Thursday, 20 August 2009

Walking the coastal path

Well this is my first day off after completing the JOGLE so what did we do today....go out walking!

We did about 9 miles of the coastal path north of Lands End today. It was so nice to be walking with Patch again - and John and Snowy (our other Jack Russell) of course! The walking was fabulous, lovely scenery, good weather and interesting walking.

Patch loved it and is currently flat out asleep. We're going to have a meal in the campsite bar now and decide where we're going's good!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Made it to Lands End woohoo!

Well I finally arrived at Lands End today - very exciting!

It's a strange place...a bit like entering Disneyland but it's full of gift shops and cafe's. I savoured the moment and had a wander around before getting the final stamp on my "Transit verification form" and leaving a message in the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed a latte and a piece of carrot cake while awaiting the arrival of John and the dogs. Patch was over the moon to be out of the car and was ready for walkies - we didn't go far, just down to get our photo taked at the famous signpost, but it was good to be out together again. It was of course good to see John again too!

I've now had a shower and am in clean clothes - always good. I have a cup of tea on the go and am looking forward to a meal in the campsite bar later. I must say, I'm feeling rather pleased with myself!

Thanks to everyone for following and your supportive comments, I read them all and it really helped. When I get back I'll start reviewing the kit I used and the campsites I stayed in for anyone that's interested. I'll also keep blogging about new adventures with Patch, but I'm sure they won't be as big as this one!

Thanks again!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Just Outside Penzance!

I'm currently about 2 miles east of Penzance...I thought I was going to be in trouble as my planned campsite was apparently full so I had to plod on with no known campsite for another 8 miles or so. Thankfully as I walked along the seafront I noticed a field with a rough board that said "Camping - pitch your tent and the farmer will be around later". Excellent.

So here I am in a field with one other tent and a caravan. There are 2 portable toilet cubicles and a tap for drinking water - all that I need! Oh, and it's just 4 pounds.

I've been sitting by the sea admiring the view for an hour or so before wandering off and having some fish and chips - again, by the sea. I do love the sea...

Tomorrow I have a final plod to Lands End, it's only about 13 miles away so I'm going to have a lay in first. Then it's 3 nights in a comfy caravan before going home to an even comfier bed. Very strange!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Almost there!

Wow, I'm almost there!

I'm currently camped about 3 miles west of Truro. Tomorrow I'm heading for a campsite near Lower Downs - about 6 miles east of Penzance....and then Wednesdays the big day.

All's going well, the trainers have been brilliant- really comfortable and breathable too.

I have to mention a great place I stayed at a couple of nights ago as it was a good find. I'd walked 26 miles and with no campsite around I spotted a field that would do the job nicely. I ventured up towards the driveway to the house to ask the owners permission to camp only to find there was a tea room there. The owner was fab - he plans to sort an area for camping, and I was shown an outside toilet and shower before being taken to a perfect pitch just around the corner. He wouldn't take any money, so in the evening I had a lovely and very well priced meal in his tea room (come restaurant in the evening!). Lasagne & chips, red wine & a latte all came to about 10 pounds which I thought was very reasonable.

The place is called Louis Tea Room, and is just a mile or so east of Liskeard on the main road from St Annes Chapel. A really nice fella.

I've had some good luck lately on the camping front - I found a very basic campsite that did the job for just 2 pounds, then a great quiet site by a pub for just 4 pounds. I plan to list all the sites I stayed at once I get back along with the price and whether or not I recommend them or not!

Not long now...!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

I'm in Somerset!

Another 30 mile day today...I'm very pleased with myself- I even fitted some shopping in!

I bought some trainers today and sent the Brashers home. So much better, now I just have to wash the blood out of my socks!

It was a lovely sunny day today - a pleasure to be out in. I'm currently camped in a lovely site just south of North Petherton. This site is really a caravan park I think, but he gave me a pith with no problems and only charged 4 pounds! A lovely guy.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

We've crossed the M4!

We're still going - sorry for the rather late I'm covering more miles I like to start earlier, which means I can't leave my phone in campsite receptions charging up overnight - so I'm being a bit stingy with the battery use!

Lately I've been following the wise advise of "10 by 10" Mr Manning passed onto me from his PCT experience. The idea is to walk 10 miles by 10 O'clock then you have all day to do the rest. I must say, it really is good advise. I'm now packed up and walking by 7am, so 10 miles are covered by 10am. The pressure is off to cover the other 15 or so miles. I do actually stop now to eat lunch and air my feet when it's warm (yes - it's actually been sunny!) whereas normally I keep plodding all day without stopping as I hate arriving in camp late.

I've now walked to about 7 miles or so south of Chipping Sodbury - John then picked me up to whisk me off to the caravan site he had just set up at, for 2 days off. Lovely! Tomorrow John will drop me off to the same spot to continue walking. This will be my last stint.

I've spent the last couple of days changing the route on my maps to a slightly more direct route. This means leaving some good walking out, including time I was very much looking forward to in Exmoor which is a shame. It's very difficult as I know I should me making the most of this walk and enjoy the hiking, but since Patch went home all I want to do is get back to her. It's very difficult to explain, but I've always walked with my dogs - for the last 3 years it's been Patch, and before that I walked with my collie Ellie, for 11 years. Walking alone isn't really my thing, so the choice was to either go home with Patch (which I deperately wanted to do) or to just crack on and finish the walk. What I am planning to do though is to return to many of my favourite areas at a later date with John and the dogs for some walking we will really enjoy - it's time we ventured out more away from our old haunting ground of Snowdonia!

It's been a lovely couple of days off, and the end is in sight now. Apologies to those who hoped for more information on the actual the day goes by I make mental notes of the things that have happened during the day that I want to tell you through the blog, but by the time the evening comes I'm often tired, wet and fed up and end up whinging!

Tomorrow I set off with a different set of original boots (Asolo) are pretty worn from my wonky walking, and have started giving me blisters again. I'm setting off in my Brashers that were originally bought for the hike but ended up giving me alarming blisters and were not at all comfortable. I'm hoping that the combination of ENGO patches, Superfeet insoles, and volume reducers will do the job, but unfortunately these haven't been tried and tested yet as I ended up buying the Asolo's last minute before the hike and breaking them in. I'm very concerned about covering 25 miles plus a day in these boots, but I know the Asolo's are causing problems themselves now so it's worth the gamble....eeek!

In the last 10 days walking since Patch went back I've covered 226 miles, and I plan to finish the walk in another 10 days. If I can stick to my plan of 25 plus miles a day then I should get into Lands End a week wednesday. This is my own personal challenge now, and although strange things are happening to my feet and ankles I'm sure I can do it!!

I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Still going!

I'm still plodding on!

I joined the Severn Way at Bridgenorth and it's been a mixture of nice walking and some boring stuff. Today I passed through Worcester and am camped just south on the outskirts.

My boots eventually dried out (yay!) but then got sodden again (boo!) and are currently outside my tent stuffed with toilet paper from this way overpriced campsite!

The forecast is for some dry days now thank goodness...I just wish I hadn't put my Selskinz socks on inside out this morning in my sleepy state as my feet got soaked and the socks too. I have one pair of dry socks that I'll have to wear tomorrow now the sealskinz are sodden, but as the boots are somewhat soggy I don't think the joy of dry feet will last long!!

The good news is my pack is much lighter and emptier without Patch's clobber and food. There, I said something positive!!

I'm making progress!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

A couple of things wring with the blog's name...

Soon after creating this blog and calling it " The Longest Dog Walk In Britain" I found that at least one person has walked their dog around the entire UK coastline - which is considerably longer than my JOGLE!

The other problem is that it is no longer a dog walk...Patch is now at home putting her feet up as the walk was too stressful for her as we came off the footpaths to avoid the problem with dogs & cows. It's very strange not having her around, and I really do miss her terribly. John would love to go abroad on holiday but I won't leave her so it is incredibly frustrating that I'm now plodding across the UK alone in the rain. Not fun anymore.

The new goal is to get finished ASAP so I can get home! I'm now doing more mileage each day - a minimum of 20 a day (30 covered today!).

