How Did I End Up On This Road?

I’ve been wandering quite a bit….

Hold on.   Actually, quite a bit is a massive understatement!  I’ve been pondering ov r this endlessly.

How the hell did I end up in my current situarion or more to the point the road I appear to be on?

Well, it’s quite simple.  Poor decisions, unplanned actions and a sense of morality that I’m confused by at points.  Needless to say, I’m caught in a never ending loop.  What I want is drowned out by what I want to do, how I live takes prescience over how I’d like to live and what I think has to be masked by the social and economical constraints of my position in society.

So why moan?  Point is this…

The purpose of this blog has always been a silent sounding board.  One that has no social or historical background to influence it’s involvement in what is in fact, a monologue.   I will break from the mould set forth by others and perpetuated by the masses.  It will involve hardship and sacrifice but once done and embraced is going to give me a sense of freedom.  A freedom I feel was misplaced after summer.

It’s Good To Reminisce, But It’s Important To Move On

I appear to be in a rut as it were.

I’m back at work, living the same as many other people on this planet, spending the majority of my time indoors.  To make matters worse, I have stupidly made a minor injury worse, stopping me getting outside and doing what I enjoy the most.

I can’t help think about the Summer’s adventure and how free I felt.  It wasn’t the easiest of times or the most comfortable, but there was a sublime beauty to the simplistic way of life I experienced.  The frustration of being stuck in what feels an artificial way to live is overwhelming at times, and reminiscing seems to be one way to cope.

However, I am aware of being stuck in the past.  Summer is over, the adventure is done and like other parts of life I have to move forwards, or I will be trapped in a loop that is likely to lead to some self made depression.  So what on Earth would suddenly trigger the writing of this post?

An article about the Summer adventure by Ordnance Survey, has made me think about what it is that I’m doing with my life.  I have gone from creating the mental image of what my life should be like, to losing it through no ones fault by my own choices, and now I feel like time is passing me by.

This is likely normal.  A response to the change in my day to day environment and the inevitable ‘come down’ from the high of the Summer.  So what’s the challenge here?  Am I battling some inner demons or am I in some dark place of my own creation?

Well actually, no.  I don’t believe we have demons, or dark places.  They are a response to our current situation and environment and come about as a result of dwelling on the past and being overly concerned with the future.  The past is the only reason the Summer adventure happened, I acknowledged the selfishness of my past decisions and the stupidity of some of my choices, so why am I moaning?

I’m moaning and being pensive because of myself.  I’m the person who caused my current injury, I’m the person who is not being organised or motivated enough to get future adventures moving forwards, and I’m the person who has withdrawn from others.

So, its time to stop ruminating and carryout the change I know I need to.  I’ve said it before and need to remember my own words…

“There are no demons, no gods and no masters”

We make out own decisions and our actions are a result of them.

Why Do You Run?  Recurrent Rumination 

There’s nothing special in this post.  It is just a way to externalise something that is very slowly chipping away at my resolve, and maybe by externalising it I can start to redirect it.  So, feel free to stop reading.  These are just the words of someone feeling sorry for themselves and trying to stop the self pity. 

Here’s the problem with these ponderations.  I’m not running as often as I was.

The drive to get out seems to have been misplaced and I feel an old mental state returning.  I have been aware of it for a while and instead of acknowledgement I have sought distractions.  Just getting out and running doesn’t seem to be good enough, but I’m not actually going out to run!  So is the mood a result of not running or is the not running a result of the mood?

In truth I have no idea, but I think my current lost mojo and mood comes from a few places.  Discussions with an old friend about the past, the inevitable come down from a summer of experiencing freedom in a way I didn’t think existed and the remains of poor past choices.

“Why do I run?” is an important questions in dealing with the current low.  I am not myself, and I know I run to return to myself and let the grime of modern living fall away, but how does one find their mojo when it has been misplaced?  

I don’t know the answer and I’m a bit lost as to where to find the answer.  Maybe I should stop feeling sorry for myself.  Maybe I should stop looking to the past, screw the future and go back to living one moment at a time.  

And there it is…..

I knew there was a reason to writing nonsense like this, and having those conversations with yourself that you can’t have with others, whether there are no others or they are not the people you’d like to speak to.

I run to help me find that feeling of living one moment at a time.  In fact I run to return to the present and stop worrying about the future or dwell on the negatives of the past.  It’s time to start climbing out again.

