Wednesday, May 30, 2012

382.4 kms: Greenhead-Walltown-Cockmount Hill-Shield on the Wall-Once Brewed.

See, what I think happened is that Hadrian's Wall Path heard that its cousin, Pennine Way was going to run with it for a day. There has always been a sort of family animosity. Pennine is the upstart: takes the hardest way up anything and the second hardest (after jumping off with a parachute) back down. Hadrian's Wall Path said to itself 'I'm no second-rate country bumpkin; if its mettle testing you want I can test your mettle'. And hence, today. A huge field climb was followed by the wall running along the very edge of two escarpments, and the wall path running along side that. Escarpments (see one in the right of the photo) seem a simple issue on first appearance—one up, one down. Right? Wrong. They are interspersed with multiple fissures which require scrambling downs and back-ups with the latter always seeming to be just that bit higher on each successive climb. I give thanks to the God, Fate or Deity which looks after reluctant mountain climbers though, as I always find that my ups are harder than my downs. I much, much prefer that. If I had had to go down some of my ups, I would probably have sat down on the edge, pushed off and hoped to still be alive at the bottom. Either side of the day the paths walk together, Hadrian's Wall Path can be heard yelling out: 'Get down to the flat bit! Now! Don't care if it's not anywhere near the wall. I am going to die! Show-off git, Pennine, good riddance!' Tomorrow I head off on the show-off git Pennine. Funny thing is, looking at my guide, it seems like an awfully tame day for the Pennine—long, but undulating rather than torturous. I think it may have sprained something trying to upstage its coast to coast country cousin. 

[Aside: It is tomorrow. I am not on the Pennine. I wrote this all yesterday and it has disappeared. Mortified. I got up this morning, looked out of the window and couldn't see the escarpments. Suddenly things like banks and sorting out why I can't see my cash passport balance, and posting maps and a new pair of shorts to replace my ripped ones all seemed very important. I read the weather report posted at reception to confirm my own analysis and it was confirmed: hundred and three percent chance of rain all day. I booked in for another night.]

Tortured feet to the right.

Twice today I tried to cheat. I didn't try a third time. By cheating I mean I tried to take little sketchy paths that appeared to go round rather than up and down. On the first I somehow ended up behind another wall that appeared from nowhere. There was a gate but the farmer was busy tying it up. He refused to make eye contact and seeing as I knew that I had done the wrong thing, I turned back. I spied a short cut to get back on the right track and took it—right through a large patch of nettles! Leason learned? No way, Jose. The second such path was over lush grass. It was hard to judge what the surface beneath was like. Suddenly, and it happens that quickly doesn't it, I was on my arse. My foot had disappeared into a hole that went to my knee. I thanked those supernatural beings again. I had no apparent strains, sprains or pulls—just a sock and a shoe full of sand. I don't have to worry about that dream of falling over any more, it's done. Although currently that dream does involve falling into dank, smelly water with my pack on and wondering whether, one, I'll just automatically sink to the bottom or will I be able to swim to the edge, or, two, my iPad will be destroyed. Lesson learned? You bet! Every up upped, every down downed.


English whining (hee hee) aside, these are actually some of the phrases that could be heard coming from my mouth today:


This is ace!


Excuse me cow, would you know if total immersion in water—for example, by walking across a river—renders the Goretex layer in my boots useless. I only ask because the morning dew seems to be making my socks wet.


Are you okay Wes? Is the rain getting you?


This is friggin' amazing!


Sheep, do you know how far from Once Brewed I am?


Ok, enough with the $%@* ups already. I don't care if there is a beacon, do we actually have to go right up to it?


I have single use of my room at the hostel this evening (unless something has changed since dinner). I am having the last of the school group's teacher's coffee, courtesy of the chef, gratis. It does come with sitting in the dining room while the group does its activities. They are quite odd. One group is child-slave-labouring over copper jewellery production. One group is playing a game where someone just had to move back three places because they didn't wash their hands after going to the bathroom, and then made dinner and all the others got sick. Hmm. Last group is repairing costumes. There is one shower for every five or so rooms, four beds minimum per room. Lucky it is not busy. It is the second steamiest room I have ever seen that wasn't a sauna. I am ever-grateful that I have thongs now.


[Aside from the future again: Feeling slightly shameful for abandoning walking when the teachers were making the kids go out, I caught the bus to Hexham. Did all the things I needed to do. On the way back I could see all the groups of people who are travelling in the same direction and whom I have met up with a few times walking along. They all looked very colourful in their rain gear, but also a little grumpy. Ah, the benefits of not booking ahead.


A blog about successful blogs suggested that successful blogs shouldn't be about 'you'. Oops. How do you write a blog about your travels without mentioning yourself? Which reminds me that lately the signs on every gate are going contra to all others I have seen previously. They say don't use the path, walk on other areas to stop erosion, and don't walk single file. Do they know how hard, almost impossible, it is to not walk single file when you are on your own. I have to try and walk on two not-paths simultaneously. The blog also suggests inviting discussion—maybe with a question. Have you had a time recently when you had to look to the heavens and thank some unknown force for something?


It also said don't make your blogs too long.]


Good night to Once Brewed, good night to you.


371.1 kms: Low Rigg-Haytongate Hut-Banks-Birdoswald-Greenhead.

I saw the Pennine Way again today, doing what only the Pennine Way can do, coming vertically down a mountain. So now I am on both routes for a bit. I did a very bad thing though. Very, very bad. My room for the night is quite large (youth hostel booked out—possibly by the large group of elderly Germans who just stormed the pub) and so I opened up all the remaining maps I have all the way to Edinburgh and laid them out. I see, in my future, another trip to the UK in order to finish LeJog. I am mortified. I really did think I would finish it this time. I keep trying to sing to myself a mantra about LeJog and JogLe taking three months if you can manage to stick to a straight line but I do still feel a little defeated. Having looked at maps stretching across a large B&B room, I start to wonder if I'll even make it to Edinburgh!! Can you all start thinking about another 'b' based theme for me please. Although I did already, when someone else poo-poo-ed my finishing earlier on my journey, ask V—— if he would like to come if I did it again so it may simply be 'Bifurcating Britain (begrudgingly) with the Boy and a bedraggled Beaver'. Maybe this time we can do what all the others do—drive the car to the end point each day, catch a bus to the start point and walk to the car and then drive to find accommodation; or; get the luggage delivered place to place, although in the middle of Scotland I think that service may become increasingly difficult to find. 

Okay, the terrible, terrible part over, I will turn to something lighter. There was a part of me that thought Hadrian's Wall would be like Offa's Dyke—a grass covered lump that accompanies the path. I was walking along with Tracey and Annette for a little bit (doing the wall in seven days, camping the whole way). Shortly after they pointed out that I had a large tree branch hanging from the back of my trousers (the countryside version of trailing toilet paper from tucked in tights), they pointed out the first 'official' spotting of the wall along the track. It was messy and crumbly, but definitely wall-ish and two thousand years old. But it got better. Soon it was Romanly straight walls and forts and turrets all over the place. I started walking past them, saying to Wesley: 'Another bit of ancient history on your left'.


Twenty k's was a hard one though (despite my apparent giving up of pledges) because there was really nothing, accommodation wise, between fifteen and thirty and so I settled for the former. Actually between fifteen and what appeared to be thirty. I am back on my lovely informative Pennine Way guide and it states that the next section (which, it turns out, starts in Greenhead and finishes in Steel Rigg) has accommodation options in Once Brewed and Twice Brewed which is where I thought thirty k's would be, but the guide gives the distance as only ten k's—albeit, ten k's of knee-testing ups and downs. The two days afterwards are long and facilities-poor and so I am going, pledge-be-damned, to have a late start/short day tomorrow and just stop at either one of the Breweds. Do some washing, enjoy the rain. If it happens: cloudy and seventeen was a morning thing only today; the afternoon was sunshine filled and sweaty. To the point where I accused some people of looking at my redness—it's my blood vessel's proximity to the surface of my skin, I can't help going this colour when the temperature goes over freezing and I move at least one muscle, stop staring at me!


The photo in the photo is the photo everyone has of the wall. Chances are, when I see that vista, I will not have my iPad out to take the real thing and so this will have to suffice.


I cannot tell you how popular Wesley is. Everyone loves him. Everyone asks about him. Everyone questions whether he is part of the 'I only have things, in this huge pack you have just commented on, that are absolutely essential' delusion. Tracey, mentioned earlier, asked me if I had weighed my bag. 'Fourteen kilos about', I said, hastely adding 'but everything I have is absolutely essential'. She replied: 'Yeah, mine was thirteen, but when I added my platypus [people get him confused] it went up to fourteen'. I think Tracey was being sarcastic. And Tracey, when challenged, was unable to produce said platypus. Are people mocking me today?


Met a group of autistic kids doing the walk for 'Help for Heroes'. They were lovely. And they are on Facebook if you want to see how they are doing!!! Gosh, what a trip for them and their carers. Lots and lots of people on the walk today though—it's just hi, hi, hi, all day long.


I'll leave you with a little of the Latin I have been learning. See if you can work it out without just popping the whole phrase into a Google search:

Unitam barbari spatioum proprium tuum invadant.

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

Unitam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant.


Good night to Greenhead, good night to you.



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

355.8 kms: Carlisle-Low Crosby-Bleatarn-Walton-Low Rigg.

