completed the 2nd of today's three walks. This one was a 6.4 mile walk to Whittlingham Country Park, along one side of the broad before turning round and coming back. A fairly non-eventful walk, much of it is along the road and it covers ground that I've covered in many walks before. Still, always nice once you get to the broad, so long as you can avoid being attacked by swans which one family I saw was failing to do.

I didn't feel particularly keen on going out for this second walk, having completed the last one only 2 hours previously. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't feel particularly more tired than I had this morning. My pace slowed from 17m 44s per mile this morning to18m 30s per mile this afternoon so yes I'd slowed but not horrifyingly slow, and the change in temperature may have something to do with it too! Will see how my third walk today goes.....

3 a Day - Part 1

I had a bit of a break last weekend, I went to a friend's wedding in Essex and the long journey, accompanied by a late night didn't leave enough time for training.

I have however decided to more than make up for that break with today's mission. So far my training has taken in long walks, hill walks, endurance etc, but the one element of the Three Peaks which I've not really trained for is the recovery needed to do one peak, sit for a few others then do the next etc. Now, I'm never going to fully recreate this, without doing the challenge itself but today I'm going to try to recreate something similar. The aim is to complete 3 walks, each of around 6 miles, throughout the day with a couple of hours break in the middle. The plan is to start one walk at 9am (done, see below) one at around 1pm and the final at around 5pm.....

look at that enthusiasm...!

So, this idea seemed great when I came up with it earlier this week, when my alarm went off at 730am however it has to be said I was less enthusiastic. However, I was out the door by 855 which I'm quite pleased about. As I need to fit so many walks in today I need to make sure the walks start and finish at my front door, which means they're not the most attractive walks I've ever done. For this first walk I took a route that I've often used for running, a total of 6.6miles. I started walking up the usually busy Newmarket Road, this was eerily quiet at 9am on a Sunday morning, I guess most sensible people were still sleeping..... from here I headed to and crossed Eaton Park before following the road into Eaton.

Eaton Park

From here I took an off-road track that follows the path of the river through some common ground, eventually  coming out at the lake at the university. From here it was then back to Eaton Park and home to sit for a couple of hours, have something to eat and then venture out again..... and on that note, with only an hour to go I'm off, will report on walks 2 and 3 soon!

the river

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Closer to home

It's been quite a hectic weekend so I decided to stay local for today's walk and took the opportunity to venture up to Mousehold Heath - a large area of wood and heath to the North of the City Centre. The first two miles was a walk through the city centre - not the most exciting of walks on a busy Sunday afternoon on a particularly warm day.

There is a main road that runs through the middle of Mousehold with a couple of main paths running through the middle of each side as well as a multitude of small tracks to follow. The terrain was a particularly good training ground - lots of hills, good variety of ground to test my boots out on etc. It is also, as it turns out, good ground for BMXing and motorbiking and I nearly got 'taken out' by a motorcyclist early on in the walk! I didn't really follow any particular pattern or route - just criss-crossed the area until I reached nearly 7 miles as this screen grab shows.....

The Mousehold are is one of the highest points in the city, not far from Gas Hill where I spend my lunch breaks training. This gives some really good views of Norwich..... (much better than I managed to catch on camera....)

Some of you will know I'm quite a fan of finding quirky graffiti, my all-time favourite is:

Today I found the beauty below, it may not be quite as pretty as the above but seemed quite apt for the challenge I'm undertaking - now only if I could find up those three mountains I'd be sorted.....!

Monday, 25 July 2011

21 miles in two days!

After yesterday's 11 mile walk it took a lot for me to peel myself away from my bed (on my day off!) to tackle today's walk. But peel myself I did, and I do feel rather pleased with myself for doing so.

I decided today would be the day to do another coastal walk - the summer season seems to be starting to really kick in now, and the town carnivals for Cromer and Sheringham are just round the corner so I think I will focus on the less tourist-popular areas for my walks during August.