Things have been good lately though on the social front. I met Gayle & Mick who treated me to a very nice bar meal, and 2 nights ago I had a lovely evening with John, Martin, Sue & Viv. I stayed overnight with Martin & Sue & thoroughly enjoyed everybody's company - a really lovely group of people.

I'm currently near Cannock Chase and sodden. My boots & socks honestly couldn't get any wetter if I threw them in the river. Let's hope the rain stops soon!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Still going!

we're still going - I've just been a little late updating due to a lack of phone signal!

We have met John for a couple of days off by Hollingworth Lake, which has been lovely. I didn't plan that too well though as I'm now struggling to sort a campsite to get to tomorrow night!

There's a good possibility that Patch will go home with John tomorrow due to a couple of reasons, one being the fact that she's often too stressed for my liking because of her sound phobias, and the other being our worry of crossing the many fields of cows safely after 3 people were killed in four weeks doing so with dogs. I've had the chance to have a quick look on the web for advise on this matter but have only come across information telling me not to go through fields of cows with a dog. Not very helpful! I've tried to stick to quiet roads and bridleways lately to avoid this problem, but Patch just ends up stressed - she's much happier on a footpath where she can absorb herself in the scents of rabbits and sheep, but unfortunately these often lead to fields of cows...very difficult. It's a difficult situation for both dog owners and farmers, but I do feel something needs to be sorted to ensure both sides are safe and happy.

Onwards and upwards (southwards!)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A hot bath and a warm fire....

I'm a happy chappy.

I've had a hot bath, am wearing clean clothes, and I'm sitting in front of a log fire. Lovely!

Patch and I are in the home of John, Steph and baby Sierra who are putting us up for the night. Steph kindly picked us up from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and we are very comfortable and grateful. Patch is a little too interested in baby Sierra and is a little too boisterous with her introductions.

After a day off in Hawes yesterday we walked over the Pennines again today. It was a lovely walk - even the wind and rain didn't detract from what a lovely part of the world this is. Patch had a lovely time trying to chase sheep and rabbits (she's on a lead of course) until the jets came over again.

We must have done about 560 miles now - almost half way!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

It's a scarey world for a little dog...

Poor Patch has been having a tough time. If it's not the RAF buzzing about in the skies then the MOD are busy blasting up the hills. Why is it that as soon as you find a nice bit of countryside "The Forces" have to play war games on it. A sign on an earlier part of the Pennine Way read "Do not touch debri as it may blow up and kill you". Very subtle.

On top of the military creating havoc we had the added bonus of rabbit shooting to contend with this weekend. I was hoping Patch would start to handle scarey noises a little better on this walk, but the poor soul was reduced to jelly legs today. I'll see how she goes and if she's still stressed when I see John next (in a weeks time) then she may have to go home. The problem is we live under a RAF "Low Flying Zone" so the jets go over everyday, so even in the security of her home the poor girl is reduced to a quivering wreck.

The last couple of days have been rather boring plods along quiet roads so we're looking forward to getting back on the footpaths again tomorrow. Hopefully this will perk Patch up a bit. We are currently camped in a nice quiet site just outside Kirkby Stephen. Rain has threatened a few times, but thankfully it's been a lovely sunny day mostly. Lovely. I've had my evening meal...Pot Noodle was a welcome change from "Pasta n Sauce", but hardly fine dining! Good enough for me though!

Friday, 17 July 2009

I've made a decision...

It wasn't an easy decision to make - I'm a proud person, also very stubborn, and hate failing. I thought long and hard about it and took everything into account, but eventually the decision had to be made. I booked into a B&B. There, I said it.

In the 7 or so weeks that we have been walking this is only the 3rd time I've used a B&B. The first 2 times there was literally no-where to camp, but this time I actually walked past a campsite to get to it. The strange thing is, now that I'm here I don't feel the slightest bit guilty. I was absolutely feet were squelching, and poor Patch was frozen. PLUS we've just been down to the pub for a bar meal. I'm so naughty.

Yesterday we walked along an old railway line (the South Tyne Trail) to Alston. I reached the campsite to find a very strange set up. It was full of static caravans which people seemed to live in, with a tiny bit of grass for tents. I was told where the water was, and that it was "probably all right". To get to the toilets you had to go through a yard full of skips and old machinery, through a strange tunnel underground that seems to be part of some old big pipe, and into the bottom of a 3 storey building. The facilities were basic, and the showers were free but very grotty looking so I stayed clear. That said, it was only 5 pounds a pitch, and the lady running it was very friendly so I was happy to stay there.

Today's forecast was for heavy rain and gales, so instead of the Pennine Way I opted for a mixture of roads and footpaths to a small village called Ousby. I'm now in a B&B called "Bradley Foot", which I highly recommend. My boots are drying by the fire, my socks have been rinsed and dried (they were very brave to do THAT) and I've had a cup of tea. Lovely. I've also had a bar meal from the pub just down the road. That's blown the budget. Patch has been very happy from the moment we set foot indoors. She loves the B&B and all the fuss she has got. She also loved the pub and meeting everyone...and everyone laughed at us when she then refused to leave the pub to return to the B&B.

I must admit, nothing would make me happier right now than a phone call from John saying we had won the lottery...I would straight away send the tent and gubbins home and use B&B's from now on...I may be getting soft, but I'm loving being comfortable!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

We've crossed Hadrians Wall...

From Byrness we walked to Bellingham. The weather was wet and windy so instead of the Pennine Way we opted for a quiet lane that ran over the moorland parallel with the footpath.

The first campsite in the centre of town had chickens everywhere - not a good plan with Patch. We walked to the larger site just outside of town which would have been a good site if it weren't run by Hitler. The woman seems to hate backpackers - I even got warned to take my boots off before going near the shower as "backpackers make it messy".

I reluctantly took a day off as Patch needed a break. I met a lovely couple (Fred and Natalie) from Scotland, who I ended up having dinner with that evening - and had a really enjoyable evening.

The next day we walked along the Pennine Way again to Hadrians Wall Campsite near Haltwhistle. The site owners greeted me like an old friend and gave me a cup of tea - John had been on the phone to them a couple of times about a re-supply parcel he sent here for me.

Unfortunately my Satmap GPS unit was playing up so I sent it home. I didn't realise John had quickly got on the case for me and the good guys from Satmap sent a demo unit here for me to use for my walk while mine is fixed. I'm so impressed with their service. Unfortunately they just missed the post with it though, so I had to take another day off to wait for it's delivery this afternoon. Very frustrating, but at least this is a great campsite.

To be honest I'm already fed up with the Pennine Way. All I've got so far is sodden feet. I'm trying to avoid it as much as possible now...especially with more rain on the way.

Patch has enjoyed the day off - that was until the blooming RAF jets came over again.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

We made it to England!

I'm not sure what I expected as I crossed the border...a marching band...balloons etc, but all I got was a notice on a gate as I hit the Pennine Way reminding me that I no longer have the right to roam. Ok then.

Yesterday I met up with someone who wishes to stay anonymous, so I'll just call him "A Proud Scottish Gent". A lovely fella who I thoroughly enjoyed walking with. He went out of his way to meet me, and even brought me his Thermarest mattress to use until I can collect mine again from John. What an absolute star. I loved walking along and leaving the navigation to someone else for a change, and I needn't have worried as he was clued up on all the footpaths. I had a lovely time, and walked the rest of the way to Jedburgh with a smile on my face.

After stopping at Shell (just outside the campsite) for some more supplies I noticed a cafe with outdoor seating - dog friendly! I treated myself to sausage & chips...a welcome break from dried packets of Pasta'n'Sauce. I saved Patch a sausage of course!

Today we walked 22 miles or so to Byrness campsite. We're getting there slowly!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Stung by wasps but plodding on!

Last night I stayed in a bothy for the first time. It was a very basic wooden hut on the Southern Upland Way. It was very cold and I managed to get myself somewhat spooked (too many scarey films!) and was rather glad when another hiker, Jim, turned up.

Today we continued along the Southern Upland Way into Melrose. It was a very pleasant walk indeed - I thoroughly enjoyed walking over the hills. Patch loved it and was a lunatic on the end of the lead. She would love to have caught a sheep for dinner. On finding a river I took my pack off to refill my bottle and take a break, but I must have put it down on a wasps nest as I immediately got ambushed. I ran away squawking and left my pack behind so I then had to pluck up the courage to go back and get it. I ended up with 7 stings and no water...