You probably don't want to know this but I keep getting rashes. Too late, now you know. I find it disturbing too. And they are on spots that people can see at a casual glance. Today it is on the backs of my calves and around the edges of my socks as well as one arm. I have no idea what is causing it. I don't recall being nettle-bit. I have changed Olay cream/suntan lotion today but if it was that why isn't it everywhere that I put the cream and why is inside the sock line of one foot? I don't think it is sunburn even though it is burning like mad—it isn't uniform and doesn't look particularly like sunburn. Maybe it is heat rash. It was the hottest day today—no wind or breeze at all. I had made a solemn promise to not stop before twenty k's. As you can see I broke the promise. Excuses I gave myself all come courtesy of the Rambling Rose Tearooms in Walton. Dee, one of the proprietors, told me that they did dinners on sunday and monday nights; I read that as nowhere within possible walking distance for my twenty k's does dinner and I am hungry today. Dee told me about a B&B (Low Rigg Farm;; their beautiful view attached) six hundred meters away that only had one room filled tonight so far—out of nine; I read that as 'whoo hoo, they have vacancies!' Dee told me that the really hilly bits start soon after Walton; I read that as 'well, your knee is playing up now, what will it be like if you have to go on the really hilly bits!!' So here I am at Low Rigg Farm, just had my lovely dinner at the Rambling Rose (Andy's signature Thai green curry, and mixed fruit crumble with custard). The owners of the other boots at the door of the B&B were also there and invited me to eat with them. They are Belle and Belle's beau—I am really disappointed with my terrible name sense. I try to listen and retain but they fly into spaces of my brain that I can't retrieve them from. Annoyed! 

I am quite enjoying Hadrian's Wall so far. I will enjoy it even more if the predicted cloudy and seventeen degrees happens tomorrow. Bliss!! Give me two days of that and I am sure I will have some sort of a complaint. The enjoyment stems from relative flatness and ease of finding your way on the track. It also comes in the little surprises along the way. I have seen a couple of honesty boxes and self-serve shacks where goodies and drinks are offered at extremely reasonable prices. I stopped for a while on the grass beside the 'Stall on the Wall' and ate a chocolate bar and drank blackcurrant juice. Shortbread biscuits also made their way into my bag courtesy of the stall. Possibly the cow next door gets fed too many stall treats as she was lowing at me with great expectations. City Slicker moment: I missed a sheep in the same field giving birth by possibly only minutes. One baby was up on sturdy-ish legs, the other was still trying hard. Mum was licking them clean. They were so cute. There was a farm that had set up a portaloo. There was a pub in Low Cosby that was possibly the snuggest and cosiest one I have ever seen—thank goodness it wasn't a bleak, dreary day because I wouldn't have left. I was outside instead. I cannot imagine what the drunks on a saturday night must look like when they come out after a session though—they would have matching welts and bruising on foreheads whacked on low beams. There was, of course, the Rambling Rose Tearooms. The village had poached Dee and Andy from their tearooms outside Brampton to come and be the teashop in Walton because the pub has closed down and there is nowhere for the locals and the walkers. The ex-publican still lives there and offered the pub up for sale at two-twenty grand. The Village did a major fundraiser and raised almost the whole amount and then he refused to sell saying the price had gone to three-fifty. Now he spends his spare time hiding the tearoom's sign in the hedge. Odd fellow.


There are scales in the bathroom. I did it again. I got on them in the afternoon, after a scone with jam and cream, three cups of tea and a gingerbeer. I have only lost three kilos. Three kilos in three hundred kilometres. It is the new thing I obsess about at night when I am going to sleep—falling over with my rucksack on has had to take a backseat. That is why I made the twenty kilometre pledge. That is why I tried to go faster today (and probably why I ended up with a sore knee). That is why I pledged to only eat meat and vegetables and cakes—so no potatoes, bread, sweets, pasta, rice, soft drink, alcohol, point living. I think what I am giving up is pledging; I am not very good at it. Can I say in my defence that there are not a lot of vegetables on offer. I'm just saying ... easier to get cake ... not an excuse ... but ...


Good night to Low Rigg, good night to you.


P.S: Today also had a running pheasant. There is nothing in the world funnier than a running pheasant. If John Cleese was a bird he would be a pheasant—physically, not mentally. He would be smarter than an infinity of pheasants I would say. But I cannot stop laughing when I see one. The cows thought I was mad.


Friday, May 25, 2012

339.3 kms: Rose Bridge-Dalston-Carlisle.

Bushman's Plus Insect repellent leaves the insects swirling in a crowd above my head. It also leaves my finger prints etched into the plastic cup I am holding in the picture, and part of my bracelet attached to my arm—they are not kidding about keeping it away from plastics. I have tried to wipe as much as I can off my fingertips so that my keyboard doesn't melt or my index finger become permanently attached to the 'n' key. 

There is a pub on the other side of that picture by the way. I am not otherwise in the habit of knocking back pints in churchyards. It just seemed a cool place to sit—and all the funky people are here, lots of sleeves and coloured hair and a very drunk, bust-enhanced girl tottering about in a very short dress. Oh good, someone has rescued her from herself. Someone's child is running around spraying his water bottle at everyone and has just thrown beer on one of the particularly blonde and tattooed young things who is taking him in search of his parents—they appear to have left him behind (small wonder). Oh no, there we go, someone is owning up to him.


Needless to say I was not up at the hoped for five or six am and away from my hidey hole. The night was long and it is only the particular strange thoughts that turned out to be dreams that indicate I slept at all. I'm too old for the stiffness that sleeping on the ground (or extremely hard youth hostel mattresses) brings. (I am getting so soft! I should also, based on other trips, be at 400 odd k's today not a measly 339.) Back to camping: by morning I am usually so exhausted that the slight increase in warmth sends me off. I had misjudged where the sun would rise (getting it to rise on you makes two things happen. One, it gets you up quick smart as sun and tent material are an extremely warm combination—I remember one morning, day after Fourth of July, in a campground in Rapid City, South Dakota where we had to crawl out of the tent at about six am and hide under the picnic table because we were very hung over and very, very hot). And two: it dries all your gear up. Neither happened and so I was packing up wet gear at about eight when I saw a couple coming across the adjacent field. I ducked down behind my weeds. They didn't seem to notice me and were nearly through my field when suddenly I heard them calling out to what I assumed were their dogs. Eek! Out of nowhere a deer was running toward me at great speed. It saw me and diverted. Two great big dogs charged past a couple of seconds later—one looking over at me hiding behind the weeds and saying 'What the ...?'


They chased the deer up and over the hill behind me. It seemed all was well but then the owners started walking towards me. They seemed to locate their dogs and turn back but then that dog with its obviously good memory came back to see what it had seen. I had to sit up—probably scared the bejeebers out of them. I mumbled something about just staying the night. A great black lab and a greater Rhodesian ridgeback licked my face (eeuuw, suntan lotion, Bushman's Plus, sweat and dirt, possibly slug parts) while I tried to have a casual conversation with a man who had just discovered me lying in a bush. His wife kept a distance.


Why do I always get sprung camping? I have trouble remembering times when I have got clean away without some sort of awkward wave or chat.


Otherwise it was a quick walk into Carlisle (see left) where I tossed up moving on or staying, and figured I would have more option for accommodation in a city rather than a small village on a Saturday night. By two-ish I was sequestered in a B&B with a taciturn owner. By three-ish I was back out in the city, sitting around in free wifi cafes drinking coffee, wandering around the sights, sipping beer in churchyards and having one of the four best meals I have had here (starting to sound like it isn't that unique). Smelling heavily of garlic I am going to lock myself in my room and relax while Carlisle goes mad on a Saturday night. Tomorrow I am heading for the start of Hadrian's Wall. Another day, another long distance walking path.


Good night to Carlisle, good night to you.

Only, I'm not actually because I have come back to find two men with Eurovision on the telly ready to go with sweet wine and snacks. I had forgotten it was on. Thank God they didn't. What a night of entertainment! Did you see the Russian babooshkas?

Once again I'll try: good night!

325.0 kms: Mungrisdale-Mosedale-Calebreck-Hesket Newmarket-Sedbergham-Rose Bridge.

Well the bandaid is off. And see, it wasn't as painful as you thought it would be, was it? Although, the night is very, very young and there is a lot of painful sleeping to happen before I can really, truly say I have had my first night camping. Can't be as hard or lumpy as the bulk order mattresses the youth hostels get. I am in the corner of a nice field. I can see the track I was on from here, but if I see anyone it is a matter of ducking down and I am out of sight behind the weeds. I have pulled off the track early in the hope that I will get up early and be on my way before there is too much foot traffic. Other firsts for the day: hay fever pills and anti-bug cream—there is a cloud of insects hovering just above me, not sure if they are biting ones but not bitten so far. 

Typing in the middle of a field seems incongruous and so I will be quick this evening. Here are a few things I was thinking about today that I have forgotten to tell you about:


One day, I went through twenty-one gates, stiles, ladders, bridges in an hour. I think that is a record—it is one every nearly three minutes. (Dales Way)


One day, at about five-thirty in the morning the farmer drove his entire heard of sheep past my B&B window. There are so many different sheep voices—bubbly ones, gurgly ones, burpy ones, tinkling ones, three-pack-a-day and gin-swilling ones. (Stonethwaite)


One day, I saw lots of woodpeckers. Today I think I actually heard one tapping on a tree. The version they have in this part of the world are black and white with a red belly. (Between Sedbergh and Windermere somewhere)


One day, today actually, thanks to my exemplary map reading skills, I missed the fact that although, yes, this path goes down to the river and then meets up with the Cumbria Way on the other side, there was no bridge! I stood at the side of the river after descending a steep and muddy path and looked longingly over at the path on the other side. It wasn't a deep river, it wasn't a fast river. the decision came down to boots on or boots off. Slimy looking rocks and the pathetic way my oversensitive feet reacted to pebble beaches on the side of Derwentwater made me choose the former. A slip-slide moment later and I was over and trudging down my desired path with a distinctive squelch on every step. A couple of sits in the sun and the boots were nearly dry, a couple of sits in the sun and an all night wear in sleeping bag and bivvy bag and the socks were dry. The man I bought them from was right though—unbelievably they didn't smell, but they sure did let out some dirty looking water when I washed them just now.