I started today's walk by getting the bus to Cromer and then walking, following the road, into Overstrand and on to the cliff tops which provide some pretty good hilly sections (hilly by Norfolk standards). I then followed the cliffs, round the Cromer golf course and into Cromer sea front. Last time I did this section of the North Norfolk coast it was a gloriously sunny day so it did strike me how different the landscape looks when it is overcast.

After passing through the town I followed the cliffs along to the Runton Road car park. There the cliff path disappears into a private camp site so I had to temporarily follow the road until I reached East Runton where I made my way down to the beach. I had just missed high tide so I was able to walk along the beach - as the tide was still quite high I had to keep switching between walking on the rocks and walking on sand, both provided a pretty tough work out which has to be a good thing training-wise, even if I didn't totally enjoy it.

beach walking

I walked along the beach until I reached West Runton, and specifically the West Runton Beach Cafe. Here I stopped for a very welcome My Whippy ice cream (with flake of course!) and a bit of a breather. Ok, ok I know I'm not going to be able to do this during the actual Three Peaks but once in a while can't hurt surely.....? 

After my pit stop I then continued along the cliff path, over Beeston Bump, through Sheringham and along to Skeldon Hill (where the Sheringham Coastwatch volunteers are based); this is a pretty good hill (again, by Norfolk standards) for training. I went over this hill and then stopped and did it again before heading into Sheringham to get the bus back. 

In total the walk was 10 miles and gave me a good mix of uphill and downhill walking as well as different surfaces. Coupled with yesterday's 11 mile walk I'm pretty pleased with what I've achieved and really am starting to feel like the hard work I'm been putting into my training is really starting to pay off, and hopefully putting me in good stead for the challenge. It of course remains to be seen how I'll feel tomorrow after these past two days of activity, the current plan is to do Gas Hill during my lunch break tomorrow, let's see how that goes......

today's route

Sunday, 24 July 2011

The accidental shepherdess.....

Today's walk was from Great Yarmouth to Reedham, along Wherryman's Way - I'd estimated this walk to be around 9 miles but in reality it turned out to be over 11 miles, so I'm a little more tired right now than I was expecting to be.

The walk started off in Great Yarmouth, I came in by train and Wherryman's Way starts just over the road so is easy to get to. Unfortunately this means it starts in the Asda car park, not the most promising start to a walk I've ever had....
not the best start.....

I have to say I wasn't particularly enamoured with the first mile of so of the walk. From the Asda car park the walk continued around Breydon Water, which in itself is very nice, but being close to the town much of the start of the route was marred by an array of litter - beer cans, fast food packaging and even a sleeping bag or two. Then to the right was the train line and not far beyond that was the busy A47 - not the peaceful riverside walk I had been expecting. I didn't need to worry too much though as soon the scenery opened up to what I've grown to expect from a Wherryman's Way walk - river to the left, grazing marshes to the right....

The route continued along to Berney Arms and then through to Reedham, a section that I have walked before. When I last did this part of the route one thing that confused us is that there was clear, erm, evidence that sheep had been there, but no sign of the actual sheep - this changed today! Usually when doing these walks there are sheep and cows in the grazing marshes, usually they are positioned in a field, separated from me by a stream of some description. Unfortunately today they, and by they I mean loads of them, were right along the path. I then became some sort of shepherd for the next 4 or so miles of the walk, gathering a line of sheep running in front of me as a passed. Occasionally one would try to stand their ground in front of me so I soon developed a system of shouting 'move' followed by wiggling my walking pole until they eventually got the message. Did feel a little bit like the non-forgetful version of Little Bo Peep though.....

So I've now walked most of Wherryman's Way, the only bit I'm missing is between Surlingham and Reedham. This bit is going to prove tricky as there is little in the way of public transport at the Surlingham end. I have however walked this section of the river, just on the north side of the river instead of the south so maybe I can get away with saying I've walked the whole distance.......