So why do you run?

Running, Anger & Annoyance – Are They An Inevitable Link For Improvement Of Self?

These thoughts are unformed, the initial threads of a new line of thinking and just the musings of someone who has realised or thinks they have realised something.

Running and pushing has at some point dissociated form anger and annoyance.

In fact, should we run or train using anger and annoyance as a driving force?  Are they beneficial sides to be used or are they the path to disappointment and maybe even injury?

Surely it is better to run at peace, pushing when you feel it is needed, being happy with the outcome of choosing not to push hard and realising that you really can’t fight with yourself.      Is it that anger and annoyance masks the sense that you aren’t at one with yourself or is it a way of focusing on the push?

I have used anger to drive me forwards when others and myself felt that the early end of a journey is inevitable, but it never felt as fulfilling as just pushing because I knew I could.  Is it the fact that I know I can push harder if needed, that I know the dark voice of doubt is actually my analysis of a situation and a tool that shows the way to proceed as apposed to showing how not to proceed?

Rambling on as I am, I have just one question….

Do you use anger and annoyance to find something that wasn’t there before when pushing yourself to your limits?

The Season Of Mixed Emotions

Taking a time out to enjoy the view and colours.

I find Autumn to be an odd month.  It comes with a sense of loss as Summer ends and those warm and relaxed days are replaced by days that start and end in the dark, the temperature drops and the winter moodiness sets in, but at the same time it’s full of sense of joy and wander as the countryside transforms.  Gone is the green and in comes the varying shades ranging from yellow to red.

It’s also that time of year when people find a myriad of excuses to not get outside.  I would have been one of these people, but luckily, my training bud organised me into an early Sunday run.  No excuses we’re made today and it was glorious.  I’m amazed at how lucky I am to live where I do, so I’ll stop using words and hope that the pictures will do this mornings views some justice. :)

Being shown new trails is always great fun.

Running through the mist that was clinging to the rocky edge.

Chatsworth estate, where all the trees have folaige that starts at exactly the same height.

Run done, so time for breakfast and tea.

Managing Equipment On Multi-Day Trips – Brief Thoughts After #BareFootLeJog Part 3

Kit laid out ready to pack the morning before the day after.

Kit laid out ready to pack the morning before the day after.

Solving the problem of gear to carry is pretty simple.  First your decide on your tipping point between comfort and weight, then you work out what you can afford.  The more you go towards weight, the more uncomfortable you’re going to be at the start of your journey, and the more comfortable you are the harder it will be to carry all your equipment.

I saw a young lad, I think his name was Duncan, on his way to Helmsdale from JOG.  it was his 3rd day and he looked distraught.  The first thing he said when he found out I was on my way to JOG was “Where the hell is all your equipment?”, since my neatly packed Fastpack 20 was less than a 3rd the size of his gear.  I had the advantage of having planned for the lightest weight pack with comfort, although after my finely tuned foam mat blew away, I had to add 200g to my pack weight with my backup blow up bed.

That small pack held everything I needed to survive on a day to day basis.  There was even enough room to add a few things!!

That small pack held everything I needed to survive on a day to day basis. There was even enough room to add a few things!!

My kit ended up coming from 3 sources,  self funded purchases like my MSR titanium kettle, LifeStraw water filter, Ricoh GR digital and the Ultimate Direction FastPack 20, borrowed like my sleeping bag and blow up bed, or kindly donated by BackPackingLight (which included the Vaude Lizard GUL tent, a thermatex blanket, a Syphon alcohol stove and a Ti Pocket Stove).  I’m all for minimal amounts of writing, so I’ll stick be as to the point as I can with each review.  I did test the equipment before I set off on numerous occasions, and it paid off since I didn’t have any equipment problems.  The only thing I did end up having to do was buy a new water proof.  The Inov-8 Ultra shell began to fall apart after 29 days and was no loner waterproof, so to get me through the rest of bonnie (wet) old Scotland I purchased a Montane shell.

The weather was poor at the start and poor at the end.  It didn't matter though.  I'd said that I'd finish on the 2nd and that's what I was going to do.

The weather was poor at the start and poor at the end. It didn’t matter though. I’d said that I’d finish on the 2nd and that’s what I was going to do.