I'm now in a campsite in Melrose. A very pleasant town. I stopped in Spar before coming to the campsite to buy some food for dinner, and two separate lots of people got talking to me outside the shop, and they both donated another 3 pounds each! That's 112 pounds in donations from people I've met along the way so far. Patch is great at attracting people over and melting their hearts!

Patch and I are now zipped into our bivi about to have an early night. It's been blissfully midge free for the last few days. Lovely!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

We're in Peebles!

Just a quick update as I've been thrown out of this page 3 times already by my phone and my battery is starting to suffer (the phone's battery that is!).

After a wild camp in the Pentland Hills last night we are at a campsite...toilets, showers...lovely!

Patch is doing well, she was still pretty chirpy as we got to the campsite which is great news.

I'm wishing I didn't swap my inflatable mattress for a cut down section of kipmat when I met up with John though! I'll swap back when I see him next in 3 long weeks time....!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Been a bit lazy...

I'm feeling a little lazy...I was supposed to have a day off with John on Wednesday & then start walking again on Thursday as John had to travel back for work on Friday, but instead he managed to take Friday off also, so we've had extra time off together. I start walking again tomorrow (Sunday).

I think having a few days off has been a good thing for Patch as all she did for 2 days is sleep! I took her to the vet to get her feet checked, and came away with antibiotics as it looks like there may be something in her foot - it doesn't seem to be bothering her but I'll keep a close eye. I'm glad actually to be able to give her some time for her feet to recover. They are much tougher now so I'm hoping she will be trouble free for the rest of the walk. To be honest, I was rather glad to not have to walk with her in the recent heat.

I'm swapping my tent for the bivi bag and tarp. This doesn't really save me any weight, but it will be a nice change after a month of putting the same tent up and down.

Thanks to everyone for the comments by the way. I love reading them, even though I don't always have enough battery life to comment back!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

We made it to Linlithgow!

We made it ti Linlithgow...21 more miles covered today. Patch & I are currently sitting in a caravan park in the spot our caravan will be in once John arrives. Fantastic. A day off tomorrow will go down well. John's cooked a chilly and is bringing a bottle (or two...) of red, plus other goodies including clean clothes. I can't wait!

I forgot to mention some people I've met...a few days ago I met Alex on the West Highland Way, he's over from America doing a LEJOG (same as Vince). Yesterday I met two ladies who I'm ashamed to say I don't know their names. We got talking and I ended up in the back garden drinking a nice cold Iron Bru! One of the ladies (I wish I knew their names!) also donated 10 ponds to Dogs Trust. Today I met Janice, Janet and Moira while walking along the Union Canal. They are a fab group who walk together. We passed some time having a pleasant chat, and Janice donated to Dogs Trust also. I'm told Janet is a well know author in Scotland (Janet Paisley) and I look forward to getting hold of one of her books when I get back.

Patch is doing well. She was tired by the end of today - I think 20+ mile days are a bit too much for her. John is bringing the maps with him so I may revise some bits of the route to save some time - maybe ditch parts of the Penine Way for instance.

So far I've collected 86 pounds along the way in donations - people have been great.

I'm hoping John arrives soon...before it rains...!

Monday, 29 June 2009

More Critters!

I survived the midges, then battled the ticks! Over the last 3 days I've removed 6 from Patch (I forgot to take the Flea & Tick Repellant spray given to me by Collarways - silly me) and probably another 6 of more before they've taken hold. Yuck. I'm glad I've been wearing long trousers.

Well I'm now off the West Highland Way - today we walked 24 miles to should have been around 22 miles but I went the wrong way at one point - Doh! The new critter to battle is the horsefly (or "cleg"). I'm walking along the Forth and Clyde Canal and the blooming things are constantly there. AAaagghh!

It was a bit too much for poor Patch today - she was really pooped, and the heat didn't help. Tomorrow we should be walking 21 / 22 miles to meet John for a day off in Linlithgow. We'll see how Patch does, but if she gets tired then we'll stop and wait for John to pick us up! Of course we would then get dropped off at the same spot to start walking cheating!

I must admit I'm rather looking forward to having Tuesday off!

Friday, 26 June 2009


Oh my goodness the midges here are crazy!

I could be in the midgiest area yet - a campsite at Inverarnan. They are already starting to line the tent, even though I have 2 mozzy coils burning. I've had a shower and really don't want to spray myself with Deet again (horrible stuff!) so I'm hiding in my tent, feeling rather hot...watching the midges gather despite the mozzy coils. It's not going to be good in the morning! Thankfully I have a mozzy headnet that is a big help when taking the tent down, but it's not pleasant!

The West Highland Way has been very pleasant - but very rough underfoot, so for Patch's sake we are only doing 10 to 14 miles a day. All is still well, and althouh her feet are feeling it a little, Patch is still having fun.

The area is beautiful - it's just a shame about the blooming midges!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A rather late update!

I am sorry about the lack of updates...I've been having problems with the email link from my phone. If I go online & send a message from my yahoo address then it seems to get through ok, but the link from my phone seems to have stopped working. So for now I'll update by using the internet through my phone, but it takes a bit of battery life. Hopefully I'll be able to sort this when I get together with John in a weeks time as he'll bring my laptop.

Anyway.....we are now camped by a river 2 days into the West Highland Way (about23 miles south of Fort William). All's going well so far, although we have had to take it a little slowlyand had another 2 days off in Fort William due to Patch getting a stone in her foot. Her feet seem to be toughening up now, but it doesn't help that she's been charging around on the end of her lead hoping to get to some sheep!

I've met some great people along the way- in Evanton campsite I met Vinny who was comleting his LEJOG, In Fort Augustus I met Dave, who was celebrating his 70th birthday by cycling sheffield to John O'Groats, in Dingwall I met an end to end cyclist who's name escapes me, and alomg the Great Glen Way I met Rob and Richard who are great blokes - we bumpe into each other several times and walked some stretches together. They were great company, and Rob even held Patch while I did some food shopping!

The West Highland Way is a fabhulous walk - Patch is loving being in the mountains again, and is back to her old self (she got a bit stressed on the roads).

I now have 4 Engo patches in each boot and no more blisters! Patch gets her feet Butterbalmed each day, and I'm adamant that it's really helping any irritation to her pads.

I've been soaked for about 4 days, and today I've been baked...I'm not sure which I can never please us women eh?!

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Trying to sort problems with blog updates!

Monday, 8 June 2009

8th June...

We passed through Dornch today - what a pretty place! I was going to have a short day but the campsite I stopped at (by the golf course) made life very difficult for dog owners with their silly rules, so I continued on instead.

Most of the walk was along a lovely quiet road, but then we had to hit the A9 again to cross the Dornock Firth Bridge. NOT FUN. It didn't help that 2 RAF jets played out the Dam Busters routing while we were crossing the bridge...poor Patch is a nervous wreck. We're getting closer to Inverness, where we leave the road for footpaths - and I can't wait!

My left foots blisters are improving, but they seem to have moved to my right foot. The ENGO patches that I put in my boots at the heels are doing a great job, but the blisters coming up are now in such odd places that the ENGO'S can't help.

Patch's feet have been holding up well, but today look a little tender so we'll have the day off tomorrow. It's hitting home now how much harder this is with a dog - accomodation isn't as easy (unless wild camping!), shopping for supplies / food can be difficult too, and grabbing some fish & chips or a decent meal somewhere is nigh on impossible. Also I've spent the entire walk so far watching her and worrying about her feet and how she's coping with the noise of traffic and jets. That said, I wouldn't be without her - and I think this walk is really good for her to build her confidence.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

7th June

This is Dunrobin Castle, which is a very impressive place I passed today. I had a really pleasant walk along the coast to Golspie before having to hit the A9 again. I'm so looking forward to getting off the roads!

I walked more miles than intended due to being picky about a spot to camp...but I'm now finally settled in my tent in a nice spot hidden by gorse (wild camping). I'm hoping that as the miles pass and I finally leave the roads it'll become easier to find potential pitches.