I'll be doing another long walk tomorrow, on the coast this time. I'm really starting to feel those unexpected extra miles from today so it should be an interesting one......

Monday, 18 July 2011

Getting the word out.....

So, over the last couple of week I've been trying to get the word out about my challenge - both to try to raise a bit of awareness for what I'm doing and, of course, to see if I can raise some sponsorship ( http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Amys_3_Peaks_Challenge if you're interested !) I've started to get a bit of luck with this over the last few weeks.

Firstly I was lucky enough to get a piece in the local paper, the EDP. Sadly they omitted to include a link to either this blog or the the sponsorhsip page which was rather disappointing.

Then, last Thursday, I was invited along to talk to Future Radio's Community Chest show about the challenge and they very kindly put a piece about the challenge on their website: http://futureradio.co.uk/blog/mike-stevens/2011/july/18/amy-turners-three-peaks-challenge

And lastly, JDRF which is one of the charities I am fundraising for added a piece about the challenge to their website at:

So, it seems I'm getting there, here's looking forward to where else I can get to cover the challenge....looking forward to it!

mud, mud, glorious mud....

Yesterday I visited family in North Walsham for Sunday lunch so took the opportunity to do a walk in that area. It was only a 6 mile walk this time, shorter than I would like but, as you will see, the conditions meant it was plenty long enough....

The walk started at the water towers in North Walsham on the Norwich Road. From there it took me along several field edge paths and through to the edge of  Lord Anson's wood. From there the route took me on to Weavers Way, a footpath that leads from Cromer to Great Yarmouth along the disused railway line. From there I followed it into the small village of Felmingham before taking a path through Bryant's Heath and back onto Weavers Way into North Walsham. The walk itself was good, plenty of varied scenery, an unbelievable amount of butterflies to see and very quiet and peaceful. There were also a surprising number of small frogs jumping through the fields...! All in all it should have been a great walk, but of course I didn't count on the weather.....

I've said before how I've only got a few more bits of kit to buy before I'm ready for the challenge, my experiences yesterday confirmed for me that the next piece I am buying will be waterproof trousers! I set out in glorious sunshine, sadly 20 minutes later I heard the distant rumble of thunder, before one of the most torrential showers of rain I have ever experience. The first lesson I leant was that I need to get more efficient system for getting my rain gear on, or at least a warning system so I start sooner. My waterproof and bag cover are great, but by the time I managed to get them on I may as well have not bothered. The second lesson was, it doesn't matter how waterproof your top half is, if you don't have waterproof trousers the rest of the walk is going to be pretty miserable.

I kept walking and about 5 minutes on I came across a bridge to shelter under along with two other walkers so together we did our best troll impressions until the rain got lighter. The bridge helped to keep the rain off for a bit, but soon the ground started to fill up with water, this didn't help with my rain soaked trousers issue....

The rest of the walk was, I have to admit, pretty miserable damp soggy kit, regular showers and the threatening distance rumble of thunder. Returned home with mud up to my kness and boots that are in severe need of a good clean. Still, it's likely I'm going to encounter some sort of rain during the challenge, so practice has to be a good thing.....right?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside......

There was no blog update last weekend - although I am pleased to say that it wasn't because I'd let the training slip. Last weekend was a really busy weekend - and by busy I mean I spent most of it baking....

My housemate Hetal and I decided to try 'just a short walk' from our house, to and round Whittlingham Broad and back again, a walk that we estimated to be around 5 miles. As it turned out, Whittlingham is further away than we had thought and the walk was in fact 8 miles. It was a particularly warm weekend which made for tough going but we did it - the unexpected long walk! Was particularly impressed with the sighting of this 'Tigger' caterpillar we saw as we neared home!

For today's walk we ventured to Cromer for a 7mile walk, starting off in the town centre and heading straight up the Overstrand Road and into Northrepps along the aptly signposted 'quite lanes'. We were greeted by an unusual sight as we started the walk...