Packing of the kit became an art!  Sleeping bag, blow up bed, waterproofs and warm layer  would all end up being layers along the back end of the pack and then the extra bits and bobs (spare batteries for camera, cables and chargers etc) would end up in front of these. It gave a pack a nice supported back and kept the profile as slim as possible.  The mesh section of the pack got a hammering, with anything from food to my hat would just get shoved in there.  The tent was small enough to sit happily in the side mesh pocket, with the poles along side it.  The bungee cord that seemed to be pointless when I got the bag did a good job of keeping the tent poles in place while I bounced along day after day.  The opposite side to the tent held a 500-750ml bottle of water, with another 500 ml bottle in the bottle pouch on the left strap.  The UD fastpack 20 was the perfect pack, although it would be awesome if it was fully waterproof.

Right!  Time to review…

Vaude Lizard GUL Tent

I love this tent so much that I am going to do a full on review of it.  It kept me warm and dry for so many days that I feel I need to do it justice, but in the mean time, here’s a fairly concise review.

This thing is incredible.  The total weight of the pole, pegs and both layers is 706g and I could pack it small enough to fit it in the side stretch pouches of the UD Fastback 20.

Now, it’s not the cheapest of tents, but it’s versatilely, ability to pitch it in the most ridiculously small spaces and sheltering from the strongest winds and from serious rain make it well worth it.   And did I mention it’s a 3 season tent that only weighs 700g?

The night before reaching Cheddar.  Great little hidden spot and a glorious sunset.

The night before reaching Cheddar. Great little hidden spot and a glorious sunset.

Finding Sleeping spots became easier, and on some nights you'd bump into kind people who'd recommend a glorious spot like this one (thanks Keith)

Finding Sleeping spots became easier, and on some nights you’d bump into kind people who’d recommend a glorious spot like this one (thanks Keith)

Thermatex blanket

Three out of the 38 nights were cold enough for me to really have to use this miracle of clever thinking.  It does exactly what its supposed to and keeps you warm when you need it.  It’s a fairly low tech piece of kit since its a blanket with one green and one silver side.  The science is as follows:

Silver is a poor emitter of heat, so you have the silver side facing out and are amazed at the warm that is absorbed by the green internals and then emitted back at you.  Kind of like a Polar bears skin and fur combo.

The only thing I would say as a negative, is that the silver coating rubbed off fairly easily, which is combatted by folding the blanket with the silver side inwards.  Now this small problem is supposed to have been sorted on the new versions, so you needn’t worry about the silver completely rubbing off.  The other thing I liked about the blanket was that I could trim it down to size and then sew it into a neat little sleeping bag.  The other nice thing is that it performed better than a silk sleeping bag liner (I did a quick comparison whilst out on LeJog)

The blanket is huge enough to wrap round the average person one and a half times and weighs 210g.  If you need to have a warmth backup then this is going to be the thing to get.

Syphon Alcohol Stove and Pocket Stove Combo

I have no idea why I ever used a gas burner!  This 1.5″ high and 2″ wide cylinder weighs in at less than 20g and is efficient enough to boil around 500ml of water in less than 5 minutes!!  Admittedly, you need to couple it with the Pocket Stove, but that means you have a full cooking solution that is under 200g including 100g of alcohol.  I didn’t use it every night or every morning, but it was great to have.  My whole cooking setup was no bigger than my MSR titanium Kettle (everything fit neatly inside the kettle).  If you fancy being lazy, you can use the stove with a trivet.  Things take longer to heat up, but when your wild camping and travelling on the road, I’m to sure that having super fast cooking times is that essential.


Compact and perfect for cooking

The perfect cooking kit combo.  Everything takes up no more space than the MSR titanium kettle and is less than 400g in weight!

The perfect cooking kit combo. Everything takes up no more space than the MSR titanium kettle and is less than 400g in weight!

The LifeStraw water filter

Not much to say about this thing.  It’s around 30g, it filters the nastiest looking water and stops you getting those nasty stomach bugs and its blue.  This thing saved me the hassle of carrying litres of water and meant that I could drink water anywhere I saw water.  I even tested it out before LeJog in a pool of standing water that was teaming with aquatic life.  It was so teaming that I was expecting to have to cut a run short after drinking the water through the straw.  Needless to say, I was fine.  The other great thing is that the company uses profits to supply the LifeStraws to places that need them.  So, not only do you reduce your pack weight and have pretty much limitless drinkable water, you also get that hazy warmth knowing that you are buying an ethically minded product.