I've just looked at the Met Office website via my phone and apparently it's going to be 3 degrees tonight and ground frost. Brrrr!

Patch pooped...

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Patch crashed out on day 5!

I've been having problems using the phone to update the blog, but hopefully this one will get through!

Patch and I have both had sore feet and have been pretty fed up now and again already, but on the whole things have been really good. I've met some fantastic people.

I had a d

A quick update!

Apologies for the lack of updates lately - I'm having problems connecting with my phone - I'm using a new friends computer at the moment in the middle of a campsite! (Dee and Steve who is also JOGLE'ing - Dee is the supporting sherpa!)

Tuesday ended with me booking into a B&B in Lybster ( I think it was called Bolton House)...I haven't got the hang of the open access in Scotland yet and didn't know where to pitch my tent! Having now spoken to some locals I feel a lot more comfortable about finding a pitch. I'm used to mountain walks where there are plenty of potential pitches out of sight in the middle of no-where, rather than by the side of a busy main road!

The B&B was fab. The owner, Brenda was lovely, and the villagers I met when out and about where fabulous. In the morning Brenda took me for a quick spin in the car to see the harbour. A lovely place.

In the morning Patch and I limped a short 5 miles or so into Dornoch - we were both a bit sore! We stayed at the first campsite we came to, called Inver Camping Site. I was welcomed in - she had been expecting me apparetly...not sure quite how! The site was lovely - small, quiet and pleasant clean facilities. The best part was the shower room - well set up so I could take Patch in and have a shower! It can be impossible at many sites to do this as I have no-where secure to leave Patch!

The next day (Thursday) we continued on for 15 miles or so into Helmsdale. Patch charmed the Hostel owner into letting us stay. Helmsdale Hostel is owned by Irene. Irene really took to Patch (as did everyone else!) and provided her with a dogs bed and a pack of treats! She's fab. The hostel is very comfortable and welcoming...I had a lovely time there and met some super people. I shared a room with Lynne, who is originally british but now living in Australia and trying to now find work here so she can move back. We got on so well that I had a rest day on Friday and we out for the day together!

At the hostel also were Dan and Bob who are completing a LEJOG. They both looked in good spirits and were great company. It's good to hear that I'm not the only person to be sore in the first week!

After a second night at the hostel I walked today 10 miles or so to Brora and am currently in a very quiet campsite. It is suprisingly expensive here at 8 pounds for my little tent...particularly as the facilities are pretty basic, but the owner is very nice I must admit. I've met up again with Steve and Dee. Steve seems to be doing really well, which is great news. Dee is amazing - she's managed to turn a basic tent into a very well equiped base camp - even with this laptop and intenet!

I have a sore muscle in my foot that has improved after the day off but kicked in again 5 miles or so...I'm going to keep the mileage low for a few days to sort it out, then I can crack on again. Patch seems to be doing ok - she had a limp after resting but it soon went when she started moving. I put it down to a stiff muscle, and after yesterdays day off it seems to have gone. I'm keeping a close eye on her paws. she wore her boots for the 1st 2 days but they started to rub a little so we're without them now. She seems to be doing ok so far, but that's another reason to keep the mileage down for a little while.

I'm so looking forward to getting off the road for a while tomorrow! We will follow the coast as we head towards Dornock, and will find a nice spot to wild camp somewhere along the way.

It's been tiring, sometimes painful, and sometimes emotional...but all in all great fun and I'm so pleased to be doing this!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Post 1 continued...!

Oops - didn't mean to post the last message...I pressed the wrong button!



Blooming phone keeps sending my part written messages!

Camped next to Steve & his wife Dee, who is supporting his end to end walk by car. They were good enough to make me a cuppa on my arrival at camp...and also some fab spagetti bolognese! I've been told there will be bacon butty's on the go in the morning!

So far this "roughing it" is going well!

The Off...

We left today from John O'Groats - actually it was from the further point of Duncansby Head. We covered the 20 odd miles to Wick without bother. Patch wore her boots most of the way which did a great job of preventing some initial soreness from develping.

I'm camped next to another end to ender (Steve) and his wie

Friday, 29 May 2009

Here's the final Kit List...

Backpack - Golite Quest - 1355
Pack Liner - Sea to Summit - 94
Bivi - Big Agnes 3 wire - 850
Tarp - MSR E-Wing - 185
Umbrella - 220
Can opener - 8
Lighter - 14
Spork - 10
Sleeping Bag - Cumulus Quantum 200 - 536
Sleeping Mat - Thermarest NeoAir - 370
Pillow - 85
Big Agnes Pumphouse (pump for mat - doubles as dry bag) - 46
T'Shirt - Berghaus - 110
LS Top - Merino Wool (N.Face) - 186
Shorts - 149
trousers - Lowe Alpine - 246
Underware - 65
Socks x2 - 126
Waterproof Socks - 77
Waterproof Coat - Berghaus Paclite - 390
Waterproof Overtrousers - Berghaus Paclite - 150
Down Jacket - PHD Ultra Down Pullover- 224
Hat - Tilley Lighterweight LT5 - 90
Buff - 36
Boots - Asolo Atlantis GTX - 1130
Trekking Pole - REI - 182
sunglasses - Smith Toaster - 28
Compass - 42
Strip Maps - 80
Map case - Ortileb - 58
Whistle - 4
GPS - Satmap - 290
Spare Batteries - AA Lithium - 135
Head Torch - Petzl (Tikka) - 76
Pack Towel x2 (one for Patch!) - 28
Wet wipes - 52
Lip Balm - 8
Multi-use Soap - 82
Toothbrush - 12
Mini Mirror - 8
Trowel - 56
Toilet Roll - 94
Hand Sanitiser - 36
Sunscreen - 57
Deet - 57
Mozzy Coils - 70
Money stuff - 100
Phone & Charger - 218
Stuff Sacks - 40
1st Aid Kit - 122

Patch -
Coat - 110
Boots & Liners - 193
Security Lead - 260
Lead - Clix - 50
Bowls - 22
Vetwrap - 34
Butterbalm - 35

This gives an FSO weight of around 10kg + food and water.

I've finally decided on the Paclite Jacket, but John will have my Montane eVent jacket in his box of alternative items so I can swop when I meet him at the end of June if necessary.

I'm probably going to start with the Laser tent, for the first month to escape the notorious midges in Scotland, but will then swap to the bivi bag and tarp for the rest of the walk.....

Well that's it...I leave tomorrow to start driving up to Scotland, and will get to John O'Groats on Sunday. The hike starts Monday with a 20 mile walk.


Thursday, 21 May 2009

A setback....

We've had a minor setback...Patch has an abscess - we think she's picked up a bit of grit. That's really not good timing as our daily walks are now on hold, but she seems to be on the mend thankfully. I think we'll be using her boots quite a bit along the walk...

I've made a last minute change to the first part of my route. Initially it involved a fabulous remote walk through northern Scotland, but I'm a bit worried about how Patch will cope with the RAF aircraft passing overhead. She's reduced to a quivering wreck when they pass overhead here - and I think northern Scotland will have even busier skies. To play it safe I'm going to stick to the coast road which is a real shame,. The up side is this means I have less food to carry. On the old route I would have had to carry 8 days food, but on this route I pass through towns / villages daily.

The change of route means I've had a last minute panic printing new sets of maps and changing the re-supply food parcels that I'm sending ahead, but I'm back on track now.

My final kit list will soon follow...I'm currently experimenting with a bivi bag and lightweight tarp...

Sunday, 17 May 2009

A doggy post....

There are a couple of people who have given doggy help without even being asked.

The first person is Gabriela Lerner from Collarways. Gabriela has really taken Patch under her wing. She has provided her with Bow Wow Butterbalm, a Wacky Walker lead, toys, Flea Repellant Coat Spray, a fantastic new Lupine collar, and some Joint Aid. All this without being asked at all - what an absolute star!

I have to say the products are fantastic. The Vibram toy is the only toy I've found that Patch hasn't destroyed - and she's had a good go at it, and the Lupine collar is great - it's guaranteed even if chewed, which is very good news to me - Patch got one of my mothers geese last year when her collar broke.

