Things That Will Be Missed Part 1 – #RunE1Trail #GetOutside

 

I once had someone to spend my time with.  Someone who I thought would be beside me for the rest of my life, but that wasn’t meant to be.  The gap that should be there however, is filled with a love for the Lake District fells.  Their unpredictable temperament, their harsh terrain and the beautiful simplicity of moving around them.

To all the fells of the Lake District…

I will miss you!

Shoes optional – A Barefoot Runner’s Journey Along The Length Of Britain – Chapter 1 – Before I begin

It’s early and I’m regretting the previous night’s drinking.  Head feels like a small demon is inside it, pommeling my skull in an attempt to break free.  Quick motions are followed by a wave of nausea and I have to get myself to a rendezvous with my good friends Rooth and Adam’s to make the trip to Land’s End.  A quick coffee is all I can handle, so I go stand in the shower in the impossible hope that the water will wash away the hangover, but it doesn’t.   That odd taste of nail varnish remover that accompanies the night before stays, and it’s time to leave.  Luckily I had packed everything the morning before and after some dithering I get in the car and I manage to get to Ashbourne before I have to pull over and let the nausea take over.

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

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

“Why the hell do I drink so much?”

Well, the answer to that is a collection of ex-sixth formers chanting the name of the teacher at the bar followed by “get us a drink!” and several shots of tequila.  Can’t say it’s the best start to an adventure but then it makes it more interesting.  I get myself together and head to my mother’s house to drop off my car so my uncle can borrow it while I’m away.

“That stone you’re going to pick up at Land’s End made me remember something about Dziadek” my uncle says as though we had been taking for hours.

“Really?  What?” was the only reply I could muster.

“Well, when I was smaller, he used to take me and my friends down to the canal and he showed us how to skim stones across the water.  It’s made me think.  He introduced the whole idea of picking the right shaped stone for skimming and without him the idea would have completely alien to me.”

Now, the conversation continued but my mind was fixated on this newly learnt bit of family history.  There seem to be certain links in what we do and our past that we aren’t really aware of.  I remember seeing people press stones to the graves of loved ones in Iran and then leaving them there, but I never thought there would be any link to the polish side of my family.  We carried on towards Long Eaton and if we carried on talking j couldn’t really say, but eventually we arrived at Rooth’s.  I said farewell, we shook hands and I may have imagined it but there was something in my uncles eyes that made me think he wanted to say something, but he didn’t.  I wander if I imagined it or there was something he wanted to say?

I emptied my pack at this point and decided to pack everything one last time, decide what I’d leave behind and get ready to jump in the van. At some completely unregistered time we left, I got in the back of the van, lay flat and promptly went to sleep. I don’t remember much about the journey down apart from the food stops and a traffic jam that seemed to appear then vanish with no apparent reason.

My view of the road trip to Land's End accompanied by a bag of protein truffles made by Rooth for SK1 Fuel.  Delicious and the perfect keep the hangover at bay food.

My view of the road trip to Land’s End accompanied by a bag of protein truffles made by Rooth for SK1 Fuel. Delicious and the perfect keep the hangover at bay food.

Rooth & Adam - Two of the best people I know. I guess I'd perked up a bit at this point.

Rooth & Adam – Two of the best people I know.
I guess I’d perked up a bit at this point.

Once we got to Land’s End, I wandered down the rocket cliff to find a pebble to carry the length of the country. The south west coast is made up of lots of granite, but amongst it all was a small piece of white quartz. I grabbed it, along with a piece of granite and scrambled back up to the van. It was time for food, followed by pitching up the tent and sleeping. It was all about to begin and I was filled with an odd mixture of calm excitement, complete disbelief and a lack of comprehension as to what I had to do, all with an undertone of doubt. The doubt was all to do with the unknowns that Id have no control of.

“Are you ready then?”

“I have no idea. Gonna find out tomorrow though”

Shoes Optional – A barefoot runner’s journey along the length of Britain – Introduction

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Within these posts you will find no hidden secrets, no magical formulae and no recipes for adventure.  Instead you will read about one person’s journey and their realization that there are no limits other than the ones we set ourselves and it is these limits that hold us back.  We pander to the softer side of our nature, seeking the easiest route through life’s.  At some point we must realise that this is not the way to be true to our nature.  It is as important to embrace and invite discomfort, as it is to invite challenge.   Without these, how are we to grow?

 

Day 28 – The Nature Of Endurance

I’m no expert, and the words below are likely the result of dehydration, malnutrition and a distinct lack of sleep.

I rambled about this in an earlier post but yesterday, feeling oddly ill and making my way (at a slower than slow pace) to Bellingham I seemed to have had a moment.