Good night to a field near Rose Bridge, good night to you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

305.00 kms: Keswick-Threlkeld-Scales-Mungrisdale.

At the risk of cursing myself I think I want the cold weather back. The sun is not my ally; it is my nemesis. I spent a lot of the walk today staring up at towering cumulus clouds, willing them to turn thunderous. They remained white masses of cream with whispy banners coming from their tops. They are still over there on my right as I sit above the river at the pub and drink a lager-and-lime (see photo), but their bottoms are looking a lot more like overcastness so maybe my wish will come true and tomorrow I will complain about the cold, the wet and the mud. One bonus at the moment is I am able to go from street to room without removing my boots; one (opposite of bonus) is that instead of traipsing mud up there, I am dripping sweat. There is something satisfying, when you are stopped and imbibing in a cold drink of some sort, about drops of sweat running down your back. Makes you feel like you have achieved something—even if it is only dragging that rucksack in a forward direction for an amount of time. 

See those four names up there. They weren't just the places I went through today. They are the places I stopped for food or drinks or both. I am not proud; I was so hot. I think it got to a blistering twenty-eight degrees. That is warm for England. English people were melting all over the place, and turning very scary shades of pink. But the damn blighters were still hopping up and down mountains like goats. Damn them! I stopped in Keswick for breakfast of tea cakes and carrot cake. (What do you mean carrot cake is not a breakfast item—that is very small minded of you. Try having twenty-nine full cooked english breakfasts in a row and then see if carrot cake doesn't sound like the most brilliant idea you ever had.) I had a prawn salad and a pint of orange juice and lemonade in Threlkeld. A huge pile of prawns appeared on my plate but they were those little ones they put on pizzas at cheap pizza places and didn't taste like anything. I wanted to have the key lime pie too but the service was so incredibly slow that I couldn't give it any more time. It did have a table of eccentric old man next to me though—there was a special set-menu for pensioners (why did the lady give me that menu; its the bad effects of the sun!) They were talking about everything from bribing anyone and everyone in Kurdistan to the editor at the Mirror telling one of them how to check if his phone had been bugged. I love them. At Scales I had a tonic water with lime cordial and a pot of tea (with a bikky on the side). And here, at the Mill Inn I am currently nursing the beer, but have been told by walkers today that the Inn is famous for their pies, so we'll see how we go. My washing is done. I am cleaned of my sweaty layer of sunscreen and dirt. The night lies open before me. I can go to town—or I can go to village, there are only four houses and a pub here so I don't think it will get too wild. I'll eat, drink, read, and maybe have the lime and lemon cheesecake to make up for the key lime pie shaped hole in my heart.


I feel I have left the lakes behind me. The landscape spreads more smoothly out in front. I have not spent enough time there. I will have to work out a way to come back and hop around the mountains like all the other mad men and their dogs. But not with that bag. And not when it is so hot. I'll have to schedule it for about 2017. Everything else is booked up at this stage with other holiday schemes. Too much work, too little holiday time. Life could be fairer than the amazingly privileged one it already is. Just saying ...


Mungrisdale literally means pig farm. There is an odd waft every now and again.


Good night to Mungrisdale, good night to you.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

291.6 kms: Stonethwaite-Rosthwaite-Grange-High Brandelhow-(Keswick).

I was thinking about it, and I feel bad for you Reader. I bore you with stories that are all feet sores and walking. What could I do, I asked myself, just for you Reader, to make this tome a little different for a change, to throw a little surprise in for you. Just for you. When I hit Derwentwater and saw the lake sparkling like scattered diamonds being sorted for carat and clarity by sailboats, I knew what I should do. I would stop on a pebble beach, take the pack off, go for a swim and then dry off while reading the book I just bought at the cafe (everyone is selling it because it is written by a local—The Fell Walker by Michael Wood), and then catch the ferry the long way around the lake to Keswick. It meant that I didn't do the last few kilometers into town, but as I said, for you, I needed to change it up a bit. And that is just what I did—except for the swimming part, it was freezing.  

Sorry about this next sentence in the context. I walked to the next ferry point and found a beach within cooee. Tested the water and found two things: one, bit too chilly to contemplate throwing myself in, and, two, bit too rocky to be able to launch myself in with the speed that the chilliness called for—I could barely hobble between my sitting rock and my backpack which was three steps away. Damn rocks. I thought England was older than us, why haven't they developed sand? Never mind, I had a beautiful reclining rock that allowed feet dipping while reading—until the ferry went past. I waved and lots of faces waved back at me. Did they seem to know what was going to happen? Next minute I was scrambling up my rock while anxiously trying to grab my boots and hoping like mad that Wesley would escape the wake of the boat. I'm sure those waving faces laughed. Ha! Next boat I waved at them from the top of the rock. Fool me once ...


The book is great. It starts in Keswick (I'm there), at the mountain rescue headquarters (passed it on the way up the hill from the ferry), about a person who dies on Skiddaw (aka, the larger range that incorporates High Pike and the walk I decided not to take, and here is my decision justified). I can see into the mind of the author wanting to be his protagonist though, when he is happy to have sex with a young Elizabeth Taylor look-alike, even though he is married, because he tries to 'live a life where opportunities are taken when they present themselves'. His wife won't understand though, so she needs not to know. Hmmm. I will have to watch this guy, but I love the setting.


The ferries were fabulous; quite small and they would pull into the end of tiny jetties to load and unload. The person throwing the rope onto the jetty was a magnificent woman. She reminded me of a villain from the old Batman TV show. Mainly it was the layers of Joker-like make-up and the thing she had done with her hair. It was short, but she had blow-dried the sides and applied, I would say, quite a lot of lacquer so that they stuck out in a perfect curve from her head like diaphanous wings or like the ears of some monkeys that are round and project from the exact centre of their faces. It was a strange look and I feel mean calling her a villian because she was far from villainous (unless you take the cost of the ferry into account).


I am residing for the night at the youth hostel. I like this one because it is right on the river and you don't have to put your own doona cover on. (I'm not lazy, but I think I would rather grate the cheese for tomorrows dinner (see below) than put on one doona cover.) Twenty-seven ten year-olds just arrived in the same dining area as me. Loud. Tomorrow they have a choice of jacket potato, chicken curry or macaroni cheese for dinner. I was surprised at the number of hands that went up for chicken curry, but the mac cheese was the outright winner. It seemed a tie between the sticky toffee pudding and the strawberry gateau. I put my hand up for the latter but I am not sure the chef saw me. I was impresssed that he remembered the numbers for the five options without writing them down. Maybe he just thinks in terms of 'some jacket potatoes, a quantity of chicken curry and the biggest pot full of mac cheese'.


There is part of me that would like to go to the pencil museum tomorrow. It had me stumped until the pamphlet put it into context—Derwent, water; Derwent, pencil.


Good night to the twenty-seven ten year-olds who are just about to go upstairs and brush their teeth, good night to Keswick, good night to you.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

281.6 kms: Elterwater-New Dungeon Ghyll-Stake Pass-Stonethwaite.

Back to ailments. But you'll be glad to know over-eating isn't one of them. (Yet, I am just about to order dinner.) I discovered a lump on my achilles. If you poke it, it is a bit sore. One of the poor people that I subjected it to at breakfast (don't worry, no pus or blood or anything like that—it's all sub-cutaneous) believes it is my achilles knotting up. I tend to agree. He gave me some foot exercises to do to help. Handy having a podiatrist (unqualified) at breakfast.  

My other ailment is that I think, after all my whining about the lack of sun, I have got a bit of sunstroke today. It was a long hot day with never a tree in sight. On paper it looked long but doable. By lunch I had shortened the destination point. At two thirty I started the ascent of the only 'real' hill of the day—a civilised scramble to about five-seventy meters. By five I was lying on a river bank at the bottom of the other side. By six, despite the path being relatively flat, I wished I was dead. (Accountable by both the burgeoning headache, nausea and hotness of my perceived sunstroke, and, by the habit they seem to have on the paths here of lining them with a solid layer of rock and scree, painful to walk on, liable to twist an ankle at any minute). By seven-thirty I was being swayed into paying a lot more for a night's accommodation than I really wanted to just so that I didn't have to walk any further and for a bathroom as big as some rooms I have stayed in.


On account of both of these things, and the fact that the day was foreshortened (distance, not time), I believe it is time to rethink the route. If I had made it to Keswick (pronounced Kes-ick) I was going to try for High Pike the day after. When I decided to stop in Stonethwaite instead I decided to have a short day tomorrow and just walk to Keswick and then do the long day over High Pike the day after. After all those stones and all those treeless slopes, I am thinking the short day, with a late start, is a definite, followed by taking to the road around the Pike—life is too short to keep going over things. Mind you, the scenery was amazing. Odd that they pepper it with low, extremely low, flying fighter jets. I nearly fell of the hill the first time one went over—they are so loud. I hope they can't see much from up there because another time they went over was a toilet stop. I am a little dwarfed by the walkers here. They are bouncing up and down mountains all over the place. 'Oh, I've just gone up and down X, Y and Z today, and along the top to AA, not a lot today,' they say. Good on them, but I have somewhere to be.