The real gem we've found is the Bow Wow Butterbalm...I've never used anything on Patch's pads before - I thought it was a bit, well, wussy! But I have to say, it's amazing stuff. The breakthrough came when I had a cold - my nose was so sore I was using my Body Shop cocoa butter lip balm on my nose in desperation! I then tried the butterbalm and it was amazing - it soothed my nose straight away, and within 24hrs the redness had decreased enormously. I realised how good it is for soothing any irritation on Patch's feet that I may not be aware of. It's made from Natural Ingredients and is lovely quality - it smells wonderful! I'm now going to always make sure I have some of this handy as it's wonderful for so many uses!

I'm going to get some of this for my mother as I think it will really help her dermatitis type irritated skin. The pot lasts ages as you only use a small bit - I've put some in a smaller pot from Icklebockle to take on our walk, and John will bring the main pot along for me to restock from when we meet up! I may find some more uses for it myself along the way!

The other person I'm grateful to is Penny (ebay ID: angelica1963) who knits wonderful baby clothes and sells them on ebay. I contacted Penny to see if she could knit some made to measure wooly liners for Patch's boots to provide extra protection against rubs. Penny was fantastic - she searched the web for suitable patterns and spent a lot of time and effort making sure the liners were right - sending me "prototypes" to try before making the final set in pure wool for me. Penny made us two perfect sets that have extra padding everywhere except the foot - I wanted the extra protection against rubs, but I hoped under the foot could be kept simple to give Patch stability underfoot.

The wooly boot liners seem perfect inside her Ruffwear Grip Trex boots - we completed a 5 mile walk with no rubs or irritation which is great news. After going to so much effort for us Penny wouldn't take payment.

How often do you come across such wonderful people?! I'm so grateful for their help to make sure Patch is comfortable and healthy.

Friday, 8 May 2009

New kit - Golite Quest, Big Agnes bivi and Therm-A-Rest NeoAir

I've had a spending spree....again....all in the name of trying to lower my pack weight. That's it now - I'm done!

I've bought a new pack - a Golite Quest. Weighing 1355 grams it's about 1200 grams lighter than my Gregory Diva. the padding on the hip belt isn't nearly as thick as the Gregory pack, but I've now learned (thanks to comments from my "followers") to keep weight down more, so hopefully I won't miss the extra padding - which can be a tad warm on a hot day.

On first inspection this pack seems fab - some really useful features, like the zipped bellow pockets on the hip wings, and a good pocket either side that's slanted so you can reach the contents / water bottles on the move. It seems to fit perfectly which is great as I bought it online which can be a gamble. The only oddity is the lack of a separate bottom compartment for the tent, but the side compression straps rather nattily can be extended across the back of the pack and fastened to the opposite compression strap which allows the possibility of lashing the tent on the back. My tent (Laser competition) can be a bit tricky to pack if I leave the small side poles in it makes for a longer package, but these can easily be left in place if I stick it on the back of the pack.

I've also gone for the Big Agnes bivi bag, which I bought for a very good price from good old eBay. It hasn't arrived yet but I can't wait to get my hands on it. It's statistics are very good weight and size wise. My thoughts are to use the tent for the first part of the hike where I'll appreciate the shelter from midges, plus a porch where I can cook a meal as it will initially be around 8 days before I can re-stock or find anywhere to eat. Once I get to Kilsyth I meet up with my hubby (John) for the day and plan to collect the bivi bag from him and leave the tent and stove. I'll be able to buy food along the way more easily from then on so I can live without the stove.

The NeoAir hasn't arrived yet - I'm looking forward to this one as although my Big Agnes insulated aircore mat is really comfortable, it isn't the lightest mat. The NeoAir will save me around 200 grams.

Its been pointed out to me that I've turned into a weight freak - and I think they are right!

I'm itching to get going now....3 weeks to go. My friend Sue is incredibly stressed this weekend after taking on my work, bless her. I'm hoping to get out for some backpacking days this week if I can and try out the new kit - time is getting short.

Come on warmer weather.....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

A visit to Elan Valley

Our plan was to spend the weekend hiking around Elan Valley - a beautiful area of hills, moorland and reservoirs. Our plans were cut short though as our dogs were squabbling inside the tent - our little one "Snowy" is incredibly insecure and wasn't coping with being shut in such a confined area with Patch (my sweetie). So we ended up plodding back to the car after the first night, rather than continuing on. What a shame.

Never mind...we did have a fab night wild camping...and still have the rest of the walk to look forward to another day.

The outcome of this is that we have decided to now camp with separate accommodation...John with his dog, me with mine (Patch). Some may think this odd, but it's a good solution for the I get a slight break from John's snoring....!

We are thinking of eventually getting a bivi bag each, plus a lightweight tarp to use for cooking etc under if it's rainy / midgy. So far we're looking at the North Face Backpack bivi (910g) and a Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter (250g) - the idea being to use the bivi as the main shelter, and the tarp only when necessary. Of course it would help to win the lottery first...! I'd be interested to hear other people's ideas on this combination - feel free to leave comments or email me.

On a different note, I loaded myself up more than necessary in preparation for our upcoming Jogle, and found my new waistbelt and shoulder harness incredibly comfortable...the weight wasn't a problem at all...until I went uphill...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I may have lost the plot...

Ok, it's official. I've lost the plot. Maybe it's due to the recent sunny weather...or too much walking...or those weird little needles Physio stuck in my backside in the name of acupuncture...who knows...

I've just entered the ballot for a place in the 2010 London Marathon.

Why the heck did I do that?! AND it cost me £32!

I should finish my Jogle at the beginning of September, and one month later I'll find out if I have a place in the marathon. Goodo.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Ruff Wear Grip Trex Boots

What can I say...I'm getting my work (an online shop) in order for Sue, who's going to be holding the fort for me. Poor woman. I hand over to her at the beginning of May, and then spend a bit of time on and off with her making sure she's ok until I disappear off to John O'Groats. It's surprising how you think something will be straight forward and then all these complications appear...

Patch is doing well...we seem to have found a solution to her boots rubbing...there's a lovely lady called Penny on ebay (her ebay ID is; angelica1963) who has been just SO helpful and knitted us some fantastic boot liners. I can't tell you how helpful she has been - far beyond what you would expect. Penny has made some 100% wool liners that are padded everywhere except the sole, so they give protection over her toes, around the top of the boot and her dew claws, but they leave the sole simple so Patch still has stability underfoot. She's only worn them for 5 miles so far, but so far so good. I don't want her to have to wear them unneccessarily as I'd rather her feet toughened up a bit, but she DOES have some issues on pink skin area, so at least I know we have a fallback option. When I have days where I have a lot of roadwork, or some gritty forestry tracks I intend for Patch to wear the boots for maybe half the day - just to take the strain off her feet.

She may be a Jack Russell, but she's a big strong girl, and weighs around 9kg so I'm not planning to carry her!!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Just to update you...

The news so far....

After a fab weekend in Snowdonia, we had great fun conquering Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr. Patch wore her new boots for the first time and coped very well - she was too busy trying to go faster than me up the mountain to even notice the boots. The problem we had though is her toe joints on the top of her foot were getting sore. Patch was wearing the Ruff Wear Grip trex boots with liners - the boots are fab, but I've just ordered some knitted woolen baby mittens to try as liners instead of the cotton Ruff Wear ones. Hopefully they will give a little more padding and will cope with wet conditions better.

I used ENGO Blister Prevention Patches this time in my new boots, and I have to say they were bloody brilliant! No irritation AT ALL on my heels - which is amazing considering how much these boots were shredding my feet before! It was a really good test for the patches, and they really came up trumps.

I'm currently planning campsites to stay at once a week or so. I'll be wild camping as much as possible, but if I can send a resupply parcel of food, maps etc ahead to some campsites to collect on my way through that would be good. Lorraine Finnie who has a campsite in Contin has been particularly helpful, and is giving me an alternative address to send my stash to as she's not there during the day. My hubby, John, is visiting 3 weekends, so that's some re-supplying sorted!!

I still can't figure out the easiest way to post my route on here other than putting it all on a google map (which I'm not having much luck with!). I planned the route on good old paper maps, so I'm not sure how to get them onto the web.

