We don’t like to talk about much, but there’s a time to look at “crazy” challenges with a face of sensibility.
Last year, I did a 26 mile [sponsored] walk around Manchester, and so this year, I signed up to do the 55 mile version. I’m undoubtedly fitter than I was a year ago, and it looked like a tough, yet probably achievable challenge.
In November, I went for a hike. We went fast, the views were amazing, my photos were great, and it was a great day – however since then my right knee has started behaving in a temperamental fashion – sometimes being randomly painful to bend, whilst often being painful after a days walking.
In late December, I missed out on many exciting hikes in the snow because of it, and whilst I’ve done some fun things more recently, it’s still by no means on form – just the other day I did no serious walking at all, and yet found it painful to walk upstairs – not good. With my knee being in such uncertain condition, I thought it’d be prudent to have done at least one 20-30 mile training walk in advance of the real thing and I’d set myself this weekend as the deadline, however I don’t even feel up to the training walk really.
Starting and “seeing how I do” isn’t an option – once I cross the starting line, the red mist will come down and the only thing on my mind will be the finish line, the state of my body will not be in the equation.
I’d rather not jeopardise fun plans for later in the year, by doing something ostentatiously crazily difficult, and so, with sadness, I’ll be withdrawing from the Bogle Stroll 2013, to allow my body to sort itself out.
There’s nothing good about missing fun and exciting things 12 months because you tried to do something stupidly strenuous, when you knew you weren’t up to it.
(I’ve let the guys at mySociety (my would-be sponsoree) know I won’t be walking and they’re understandingly supportive about it.)
A few weeks ago as part of my ongoing campaign to challenge myself, I walked to the Mount Toubkal. At 4,167 m, it’s the highest Mountain in Morocco, and, in fact, North Africa. At 4000 metres, it’s a good deal higher than the next highest thing I’ve climbed – Ben Nevis (1344 metres) – the highest mountain in the British Isles.
To be fair, whilst this all sounds very impressive, I have to now put this all in perspective and explain why I don’t think it’s such a big deal.
Ben Nevis isn’t a very difficult mountain to walk up (by its easiest route!). It’s physically tiring if you’re not used to walking up things and that can be tough, but the main path is well made, well marked, relatively gentle and so long as you go slowly, the weather is good and you’re well dressed and determined you’ll eventually summit. It’s really that simple.
Toubkal isn’t quite that simple, but it’s close. There is a walk in from Imlil (or Aremd [2000 metres] where we’d spent the previous night), to Nehtmer where there are mountain huts and where most groups camp via a well marked, well trafficed (I mean, people, mules, goats etc!) path. From Nehtmer (3207 metres), it’s only about 2km/960 metres) away.
Think about that, Ben Nevis is 1344 metres and you climb it in one day, almost from sea level. With Toubkal you only have to do 960 metres on summit day, and perhaps 1207 metres the day before. Maybe think of it as two Ben Nevis’s on consecutive days.
Toubkal does have some challenges that Ben Nevis doesn’t: Altitude and Sun. On a lucky day, you might have an issue with sun on Ben Nevis, but on Toubkal, once the temperature gets up, it gets unpleasant. The altitude also starts to become noticeable. At “lowish” high altitudes like this, if you can expect a few things: you find it more difficult to breathe or you notice yourself being out of breath faster than you’d expect, and you’ll start to notice gentle signs that you’re high up. You can also expect to experience “gentle” mountain sickness symptoms if you’ve not acclimatised enough – in my case, mild headaches.
The cure to being out of breath is to walk R-E-A-L-L-Y slowly. The cure to mountain sickness symptoms is, well, in the short term, drinking lots of water. It’s a complex subject, but drinking lots of water makes a big difference. That was I think the only time I managed to completely drain my 3 Litre Platypus – everytime I noticed I had a headache, I drank. One of the other guys and I had quite a lot of fun singing acapella kareoke of popular songs on the way up this hill and noticed that, for me at least, the singing was keeping the headache at bay. I dread to think how much everyone else must have wanted to strangle us given they must have had rubbishy headaches and then had to suffer our rubbish singing.