We followed the 'quiet lanes' through into Northrepps through woodland (welcome shade in the hot weather) through past Northrepps Cottage Hotel and eventually into Overstrand where we passed through the village and to the cliffs. We then ventured down to the beach and along the promenade as far as the high tide allowed before returning to the cliff tops which we followed along into Cromer. The cliffs along that stretch of the coast are known for having problems with erosion and it is slighly ominious when you see signs like the below:

Despite a few hairy moments when trying to pass people on the narrow footpath there were some great views as we made our way into Cromer, and once again we were very lucky with the sunny weather which seemed to change to heavy rain almost instantly once we'd finished walking. The only disappointment was the lack of doughnuts once we'd got to Cromer. About halfway through the walk we'd promised ourselves doughnuts as a end of walk treat so the response that 'doughnuts aren't on today' was disheartening to say the least.

Next week is something of a miracle in that I will be in my office everyday, this means lots of Gas Hill walks to get through - I'll be ready for those mountains in no time...... Speaking of which, maybe it's time for a little plug of my fundraising page in case anyone is feeling generous....


76 days to go and counting......

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sunny Sheringham

I decided to be energetic this weekend and go for a walk on both Saturday and Sunday. I was them particularly impressed with myself that I stuck to this resolution despite the news that Sunday was to be the hottest day of the year so far, with the mercury hitting the 29 degree mark. I took myself off to Sheringham to take on one of the walks in the Bittern Line Railway Rambles book.

The route started at Sheringham train station and took me straight through the town and on to the seafront. It was at this point I started to realise just how much I have enjoyed the almost deserted nature of the areas I've walked in so far. It being a weekend in June the town was full of families enjoying the sunshine, meaning that for the first mile or so it was pretty difficult to build up any sort of a pace.

Soon, however the trail took me away from the seafront and up to Beeston Bump where some good views of the coast line open up. It was good to find myself having the opportunity to do a bit of uphill walking, even if Beeston Bump isn't nearly as big as I remember it seeming as I was growing up!

view from the, not as tall as I remember it, Beeston Bump

The route then took me back down 'The Bump' and past the edge of the Beeston Regis nature trail before taking me across the railway line and into Beeston common, past Beeston Priory. The common was unlike landscape I've walked through before, I could certainly hear a lot of nature (rattling, clicking, buzzing etc) but I couldn't quite see it which I did find slightly un-nerving....

Beeston Priory

After the common I moved into Sheringham woods, which I have to say is the only part of the walk that slightly unnerved me. It seemed very isolated which put me on edge at first, I then struggled to follow the directions in the book which is surprising as I've always found them so easy to follow on every other walk I've done. The main problem was that there had obviously been significant tree fall since the book was written, meaning that working out what was and what wasn't a path was difficult, and I wasn't able to find the promised blue waymarkers, maybe they were on the fallen trees! I took the decision to find my way out of the woods and then try to find my way to the next part of the directions. I was then extremely impressed with myself that I had only left the woods a path earlier than I should have so finding my way onto the next marker was straightforward.

is that my path???

The route continued along a grassy path into Upper Sheringham and through the village into the stunning scenery of Sheringham Park, a National Trust attraction. I then walked through, past Sheringham Hall and up a steep climb to 'The Gazebo' - a tall viewing tower giving great views of the North Norfolk coast which were particularly spectacular in the sunshine. Following this I headed to the cliff-top path to head back into Sheringham.

view from The Gazebo

I followed the coast path back into Sheringham, admiring the see views. At one point I was treated to some air acrobatics from two bi-planes circling the cliff top which was an unexpected bit of drama for the afternoon. The path led me back to the seafront and therefore once again the crowds. All in all though a lovely walk with some spectacular views made all the better by the bright sunshine and fantastically blue skies. I'd definately do this walk again, although probably on a cooler, less busy day. I did however learn from this walk that it really isn't a good idea to forget your hat on the hottest day of the year, and that even if you want to build up a good pace you really need to stop and reapply your sun cream - suffering on both counts now.....