Fundrasing is still lower than hoped, but considering I don't have a vast network of friends, and my family don't particularly want me to do this walk, then it's hardly suprising really! The amazing think is, most of the donations have come from either old friends from school who I haven't seen for about 20 years (who have seen my walk on my Facebook page) or customers from my jewellery supply business who I have never met - but I class them as my new "cyber friends", or complete strangers who have come across this blog or my Justgiving page by chance - and some people who have come across me on Twitter.

So, although donations are low I'm over the moon that there are so many lovely people out there who will donate and support a total stranger! That's something special.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The weekend approaches...!

As the long Easter weekend approaches we are preparing for a weekend in Snowdonia. I'm going to stick a big bale of hay in the field for the horses and let them get on with it while we have some fun in the mountains. The change this year is that my mother has agreed to look after our older dog (Artie) for the weekend, as these walks are getting a bit much for him.

Artie has done well so far..he's conquered 3 different routes up Snowdon (almost 4, but we had to turn back down the Watkin Path very close to the summit as one of our other dogs was struggling with the cold!), breezed Cnicht, and scrabbled up Moel Hebog in some pretty horrendous wind and rain as well as numerous other mountain walks. He's crammed in our backpacking tent, and put up with one of our terriers (Snowy) giving him a hard time.

Although I feel guilty leaving the old boy behind, I know this is definitely the best thing for him as he trundles into old age. He's a sweetheart, and he's going to have a great weekend being spoiled by mum, while we get blown off the Glyders and drenched along the way I'm sure.

I'm looking forward to it.

Have a great Easter all!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Blister Prevention Patches by ENGO

I've just had contact with a company called ENGO who are new to me, but were recommended by BG / Stef. They supply some very interesting looking Blister Prevention Patches, and what a refreshing company they are to talk to. I received a reply to my email enquiry that wasn't full of the usual standard company waffle that I've normally received after approaching companies for sponsorship, but instead an honest and humourous reply - and an offer to supply plenty of patches to see me through my JOGLE. What stars they are!

I'm going to give my current blisters chance to heal before giving these patches a try, then I'll report on how effective they are - and believe me, these new boots will be giving them a good test!!

I'm so grateful to the guys at ENGO for this support, and if these Blister Prevention Patches work as they say, then they are going to be worth their weight in gold! It's a long time since I've suffered from blisters, but as long as these work then I will always be keeping some handy as having blisters again is incredibly unpleasant!!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Marshland trudges, new boots, blisters, and aggressive dogs...

It's been quite a week. I bought some new boots as my Lowa Klondike's are falling apart. Years ago I had a great pair of Brasher Hillmasters, and I've gone for the same again. The last pair were fab, however this time 2 miles into their first hike and I had huge blisters on my heels. Bugger. I've now splashed out on a load of 1000 mile "blister free" socks.

John being away, I was left alone with the 3 dogs last weekend, so instead of getting ourselves tied up in knots everytime we climbed stiles I thought it would be an idea to do a long road walk. Boring, but good conditioning for Patch's feet prior to our JOGLE (and mine). Unfortunately, walking through a village a few miles from home a dog charged us and attacked my dogs. The owners eventually got the dogs prised out of each others mouths, and then told me not to walk past their house with the dogs again - and if I did then they would "slit her throat" (refering to Patch). What absolute nutters! For the record, I walked along the road past their house, with 3 dogs on short leads and all quiet and under control - it was THEIR dog that ran out of the garden, over the road and attacked my dogs. I reported them to the police who, as it turns out, have had trouble with them before. These are exactly the type of dog owners I was talking about in my last post! Idiots. Rant over. Almost. The idiot dog owner is Jane Becks and her other half in Llwyn Y Groes.

A funny story though is our outing not long ago with our new Satmap GPS system. I'll never stop using the good old map and compass, but I think this is a sensible back up system to use, and it came into it's own on our hike. We went out over the Cambrian mountains...we only had a Landranger map rather than an explorer, but I was confident we'd be ok with the Satmap as backup...and we were...we were on EXACTLY the path - only it wasn't there, just a load of marshland. We were up to our shins in it! The satmap was great though as an easy way of seeing exactly where we were and where we needed to go to pick up an alternative route when we were feeling pretty soggy.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Why the Dogs Trust

I had a conversation with my mother the other day, who has a sponsorship form of mine in her village shop (I also live in the village). I was a little frustrated that very few people have so far sponsored me, even though many have shown their support vocally. My mother suggested that if I were supporting a "people" charity as opposed to animals there would be more donations. I live in an area where farmers regularly dump unsold pups in a river, so I suppose I'm not surprised if they don't donate to the Dogs Trust. Don't get me wrong - there are some lovely people in this village, and many of them are animal lovers, it just seems that the human race as a whole would rather donate to their own "breed".

The problem is, we are, as a race, now responsible for dogs - along with every other animal on this planet now that we have taken it over. Dog's are no longer the wolves that would roam and look after themselves naturally. When we changed their world and brought them into domestication we removed pretty much every shred of independence they had. They now rely on us for food, exercise, security, company and mental stimulation.

Unfortunately the human race as a whole is rather selfish by nature. We have taken over the planet and completely changed the landscape, and have affected pretty much every other species that live on it. Not only that, but as a race we refuse to recognise anything other than the most basic needs of animals. For some reason we cannot comprehend the fact that animals have a brain that is capable of thought and feelings. If the human race were to recognise this then we would no longer battery farm chickens, force feed geese in order to produce Foi Gras, or use electric prods on pigs - and that's just a start. For a very interesting documentary that was on Discovery channel recently see "Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry". Why on earth do we believe we are the only creature to have a brain that feels emotions? How small minded! It has now been proven otherwise but it's more convenient for the human race not to see it.

Ok, so I'm going a little off track here, but can you imagine how differently we would treat animals if we looked at them differently, which brings me to dogs...finally (I know, I tend to waffle, but I'll get to the point in the end!). I strongly believe, that when you take on a dog (or any other animal) you accept full responsibility for its needs. It must be accepted that a dog is NOT just a cute little pet that's been bought to keep the kids quiet, nor is it just there to keep you company when you come home from work. A dog is descended from a wolf, and still has the instincts and needs of a capable, energetic and intelligent animal.

How many people do you know have given up on a dog and either re-homed it or even had it put down because they couldn't cope with it's "problems"? There are very few people who don't know anyone like this, yet the "problems" these dogs have - whether they chew the furniture or rugs, bark, escape, or are aggresive to name but a few, are created by humans at least 9 times out of 10. This is because many dog owners don't see the real animal rather than just the cute pet. For instance, there is someone in our village who had her dog euthanased after it twice got out and killed sheep. In her eye's it was the dogs fault - it was a bad dog. In truth, the dog was acting on it's ancient instinct to hunt and kill. The owner should have been responsible enough to dog proof her garden so the dog couldn't get out, but still satisfy the dogs need for excercise and mental stimulation by giving it plenty of walks and playing search/hunting games with a hidden toy for instance. I spent this morning trying to catch this persons new dog (a Jack Russell) that was running round my mothers smallholding after the geese. Again, the owner blamed the dog rather than refusing to see the instincts and needs inside the dog - and still isn't responsible enough to even attempt to dog proof the garden. Is she going to blame this dog again when it gets loose and kills a goose next time? Is she going to have this dog euthanased too?

My point is that there are so many people who think a dog is either "good" or "bad", rather than recognising the needs of the dog, and the need for the owner to invest some time in training their dog as well as fullfilling it's needs. If we see a "bad" child we straight away (and normally quite rightly) blame the parents for not providing the right upbringing, yet a "bad" dog is just a bad dog! How many children have been attacked by a dog, and then that dog is euthanased, yet how often have children been left alone with a dog to "play" with. A dog is not a play thing, yet we expect it to tolerate having crayons stuck in it's ears , it's hair pulled, being leaned on, cuddled and layed on? Is the dog supposed to just take it? I wish instead of simply introducing the "Dangerous Dogs Act" and classifying all these breeds as dangerous (and Cesar Millan has proven otherwise with his pack of 50 or so "dangerous" dogs), more thought would go into looking at the owners - how did they look after the dogs, were it's needs met (body mind and spirit) or was it just a living play thing for the children. Did it have somewhere to go to get away from the children if it was being treated roughly?

