Summer arrived to southwestern British Columbia this weekend with temperatures topping 28C on Sunday and in doing so breaking the temperature record set in 1953. It’s just as well I chose Saturday for my long walk out to the Peninsula. It’s the same the old route I used to train for my LEJOG and despite me having lost count of how many times I made the journey I never tire of it.
Walking conditions were perfect for the first few hours as there was a gentle breeze that kept the temperature in check. Not surprisingly it seemed like most of Victoria was on the Lochside Trail although most were on bikes rather than on foot. I took my first break at the 4-mile mark where I joined the trail after my walk through the city. I took the opportunity to fill up my water bottle at the fountain that was installed over the winter. It’s a clever bit of kit with three water fountains (one for adults, children and pets) and a separate tap designed specifically for water bottles.
From there I continued over Blenkinsop Lake (lovely as always) and then along the old rail bed where I crossed Royal Oak Drive and into Broadmead. Another quick break was followed by a 45-minute walk to Mattick’s Farm where ice-cream sales were booming. I munched on strawberries and a granola bar before setting off on my favourite stretch of the whole walk which took me through the heart of farming country. When I took my last break at Mitchell’s Farm the breeze had subsided and the temperatures soared.
Despite this I set off with the intention of extending my normal 14-mile walk by an additional 3 miles. The prospect of some excellent vistas and a pint at the Prairie Inn kept me going. I wasn’t disappointed either. The skies were unusually clear and I was able to clearly see three distinct snow-topped mountain ranges. To the east was Mt. Baker in northern Washington State, to the northeast were the Coast Mountains near Vancouver and to the south were the Olympics, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. I staggered into the pub to celebrate my first 17-mile day in more than a year and after a quick bite caught the bus home.
A new LEJOG blog to follow: I encourage you to check out Grant’s End to End Challenge. Grant Paterson began his LEJOG on April 1 and should now be somewhere on or nearing the Pennine Way. Grant’s raising money for three charities and donations can be made online through his Just Giving page.
In 2010 I had roughly 100 days in Britain, 72 of which were spent walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. This time around I’ll have about 125 days and I’m hoping that 110 will be available for walking. A conservative estimate of 15 miles a day would allow me to cover 1650 miles. But where to go?
One of my objectives is to retrace as few steps as possible and another is to leave myself more flexibility then I had on my LEJOG. I don’t plan on creating a day by day itinerary like I did in 2010 but I will have a good idea of which footpaths I’d like to follow. Last time around I enjoyed modifying my route on the fly and so I’m looking forward to more spontaneity.
The Wales Coast Path (870 miles) will be the centrepiece of my walk and I plan to do it in a clockwise direction. I’d like to start with a walk in southern England and at this point the South Downs Way (100 miles) is at the top of my list. From Winchester I would piece together a route to Chepstow (~125 miles). I might head north towards Lechlade so that I can complete the Thames Path, or I may choose to head in a more westerly direction so that I can include a visit to Wells.
Once in Chester I will take a short break so that I can put in place the final piece of the puzzle surrounding my great-grandfather Herbert. I found out after my visit in 2012 that he died in Neston in 1960 but I have yet to locate his final resting place.
At this point I’m looking to end my walk in Edinburgh and I would like to approach it from the coast. I’m thinking of getting myself to the Reiver’s Way and then cobbling together a coastal walk that would pass through Berwick-upon-Tweed, another town I’ve always wanted to visit. The most difficult section to figure out is the one between Chester and the Reiver’s Way. I’ve come up with at least six variations over the past few months however the latest version is easily my favourite. Tell me what you think.
From Chester I would head to Birkenhead, possibly via the Wirral Way and then take the ferry ‘cross the Mersey. I would follow the Sefton Coastal Footpath and cut over to pick up the Ribble Way. I’d branch off at Gisburn and make for Ilkley where I would pick up the Ebor Way which would include a visit to York, my favourite city in England. The Cleveland Way would get me to Roseberry Topping at which point I’d head north to pick up the Teesdale Way and follow it west to Middleton-in-Teesdale. My way-hopping would continue along the Weardale Way and up to Allendale where I would finally link up with the Reiver’s Way.
Cheap and Cheesy
I decided it was time to rename my blog and so I dug deep into the archives and chose Ramble On. Back in the late 90′s I ran a short-lived walking tour company called “Mind the Gap Tours” and I published a walking newsletter called Ramble On. I enjoyed the experience but it was a hell of a lot of work and quite frankly I made more money selling mindthegap.com to a London Advertising agency than I did running tours!
I hope to post once or twice a month and will update other pages over the summer. My Links page needed immediate attention and it now includes all the 2013 long walks I’m currently aware of, including a 7000-mile coastline walk that is now underway.
It’s been one of those weeks
It’s been three years, almost to the day, that I set off on my End to End walk. I can honestly say I never felt healthier, both in body and mind, than I did in April through June of 2010. I missed my nomadic lifestyle almost immediately and by late July I was back in Canada and back on the treadmill, paying down the mortgage and piling on the stress.
My plan, as recently as several days ago, was to keep my nose to the grindstone until 2015 and then take a 6-month leave of absence. But I had one of those weeks … I’m sure you’ve had them too … where something had to give. It’s at times like these that one is forced to make decisions and I’ve decided that my health and well-being outweighs everything else. Assuming my leave is approved I will, about a year from now, be making my final preparations for another very long walk in Britain. It will be about the best 50th birthday present I could give myself.
In the meantime I will enjoy the planning, training and anticipation of another adventure. I’m also looking forward to following the blogs of those setting off in 2013 and will be updating my links page within the next couple of days.
It’s nearing the end of March and so my thoughts naturally turn to very long walks. Unfortunately there are none on the horizon for me this year although I am looking forward to some short rambles when I visit Ireland this autumn. By this time next year I hope to be well stuck into my plans for a long walk in 2015 … and planning a walk is almost as much fun as the walk itself (and infinitely easier on the feet).
In the meantime I’d love to hear from anyone who is planning a LEJOG or JOGLE this year. If you are blogging please let me know as I would love to follow your exploits online, and of course I will add a link too.
Good luck and happy walking!