Yeti sleeping bag

I had never heard of Yeti before I was loaned the sleeping bag.  Now, I think I might have to buy me one!  The sleeping bag kept me warm on almost all the nights, until the temperature dropped to around 5 degrees.  Then I had the Thermatex as a back up.

It’s a down filled sleeping bag that packs down to about the size of a can of beer.  I shouldn’t believe how small it packed and it weighs in at 400g with the stuff sac (which is actually more than big enough for the sleeping bag).  The only thing was the lack of a hood, but it is an older model.  The newer version has a hood built in and is around 50g lighter.

I slept each night on a small, inflatable bed.  It was around 350g in weight, inflated quickly and did what it was supposed to as a bed, holding the air for a whole night without the usual deflated feeling in the morning.  The only thing I would say about blow up beds is this…   Get enough air into it so that it stays level.  The majority of our mass is near our hips, so I found in the mornings I would have slightly aching hip flexors, or an aching lower back if I didn’t get enough air into the bed the night before.  The reason was the folding effect your body will have as you lie flat.  It was easy enough to fix, but it took me a few days to work out I needed to really get some air into the bed, before going to sleep on it.

Really, I think the equipment I ended up with is likely to be my standard fastpacking kit, since it is all light and functional.  The only thing I will have to invest in, is a sleeping bag and a replacement foam mat.  I’m more than comfortable on a foam mat, since the comfort part comes from the choice of pitch site, as apposed to the material you sleep on.  There seem to be some super light and super cheap sleeping bags available on-line, so will wait till payday and treat myself.  It would be great to be able to get out in the winter months and get some multi-day mini adventures done.


Why Do You Run? Revisit The Age Old Question

I’ve revisited this so often I’m not even sure if my reasons are changing in any way.  I run to feel human.

To get in touch with that part of me that exists but can truly be on show when I’m out and running. 

I run so I can be myself and not a version of me that is socially acceptable. 


You only know if it’s doable if you try. ive looked at the collapsed face of Mam Tor many a time and wandered if i can go up it. i guess the answer is yes


Im a little shocked by the difference in foot position between me and the guy behind!



I stopped after 2 miles and took off my shoes. Running just didnt feel as light and easy with them on.


The Mam Tor, Loose hill ridge. A glorious running place.


A quick bask in the sheer awesomeness of running up a gorge.


Too Much To Do, Not Enough Time And I’m To Blame

This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve ever learnt.  I have a busy job that is just sat waiting to place extra demands on my personal time, and if I don’t keep one step ahead of it it’s likely to win the battle. 

Today, I’m likely to have to skip a day of training to get books marked, data recorded and lessons planned for tomorrow.  It is annoying but really, I should be annoyed at myself.  Part of the problem is I’ve been lazy and not done what I could when I had the spare time.  Now it’s time to start to get myself better organised and put a short, sharp stop to the laziness that is creeping in.

If we don’t take responsibility for our time and how we manage it, the feeling that you aren’t in control creeps in and takes over.  You never feel like you have time to do anything you want to do, and start taking steps on that downward spiral staircase.  I really don’t want to go any further down, so tonight I’m getting my backside in gear, missing a training run and catching up on some marking 😔

That missed training run?

It’s getting done tomorrow before work!!

Ordnance Survey #Getoutside Champion Nominations

Clare Holdcroft on her BGR round. Struggling through lack of sleep, putting up with stomach issues and aching legs, she pushes on on the last leg. A truly inspiring moment that I am privileged to be part of.

Clare Holdcroft on her BGR round. Struggling through lack of sleep, putting up with stomach issues and aching legs, she pushes on on the last leg. A truly inspiring moment that I am privileged to be part of.

There are people that do things that we dream of doing.  They place a spark of excitement in our minds, that eventually turns into a smouldering thirst for adventure and then takes hold as a fire that burns and pushes you on to move beyond the edge of your personal comfort zone.

I met a pleasant fella called Christos (I hope I’ve spelt it right!) thanks to Peter Ambrose (who seems to know people who are inspirational!), and the snippets of adventure stories I heard, the advice and information, has really got the adventure planning juices flowing! It’s people like Christos that I think need nominating for awards like this, so question is, do you know someone who you think needs a nomination?

I do, so I’ve gone to their nomination page, and nominated a few people, and fingers crossed they get the recognition they deserve.
Nominate yourself or nominate someone you know, but go and get nominating ;)