I know I'm classifying the human race in general here, and I know there are many really good dog owners out there - I've met many of them both in person and on the web. But there are still so many dogs being euthanased, re-homed or simply dumped and abandoned that we need to do more here.

I've chosen to support the Dog's Trust as they not only take in the dogs that have been abandoned, but they make the commitment to look after that dog until the right home comes along and they never put a healthy dog down. Unfortunately there are still many dogs being euthanased by rescue centres as they haven't been been able to re-home them within a set time. Dog's Trust do a great job in making sure the dogs have a suitable home with new owners who are aware of the dogs needs and commit to fulfilling them. This way the dog has a home for life rather than being abandoned again at a later stage.

In today's throw away society I believe dogs and Dogs Trust need all the help they can get.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Quick report...

Not much to post at the moment...I'm still looking into some new bit's of kit.

I've done some lovely walks lately, and have been slowly increasing my pack weight. I've been shoving the contents of the kitchen cupboard into my day pack as a lazy way of increasing it's weight. Every now and again I get a question from my hubby, John, "didn't we buy more cooking oil" or "where's the chutney gone?". The answer is always "um, look in my day pack..." and low and behold, in the bottom of my pack is a collection of food goodies. There are sometimes some nice surprises when I delve down there..."Ooohh, stuffed olives!!! Yum!!"

My route is finished. I'll post it here when I figure out how...!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Route

I originally planned to pretty much copy the route in Andrew McCloys book as, this being my first solo trip, I though it would be sensible. I found Mark Moxon's website (which is excellent - an absolute MUST for someone needing help planning this trip), and bought the recommended maps plus some extra's as I wanted to have the option of the south west coastal path.

I spent the most part of a wet weekend highlighting the route, and started by changing the first part to include Andrew McCloys "alternative route" which follows the north coast westwards as far as Melvich, and follows a smaller road to Lothbeg - between Helmsdale and Brora.

The reason for this is to try to avoid some of the dreaded A99, and along the way include some spectacular scenery and camping opportunites.

I then planned to follow their route the rest of the way except for spending a couple of nights in Exmoor (because I love it - I have a passion for Exmoor ponies and own 2!) and then follow the coastal path to Lands End.

Having got most of this mapped out, I'm now changing my mind to include the Offa's Dyke Path! Also, Andy Robinson shows a fab looking route across northern Scotland in his book, which looks tempting. I'll wait and see if I get a GPS unit sorted out first maybe!!

As you can tell, the route is far from sorted! I'm going to go through my maps and on sections where I follow a road I'll print maps from Memory map to save weight. But where a bit more navigation is required I'll either take the OS Explorer maps or photocopy sections of them.

I'm finially learning to save weight!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Ickle Bockle - what a fantastic company!

At the weekend I emailed a company called Ickle Bockle to find out how their bottles would stand up to deet. I've always used either trial size bottles of products when backpacking - or I've decanted into small travel size bottles bought from Boots. I got fed up with these bottles constantly leaking though and decided to get some decent ones.

I expected to have to wait a few days before getting a reply including chemical formula's for plastic bottles and being left to find out myself how the deet would affect them. But it wasn't the case at all. I had an immediate reply telling me they had contacted the deet manufacturer and would let me know as soon as they had a reply.

Today I had an email telling me the bottles (bockles!) are fine for using with deet. I know - your probably thinking "so what", but that's not all....after telling Ickle Bockles why I wanted the bottles and how pleased I was with their customer service, I received the following email;


No problem!

Had a quick look at your blog - Patch is adorable.

We're big dog lovers here at Ickle Bockles and would be more than happy to
donate the ickle bockles you require for this particular trip.

Rather than order via the website, just drop me an email when you're ready
to order. List the bockle sizes and closure choices (for example 100ml
flip top etc) up to the value of £15 and I will get those out to you.

Good luck with the walk - Dog's Trust is such a good cause.

Kind regards

Cath Atkins
Ickle Bockles
t 0771 3888 179

What fabulous people! All the affluent companies I've contacted who weren't interested, and then this company offer to donate bottles without me even asking. I'm so impressed!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Aqua Pure Traveller - what a good bit of kit!

I've just discovered the Aqua Pure Traveller! This is going to save me loads of weight trying to carry enough water for both Patch and myself - plus water for cooking.

"The Aqua Pure Traveller is a unique water purification system in a convenient hand held water bottle. This easy to use system combines iodine disinfectant with filtration in a single process. This product has been proven to kill viruses and bacteria as well as removing cycts and spores, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia."

"The Aqua Pure Traveller's filter cap will purify on average 350litres of water during it's lifetime and is the only portable water purifier officially endorsed by the Hospital for Tropical Diseases London."

Basically you just fill it up, give it a shake and then 15 minutes later you have drinking water. Now maybe this is nothing new to most of you - and I'm probably a little slow, but I think it's fantastic!

I still need to check the map to make sure there is some sort of water source available for refills, but I think this is going to save me a LOT of weight. I'm going to be doing a lot of wild camping so I think this is going to be great.

Patch doesn't share my enthusiasm....she's flat out asleep. Again. She had slightly sore feet after walking 8 miles of forestry track at the weekend, so I'm going to get her some Ruffwear boots for the walk. By the time we go her feet should be much tougher, but I think the boot's could be handy as a "just in case".

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Clothing Kit

I'm still undecided about which clothing to's a revised list I'm considering at the moment. This is based on the fantastic advise so many people have given me. I've taken everyone's comments on board - and then surfed the internet to find whats on sale versus what I already have!

Marmot Midweight Base (long sleeve) - 113g
Marmot Midweight Base bottoms - 142g
Montain Bionic T'shirt - 90g
Sprayway Trousers - 272g
Craghoppers Fleece - 222g
Ultra Down Vest (PHD) - 150g

The Marmot base layers are mainly for something dry to wear in camp if I get a soaking that day, plus to wear in my bag. They also give me something to wear while washing my clothes. I've been looking at silk long johns (long janes?!) but these bottoms look like I can get away with wearing them "on the trail" if necessary while drying my trousers! This lot gives me plenty of layers to play about with. Once I travel further south into warmer climates (and further into summer) I will no doubt send some home - probably the fleece anyway.

I'm still unsure about the rainwear. I do have a slightly lighter pair of overtrousers but I haven't tested them yet. I may stick with what I have as I know they will keep me dry in continuous heavy rain (the great British summer!), but I am keen to lose a little more weight if possible. I'm looking at the montane Venture Jacket (430g) which seems a little more substantial than the paclite's while still dropping some weight. It has reinforcement on the shoulder and hips too which look like a good idea for a summer of backpacking. I'm still looking at the alternatives that have been suggested though....

Friday, 30 January 2009

More kit revisions...

Okay so I'm coming around to the idea of paclite would save so much weight, but I'm hoping we don't have too wet a summer as I'm still not completely convinced they will stand up to it.

I think that because I'm out in all weathers doing the horses in a good "substantial" set of waterproofs that do a fab job of keeping everything out, I'm wary of trusting the lighter stuff - especially after a Snowdonia soaking in a new Berghaus paclite jacket a couple of years ago. I've never trusted paclite's since - but I guess I should move on!!

I'm still a bit twitchy about leaving my 2nd fleece behind - especially as I'm starting in Scotland when we're barely out of May. I know I'll be fine when walking - it's when I've stopped that the problems begin (I do feel the cold!). It will probably be a case of put up the tent and jump in my sleeping bag!

I still have to get my head around this backpacking light malarkey - just swapping my current gear for lighter stuff isn't enough...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Revised Kit far...

Following some very helpful comments from both Gail and Martin I am thinking of making the following changes to my pack...

1 - Instead of two pairs or trousers taking just one - but possibly taking something incredibly light to wear in my sleeping bag on cold nights...

2 - Instead of two long sleeve T'shirts, taking just one short sleeve T'shirt and one long sleeve one also.

3 - Take one fleece instead of two.

4 - Leaving behind my binoculars.

