Ready, steady & almost go
Well 5 months after deciding to do this challenge I am now just 3 days from starting at Tower Bridge, where the challenge moves away from the keyboard and out into the open air.
There has been so much planning for me to do, and I have accomplished almost everything that I had hoped to do before setting off:
- Routes – all 286 routes have been individually scoped and plotted using OS maps online. GPX files have been saved as a back-up in case of any issues. These GPX files can also be exported to google maps for illustrative use on the website.
- Kit – every item has been researched for quality, cost and weight. I believe that I have now got everything I will need, and hope that it will treat me well on the walk. (I will also be updating the kit tab for the first time later today if you want to take a look.)
Website – having never set up a website (and as all my friends will tell you I am a bit of a technophobe), I am amazed with what I have created, with the support of my brother. I believe the site is very user friendly, both on computers and phones, and so far all links seem to be working well. This will hopefully become a concise diary of the whole walk, with photos, blogs and other information as the walk progresses.
Accommodation – whilst plotting the route I also noted down possible accommodation options. Mostly campsites, sometimes hostels, and some bothies. As well as this I noted down some B&B’s and pubs that may be outside my budget, but I could ask to camp nearby and use facilities. I am emailing accommodation options weekly, one month in advance.
Other – there are a whole other range of smaller things shops, tides, seasonal issues, army ranges to name a few that were identified for investigation nearer the time.
Though the planning has gone fairly smoothly there have been a few issues along the way and a few small issues going forward:
- Issues with reading my OS maps routes when I am offline. The OS maps online is a great way to plot the routes, and great to read the routes on a walk when you have a good signal. It is though quite a faff to download the routes for offline use, as the methodology is not very well thought through. It would be much simpler if you could just choose one of your routes and click download and it would download a section that covers that specific route, I do not know why they have not done this.
- Almost all campsites/holiday parks are shut until mid-march. This makes things a bit harder as without campsites; showers, facilities, water etc. are a little bit more complicated. I am happy to ‘wild camp’ (obviously with permission of landowner in England and Wales) and will be doing so a lot of the time in this first couple of months, but for my rest day and one other day each week it would be nice to have somewhere with a shower or at least running water to allow me to clean things. To mitigate this, as part of my weekly accommodation email which goes out one month in advance of expected arrival, I have been asking B&B’s and pubs along the route if I can camp nearby and use their facilities. Even though so far obviously only emailed the first 4 weeks’ worth of walk it has yielded a couple of very generous offers of complimentary rooms in B&B’s for the night. On top of this I have had a few offers from people who have visited the website offering beds in their homes for the night. There are a couple of specific places (listed below) towards the very beginning that it would be very useful if anyone knows someone who may be able to offer a bed for my rest day, strangely the 3rd & 4th weeks rest days are sorted but the first couple aren’t:
- Warden/Leysdown-on-Sea, Isle of Sheppey
- Rye, East Sussex
- My mental health has been much better in the past few months though it hasn't stopped there being a few minor issues. Yesterday was a case in point. An item that I had ordered several days ago for next day delivery, had still not arrived several days later. I could get no useful help from Amazon, who didn't know where the parcel was or have any means to phone the carrier, and it is my believe that based on what they have said that the item I paid for was never even available. Whereas the normal reaction would be to be annoyed but just accept it and cut my losses, my irrational mental health side took over, i became drastically stressed, decided that this was a massive issue and just sunk into a pit, it essentially left me unable to do anything for the best part of 8 hours yesterday afternoon meaning I did not sort out several things for the walk. This whirlwind of decline left me by the evening in a completely dark place and just incredibly angry and teary, as well as posting a highly unuseful Facebook post. I was still in a very negative place first thing this morning and had no intention at that point of doing anything today but managed to calm myself down and write this blog and will hopefully get the stuff done this afternoon that I was meant to do yesterday. It shows how far I have come because a couple of years ago an episode like that would have put me out of action for several weeks, and they happened much more frequently then. These episodes/overreactions are really annoying as essentially you end up punishing yourself for someone else's wrongdoing.
Even with all the planning I have done it didn’t stop this week being a completely manic one, rushing to get everything done in time; practising erecting tent, practising packing my bag, buying last minute items (toiletries, gas canisters to name a couple), creating promotional stuff for my backpack (and other), trying to sort accommodation, writing drafts for some future mental health blogs, general panic and all that sandwiched around Christmas.
I will be updating the kit tab later for the first time, in case anyone is interested in what I am taking. Also from now on the weekly blogs will be published on Mondays to coincide with my rest days.
Well that is the end of my final pre-walk blog, I have got to the point where I am flitting between extreme excitement and extreme panic and just want it to start now.
Bring on Tower Bridge!
NB: The cover photo is of my brother Claude and little nephew Arthur walking over Christmas.