The nature of endurance and the drive to move forwards is somehqta schizophrenic.  I’m not making light of the condition in anyway however.

When those difficult moments hit, there is a part of a persons mind that says “Stop! You don’t have to go any further”

This is true of my situation as I have everything needed to stop at any moment and be comfortable for a day or so.  But here’s the paradoxical bit.  I don’t seem to stop.  There’s another part that seems to reply “I know.  Still gonna keep going till I reach….”

The two different personalities jostle for dominance and really, it seems that at the core of it, endurance is an unwillingness to listen to the part of the mind that says “stop”.

Today, many people will endure lots of hardships and they will do it because it is in our nature as humans, but only if we allow it and encourage its flurishing in the young people we interact with.

Day 22 & 23 – Thoughts Whilst Crossing The Moor

We all have that dark part of us that we hide and in doing so we hide from it.  We teeter on its edges, occasionally moving just beyond its horizons, but we avoid it at all costs.  We stare into the abyss and nothing but dread stares back.

Yet, at some point I made the conscious decision to go in.  It is easier to be in a dark place and stare up at the light than it is to stand out of reach of the dark and wander what demons lurk within.

Gradually, this dark place began to fill with light.  Where once there were undefined shapes of forbidding, there now stands figures of encouraging challenge.  The way out is easy to find, no longer a distant star, but more a beaming beacon.  The euphoria of reaching a stop point was simply the realisation that it is possible to sink lower than you imagined and then rise out.  I am no longer ashamed or fearful of this dark place. 

It is easier to crawl out of the pit of despair than it is to avoid falling in.  

Pasta meal curtosy of Bob from The Outdoor Station.

Day 3 – Small Part Of Heaven! Thanks to @theyurtcafe for showing it to me

it seems that hidden away, in the middle of nowhere, are small pieces of heaven.

Cornish Tipi Holidays and The Yurt Cafe are a couple of these pieces.  I’ve been to campsites and said “it was lovely” but this place is a true hidden gem.  At first site it’s just a field with The Yurt Cafe on it.  Then, as you explore deeper, you find tiny pockets with tipis and wigwams, all enclosed amongst green trees.

Then you see the sign…  “Lake”

Lake is the biggest understatement I have seen so far.  It is a lagoon like wander.  The sort of place you pay lots of money to go abroad and see.

Oddly, as of this wouldn’t be enough, there’s the delights of The Yurt Cafe.  Friendly, relaxing, good food and drink.  It’s the generosity and kindness of the two owners is just the cherry on top that makes this place special.  A place I’ll have to return to and enjoy.

Introducing The Equipment – Part 2 – The Vaude Lizard GUL

I have to start by saying that this tent was provided free of charge by Backpackinglight, as part of a support package for the LeJog on the 26th of July, this year.  The other important point is that I would consider the tent if having researched it briefly it didn’t seem suitable.  I don’t see the point of accepting something that I wish I wasn’t using or accepting an offer of support if it wasn’t suitable either.  Luckily for me, Bob at Backpackinglight really knows his stuff.  I was offered the tent first, researched it and then took them up on the offer, and Im glad I did.  The tent is the Vaude Lizard GUL 1 person, 3 season tent and at first glance it seemed to be a beauty, but I was dubious of the 2/3 length pole!

I’ve gave it a few tests, one night in torrential rain, gales and a thunderstorm and a week on the Isle of Arran, with several hours of heavy rain and windy conditions and I have to say the following…

Despite the unique 2/3 tent pole (the single tent support pole only spans 2/3 of the total tent width) it’s an amazing little tent!  Why?

Well, here are the reasons:

  • Easy to put up – I had no instructions for it, watched a youtube clip and then had a go at setting the tent up and it was straight forward.  Peg out the tent (you can leave the internal compartment permanently attached to the outer) insert the main pole and the smaller end poles, peg and adjust the guy lines and the tent is ready.  I managed to get it up and ready to use in about 5-7 minutes.
  • Extremely stable – It got the baptism of fire when I tested it with 40 mile gusts on top of an exposed hill, but it stayed stable, didn’t flap around and was quite enough for me to get a good nights sleep (that was until the thunder and torrential rain kicked in)
  • Extremely waterproof – I’ve had tents that claim to be really waterproof, but eventually they give up and begin to leak.  This tent gave me a waterproof sleeping area after a days worth of solid rain.
  • Lightweight – The tent comes with carbon fibre poles, super light internal and external materials and some lightweight pegs.  The entire tent can be packed down to a cylinder that is around 3-4′ in diameter and 7-8′ long.  In fact, I’m carrying it in the side elasticated pocket of my Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 when I take it out.  The only thing I have done is replaced the pegs with some Terra Nova titanium pegs which have saved me around 30g.
  • Great ventilation – There is ventilation windows at either end of the tent, which are protected enough so that rain does splash in and there is also also one on the door flap.  I didn’t have any problems with condensation on the inside and never felt that the internals of the tent had become stuffy.  The ventilation window on the for flap can be closed if you want to close it.  One amusing thing is that the internal compartment develops a nice wave motion if wind is blowing along the length of the tent.
  • Just about enough space – if your traveling light, there’s enough space in there to get your gear out of the wet and the porch area could be used to cook, but only if you’re careful.  You can use an extra pole, or stick along with a guy line to keep the door flap open as a shelter which could provide a safe place to cook in poor weather.  