Didn't see that coming......

The first of this week's two weekend walks was to explore some more of Wherryman's Way - starting at Reedham, heading towards Great Yarmouth before turning round at the 4 mile point and ending back at Reedham Ferry for a well deserved sit down and a drink at the pub.

We started the day with breakfast at the, relatively, new House cafe on St Benedicts. A great discovery and we will definately be returning. It turns out coffee and a cheese toastie is pretty much the perfect way to fuel up ready for a long walk. Shame I won't be able to visit at the Ben Nevis start of the actual walk!

the perfect start to a lovely walk......

After breakfast we caught the train to Reedham and after a short 25 minute journey arrived at Reedham and made the short walk down to the river at Reedham Ferry before picking up Wherryman's Way and following the path of the river towards Great Yarmouth for just over 4 miles. The weather was almost perfect for walking, a nice cool breeze and although rain seemed to be threatening it never quite reached. We were impressed by the number of mills we passed along the way - from the abandoned and crumbling to the one that had been turned into an impressive house. Towards our turning point we could just see in the distance a few traditional mills, back dropped by a wind farm in the distance, a great view of old and new.

wind farm in the distance behind a more traditional wind mill

On the way back to Reedham Ferry we spotted in the distance two people coming towards us, an usual sight as we'd barely seen anyone since we set out, as is quite usual for the walks I have completed to date. Even more unusual however was the fact that one of the two was carrying a microphone! It transpired they were from Future Radio and doing a piece on The Broads and so asked us a few questions. A very bizarre, unexpected (but welcome) interlude for our walk!
unexpected enocounter....

I did unfortunately manage to have another hypo on this walk, another wake up call that I cannot forget diabetes entirely while training. Was quickly sorted though and all too soon we were back at Reedham Ferry to enjoy a very welcome drink outside the Reedham Ferry pub, watching the boats go past before returning to the station and Norwich. In total an enjoyable 9 mile walk. Having now completed several sections of Wherryman's Way I'm determined to do the whole distance, even if it's in sections, before the summer is out.

Gas Hill

For anyone who has trained for anything walking, running or cycling related in Norwich Gas Hill doesn't need any introduction. An unfeasibly steep hill not far from the cathedral. In an attempt to start to introduce more hills to my training I've now taken to visiting Gas Hill on my lunch break, and walking up and down for as long as I have time for - currently I'm up to five 'up and downs'. Also on the days I don't go to the gym I'm taking a slight detor and walking home via Grapes Hill. Here's hoping the introduction of a bit more hill work has a positive effect on my training..... 

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Uh Oh Hypo....

Just a short (4.5) mile walk for me this weekend as I've been away. We went to explore the various arrowed walks in the woods around Whittlingham. One of the first sights was a sign saying 'danger, wasp nest' so we took care to avoid that route and, as Hetal called it, a 'My Girl incident'.

It's been quite a wet weekend so the walk gave me the opportunity to test out the waterproofness of my new jacket - I was pleased with the result although I need to get to grips with arranging the hood so I can actually see/hear things! It was a nice route, various forest paths with regular 'ups and downs' which is a bit of a novelty for me and something I need to find more of. About halfway through we came across a hidden adventure playground, which of course we felt obliged to try out.....

The one downside of this walk was that, about 2/3 of the way through I had a hypo, my first 3 Peaks training hypo. I hit 3.2 which ,although low, isn't dreadfully low but I tested about 10minutes after eating several mouthfuls of Percy Pigs so I suspect I had been even lower. As I was only planning a short walk I, maybe over-confidently, hadn't taken all the usual hypo treatments that I usually carry with me. I had jelly babies so was fine but it was a bit of a wake up call to remind me to prepare better in the future......