A very, very longed for good night to Stonethwaite, good night to you.


Monday, May 21, 2012

264.8 kms: Bowness-The Ferry-Far and Near Sawrey-Hawkshead-Drunken Duck, Barngates-Skelwith Bridge-Elterwater.

Yesterday I ate breakfast—scrambled eggs, toast, fruit salad, coffee and juice. Then I walked about a mile and had a latte. I did a little more walking and some browsing in shops and then had one of the two best meals I have had on my holiday so far—a set menu with a main of chicken on a pear, rocket and walnut salad with arancini on mash and cream dressing followed by a ginger barkin (cake thing) with raspberry ripple ice cream and rhubarb and a shortbread biscuit. I walked a quarter of a mile and caught the ferry to Ambleside. Once there I did a major walk of about one and a half miles before catching a bus back to the ferry. While I waited for the ferry I had a latte and a blueberry scone with rum butter and a pile of cream. I was in the bathroom and I noticed they had a scale. Like an idiot, full to the gills on sweetness, I got on it.  

Today, because I was depressed about not seemingly having lost any weight, I had breakfast—scrambled eggs with salmon and toast, coffee and juice. Then I walked about a mile and after dropping my bottle for the forty-eight millionth time and then dangerously inverting my backpack-laden back to retrieve it before it rolled down a hill, I bought a new bum bag with water-bottle spaces built in. Having to swap everything from old to new was more easily facilitated by a large latte. At lunch I stopped for one of three best meals I have had on my holiday so far—seafood chowder and a slice of the biggest lemon and blueberry cakes I have ever seen in my life. This cafe took cake to a different level. Most people were having some, but I was the only one having it on my own. Now I am down the road from the youth hostel in the Britannica Inn and have just eaten pheasant stuffed with venison on a haggis slice (apparently one of the highest calories per square inch of all foods), with sweet potato mash, new potatoes and vegetables. But I feel quite good about it because I didn't have the roll (carbs are bad for you).


What a difference the sun makes. It was joyous to walk today. When I could pull myself away from food I managed to catch the ferry to a place called The Ferry and walk to Near Sawrey which is a village with a house called Hilltop House which was Beatrix Potter's house. Hawkshead has some link to her too and they are cashing in on that. I met a couple, one New Zealander, on Singaporean, who are travelling all over and will later be making a documentary about The Famous Five, so keep an eye out for that. I walked in sunlight and dappled sunlight. I walked over hills and along rivers. The sheep have changed. There are millions of black babies but all the mummies are grey, brown shaggies with white heads and feet. There is either one randy black ram around or they will be bleaching through to mum's colour at a later time. I am on the Cumbria way now. I have done all of about a kilometer and a half of it so far and am loviing it. Don't know if the flat paths will last though—think I am back over mountains again tomorrow, and, thankfully, away from pubs, cafes, restaurants or any other temptations unless I make it to a town through quite a long day. Wish me well.


Good night to Elterwater, good night to you.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

248.2 kms: Kendal-Underbarrow-vicinity of Crook-The Wild Boar-Bowness on Windermere.

Strange, warm, yellow stuff came from the sky and landed on me this afternoon. It wasn't urine.  

This is what I saw today: birds like tiny bells; slow, furry bumblebees; maybe, an owl; diverting swallows; cows the colour of limestone like rocks on the side of hills; the tiniest foal; acres of bluebells and forget-me-nots; crags; a lake (I really am in the Lake District now); six black volvos; lots of other coloured volvos; four million royal-blue zippy hatchbacks, swifts, fiats, echos, that sort of thing—they must have bought that colour in bulk, maybe for the jubilee, because there are an awful lot of them; and; the most Jacobean ladies room I ever did see—wood panelled, wooden cover and seat, wallpaper where there wasn't panelling, enough wooden furniture for a whole house, pictures, a complete set of Dickens (people must be in there a while) and actual terry towelling hand towels.

I am in Windermere. I'm not a hundred percent sure. There is something unfriendly about it. It will have to pull something out of a bag to get me back (and I have a day off here). With the exception of a lovely lady in the cafe I stopped in to get my iPad out of my pack and check where I was staying, while eating fairy cakes (is there any wonder I am not losing weight at speed), I am finding it is the staff. In bigger places there is a distance, isn't there? A wall up. A rudeness. My current beef (or boar) is the place I am in now—The Angel Inn. The bar staff are rude. I am using blog to let the world, or a small portion of it, know that the Angel Inn is not somewhere I recommend (despite the nice food and nice waitresses) and not somewhere I will ever come again. I will winge no more. The Michaels at the B&B (left) have that distance too. The people I have seen holidaying here, and the cars they came in, speak wealth. Maybe it's an upstairs/downstairs thing. To start I will disappear into my tiny room and do washing (even though every time I use water it sounds like the toilet is a washing machine or a huge monster about to vomit), and then tomorrow I will try to seek out the good souls, or just sit around in coffee shops reading and potter around in shops—they literally potter here, Beatrix Potter, she is everywhere.

I think I just ate wild boar. I wonder if they rear them. I know it's a stupid thing to say, but the alternative is that someone is running around hunting them.

And I'll leave you with this: The only thing Freud rued being unable to solve in his life's work was 'what do women want'. Turns out he only needed to look at Thomas Bulfinch's Age of Chivlary or Legends of King Arthur for where Arthur has to answer the same question for a giant or risk handing over his kingdom and powers. He is told the answer by the giant's cursed sister: 'women would have their will'. Easy. Just have work out what we will.

Good night Bowness (pronounced 'bonus') on Windermere, good night to you.


Friday, May 18, 2012

231.9 kms: Sedbergh-the bluebell forest-Killington-Old Hutton-Oxenholme-Kendal.

Keith helped me make the decision in the end: the road versus the Dales Way. The road won. Except for the actual walking, I am not being a purist—about the Dales Way at least. The distance is similar, possibly a little shorter, but the road takes me places where I am more likely to find something (food, accommodation). That said, there was no food anywhere on the walking today and I am sitting in this Thai restaurant, with smells that are making me drool, unable to give them my order (may be the weird-person-on-their-own syndrome). No, there, order given. Oh my goodness, the table next door's starters just arrived—my stomach has started eating itself. But I do have a room. I tried for the Shakespeare, but ended up in the Rainbow Tavern. I'm in Kendal. It is quite large—first time since Manchester that I have seen all the banks, all the high street shops, even (gosh forbid) Subway, KFC and MacDonalds. (The toning down of rude language just sort of seems to happen here—only hooligans and thugs swear.) I arrived relatively early, but instead of looking around town I fell asleep under a super warm doona with Wesley (despite it sounding like water from everyone else's bathroom was going into mine, and despite the bed having a distinctly sunken feel and the sound of plastic under the sheets). It's friday night. The excessively styled and made-up are out and about. Snog, marry, avoid. I haven't been able to take a photo yet. Personally, I am going to bed again—no big night out on Kendal town for me. Sounds like I will hear it all through my window though.

Aside: We're not so different are we? Just seen girls running about barefoot with ridiculously high heels in their hands.

I like the English sun. It doesn't have the bite we have at home. I know my skin cells are still in trauma but it feels like a fall from a tricycle kind of trauma rather than a head-on car crash kind. I feel like I can get a tan. And even though I have only seen the sun about three times in the last, nearly, three weeks (wow!), I am actually getting one—on my hands. They are the only bit of exposed of skin I have had in all that time. Good look. Also on the skin front, Sandy, Keith's partner, has given me her bottle of Avon Bog Myrtle moisturiser—and no, it isn't called that, no-one would by it. It's called So Soft or something similar. I hope I never have to test it out, but if I do: take that midges! Chances are they may come nowhere near me anyway because although I have gained that toiletry item, I have managed to leave behind my shampoo at one B&B and my soap and soap box at another—by the time I get to Scotland I will be too smelly for midges.

Good night to Kendal (party-town), good night to you.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

211.7 kms: (Settle)-Dent Station, Cowgill-Dent-Brackensgill Bridge-Sedbergh.

There will be people who object to what I am about to say. They will say: not all together though. But today, clocking the two hundred k's, means that the whole LeJog has, so far, been a thousand k's. Whew!  

It was an okay day. Mostly flat with a hill at the end; mostly not muddy with a muddy hill at the end. I'm in Sedbergh—the book town of England. What about Hay, I asked. Hay is the book town of Wales. Oops. Just have Wigtown to go and I will have done all three apparently, but my host (Keith, another ex-policeman who ends every sentence to me with 'girl'—thanks) advised that Wigtown is in the middle of nowhere. I seem now to be in a cross-over region between the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria, but the villages look quite different (left). They are tangles of cobbled streets with houses poking up all over the place—the Eton Mess of villages but quite gorgeous. There seem to be a lot more walkers on this route—think I saw as many today as I did for the whole time on the Pennine—but they are, oddly, not as friendly? There is one particular group of, mostly, males who walk with nothing and meet up with a blue bus every few miles for snacks or something, but they can't look you in the eye. Maybe they are the murderers that Laura was talking about—a group of ex-cons being rehabilitated with a Dale walk. Mmmm.

