Tuesday, 17 January 2017

More than I can chew?

As mentioned in my last post a few weeks ago I've had something brewing behind the scenes. A thing I've wanted to do for a while now but hadn't wanted to reveal too much about as I'm really not sure whether or not I'll be able to manage it.

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I realise that for most folks that I've met and know who are active in the British outdoors the "Not The West Highland Way" probably isn't that big of a deal, but for me I suspect it'll be quite a bit of a challenge.

I came across Ronald Turnbull's guide book a long time ago after reading his fantastic "The Book Of The Bivvy" (which I also thoroughly enjoyed BTW). I've already got some previous personal experience doing the standard WHW and if I recall correctly I finished it in not much more than 3.5 days. I was however much younger and fitter back then but more importantly, it was the last major outdoorsy thing I can remember doing before the symptoms of my Sarcoidosis ruined lungs started to present themselves. Despite still struggling with the effects that the lung condition has had on my fitness levels I've sort of (mostly) come to terms with it and now just accept that I'm much slower these days. That being said, if I'm truly honest it still frustrates me to the point of tears on occasion and learning to deal with that frustration is still a work in progress. When I reflect on it (and I do frequently) I realise that the frustration comes from losing confidence in myself which stops me from getting out more which ultimately make me less hill fit meaning that I struggle more the next time etc etc. You can see how this quickly becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I needed to do something about that and had been thinking about attempting one of the long distance routes and just doing it at my own, unhurried pace. Then it occurred to me that having already done the WHW then this route, if I could somehow manage it, with all it's high level alternatives and detours would surely prove (if only to myself at least) that I'm not a complete physical write off and also be quite poetic/cathartic into the bargain.

So, with my finish date at work now set in stone I'm going to seize the opportunity of being "between jobs" and go for a nice big long walk.


  1. Absolutely brilliant, Sandy!
    Speaking as someone who got slower and slower with a degenerative condition (over thirty years) I understand only too plainly your frustrations. I suppose my 'decay' was slower and so I had longer to learn how to deal with it. In my twenties I completed the Welsh 3000s in a day, ran half marathons in very smart times and then watched it all slowly crumble away.
    You now have a wonderful opportunity to take things at you new speed, and have a wonderful time. This may well help you a great deal - having a great time isn't just about the wonderful physicality of the day, but the sights, smells and wonderment of everything around you.
    I wish you all the very best, Sandy!

  2. Thanks Alan!
    I'm always mightily impressed at your long distance exploits from the multiple TGO's to the enormity of your LEJOG. In fact your adventures were mentioned when I started to broach the subject of me not immediately returning to work with Louise. I'm very lucky that she's so supportive of my plans for this adventure but I do suspect that she's tiring of hearing about which sleep system/shelter choice/cook kit etc I want to take.
    I really don't have any idea whether or not I'll manage to finish it it one attempt but I'm going to have a good crack at it and embrace the sights, sounds and smells as I stroll along as fast as is comfortable. The only promise I'm making is that I'll enjoy it.

  3. It's really good to read that you have a plan, Sandy. Take it easy and enjoy every moment to the max.

    To be honest I'm quite jealous, I've not been on a decent walk since March 2015 (not counting Tryfan later that year) and I'm hoping that I will get the OK to do something significant this coming spring. Gear might be a problem though - I went in at ~10st and came out at ~8st so I bought some smaller outdoors clothing. Problem now is that I'm ~13st so neither my old nor my new stuff fits :-(

    Fingers crossed for you, Sandy. Keep us posted.

    1. I feel your pain with regards to the outdoors clothing. The enormous doses of Prednisolone I was on had me piling on weight at a terrifying rate. I just could not switch off the feeling of being hungry. At my worst I remember going out with Louise to our local Greek/Cypriot restaurant and devouring an enormous Filet Mignon and then after a couple of beers in our local across the road I insisted on popping into the Indian takeaway on our way home. Like you I spent a fortune on larger clothes (both outdoor and civvies) and now that my weight is back to normal I've not got much that fits anymore.

      Thanks for the good wishes, I'll update this place as I go as I seem to have also gotten back the inspiration to write on here a bit more...and my digits shall be crossed for you in the Spring too.


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