To be honest, I don’t think “climb something high” was a very good challenge to set myself. Height in itself, is not necessarily very challenging, or very enjoyable.
I had a great time in Morocco, I greatly enjoyed walking through the mountains, I’m glad I reached that summit, but I don’t think the fact it was 4,000 metres high was what made it.
I’m going to consider this challenge done, but with a note to make sure that challenging things I do in the future are actually difficult, and don’t just sound difficult.
A couple of weeks ago I had a spare few extra days and wanted to go and do a longish hill hike. The Peak District is the most accessible and I was busy til late afternoon so I figured I’d get the train to Edale, then walk up the Pennine Way through the night.
I walked from Edale station, to Upper Booth, up Jacobs Ladder, onto Kinder Low, past Edale Rocks, along the edge of the Kinder Plateau, past the downfall, past Mill Hill. Over the Snake Pass, up to Bleaklow Head – at this point, dawn broke and I got to enjoy the view.
I then head down past the Wain Stones towards Torside Clough. I was pretty tired by this point so I threw up my tent in a shallow depression out of the way and slept for 10 hours… until 4pm!
I then walked along the Pennine way, across the Torside Reservoir Dam to Crowdon and took the easterly path up to Black Hill… which was incredibly boggy. Dusk came just before the summit.
On the way back, I was able to walk along the Pennine way,which fortunately is paved, because I really think more peat swamps in the dark would be been highly unpleasant. Ultimately, I got down to Crowdon by about 1am.
From Crowdon, I walked back across the dam, along the Longdendale Trail, off , up a little road, between the twin reservoirs, up Padfield main road and all the way down Woodhead Road to Glossop.
I did a bit of a videoblog, there’s not a whole lot to see, but it’s nice to document the highs and lows of the journey. My camera messed up slightly a few times so a few clips didn’t really come out too well.
Distance: 29 Miles/47km
Ascent: 4243 Feet/1293m
Notable summit: Kinder/Bleaklow/Blackhill
Walking Hours: 18.5
Sleeping hours: 10
Daylight Walking Hours: 6
Headtorch Walking Hours: 12.5
The Eighty Three Bus,
Overtakes me once again,
please let me ride you!
After we started, there was this guy who seemed intent on running it, but didn’t know his way to Oldham Road through the centre, so I jogged with him across the city centre to Oldham Road where I let him move onwards at an incredible pace, whilst I resumed walking to catch my breath. From there until Failsworth (Checkpoint 6), I only encountered one other Bogler – a lady who had also been jogging a fair bit.
Walking and jogging…
Staple bogle essentials.
Checkpoint seven soon!
On the stint between Checkpoint 6 and Checkpoint 7 I overtook a good number of clearly exhausted Bogle Strollers. One lot seemed to be limping so badly I jogged across the road and gave them a bunch of chocolate bars from my bag; their eyes showed their appreciation which they didn’t seem to be able to find words to express.
After Checkpoint 7, I noticed a lot more Bogle Strollers, many sitting on walls, comforting friends… or just plodding along. I’d been told that between Checkpoint 7 and 8 there were some hiking club strollers which I really wanted to catch up with. Once I reached “checkpoint” 7.5, I met up with them and found they’d dropped out. After stopping for a brief chat, my first snack and a friendly face, I headed on for Checkpoint 8 at Kearsley.
Shortly before Checkpoint 8, it started raining, which, given I hadn’t brought waterproof trousers with me, was unwanted, and quite depressing. Ultimately though, the rain broke away to sun and there was a DOUBLE RAINBOW.
Sunshine through the rain,
an inspiring sight to see,
a rainbow of hope.
From there on, I started to really notice that I was no longer up to short periods of jogging downhill and was it was beginning to lose it’s edge. I was largely walking following the signs the Bogle team had put up on lampposts and occasionally falling back to my map/route instructions for the bigger picture. Somehow however, I managed to completely walk past Checkpoint 9. From then onwards, then on, I suspect my average speed dropped quite a bit. I started to find people overtaking me, rather than the other way round. As I walked through Salford, I started to notice bunches of youths apparently eyeing me up and so I pressed on to checkpoint 10, just 2.5 miles from the finish line, and then onwards towards the finish.