The weekend is coming up so I have committed to accommodation. I was hoping to get to Windermere, and so is everyone else, so I have destroyed spontaneity for the moment by making a booking. I am going to have a day off—Sunday again. But it does mean I have twenty-five miles (forty kilometers) to do in the next two days—doddle! At least there don't appear to be any rock faces to scramble up, and hopefully no snow storms—although those things just seem to give me wings anyway so maybe I need them.

I forgot to tell you yesterday that when I got to the sign post with the Pennine pointing one way and the Dales Way the other, there was a little flapping note with my name on it. Dave and Jacqui had left it for me, encouraging me to keep going (how did they know—maybe they were struggling in that cold wind too). Today I heard someone saying that when the wind blows from the north-west like it did yesterday it drops the temperature by five or six degrees. No wonder I was cold, this spring weather doesn't have five or six degrees in it. Today was rainer and wetter but nowhere near as cold because there was hardly any of that wind. That is all I want for tomorrow. It is a head wind too if it happens. Anyway, back to Dave and Jacqui. I liked them a lot; they were so sweet. And Jacqui is, I have nominated, the walker's 'sacrifice'. Someone, I reason, has to be the one that falls on their face, unable to get up again because of their turtle-like pack; someone has to think no, damn it, I am not going round any more mud, and then get stuck in it up to their knee and have to dig their own foot out. She isn't accident prone, she is just taking the fall for walkers everywhere and should be recognised as a hero. I recognise you Jacqui!

Enough from me. I'm in my bed (right) in my rocky-floored room with it's roof beam held up by what looks like a tree (on the second floor), its chandelier lights and its real leaf-skeleton border and its painted bather in the bathroom who scared the pants off of me, if I had had any on, when I suddenly saw him from the shower. And it is so quite. I love the country.

Good night to Sedbergh, good night to you.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

195.9 kms: Horton in Ribblesdale-Birkwith Moor-Cam End-Ribblehead-(Settle)

There have been no banks, no post offices, very little internet. You would think I was in the middle of nowhere. In Malham I had tried to get cash-back (cash out) at the pub but the only pub that did it had managed to break their eftpos machine. When I finally sat down last night and drank deep of the amber draught, felt the warmth of the fire and thought about what I was going to do tomorrow, I decided that I may have to stay two nights at the Crown, and make my way by public transport to a town big enough to have a bank—the closest being Settle. Even though the Travelex cash passports now have the chips on them, the atms in pubs and supermarkets still don't recognise it as a card. As I was mulling this over the publican did herself out of an extra night by telling me she could do cash-back. This morning, when the alarm went off, I wished she hadn't. I wanted to go down and have breakfast, get back into bed for a couple of hours and then head off to Settle to look for a bank and a post office. Instead I got back to my late-leaving ways and headed out of the hotel at tennish. I wandered in the other direction from the path to the famous Pen-y-Ghent cafe and bought a new hat (one of those tube things that you can make into a hat, a brooch, or a pterodactyl) and some pure wool mittens (he sold me on those because he had worn them in the arctic). By the time I actually got on the path again it was nearly eleven. 

Plan today: head along the Pennine to Cam End and then turn east on the Dales Way toward the Lake District. The sun had come out this morning but with no net of the last few days I had no idea of temperature. I went for no leggings and no rain gear. I think I have residual coldness from yesterday though and was cold all day long—the cold that saps the desire from your body. It was a chore to put one foot in front of another. The Dales Way had some legging in it before it reached anywhere nearly civilised. I had just stopped for one of my breaks and dug out thermals and my merino jacket and rain coat again when a farmer stopped by on his quad bike. He told me two things: there is a pub that does accommodation a lot closer than the one I intended to try for, but in the other direction, and, tonight's overnight temperature was due to be minus one. My being-inside paranoia kicked in and I went towards the closer pub. It was near a railway station, and, worse case scenario, if there was nothing there I decided that I would cash in some of those extra Formby miles and catch the train to Dent where there was possibly a place to stay.


I had coffee when I got to Ribblehead. It is one pub, a viaduct and a railway station, that is all. Oh, and one of the three peaks that everyone around here seems to be running up all over the place. And it was full. Full of people and accommodation full. Plan B. Checked the timetable, the train didn't leave for Dent for another two and a half hours. Plan C presented itself. I would go to Settle. That way there would be plenty of accommodation options and I could get warm and go to the bank. Maybe even the post office—I have three maps to post home already.

Loooking out my window at the Royal Oak

So today I walked about twelve kilometers north and ended up about fifeteen kilometers south of where I started. I have a warm (double, as a special treat) room at the Royal Oak (, the girl next to me when I was asking about a room bought me a drink, Trevor, the publican made me dinner and everyone was sweet and chatty (although the lady who bought me a drink did keep going back to saying how people seem friendly but could be murderers a little more often than made me feel secure). The view out my window is on the right—mmy feet won't allow me to go out to take a photo. Tomorrow I will sleep in and then catch the train to Dent. Call me a cheater. I was too cold to care and I am now too content to.


P.S: With so many sheep around here, guess what I saw today—a lambulance. Too cute! Maybe not for the lamb? I wonder if sheep sometimes look up and say 'Oh, how cute, it's an 'ambulance—because those weird two legged things "ambulate"'.


Good night to Settle, good night to you.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

182.8 kms: Malham-Malham Cove-Malham Tarn-Fountains Fell-Pen-y-Ghent-Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

Oh. My. Gawd. I couldn't write this yesterday. I walked into The Crown Hotel in Horton-in-Ribblesdale at a little after ten p.m. hoping with all my body and soul that they had a room (they did, will love them forever as a result), dumped bag, ripped off rain coat and went straight back down for what ended up being a pint (kindly bought for me by Dave and Jacqui, two lovely Bradfordians that are doing the whole Pennine Way (passionately) and have been coincident with my stopping places for the last couple of nights). A quick cheese and pickle sandwich and shower were all else I could manage before another night of sleeping on what I think is a rocky path that I keep sliding off of, but which is in fact a very comfy bed. What was the reason for this late (dark) arrival at a place of rest? Disaster, of course.

I told you it was due to be a big day. I started early-ish (nine-thirty). Climbed the cove (three hundred odd stairs), climbed Fountains Fell and crossed the saddle to the start of the Pen-y-Ghent climb. I sat on a stile at the bottom and looked at it. It is a short climb, but straight up. I had the option of going around and getting to Horton that way. I was trying to make up my mind. I fell into the old mountain trap—'because it's there'. I decided to go up. It was nearly six o'clock. The sun came out. Seemed okay to start; steep, but stone steps. Stayed away from the edges because it was straight down to sheep with left legs at least ten inches shorter than their right. Then it got to a wall of rocks that you had to scramble up. I hadn't put away my poles so I was throwing them ahead of me and scrambling up after them, trying very hard to not look down because that way disaster lay. I was so scared. I was sure my pack would pull me off the rocks and that I would get to a point where I couldn't pull myself up another rock. But once I had started the only option was up because to go down would kill me in a heartbeat. There were two sections like this; the rest was steps. In the step sections I would keep sitting down on a rock, far, far (one foot, okay, maybe three) away from the edge of the path so that I could get my heart down to at least only two hundred beats a minute. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. It was scarier than the time I had to go out on the horseshoe over the Grand Canyon on my hands and knees. I cannot express the relief when I stood up straight and walked away from the edge onto the plateau at the top. It was air. It was beauty. I was quite proud (of the achievement, not the fear).

But the planet wasn't finished with me. I have been taking a panorama shot every day. Today I had taken a couple seeing as I had been up high so often. I stood in a little alcove that was built as a commemorative for something-or-other at the top of Pen-y-Ghent, where the marker for the peak is, and took a great photo of the surrounding countryside. It was a deliciously turbulent sky. I had already had some hail during the day—two of three showers worth—and I could see I would possibly get some more on the descent with that cloud coming over. I decided to head off to try to get to Horton. I hadn't got twenty metres from the top when the storm started. I just managed to catch my pack cover as the wind ripped it off. I figured I would go back and sit in the shelter of the alcove until the shower passed—they tend to move quite quickly. I was up there waiting for over an hour while it snowed all around me. For the most part I was sheltered by the wall. I had to do little crouched down dances to try and stop freezing. Smart move not bringing a hat and gloves. Luckily I had been chilly earlier and had put on my hooded merino jacket under my rain coat. I had merino long johns and top, denim shorts, a cotton top, a merino jacket (sweatshirt really) and a rain coat. I was just about to set up my bivvy bag and try to get warm—it was now eight p.m—but I took a peak over the wall and even though snow was still coming horizontally towards me, I could now see the valley behind it again (actually a very beautiful sight with the setting sun behind it). I decided to make a bolt for it. I needed to make an approximately six kilometer dash down into Horton before the sun set in, I guessed, about an hour, hour and a half. All the fear I normally have of going down hill (slipping, dodgy knee) disappeared and I marched down that mountain. Still took me two hours but I only did the last little bit in actual darkness. Amazing what a motivator wanting to get out of the cold can be. I only wish I had been less focused, to a very small degree, and taken a photo of Pen-y-Ghent all covered in snow. I just wouldn't have thought. This is apparently the coldest May on record for the UK. I just checked the forecast for Windermere which is where I am going to next—they're expecting a top of five on Saturday! Remind me, when I say I am coming back to finish this thing (fingers crossed not, but people keep telling me there is no way I will get there by end of June, and that the people doing LeJog or JogLe in a straight line, instead of bouncing all over the countryside, usually take three months of walking to complete it) that May is not a good idea!

If I could get either get a tornado or some warm weather then I will have experienced everything. My luck, it'll be the tornado.