Monday, 13 June 2011

Singing Cher to cows....

First things first, I saw the topless Worzel Gummidge again! This was more or less in the same place as last time so I don't think he's stalking me. I really want to take a photo so everyone can see the likeness but I can't think of a polite way to say 'you look like Worzel Gummidge, can I take your photo to put on line please?' (I'll work on it!)

Today's walk started at Reedham, following a family lunch at the Reedham Ferry pub. I then followed the river along the flood banks to Cantley and Buckenham (beside the marshes that I walked along before), finishing in Brundall, a total of 10.2 miles. Much of the walk was the sam route I've taken before, but I was surprised to see how much difference a few weeks had made to the landscape, the clear paths I followed before are now overgrown, if I hadn't been there before I'd have struggled to believe I was going the wrong way. This wasn't helped by the fact that, I presume, a farmer had decided to chain up one of the gates I had to go through meaning that I needed to do a rather impressive vault over it!

I complained before about the holes in the ground which I nearly fell into:

This had been replaced by:
Unfortunately the holes were still there, I just couldn't see them so I did have a few, too close for comfort, stumbles along the way.

This route was more or less deserted, I think I passed two people in total. Those of you who know me will be aware that I am tone deaf and therefore not normally allowed to sing in front of people. In an attempt to make the walk go quicker I thought I'd take advantage of the solitude and belt out a few hits - it turns out I can do quite a mean Cher impression that the cows seemed to appreciate! One thing I didn't account for though was the fact that, on the other side of the overgrown reeds was a rather busy river, with a lot of boats going up and down. So, I would like to apologise to anyone who found their peaceful outing on The Broads disturbed by my over enthusiastic Cher and Beyonce routines.....
There was the usual mix of wilelife enroute, with many birds I simply don't recognise. Was quite excited to see that the swans on nests I saw last time had been replaced by lines of cygnets. There were a lot of butterflies fluttering around as well as dragonflies, including these funky blue ones which I'm sure would glow in the dark....

All in a good walk, although it is some time since I did one of this length so I think I'm going to feel it in the morning.....

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Reluctantly taking a break.....

It's been a quiet week on the training front this week. I'm been suffering with a pesky cold which has put paid to all the good intentions I had. It seems to be on its way out now though so hopefully I'll be back up to ful strength for next week. The one positive I've been able to take form this though is that I've ben quite frustrated that I've not been able to train, and missing it. Must mean that I'm really starting to get in to it.

Without any training stories to tell this week this might be an opportunity to, shamelessly, plug my fundraising site for any of you feeling a little generous

click here to sponsor me!

Here's hoping that normal service will be resumed next week.....

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A change of pace...

No long walk for me this weekend, instead tomorrow morning I will be running the Bupa 10k in London. Before a became a hill/mountain walker (am I allowed to call myself that yet?) running was my thing. I'm not claiming that I was ever that great/fast at it but it was certainly where my efforts were focussed. Sadly, as I'm now focussed on alternative training it has been some time since I've done any serious running so I'm definately not expecting a personal best tomorrow.

I've been taking the chance over the last few days to review my kit list. When I first signed up to the challenge I embarked on a bit of a 'kit buying frenzy' but in recent months my enthusiasm for mountain related shopping has waned so it's probably about time to look at it again, so I don't have a mad rush in September. A typical kit list seems to consist of:

Walking boots - done
At least 3 pairs walking socks - I have 2
Back pack - done
Walking poles -
Base layer - done, but not specifically bought for this
Mid layer - done
Waterproof coat - done
Waterproofs (legs) -
Compass - done
Small fist aid kit - done
Hydration pack - done
Hat & gloves -
Survival bag -
Head torch and batteries/spare bulb -
Sunglasses, suncream, insect repellant, food etc - buy nearer the time

Actually, looking at that I have to say I'm not nearly as concerned as I thought I'd be, not a huge amount left to do. I guess that means training needs to remain my main focus!