The Bogle tired me in ways I hadn’t previously anticipated. I knew it would be a physically tiring time. I knew I’d have to tell myself just to keep going and that I was going to finish it. I didn’t expect the fatigue and stress of the previous few weeks to be brought close to the surface due to Bogle fatigue and for me to feel like I inexplicably was going to burst into tears. This, I was completely unprepared for.
I finished The Bogle at 17:57. About 8 hours, 37 minutes, 26 miles after I started – an average speed of about 3mph. There were no blisters or other injuries.
You can still sponsor me here!
You can sponsor my efforts here on mydonate and let mySociety know how much you appreciate them!
Have you ever considered why there are potholes in our roads? When there is a pothole in the road, what do you think it preventing it getting fixed?
It turns, when you ask the council, the answer is “no one told us about it”.
On Saturday, I’m doing the Bogle Ramble – a 26 mile sponsored walk around the north of Manchester for mySociety*
mySociety is an online democracy charity that runs most of the UK’s best known democracy websites. If you’ve ever used or seen The Downing Street e-Petitions website, TheyWorkForYou, WriteToThem, and WhatDoTheyKnow then you’ve benefited from the results of mySociety’s hard work.
As most of the the Bogle Ramble is on roads, I wondered what I could possibly do to make sure that every miles I spend walking the roads of North Manchester is put to the best use possible. Well it turns out that mySociety also runs FixMyStreet – a website that allows you to quickly and simply submit a report of a problem to the relevant local authority who will then investigate the problem and remedy as appropriate.
Almost fall off your bike because of a pothole? Report it on FixMyStreet
Obscene graffiti near your home? Report it on FixMyStreet
Flytipping in your local park? Report it on FixMyStreet
MySociety could use some help to build new sites, keep existing ones running smoothly (website don’t run themselves!) as well as adding new features, which is why this I’m fundraising for them.
Who said this isn’t a bit of fun?
Random suggestions of things and numbers that you could sponsor me:
- 65p for every pothole reported via FixMyStreet
- 25p for every time Tim tweets during the walk
- 30p for every mile Tim manages to walk
- 85p for every mile Tim manages to walk without tweeting
- £3 for every photo of Tim posing with a random stranger (capped at £6)
- £3 for every 20 minutes I talk to you on the phone, during the walk (capped £9 – 1 hour is enough for anyone!)
- £1 every time Tim “live rickrolls” a random stranger on the street
- £5 every time Tim “live rickrolls” a random stranger on the street and posts a video of it online afterwards.
- £80 every time Tim “live rickrolls” a random stranger on the street and unintentionally gets physically assaulted as a result
- 10p each time Tim swears, grumbles or whinges about having to wake up before midday on a Saturday (capped at £10!)
- £x every time Tim does y (capped at z) <—- Make your own!
Because I love you all so much, I’m providing several levels of bounties to you lovely generous people; if you donate more than:
£3 – I’ll sing out my thanks to you whilst I’m walking!
£6 – I’ll send you a personalised, signed, thank you card featuring a random photo from my collection (and the above).
£12- I’ll send you THREE, 10×8, high quality gloss prints of your favourite photos of mine (and all the above).
£18 – I’ll send you 100 glow sticks (and all the above).
£33 – I’ll send you an A3 poster of your favourite photo of mine (and all the above).
£49 – Dinner. You, Me. A suitably greasy pizza joint in Manchester. I’ll pay (and all the above).
£85 – I’ll consider fixing your computer for an hour (and all the above).
£100 – I’ll use a Mac for the day (and all the above).
Let me know in a comment what I should do, use your real name, email address (only visible to me!) and I’ll be in touch to give you updates and collect teh monniez (or contact sponsorme @ tdobson.net)!
A random fact why mySociety should be supported:
On average, 44% of people who use WriteToThem have never written to a politician ever before. mySociety shows that the net can connect normal people with the political process, not just extend the power of those already in the know.
You can still sponsor me here!