Good night to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, good night to you.


Monday, May 14, 2012

159.9 kms: Earby-Thornton-in-Craven-East Marton-Gargrave-Airton-Hanlith-Malham.

Wow! The shower I just had at the hostel in Malham went straight past therapeutic massage to acupuncture. I think I have single handedly emptied the Tarn. 

I missed a day walking. I woke up Sunday morning with a headache that had me hugging porcelain in the world's teeniest toilet. Betty, the volunteer warden at the YHA in Earby sent me back to bed (she didn't worry about the fact that they are supposed to lock you out between ten and five). I slept until two and then went into the town to do laundry and catch up of the Vogue fashions for March 2011. Betty was gorgeous. I keep meeting these fabulous women on this trip. They end up making me late because I enjoy sitting and chatting with them. People who know me well know this is odd behaviour—I am usually too shy and socially disabled to speak to people. Betty made me dinner and a home-made version of Eton Mess (fruits, usually red, cream and crushed up meringue all mixed up together). I hadn't heard of it before, but Vic, another hosteller at Earby, told me that it had featured on a show on TV and is now dessert-flavour-of-the-month. Apparently when Brits watch Delia cook, ingredients sell out of supermarkets. She made a cranberry jelly and in the days after supermarkets sold out of cranberry juice. Don't think Masterchef has that much pull in Oz, or Ready, Steady, Cook!

Despite my commitment the other day to leave early I still didn't manage to be on the road before ten. Betty came with me for the walk back to Thornton. She jumped on the bus back to Earby after hugs and promises that she would email me her address so I can send her one of my knitted items for all her sweetness over the last couple of days, and I carried on from there. It was a really nice day (read: flat, or flatter). Mostly wandering through fields of sheep and heather. I had all the weathers (rain, hail, sun, hot (in a twelve degrees kind of a way), windy). And I bumped into new groups of Pennine walkers. Pennine walkers are all pumped up about doing 'the whole thing' and nothing deflates them more than saying 'Oh no, I'm just doing a bit, I am actually going to John O'Groats'. 'Not another one' they say. But I am always able to make them feel better by telling them I have done mine in sections. One of the hostelliers, when I said I had done over nine-hundred kilometres now, was quick to tell me, 'not all together though' (obviously not the great achievement I was thinking it was). A Scottish man, when I told him I was going to John O'Groats, responded with 'boooorrring'. Okay? Wow! He must be going to Durban or something (he was headed down-hill, ie. south) for this little spree of mine to be so mundane. Then he realised I meant I was actually walking there rather than choosing that as the destination I most wanted to visit in Scotland (it is obviously not that exciting). Then he just shook my hand. There is a lot of hand shaking in this country. I was shaking two people's hands simultaneously earlier tonight! Quite bizarre. But so friendly. And boy do the northerners love the north! Everyone has at least a hundred and three suggestions of things I could see if I just took a little diversion off the track. I would never leave Yorkshire.

Scared about tomorrow. There is a fell and a mountain involved. Scrambling up apparently. A long day too, with no conveniences. I have ordered my packed lunch from reception. We'll see how we go. We'll see how much of a motivator not having to camp will be. Looked at the forecast. High of eight. Moderate chance of a small bit of rain. Ah, English spring. Better get to bed so I can get up early (haven't met any women to keep me talking all morning yet—finger's crossed, for this day at least).

Good night to Malham, good night to you.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

140.8 kms: Cowling-Lothersdale-Thornton-in-Craven-(Earby).

Maybe I need to be honest with myself and realise that I am finding it hard to do distance on this path. I had this strange feeling when I was on Top Withens, the wind in my rain jacket, the rain in my ears, that my pack was light and the going was easy. I think now that I may have been having a low-blood-sugar moment. It weighs a ton; it takes me hours to go a couple of kilometres. I have already left my shampoo somewhere, accidentally, what else can I get rid of? Wesley? The iPad? Three pairs of socks? Beside the iPad, none of those will make much weight difference and losing the iPad will send me round the bend because I need a good read at the end of the day—it makes me happy. Starting earlier will make a bit of difference and I am going to try for more breaks. Sounds counter-intuitive but I think maybe I am pushing too hard and not stopping and so I get to the point where I can't go one step further. That is how I was when I got to Thornton-in-Craven. I had planned to go a few more kilometres but not if I arrived there too late. I got there at four. The rest would have taken another three hours in my estimation. If I could have had a nice cup of tea and some cake I possibly could have done it, but there was nothing there—including any accommodation. I walked up and down town looking—literally, it was built on a hill. I even made a family miss their bus when I asked them. (Bus drivers here are mean. If they see someone at the bus stop, it doesn't mean they will stop, you have to wave them down. The family didn't see the bus approaching because they were talking to me. And they don't run that frequently—I felt mortifyedly bad.) In the end I caught the bus too (that is how I know they run so infrequently). There is a YHA in Earby (its back yard is pictured below), a couple if kilometres away, but I just couldn't walk it. 

I feel like I am fighting fate. What does fate want me to do exactly? Not worry? Maybe. I wanted to make sure, before I got on the bus, that there would be a bed. I unpacked the iPad, looked up the phone number on a PDF of Pennine Way accommodation that I downloaded ages ago (no wifi in the Pennines except in places where I least expect it and so aren't prepared for it) and tried to call them. Lucky I had that calling card/piece of paper eh? Well no, when you call the access number it gives a message in Portuguese which seems to be saying it is a wrong number. What??? There is ten pounds on that card, and I still have to call about that reference! Then tried to put coins in. Don't take money in public phones anymore. I got desperate and called on my mobile. That got a recorded message that told you to check and book online or to call central reservations. Okay, forced spontaneity again—I got on the bus. Turned out there was a bed in a room with only one person. Seems okay and in regards to being a roof over my head it is brilliant. Maybe I need to have a night free camping so that I can get over being so obsessed with not doing it. I am just concerned that the amount of clothing I will have to put on to guard against the cold will mean I am not able to physically get inside my sleeping bag. This is all going to be put to the test in a couple of days anyway because I have a twenty-two kilometre day coming up, with a mountain ascent (is six-fifty, seven hundred meters actually a mountain?) It is one of the Yorkshire Dales Three Peaks though, so I guess the locals think so. As I can't do sixteen or eighteen kilometre days at the moment that are only going over hills, I think I will be sleeping somewhere along that twenty-two k's. Although the actual mountain bit only appears to take about three kilometres on the map—a mad ascent with a semi-mad descent—it'll probably take me three hours to do it. Thirty minutes up, two and a half hours down is my guess—down is not my strong point.


Just had the biggest plate of fish and chips at the local pub (see the picture on right). It came with peas and a salad that had fruit in it. (When I got back to the hostel the manager asked if I had had the strange salad with blackberries in it. It is not so strange I think, but in the context of this otherwise very traditional, family-owned, lout-frequented pub, it may be a little out of the ordinary.) It is getting harder and harder to eavesdrop because it is getting harder and harder to understand what people are actually saying, but I think the huge group that arrived while I was having my dinner were the local cricket club, and I think they were in for a night of sorrow drowning because they had been bowled all-out for twenty-five runs! Not so cheery.


Sorry if it sounds like I am always moaning. It is just that my feet are doing most of the talking at the moment. At breakfast a lady asked me if it was true that long-distance walkers become obsessed with their feet. Yes, it is. I am my feet at the moment, nothing else.


Good night to Earby, good night to you.



Friday, May 11, 2012

128.1 kms: Ponden-Ickornshaw Moor-Cowling.

What can I say? Yep, pathetic. I'm calling it a half-day Bank Holiday to make sure I sound English. Just like I dropped the 's' in Lake District on Dave's recommendation that I would then sound like a local. I started late because of my lovely tea. The weather from yesterday had gone north, got a bit colder, turned around and come back down—making it both freezing, a head-wind and in my face. I had seen a couple of long-distance persons going in the other direction and both had stayed in Cowling and so, especially after another person told me the weather was supposed to get really bad in the afternoon (it's already hailed on me, what could be worse than that, snow?), I decided the half-day was definitely on. Shame was that it took me until three to get there anyway. I've been a bunny in a burrow all afternoon and have nothing to report. I did manage, after a long and convoluted process where they tried to get me to get a local sim instead because it was easier (for them) to get a phone card (or slip of paper with a code). Now just need a public phone and a working day. After yesterday's long essay, you'll be happy to know I am signing off here— 

Good night to Cowling, good night to you.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

117.8 kms: Hebden Bridge-Heptonstall-Pack Horse, Black Dean-Top Withins-Ponden

The lemon tart wasn't fantastic. What was fantastic was that when I went into town to find a bank after dinner, rain streaming down, black as night (because it was, and night in a village where light pollution isn't such an issue), there, on the side of the main road, were two snow white geese, just hanging out on a corner, like you do. Very surreal.

In the morning I asked Dave for the best way back to the route, Quickest or prettiest he asked. Whichever means I don't have to go back down that hill, I replied. Brrt! Wrong answer. Not an option. A couple of suggestions later he settled on telling me the way to Heptonstall and its famous landmark—Sylvia Plath's gravesite. All that was required was to pop back down into town, turn onto the bridge that the town is named for and straight up the hill on the other side. No problem, except that this was all in the rain, on cobble stones and at a seventy degree angle. I thought I was going to die by falling backwards onto my pack and sliding all the way back down the hill. These visions of dying this way never seem to come to fruition. Even though I had hardly gone anywhere, the steepness of the climb and the ickyness of the rain sent me into the teahouse in Heptonstall for a very nice tea and well deserved (I thought) cake. I asked the lady in the shop if Ted Hughes lived around there (why was Sylvia buried there I wondered). She told me: 'Oh yeah, his family live next door to me'. Like you do. Live next door to a Poet Laureate's family. Sylvia's grave had a huge pot full of pens on it. Maybe they don't have word processors in heaven.

