Sunday, July 30

Route Preparation - Fun or Hard Work Pt 1

When I first started my trips out part of the fun was the research. Where to go? How long to stay? What about alternatives?

Travelling north from the south coast meant that the trips were limited to once, maybe twice, a year, if I could face the long A34/M40/M6 car journey.

As a result I initially jammed as much walking in to the stay as I could, and predictably by Day 4 I'd be out on some god forsaken windswept fellside, in nil visibility, rain lashing down and aching and knackered and wondering why I was there.

(I'll come back to how I finally solved this one in a later post)

So rest days, easier routes, and what-ifs were added into the planning.

Easy enough when the trips were days out from a YHA base, but a little more difficult to prepare for where multiple wildcamp stops were planned.
(BTW - my fallback position on this has always been - if the weather's that bad, I'll stay put and sleep. After all I've no agenda to chase, except regular contact for safety concerns. I can walk anytime, as long as I can see, so no 9-5 for me. Only once have I given up, and that was during 70mph gale, when travelling over the tops - a good decision)

Planning and preparation was part of the fun. The anticipation.

However over the years I spotted that despite all the prep work I was actually only doing part of the plan, and moreover was starting to take the easier option each time. The prep work seemed more and more painful to follow through each time.

Recently I've had the opportunity to take a few trips at very short notice, a couple of hours in one case. Suddenly the prep work seems fun again. It's so simple.

Which area?
Start/end points?
Check-in spots for safety?

Of course the route infromation I leave at home looks a little like a spider's web, but at least some one knows where I intend to be and when.

Another failing has been overconfidence in my ability to cover distance. Living in the (mostly flat) south, I often walk at 4+mph over roughish ground.
I had a tendency to look at the map, measure the distance and think "Yeah - polish that off in a couple of hours" Not so. Even considering
Naismith's rule I can still over extend myself.

So now I underestimate how far to travel each day. Whilst I could knock out 10-12 hour days (now when was the last time I did that -hmmm!), I know from experience that I tend to slow down mid/late afternoon, after an early start.

So now I allow 6-8 hours, say 10-12 miles on the fells, allowing for sightseeing. That way I get to appreciate the surroundings, rather than galloping past, or seeing it all through a sweaty haze.

So to summarise so far:

  • Rest days - don't try to do too much -its supposed to be fun
  • Don't overplan
  • Be realistic about distance and walking times
  • Have a fallback position

  • More to follow .............


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