Speaking of training, I have come to the conclusion that I would like the opportunity to do a bit more 'real' hill/mountain walking so I think I'm going to look into options for going away somewhere hilly for a weekend soon. Not confident I'm going to be able to persuade friends to come along with me so I think I'll be looking at organised coach trips etc....

For now though I'm going to settle down to read the copy of 'Trail' magazine (think I'm becoming a geek) which I found in the supermarket today blazened with the headline 'Get fit for the 3 peaks - the one month plan that works wherever you walk', here's hoping.......

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Portugal walk 3 - Foia

The third, and final, walk during my stay in Portugal was a walk up, and of course back down, the Algarve's highest mountain Foia. Foia is part of the Monchique mountains and stands at just under 3000ft, so slightly smaller than Scafell, the shortest of the mountains I will encounter during my challenge. This was the first opportunity I have had to tackle a 'real' mountain so I was really looking forward to seeing how I fared.

We started the walk in the small town of Monchique and followed our guidebook directions which led us onto a number of mountain paths right up to the summit. The route, and its scenery, were lovely, the path out of Monchique was particularly steep meaning that wonderful views of the town soon opened up. Much of the route was accompianied by lovely forest smells, in particular eucalyptus, which added a great dimension to the journey. Small portions of the route led us through forest but the majority of the landscape was open and unshaded, giving us little respite from the 28 degree heat.


There is no denying it, the walk was tough. The combination of steeper than expected paths and the heat was a real challenge and there were definate parts on the way up that I really struggled. Despite this however, I do feel more optimistic about the real challenge. The point is I managed it, in conditions far warmer than I'm ever likely to expect on the real route so I do feel confident that, with continued training, I should get there.

Reaching the top of Foia was a great feeling, and even better was finding the cafe and gift shop! Unfortunately the gift shop did not offer the 'I climbed Foia' t-shirt that I was so hoping for but nonetheless I did purchase a small momento. There is a road that leads all the way up to the top of Foia and the summit was reasonably busy with others enjoying views of the Algarve. It did appear however that we were the only ones who had tackled the whole walk up so we did enjoy a brief moment of smugness at that point!

slightly hazy view from the summit

The walk back down Foia seemed significantly easier than the route up and we completed it in a much quicker time. There was a slightly hairy moment when we heard several claps of thunder echoing through the hills, followed by particularly heavy rain. I quite enjoyed the opportunity to try out my new rain coat and the rain cover for my backpack. I was however the only one in our group of 4 who had brought waterproofs and the fact that even my bag had a coat didn't make me the most popular member of the group for those ten minutes!

I had hoped to take some walking poles with me on my trip to Portugal. You may have seen in an earlier blog post that my previous attempts at using walking poles left me feeling somewhat uncoordinated. The plan had been that I would test whether I found them more useful when it came to hills, unfortunately the prohibitive cost of taking poles on my flight meant that I wasn't able to test this theory. I did however find myself a rather spectacular stick (I was disappointed to leave it behind!) to use as an alternative. I have to say I did find it useful, particularly to help with balance on the descent so my current feeling is that maybe I'm just too uncoordinated for two poles, but maybe just the one would be a useful addition to my walking kit, something I need to investigate further I feel....

All in all, despite the difficulties, this was a great walk and I think it will turn out to be one of the most influential walks of my training, a chance to really push myself and get and idea of what training I need to do. It was also a great achievement to reach the top of a 'proper' mountain and I'm looking forward to doing that a lot more times over the next few months!

the top of the mountain!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Portugal walk 2 - Praia da Luz to Lagos

This walk followed the cliff top path between Praia da Luz and Lagos. The total distance for this walk was 6.17 miles, although I should confess early on that this was done at a somewhat leisurely pace with a number of stops at cafes, and at one point the beach, along the way.