Easiest, relatively, was to follow the cycle route to the Pack Horse Inn and jump back on the trail there. It meant walking along the Hardcastle Crags—an incredibly steep ravine. It is a National Trust area and amazingly beautiful. It is a little disconcerting to stand at points along the road, where there is no fence or rails and look straight down into the abyss. Makes it difficult to jump out of the way of oncoming traffic.

The Pennine has become more what I expected it to be now. It is mud making its way up and down hills in their steepest parts. I thought I could psychologically handle it better if I booked in somewhere to stay at the end of the day. But the phone at the Pack Horse was out-of-order and so spontaneity is once again forced upon me. Three or four hours of sleety rain, ankle deep mud, slippery flagstones and following what is not a track but rather a river, and I was in Ponden and knocking on the door of the Ponden Guest House. It had been a literary day. I didn't realise that I am smack-bang in Bronte country (can't hope to do the accented 'e' on this thing I am afraid). Near Ponden is Haworth which is where the Bronte's dad preached. On Top Withins, where I stopped for a moment of wind-free and mostly rain-free sitting without a pack on, is the house that is purportedly in the location that Charlotte based Wuthering Heights on (the house, not the book, the house in the book). Opposite Ponden Guest House, Ponden Hall is allegedly Thrushcross Grange. Time for me to be reading Wuthering Bites I think.

Big, bold statement alert: Ponden Guest House may well be the best B&B I have stayed in for this whole trip. I mean from Land's End to here, not just this year. Bold, eh? Big, yep? Its hard to put a finger on exactly what makes it so beside just plain 'vibe'. It feels fantastic, and all the credit lies with Brenda. I got to speak to a couple of other hikers, Dale, and Phil and Jill, while we had dinner there, and we sat 'til late having a yak and a laugh, but it was when it was just Brenda that it was most magical. She sort of disappeared when everyone was there but we had a nice cup of tea when I arrived and, even nicer, another the following morning in her kitchen. There was just something 'right' about being in that beautiful space. I can't explain it better—that will have to suffice.

Annoying: someone keeps calling my phone at five and six in the morning—four times. I am not answering it due to not knowing the number and not being willing to pay for the international roaming charges on an unknown call. So I texted them—it is a mobile after all. It is someone asking for a reference for a friend—one I agreed to ages ago, implying, I think that the friend applied ages ago. Now, millions of years down the track, they are super-eager to get hold of me (its a personal reference only??). It'll just be thirty or forty minutes they say. That will cost at least a thousand dollars by my esttimate. I asked them to give me their availability and I would, when I could, get a phone card and call them from a pay phone. They came back with an availability of nine-thirty am tomorrow. Are they only available for that one minute in a whole day. And I know it is the UK, but do they know that there are places that don't have a shop, that don't have a public phone; places that are in the middle of nowhere, and I am walking. I explained this nicely several times (fifty cents for each text I sent and each text I got, at one a.m!) In the end I just had to say—I will call you when I can, full stop. My poll question to you is: Is that mean? Should I take a forty minute call on international roaming because I said I would give the reference. Mind you, I got no fifty-cent return text from my last text. I hope, to all that is spiritual or fatalistic, that this doesn't look bad for my friend.

Good night to Ponden, good night to you.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

101.6 kms: Cowberry Hill-The White House-Warland Reservoir-Stoodley Pike Monument-Hebden Bridge

Hair-pin bends. Huff! Why bother when you can just go straight up? None of that faffing around for me. Well, I didn't have a choice once I made a decision at the cross roads, so I am going to say that aren't I? I was up at that little white pub in yesterday's picture in thirty minutes or less. It was a slog, but it felt good. If I had taken the hair-pinny bends of the road the delay may have meant I would have got there when the pub was actually open. As it was I had to head off without the celebratory drink—I am on the Pennine Way. 

The first section was heavenly. It was flat (quel surprise! I was not expecting that) and went along beside the reservoirs. I want my water to come from these black tarn-like lakes surrounded by dry stone walls and populated by funny, loud, sore-tooth geese. I am not sure if they are Siberian's maybe. They have long black necks that they bop about, and white cheeks and chins that make them look like they have a hanky tied over a sore tooth. And they are certainly wingeing about it. They are great to watch land on the water, but the noise they make would definitely mean they wouldn't be allowed in Sydney after ten thirty pm. (Oh my goodness, how did this pub get hold of my iPod—oh my goodness, I have a really cool iPod (no sane person will agree I know.))


As I reached the top though, I had to kit up for rain, and it stayed wet. I was able to test my boots. They stayed dry after all the rain and several up-to-the-ankle dunkings in mud. I was impressed. They are mesh—and I am mesh-paranoid seeing as I usually end up putting holes in the mesh of my sneakers, but that Gore Tex barrier layer did an awesome job. My rainbow carillion knitted hat (one of the knitting projects from this years project—, for those who haven't been subjected to endless hours of knitting conversation) is an absolute disaster though. It has, firstly, stretched to an enormous size in the two-and-a-half times that I have worn it. And then it has this seed stitch edge and top which allows wind in like a louvre window. And whose bright idea was it to forfeit gloves! Holding aluminium walking poles on a five degree (celsius) mountain top in the rain is not something that makes hands burn with cold. I vowed to buy a new hat and some gloves when I got to town but happened in too late. Oh well, louvre hat and frost-bite hands it will be.


The hardest hill of the day (beside any downhill in rain; frankly I'm surprised I didn't get to test my shorts for mud resistance in the rear-end vicinity) was the one up to the hostel. I prayed half way up the hill (that they would have a room) and lamented the other half (that I hadn't called before I climbed), but it was all moot because I am the only one in the place tonight. That is a hostel I can handle. I am even slightly wishing that it wasn't empty and I had been forced to go to one of the up-stairs bunks because they are completely cool loft bunks. I did climb up and swap over for a more attractive looking pillow though and it was a hard climb. Dave and Em of the Hebden Bridge Hostel (or Mama Weirdigans, which appears to be Em's real surname) are quite passionate about Hebden Bridge. I haven't been able to really explore it but it is apparently quite a 'bohemian' town. In the face of true Bohemia I was too embarrassed to explain my 'bohemian' disguise. I feel quite un-cool compared. If you are in the area though I would recommend the Hostel without a doubt. It is a lovely building, the owners are very friendly, the price is great, and the cat is a sweety—a silly kitten at twelve. years of age.


I didn't eat all my dinner (except for the mushy peas) so that I could have dessert—I'm tossing up between the caramelised lemon tart with strawberry daiquiri or the blueberry brulee with ginger shortbread biscuits. The waiter has recommended the first. I have moved closer to the internet to have said dessert but still can't get it to connect so you'll probably see this after the time. Never mind. Dessert is here!


Good night to Hebden Bridge, good night to you.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

86.2 kms: Stake Hill-Gravel Hole-Newhey-Littleborough-Cowberry Hill

When I said I was going to do fewer kilometres, I didn't realise I was going to become a room-loving slacker. But, and you know I have to make excuses, some of my old friends are back—mud, boggy pathways, hills, horseflies, and, don't forget, stiles. Not to mention, of course, the inevitable faffing that comes with trying to work out where the path is in the first place. Given all that, and one more thing, a bag full of wet clothing (thought the heater would stay on all night last night so I washed up big!), fourteen kilometres is actually not too bad. I also got to this point in the climb up the Blackstone Edge (the rather nasty hill that takes me to my starting point on the Pennine Way, The White House (it is the pub under the arrow for 'tomorrow' on the picture, very little on that picture, there is one there I promise, and it is white)) and decided that a sensible climber wouldn't go up on the moor at nearly four in the afternoon when it was still some distance to not-known-if-available accommodation, especially when that sensible climber was unwilling to spend the night under canvas. Mmm, sensible excuse-maker, sounds like to me.  

Am I gettting old? Be honest with me. I am having a little trouble convincing myself that this isn't madness with a backpack on. Remind me again that it takes about a week of doing this before it starts to become more fun and less 'what was I doing this for again?' The good thing about tomorrow is that I will get to see like-minded madmen (and their dogs) in the midday sun. My little Lollii apparently has a limp. Too much frisbee perhaps. But John, the farmer at Three Gates was telling me this morning that his bull also has a limp. And he was off to try and get his bull to let him have a look at it. B——, I think that would be a bit harder than even your task was. He also filled me with the reassuring information that it is lucky I didn't bring Lollii with me because people have been killed by cows who thought the dogs were after their calves and have mown over owners on the way to 'get' the dog. Just when I was getting confident about being in the same field as cows!

Not much happened today so I am going to leave you with a couple of the places I saw on the map. The names in this sentence are real, no animals were hurt in the production of this sentence, and it is brought to you by Canal Films and the British Broadcasting Corporation: Dick Slack (no, really, look on the map if you don't believe me), Turton Bottoms, Deeply Vale, Fold-Head, Southward Bottom (that is what I have, being old and all), Cock Leach (ow, even though it is a different spelling; that's probably a place where randy Englishmen went for a 'cure' in the eighteenth century), and one of my favourites, because who doesn't like a mix of Bond and countryside—Roger Moor.

Black Volvos: 2. Hot Pink Fiats: 1.