5 - Considering lighter waterproofs....this one makes me very theory I can reduce quite a lot of weight with paclite waterproofs, but I've yet to find some that REALLY keep you dry in day after day of torrential Rain with a pack on. I know my current waterproofs are excellent and keep me so dry and comfortable....hhhhmmmmmm.

It's a start! As time goes on and I get more desperate I'm sure I'll re-visit the kit list and see what else I can dump... I'm still very much open to others views and experiences so if you have any thoughts then do tell me.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Kit List...Oh my goodness...

OK so here's a kit list I intend to take. It isn't completed yet as far as weights etc, but maybe some of you could give me some pointers if you think I'm going a little nuts...My sleeping mat could be lighter, but it's comfortable! After sleepless nights on my 3/4 mattress with only one inch of inflation, this one is fab with a luxurious 2 1/2 inches(!)

Also the waterproofs are heavier than they could be, but if we have a summer like last year I want to make sure I have waterproofs that work. I once got incredibly cold and sodden wearing a Berghaus paclite jacket in torrential rain in Snowdonia. It was way out of it's depth! A day (or summer) in pouring rain can be improved so much with good waterproofs! I do feel the cold!! If anybody knows really good tried and tested lightweight waterproofs then please let me know as that would certainly shave some weight off.

Also you tougher blokes might live without the mozzy coils and deet but I always get eaten alive by mozzies!!

Backpack: Gregory Deva 60 - 2268g
Pack Liner: Binbags - 68g
Tent: Terra Nova Laser Competition - 960g
Groundsheet for above - 235g
Stove & Pot - Snow Peak Set - 100g
Lighter - 9g
Fuel Cartridge - 374g
Spork - 9g
Sleeping Bag: Cumulus Quantum 200 - 495g
Sleeping Mat: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core - 590g
Pillow: Montbell UL Comfort Pillow - 68g

Trousers x2: Sprayway - 544g
T'Shirts x2: Berghaus Tech - 224g
Fleece x2: N.Face & Craghoppers - 528g
Underwear x2: Lowe Alpine Dryflo
Socks x4: Smartwool 72% Merino Wool - 232g
Boots: Brasher Womens Supalite XCR - 1160g
Waterproof Jacket: The North Face - 628g
Overtrousers: Berghause Deluge - 352g
Hat: Tilley Lighterweight LT5 - 85g
Buff - 38g
Trekking Poles: REI - 340g
Sunglasses: Smith Toaster - 21g

Compass - 24g
6 x maps - 674g
Map Case: Haglofs Waterproof - 95g
Whistle - 11g
Head Torch: Petzl Tikka - 76g
Binoculars - 120g

Pack Towel x2 (one for Patch!) - 50g
Lip Balm - 4.2g
Multi-use soap - 145g
Toothbrush - 12g
Mirror from xmas cracker - 18g
Toilet Trowel - 54g
Toilet Roll - 116g
Shewee (very handy!) - 17g
Hand Santitiser - 92g

Water (4 x 500ml) - 2056g
Food -

Sunscreen - 98g
Deet - 42g
Mozzy coils - 100g

Mini playing cards from xmas cracker - 34g
Card/cheque book/money -
Phone & Charger -
Notebook & pen -
4 x stuff sacks - 90g
1st Aid kit -

Waterproof coat - 138g
Long lead for camping
Shorter lead & Halti (she'll be wearing - so no weight!)
Tweezers / Tick Remover
Bowls - 22g
Food -

Total so far - 13407g


I would welcome all comments - I'm trying to be minimalistic, but also realistic(?!) I must be able to get the weight down more though...the backpack itself is heavy but so comfortable to carry the load.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Backpack....and Mic Martin from Dog Borstal!

I've not been entirely happy with the fit of my backpack (Gregory Deva 60), and after exchanging many emails and photographs with George from Gregory Packs I'm ordering a larger waistbelt and shoulder harness. It seems the xs pack fits my torso length, but the harness is off!

The packs are great quality but seem to be built for waifs! I didn't think I was that big but I need a size small shoulder harness and medium waistbelt. Hhmmph!! Thankfully George has been very helpful and I highly recommend the company.

I'm having problems with Patch as she has severe noise phobia, and the RAF jets that pass over several times a day are terrifying her. I don't want her to become afraid of going for walks but we're heading in that direction. I phoned Mic Martin from Dog Borstal today and what a star he is!! We had a really good chat on the phone - he was genuinely interested in helping, and I am hoping to spend a day or two with him to help Patch with both her noise phobia and her constant need to hunt. I would recommend anyone with dog problems to contact him - I'm very impressed with the amount of time he gave me and his genuine interest. The only thing is, I may end up having to sell my motorbike to fund all this if anyone is interested in a CBR400 which has been renovated and looks and runs like a dream then let me know. It is a fab bike and I would be sorry to see it go, but I know it will be worth it.

No sign of Memory Map yet.......I'm getting a bit twitchy now!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Trying to minimise my pack weight!

I've been glued to the computer lately trying to research some lighter weight gear.....

This is not cheap (I hope my hubby doesn't read this!), but I'm having to buy a load of cheaper alternatives to what I already have as my pack weight is currently around the 15kg mark (including EVERYTHING - water, boots etc) but I believe I can just about get it down to 13kg. Considering I'm not quite 5'2" and weight less than 8 stone I know I'm going to be feeling this weight! I'll post a list of what I'm taking plus weights soon. I'm turning into a geek!

I had a photo shoot last Friday for the local paper so I put my pack on with just 9kg in it hike to the forestry where I was to meet the photographer - but I was puffing while trudging up the big hill. Oh dear! It brought home how much fitter I need to be.

Patch is doing well - she's currently flat out on the sofa asleep (snoring!). She had sore paws again after the forestry so we really need to toughen her feet up. I ordered her a doggy backpack so she could carry a small amount herself but then felt guilty and canceled it!

I found out why I was struggling with the mapping software - a scratched dvd! I've now ordered a new Memory Map dvd and hope to get my route posted on here soon (once I figure out how!).

Monday, 5 January 2009

A quick general update...!

Well so far I haven't made any progress loading the mapping software onto my computer...I'm going to try to resuscitate my old laptop and try it on that.

Christmas went well - my hubby had a list of stuff I need for the trip (I use the term "list" loosely...being a bloke he needed it to be even easier for him so I had to email him direct links to every product!!) I never though I'd be pleased as punch to have a toilet trowel for Christmas.....! I did get a Tilley hat also, which I have been after for years, plus from my step son a brilliant book to brush up my navigation skills.

I did a bit of online January shopping and bought a couple of lightweight technical Berghaus T'shirts, a North Face fleece and a Craig Hoppers fleece at great prices from "Go Outdoors". My walking trousers are looking a bit sorry for themselves now and could do with replacing also...or am I just looking for excuses to shop?!

Patch has been enjoying her walks - until we went through the forestry and I made the mistake of taking her flexi-lead on which she tends to pull - so she ended up with sore paws. I'm going to have to keep her on a short lead and halti to stop her pulling and tearing up her feet which is such a shame. I can't let her off the lead as she is a HUGE hunter - she would be off after rabbits never to be seen again...or for a couple of hours anyway. We could do with some time with "Mick Martin" from Dog Borstal!!

My hubby (John) has been coming walking also and brings our other two dogs but I'm on my own now he's back at work and away all week. I'm now feeling guilty about taking Patch out without the other two so I'm trying to find ways of controlling the three together....I've ordered another halti!

I've decided my route - basically the same as Andrew McCloys route except that I'll include the coastal path around the north of Devon and Cornwal plus an extended route including an overnight stop in Exmoor as I have a passion for exmoor ponies! (I have two!). I'll post the route on here as soon as can.

I sent the Samsung Omnia back - it was far too clever for me! I'll stick with a basic phone I think. I'm trying to eliminate as much as I probably can from my pack as it's looking to be around 15kg which is crazy considering I'm under 8st! I'm forgetting the solar charger for my phone which would be another 500g (and £180!).

One thing I am going to take is a mini pack of playing cards I got in a Xmas cracker! Also a tiny folding mirror from another cracker!! Good eh?!

Happy Christmas to you and best wishes for 2009!