Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yesterday, Team Sole Mates completed our longest – and wettest - training walk to date: 24 miles, on the South Downs.

We set off nice and early from a starting point near Petersfield, and began with a long, steep incline to get us warmed up. Gorgeous views were to be enjoyed, against ominously grey clouds. We completed 10 miles by lunchtime, when we stopped off in a pub at Exton for a bite. By the time we started up again, the rain had started. And it didn’t stop. All afternoon. So, it was 15 miles in the rain – but we kept our spirits up with Dan’s delicious homemade flapjacks and occasional outbreaks of singing (Joseph).

At 7pm, we walked into Winchester, ready to collapse with a cup of tea on Dan and Jo’s sofa. We all definitely felt that we had worked hard – blisters, sore legs and soles of feet – and that the 100km is going to be a major endeavour.

Simon’s very clever GPS machine told us some interesting stats about the walk:

Total distance: 24.19 miles
Total time: 9 hr 5 min (including a prolonged 90 minute stop for lunch as it took 45 minutes for our food to come!)
Average speed (including the 90 min stop): 2.7mph
Total calories: 3250
Total ascent: 2313 ft
Total descent: 2626 ft

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Afternoon walk on the Dorset Coast

I spent last weekend with some friends in a cottage near Corfe Castle in Dorset.  Admittedly, most of the weekend was a fairly lazy one (lots of eating and drinking).  On Sunday afternoon, after taking the steam train to Swanage, Ruth (my girlfriend) and I departed from the our group and set off to walk back to the cottage via the coast (about 8miles or so).  What we lacked in organisation, we made up for in determination (we had to buy a new map and a bottle of water!) we made good progress getting away from Swanage and away from the busy section of the coastal path. We wended our way around the wooded area of Durleston Country and out onto the open downland which made up most of the rest of the walk.

Sea view from Durleston Park
 The weather was fantastic, nice and sunny although fairly windy and the scenery of this part of Dorset's Jurrasic oast was fabulous - with grassy slopes tumbling down to sheer cliffs.  We saw plenty of sea birds - lots of cormorants making their way up and down coast skimming low above the water.
Good example of a Jurrasic Ammonite - or remains of!
It took us about 4hours to do the walk - as you can imagine, it was fairly up and
 down and lots of wriggling about along the coast - so it could have been a bit further than 8miles.
Me - with the scenic coastline

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Haslemere Circular

This was my first training walk in a while, though I did spend the three weeks preceding it doing quite a bit of exercise: cycling 324 from Northumberland to Aberdeen with my tent on the back of bike, learning to dive in a dry suit in the Orkneys and sea kayaking and walking in the Shetlands.

But, back in London now, and with only a couple of months to go until the big event, I decided it was time to get on with the training walks.

So, along with Deborah, I set off for Haslemere, about an hour out of London, for a ten mile circular walk from the good ol' Time Out book of Country Walks. This was a relatively short and gentle one: although, in theory, all that holiday exercise was good for me, I managed to screw my right knee and Achilles tendon, so I am trying to ease back into it gently.

The weather and countryside were gorgeous, with some fine views, blooming rhododendrons, and varied woodland. The lunchstop was roast beef in a country pub garden, the most difficult challenge of the day being leaving the pub for the rest of the walk.

It was also my first walk trying out walking poles, which are supposed to reduce strain on the legs and particularly the knees, so they seemed like a good idea. Trailwalker advises people to use them for the long walk. I'm pretty sure that I looked like a bit of an idiot, and it felt a little like I was just making my tiredness to my arms as well, but my knee certainly held up. I'll see how it goes when we do something a little more hardcore in a couple of weeks.