Good night to Cowberry Hill, good night to you.


72.2 kms: Manchester-Failsworth-Royton-Stake Hill

It isn't the same at home, the local pub. Is it? Am I just in too 'trendy' or busy a suburb? Are there suburbs where you would have the experience I had this afternoon? I popped into the pub at the start of the town of Royton. It snuggles under the motorway and there is little else nearby, but once I negotiated my backpack through the tiny two-door entrance I was face to face with a large bunch of drinkers all staring at the door. Disconcerting. They often seem weary of you and appear to be wondering what the hell you are actually doing there, so I inevitably ask the stupid question of whether, despite there being ten people at the bar, they are open. 'Not for food'. 'A drink?' 'Mmm.' Once some cash has been handed over the bar, (today after the publican asked me if I understood the money here, and I responded, yes, but not the accents, how much did you say?), they relax a little and ask where I am headed. I wanted to be headed into accommodation so I asked if there was anywhere around to stay. I love it. The ten people in the bar start brain storming (or as a I read somewhere recently, this is now more politically correctly termed 'thought showers'). They wanted to firstly send me up the hill I had just come down to a Travelodge. 'Oh, but that would be seventy-nine dollars on a monday.' Then there turned out to be nothing for miles in any given direction. There were the 'no, we can't send her there, it's full of brothels'. Really? I have never seen a brothel in all my travels on this route, but I guess they would have to be somewhere, and here is obviosly close to that where. 'What about John Lees' farm?' 'Ooh, yeah, they do a great breakfast there I hear.' 'Oi, Bill, have you got John's phone number?' One man called, another looked at my map to make sure I was where I was. One drew me up another map to get to the farm. Another told me about their trip to Melbourne, to the 'G for the cricket. They were all in consensus about how many people the "G holds. Hundred and ten thousand they believed. One of the ladies told me about her house in Spain and how it's okay for the men down there to order a sherry at the bar. Would never happen here unless you were ordering it for your great aunt. It's beer or nothing. The hand-drawn map was fabulous and I am now in a room at the Three Gates Farm ( It is unfortunately too far for me to walk anywhere for dinner, but I am looking forward to that great breakfast.

I am out of cities now. I can't say I was that enamoured with Manchester. It did have lots of funky vintage and other wacky shops but I was getting rid of things not buying them. With the sole exception of the new hiking boots. I am a little nervous that I over-compensated for the too-tight boots with too-loose but they are heavenly, and now it is just the dodgy knee and the doidgy achilles that are holding me back. And they're not actually. I didn't think that I could buy an uglier pair than I alreadyu had, but if you set your mind to something, you can achieve. The salesman tried to reason with me by saying they woulld soon be covered in mud (they look like mission-brown mud already) and thaaat if I am looking at my shoes then I am not appreciating the countryside adequately. Typical boy! It's not about my looking at them and thinking they are ugly—it is about other people looking at them and thinking theey are ugly. They are ugly. I just had another look and confirmed. But, I can start to touch my toenails without leaping three feet into the air, and that is worth ugly.

Tomorrow, with any luck, I will actually be on the Pennine Way. Eek. Here come the hills. I am quite excited. I do hope it starts to get a little warmer though. I am looking out my window and it is misting up. It is beautiful though, and this does keep the bugs away, so maybe I will be careful of what I wish for.

I'm inside and rain is falling on the roof. This is a good thing.

Good night to Stake Hill, good night to you.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

56.8 kms: Warrington-Lymm Village-Heatley-Oldfield Brow-Brooklands-Manchester

What I love about hostels, number one: Arriving at sixish in the evening and not being able to arrange your bed or bags because someone is sleeping. That person, I can one-hundred-percent-guarantee you, will be arranging their bags and bed when I am sleeping. I will told-you-so about this later. 

I worked out another reason that I may be having sore feet, knees etc. I am up to fifty-six k's. The first trip I didn't reach that until day six, the second, day four. I'm doing my 'stride' k's not my 'getting into the stride' k's. So with new shoes and a few fewer k's I should be able to sort this out. I have the day off tomorrow. My feet are yelping for joy. I haven't told them they actually have to go looking for new shoes. Luckily the hostel staff have shown me the closest shopping centre on the map. Fingers crossed there will be something there. Anyone want a pair of as-new North Face hiking boots, slightly smaller than an aussie seven, they'll be at an op-shop in Manchester soon. Along with a pair of denim cut-offs that I refuse to carry around any more. Liking doesn't justify the weight, and three pairs are too many. Popped into while I was in Liverpool and bought a khaki pair that fit better, and a pair of linen trousers—ten pounds! I succame(sic) to long trousers because the man at the camping store told me loose, long clothing is the only defence against the horse fly. Unfortunately too late, he also told me that an Avon product that contains bog myrtle (sounds yummy) is great for deterring midges. I would have ordered some if I had known.

Yay: spotted an old person. Thought I was the oldest. The man spruiking the pub crawl didn't even bother stopping by me. Just as well—I would have had to let him down.

Walked mostly on paths today, and along canals. Picturesque. I even took one. Had the most bizarre lunch in a toffee Italian restaurant in the middle of no-where. I had gone past other pubs because I thought it was too early. This little hamlet was supposed to have a pub but they only had this place. The maitre-d's face fell when I came in. I think he nearly cried when I dumped my bag on the floor. Everyone spoke in Italian. It was a wine glasses, leather chairs, 'pepper?', 'parmesan?' kind of place. But pasta is good walking food. Equally bizarre was my afternoon stop in a traditional English pub run by a Vietnamese couple. In a way I didn't realise that the majority of England I have seen so far is so Anglo! I wonder what their lives are like. I have been told a number of times how patrons have to train their publicans to fit into the community. This can't be an easy train, or an easy learn. I don't want to say these three words in the same sentence. Brits. Racist. Sexist. I will add two more to balance things out. Can't talk. Generalisation. Sorry, that was three.

Girls in my room are tarting up for a night out, or still trying to sleep. I think we are in a club zone. It is going to be a musical night. Never mind, I slept yesterday. And speaking of which, I wish my imagination was as good awake as it is asleep. I had this amazing dream where Keith Urban was in love with me—but don't worry, we both knew it wouldn't work as I have my favourite boy and Keith has Nicole. The amazing part was the love songs he had written for me. I was reading them in my dream and they seemed to be beautiful. I could never have written them awake. Possibly they were gibberish, but it didn't seem like it. There was also this weird bit where I was wearing a nicotine patch to help me get over my nerves. Odd. Oh, sorry. It is so boring too hear people's dreams. Instead, here are a couple of interesting facts from the wall in the hostel:

Manchester is where the atom was first split. Maybe that is the real reason they had to rebuild the city centre (and theyy just blame it on the IRA).

Manchester is where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce—probably at the pub.

For V—5. For B—one set of feathers lost; one bead lost, retrieved and reattached; one set of feathers very bedraggled.

Good night to Manchester, good night to you.

Friday, May 4, 2012

37.7 kms: Hale-Widnes-Fiddler's Ferry-Warrington

Brits walk backwards, or round the wrong way. Something. They're always on the same side of the path as me, regardless of which side I am on. I have tried to find a pattern. It doesn't seem, as our walking is, to be based on the walk-on-the-side-you-drive-on theory. I'm sticking now to the walk-where-the -path-is-most-even theory and smiling broadly when I bump into people or have to be told to move for cyclists. Bells people! They are actually less nerve wracking than sneaking up behind you and saying 'on your left' at the last minute. In a way I wish that I had a more reliable method of working out my mileage than a piece of string, with kilometres marked on it, manoeuvred around the map. All the crossing back and forth out of the way of nonsensical walkers and jumping to the right out of the way of cyclists is surely making my walk much longer than string allows. 

Playgrounds here rock! There is no way in a million years they would build one like that at home. They are much more Commando obstacle course than the limited-leverage see-saw and swing-guarded everything else we have. After morning tea in a cafe at a science museum in Widnes (it was the only place with food, if you can call a cherry bakewell muffin 'food') which had a fully functional flying fox, a slide instead of stairs and a rope course that I thought was going to kill the girls playing on it, I touched-wood on the lock gate that the rain would continue too stay away. Outside the only building evident in Fiddler's Ferry, which was the lowest-ceilinged pub I have ever stooped into, I geared up for rain. It has been very rainy here apparently. The fields I saw on the way up on the train were flooded. Really, I have had a dream of a week compared to what was happening before I arrived. It wasn't too bad though, drizzle really. But enough to have the hoodie up which made it even harder to hear those sneaky cyclists.


I've blown the budget and booked into a motel—the photo is my view. I won't scare you, or myself again, with the price. I had set myself a crazy limit and it was two pounds more than that. Friday night, long weekend (it is May Day on monday) and I am not walking another step for the sake of two pounds (and the rest). To compensate I have booked a hostel for the next two nights (in a six-bed dorm—eek, bye-bye luxurious aloneness). Now I just have to get there! Worry about that in the morning. It gives me one more day to work out if I need to get new hiking boots. The way my toes are yelling at me, I have a feeling these cheap-deal ones from Thailand are too small for me!

New animal to me sighting: stoat. Very small, very silly. It ran ahead of me for yards and yards. I kept telling it to go in the bushes and I would pass it by like it wasn't even there. It finally dove into the tiniest bush it could find, and then convulsed when I passed by so that I could tell exactly where it was. Lucky for you stoat that I am not a predator. I think you need to evolve a better defence system.

Good night to Warrington, good night stoat, good night to you.