As we drove towards the start point of Praia da Luz we found we were being followed by some rather ominous looking rain clouds, perhaps suggesting that it wasn't the best day for a coastal walk. The rain cloud certainly seemed to follow us for most of the day, although the most rain we saw were a few light drops occasionally, and in fact we got some good periods of sunshine for much of the walk.

We started off with and drink on the seafront at Praia da Luz before tacking the walk to the concrete obelisk at top of the cliffs which begins the walk out of Luz. The 'slope' to the obelisk is particularly steep and much of it involves scrambling rather than walking. At the time this was exhausting but made it worth it for the spectacular views, and cakes, when we reached the top!

even steeper than it looks

The route then continued more or less tracing the Algarve coastline through to our end point of Lagos. Along the way we stopped at a couple of cafes for refreshments, for a walk down to look at a grotto at
Ponta de Piedade and for an extended beach stop at  Praia de Dona Ana.
From here it was only a short walk into our end point in Lagos so it was a relief to replace the walking boots at this point with more beach friendly flip flops. Incidentially, while speaking of my walking boots, I did find that my boots got a lot muddier than anyone elses. The only reason I can think of for this must be that they give me a greater sense of security, so I'm happy to take the more direct, muddy routes. I am rather pleased though to now have muddy boots, I suddenly feel like a 'proper' walker rather than the rookie with the shiney new kit!
The guidebook for this walk did warn to be cautious of aggressive dogs (we didn't encounter any) and bulldozers which, prior to the walk, I thought was an odd thing to warn of. However, the curse of the vague instructions (see last walk) in the guidebook did mean that we found ourselves taking a wrong turn and walking straight across a building site, which indeed was populated with many bulldozers....
beware bulldozers....

Although the relaxed pace probably didn't make this the most effective training walk I've ever done it was nonetheless a lovely route and seeing the GPS route map afterwards, and being able to see the clear, albeit small, line of coast we covered gave a real sense of achievement.

Portugal walk 1 - Mata de Conceicao

I've spent the last week in Portugal - a holiday certainly but a holiday themed around getting some 3 Peaks training in, particularly on hills, something, as I've mentioned before, that is difficult to find locally.

different scenery than usual

The first walk, on my first full day there, should have been somewhere between 4-5miles but ended up as a 3.75 miler in Tavira National Forest (or Mata de Conceicao). The reason for the disparity in distance was a combination between the slightly vague guidebook walking directions, and our inability to follow them correctly. The walk should have taken us through a forest, alongside a river, and uphill to a 'trig point' before bringing us back to the start point. Our mistake came when we picked the incorrect one of two paths we could have taken - the book instructed us that the trig point should be on our right, which it was. It only dawned on us some time later that it would also have been on the right had we taken the other path..... We were however very proud of ourselves for finding our way back safely and withough incident. (well, other than a slightly hairy moment when we had to pass what at first appeared to be abandoned chests of drawers. Sadly the increasingly ominious hum as we got closer told us that it was in fact a large collection of bee hives - looking back on my GPS device this was unsurprisingly the part of the walk which saw the fastest pace.)

scary bee hives

Nonetheless this was a lovely walk which some great scenery. When I arrived in Portugal the weather was somewhat dubious, I flew in after what had been described to me as an 'apocalyptic' storm. The weather had warmed up significantly in time for the walk which was a welcome development. Slightly disappointingly however the heavy rain had turned what I suspect are usually glistening rivers to a brown, muddy colour. An early part of the walk involved crossing a ford. It appears that usually there are stepping stones to use. However, the rains had swollen the river to such an extent that these stones were now covered with water. Excited about the opportunity to finally test out the waterproofness of my walking boots I waded through first. Unfortunately the water was so deep that it came over the top of my boots, leaving me with wet, muddy feet, boots and socks for the remainder of the walk.

crossing the (deeper than it should be ) ford....