*mySociety is the long running sole project of registered charity: UK Citizens Online Democracy #1076346).
Last March I went hiking with UMHC to Langdale for the first time. This was the first time I did, Jack’s Rake, Harrison Stickle, Pike o’Stickle, Pavey Ark etc.
I made a bit of a video that day and it came out rather well. It did help that it was a beautiful day of course:
Back at the beginning of January, Ronni and I walked from Chinley to Manchester, right along the A6 as training for long distance roadwalks.
Chinley is about 20 miles away from the centre of Manchester so we got the train to Chinley at 6.30 AM on a Monday morning and walked in the dark to the A6 and then as dawn broke walked through Furness Vale to New Mills.
From New Mills, we pressed onwards to Hazel Grove where we shot this video:
From Hazel Grove we head straight on to Stockport and arrived about 10am. From there it was just a long slog for the last 10 miles up through Heaton Norris, Levenshulme, Longsight and Ardwick and finally into the centre.
I think we did 3mph for the first 15 miles but on the last 5, I’m pretty sure I slowed to 2mph. I’d not had breakfast or anything to eat yet and was struggling by that point.
All in all it was a good one, long but has helped me establish how I can cope with long distance, flat walks.
I have known that I really wanted to go camping (as in backpacking) sometime in January for quite a while.
Why? Why January, you might reasonably ask. You might point out it’s cold, the weather is rubbish and so the mere concept is bordering on crazy. Perhaps I should “go and watch TV instead”…
After the annual hype balloons of Christmas and New Year are ceremoniously popped, January begins with an anticlimax; nothing happens, no one wants to socialise, everyone wants to recover from Christmas, people must go back to work, students have exams… Instead of letting the infectious gloom of January get to me, I decided to head off to the Lake District for some wild winter camping fun!
After work on Friday, I caught the train from Manchester to Windermere, from where I caught the last Stagecoach 555 bus from Windermere station to Grasmere, arriving about 23:30 From Grasmere, I walked up Easedale, past Sour Milk Gill (given how pretty it was in the dark, it must be doubly impressive in the day) and up to Easedale Tarn.
I’d been warned about the wind a few times – my dad had mentioned it, the bus driver mentioned it, I’d thought of it anyway and read the forcasts; from what I read it didn’t look too bad.
As I turned the corner up to the tarn (00:05 by now), the wind hit me head on. It was strong. Very strong. I battled forward, the full moon supplementing the light of my head torch, illuminating massive crags round the tarn. It looked amazing. Well, it would have looked amazing, however, the wind was blowing so hard, it make it unpleasant to look directly into it. Finally, I was through the gap and the wind, subsided, minutely. My head torch could pick out white horses on the tarns surface. It was seriously windy. I briefly considered turning round and descending a couple of hundred metres to where it was a lot more sheltered, but I’d been told that there were some lumps and bumps one could pitch a tent behind – I went in search of them.
After failing for some time to find any respite from the wind, I noticed my head torch reflecting off a strange object near the shoreline; three reflective points shone back at me in a triangle; I walked closer and then suddenly, over the wind, I heard a shout – it was a tent. Hastily, I retreated my steps – it hadn’t been my intention to surprise any other campers – I hadn’t even considered there might be people as mad as me!
I pitched my tent relatively nearby. Well, let’s say I attempted to pitch my tent. Tents are in many ways like kites, except that they’re not meant to fly. Pitching a tent in a strong wind however, requires thought, and some planning. My Vango Helium Superlite 200 is easy to pitch compared to other tents, but still not a trivial task in those conditions. After some time it seemed to be largely “up”, so I went round to tighten all of the pegging points to their maximum. It was at this point that I noticed that points I’d tightened seemed to be getting untightened in the time it had take me to tighten something else. I ended up tying little knots and half hitches in then just to make sure it didn’t loosen. I pegged and repegged some points to make sure the pegs (shorter than standard ones to save weight) were in at the optimum angle (very shallow!). Having come to the conclusion, there was nothing much else I could do, I put me and my bag in the tent and sorted out the tensioning system (arguably my tents answer to guy ropes). It was now about 01:15 and it still felt very dicey, but there was nothing for it so I made myself as comfortable as possible, burrowing deep into my down sleeping bag.