There’s one point that I think would be good to improve on the tent and that is providing the ability to tighten the internal walls so they aren’t so flappy.  This is me being picky really, since it doesn’t really effect the tent working, but would make the internals neater.  You can set it up with just the outer, which makes the whole tent even lighter, something I would consider, but only if the areas I’m travelling to are likely to be midge, horsefly or mosquito free.

So, if you are after a light tent that would cope with almost all weather conditions then this is a corker of a tent.  It’s opened up a whole load of new adventure options for me, which would mean I can carry the minimal equipment, with the minimal weight, but not start having to deal with the usual problems of using a bivvy bag.

For the slightly geekier individuals among you (like myself) the technical specs can be found here –> Vaude Lizard GUL

Links to related videos on youtube below:

Demo

Setup

Introducing The Equipment – Part 1 – The Main Bits

The selection of the kit for this adventure has been interesting, and what I’ve ended up with may be useful for others who are thinking of taking part in similar challenges, so here’s most of my kit.  There’s this odd contention between lightweight, functional and useful when selecting kit, but luckily advice has appeared when I needed it and I’ve had the time to trial the various pieces of kit and learn first hand what works, what doesn’t and what you can live without.  The last point, what you can live  without, is probably the part that will cause alarm bells to ring in other people’s heads regardless of how I justify the decision, but I guess that will happen regardless.  There are some items that may have the time to be changed, so I’m not including them on the list below.  The whole idea is to take only what I need, not the equipment that will cover all the various what ifs that may arise, and to deal with them the bets I can until reaching one of the many little towns and villages along the route.

So here’s the confirmed parts of my kit:

If you have any advice on the kit list or useful little tips then I’m all ears 🙂

A Question Of Mentality

A set of recent conversation have caused a review of my mentality when considering the summer challenge.  

I have no milestones by which to judge or acknowledge progress and have no intention to move quickly as I make my way through the UK.  A while ago, without meaning to I switched from a goal orientated mindset to one that focuses on being present in the journey.  This is my way of explaining why I stop in a race to admire the view, or slow down so I can talk to people and fully embrace the experience.  Sometimes I catch myself being pulled in to the goal mentality in races, and I know it’s happening because the enjoyment has gone, only to be replaced by an overwhelming desire to move past the person in front and to beat that ever ticking clock.  At that point, I slow down, regain control of my breath and cadence, moving at my own comfortable pace, and admire as the colour seems to return to my surroundings as though some remotely increases natures colour saturation.  I’m not interested in a setting records or beating anyone else, just finding the limits of the fleshy vessel I seem to be part of. 

I guess with things of this nature, it’s more about knowing yourself, your limitations and strengths, being prepared to compromise and improvise when setting goes wrong.  No matter how much training I do, it’s likely resilience is going to be the most important tool in box.

3 weeks today, I’ll be walking to the sea, placing my hands in the cool water before heading north so I can repeat the ritual at the opposite end of this island I live on.  

Hope the adventure live up to the build up….

Support Package Curtosy Of Backpackinglight – Big Thanks To @bpl_uk For The Support

Package arrived at work today and inside was some donated camping gear from backpackinglight.

First surprise is how light the box is!  Surely they forgot to post the tent?

Inside was a nice hand written note, a packet of Skittles and then some camping goodies.

Here’s what Bob from backpackinglight sent:

  • Vaude Lizard GUL – ultra light 3 season tent weighing in at 690g!!
  • Titanium spirit burner – super light way of getting a warm mean cooked.
  • The Pocket Stove – titanium multi-fuel stove that’s going to really come into its own along the moors and the highlands.
  • Thermatrex blanket – these light blankets will reflect 75% of your body heat back at you.  Effectively I can up the warmth of a super light and thin sleeping bag without adding lots of weight to it.
  • Skittles – essential fuel, except this hasn’t made it past the first 5 minutes!

I can’t thank them enough for this equipment, but I also have to say a big thanks to Peter Ambrose for initiating the communication with them.  If it wasn’t for his initial email, the following conversations and then offer of support just wouldn’t have happened.  

Approaching the 3 week mark 😊