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Thursday 10 May 2018

200 mile walk ahead!

Preparing for the 200 mile Coast to Coast challenge which takes in the national parks in England. What to wear and what to take.
By the time you read this, I will be setting off on a massive challenge: the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk.
The famous hill walker and curmudgeon Alfred Wainwright devised this 200 mile walk back in 1973. It straddles three national parks in the north of England. The walk usually starts at St Bee's in Cumbria, where the tradition is to pick up a stone from the beach and carry it on the walk. You then leave the stone at the finish, Robin Hood's Bay in Yorkshire.

We have 15 days to do the walk with no rest days. On some days, this may involve 20 miles of walking. But I have been preparing. You may remember that I started the Country Walking magazine #Walk1000MileChallenge on January 1, and I've now covered over 400 miles.

Some days it's just a short lunchtime walk, at weekends I walk to the gym, and a couple of days a week we have a longer walk in Epping Forest. But I still don't know how I will stand up to continual walking with no rest days.

We have been holidaying in the Lake District twice a year since 2012, and have climbed most of the biggest peaks. Previously, I never really did any preparation and sometimes it was excruciating, as well as irritating for John to see me so far behind him  (he's very fit). I know I would do better now.

I'm hoping my nerves won't get the better of me and I'll enjoy the experience, reconciled as I am to the prospect of a lot of rain and winds. I usually get irrationally nervous at the start of a long walk in the Lake District and suffer an upset stomach. This means I never touch a drop of alcohol while on these holidays, and I can't take ibuprofen for aching legs.

Last minute cortisone injection

Late last week, I was on a short walk when my left leg suddenly became painful and made me limp and sweat. The following two days, the same thing happened. I tried to get an appointment with the doctor but to no avail:  I then went to see a private GP and was diagnosed with patella tendonitis, which is classed as a sports injury. Too much walking! The upshot of it was, I ended up having an ultrasound guided cortisone injection in the knee.  It didn't hurt or ache and I rested for 48 hours which is how long it takes for the injection to kick in.  Yesterday, in great trepidation, I set off for my gym, a four mile walk there and back, and there was no pain.  I texted J: "It's a miracle!" and he was very relieved.

If I had an injection in the other knee, I'm sure I'd be able to run a marathon!

What to take
Preparing for the 200 mile Coast to Coast challenge which takes in the national parks in England. What to wear and what to take.

I remember reading a fashion editor saying she is keen to do the Coast to Coast ("C2C") but is put off by the unstylish clobber. It's true that hiking clothes are functional rather than fashionable, and it's hard to find a flattering pair of trousers. But with such extremes of weather and demands of high hills (stretching, scrambling) you need clothes that are fit for purpose.

I've got a new camo North Face duffle bag for carrying everything. Fortunately this gets transported each day to the next accommodation, so I don't have to carry it very much. It may look spacious but my normal standards, it's tiny. I'm not a person who tries to take hand luggage on anything longer than one night away. So I'm having to prioritise the actual hiking clothes and take just a couple of top and sweaters for evenings.

I've got a very high-performing rain jacket and soft shell jacket from Rab and numerous fleeces and base layers.  In a nod to style, I try to wear harmonious colours and add a bit of va-va-voom with my Sherpa hats and Buff neckwear  (and jewellery, although J scoffs at this). In the photo at the top, I've matched the trim on my Rab jacket to my training shoes.

My day pack is a Deuter rucksack with cute flower trim, which will carry the 1.5 litre water bladder, lunch, rain jacket, gloves, hat, deluge trousers, head torch. phone, camera and energy bars.

Get the best walking boots for your feet

I've bought a new pair of Meindl hiking boots, their new Journey Mid GTX boot. I've had a chequered history with hiking boots.  When we first started walking, I bought a pair of the leather boots much loved by Wainwright which were terrible for me.  I didn't realise it at the time, but they were far too rigid. I need a lot of ankle movement, otherwise I feel like I'm lurching and having to laboriously lift each leg. They also gave me serious blisters every time I wore them.

On one day in the Lake District I realised I'd had enough of the boots and made for a Cotswold Outdoor Store.  I emerged with my first pair of Meindl boots and haven't looked back  since. They were fantastic straight out of the box, no blisters ever.

But I would say that everyone's feet are different and you should put as much research as possible into buying boots. Some makers provide more room in the toe area  (as Meindl do), others have a narrow fit. Don't just rely on pacing around the Cotswold stores and going across their little bridge. You need to read as many reviews as possible, and if you choose leather boots, break them in.  And make sure you always take Compeed blister plasters with you.  They charge top dollar for those in Keswick!

Eat as much as you like

The big advantage with a holiday like this is that you can eat what you like because you'll be burning huge numbers of calories.  So I'm looking forward to the dinners every night! And slices of cake at picturesque cafes and tea rooms en route.

Although we're on a self guided walk, we'll probably see many others attempting the same challenge, many from the US. They'll be staying at the same B and B's and pubs, and we'll see them at breakfast and dinner and get to know some of them.  Read more about Wainwright and the Coast to Coast walk here.

Follow my adventures on Instagram and join me for a post at the end of the holiday for the low down on how many blister plasters were used, how many rows we had, and how many times we got lost.

Sharing this post with Weekend Blog Hop at Claire Justine,  Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb, Fakeituntilyoumakeit at Fake Fabulous and #BloggerClubUK at My Random Musings.


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  1. Oh my goodness! Good Luck! I can imagine your packing dilemma, we have very mixed weather forecast and I'm sure it'll be a bit chillier/wetter 'up north'. I hope the walking boots remain as comfortable at the end of the trip as they are at the beginning!

    1. I spoke too soon about the boots because I do have a couple of blisters and it's only day 3! But lots of plasters thankfully. And I've already been in a Cotswold store to buy more clobber!

  2. Safe travels/walking my friend. I am just in awe. My mouth was gaping open as I read this post. Is the hubs going, too...I hope so. I like the sound of eating all you want and stopping for tea and cakes. Walking every single day...eh, not so much.

    So thankful the cortisone shot brought you relief. I had one in my wrist, actually two, and they have been miracle workers.

    Be safe, take loads of pics. See you on the other side.

  3. Good luck on your journey! It sounds like a great experience! Gemma x

  4. Looking forward to the post walk post...xxx


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