After a noisy night, I awoke to find out it was about 09:00 and it was light. Everything seemed ok. The tent was still here. I didn’t appear to be floating in tarn… A couple of minutes later, after a large gust of wind, I noticed that the end of my tent where my head was seemed to have collapsed. Not good. Little problems can turn into big problems very quickly if left unattended; I dashed outside – it looked like the tail end peg had been completely pulled out and then catapulted over the entire tent (length ways) downwind. I fixed it up, but took it as a hint to start taking down my tent – again much easier said than done in gale force winds.
Oh I know you! You’re from Youtube!
Which completely floored me for a few seconds – the probability of being recognised from those videos hadn’t even crossed my mind. It turns out he’d seen my video of wild camping at Stickle Tarn.
Soon, conversations complete, it was time to go and I marched up the path towards Segeant Man, passing Codale Tarn as I did and getting some stunning views of Stickle Tarn as well. After an exciting ascent, I was slightly disappointed that the lump itself had nothing noteworthy to define it. From there, I set off (with help from my fully working compass), in the direction of High Raise. The route from Sergeants Man to High Raise is boggy, but nothing compared to what was to come later. High Raise was intensely windy but the stone shelter there provided remarkably good cover and I took a moment to consult Wainright on what was to come. I had decided not to ascend Ullscarf as originally intended on the basis that camping anywhere above 200 metres would probably be a lot less fun given the wind I was encountering. The plan was to head down to Greenup Edge and then head up Calf Crag, with a view to possibly doing Gibson Knot and Helm Crag as well. Originally I’d intended to do this ridge, but on the second day and now, as I realised that I needed to descend a lot, before I could even consider getting my tent out again, I figured I could have a shot at it all in one go.
The descent from High Raise to Greenup Edge was hellishly boggy and slippery, as was the descent from Greenup Edge to the head Wythburndale. Wainright describes the Wythburndale as being isolated and boggy and in my short experience of it, the boggyness definitely was a defining feature.
Squelching up Calf crag, the wind hit me once again, this time from behind, and I learned how difficult it is to keep your balance when being pushed from behind. I noticed the wind blowing the water of a tarn and sweeping spray up into the air in a menacing fashion. This was still no place for tents.
I continued along the ridge, which largely lacked anything particularly notable apart from birdeye views of upper Easdale. As I started to get towards Jackson’s Knott, I realised that the question I’d been toying with – whether I’d reach Grasmere in the light – was irrelevant. I could jump on a bus and go home whether it was light or not – I didn’t have to go searching for a new sheltered camping spot and something else to climb tomorrow – I could just scoot home and be happy with what I’d achieved. With an extra burst of energy, I passed Gibson Knott and soon climbed my way up Helm Crag.
Clearly Helm Crag has a beautiful view, however as the light was fading, as was my energy, I started to descent down to mountain and back to the busstop and the delights of civilisation.
Things I’ve learnt:
- That much wind is more than I want to put that tent through again
- Sourmilk Gill needs revisting in the light.
- Easedale tarn needs revisting in better weather
- Wythburndale is boggy
- Helm crag is probably quite an accessible climb for families etc
- I can tick off 5 Wainrights
- I’m tired after all that.
I’m going to be exploring parts of the north western bits of the Lake District starting from Buttermere.
- Day 0: Buttermere to Haystacks (and back + My mother). Camp somewhere on Haystacks.
- Day 1: Buttermere to Haystacks/Green Gable/Great Gable/Pillar. Camp near Scoat Tarn
- Day 2: Scoat Tarn/Wasdale/Scafell Pike. Camp on eastern slope of Scafell.
- Day 3: Scafell – Eskdale. Meet UMHC, for Eskdale weekend trip.
- Day 4: UMHC Eskdale (Illgill Head)
- Day 5: UMHC Eskdale. Try to camp somewhere Came home with UMHC.
- Day 6: Bowfell. Camp somewhere.
- Day 7: Meet brother. Hike round somewhere. Home!