Milestones

This is so annoying. I’ve tried 5 times to insert 10 photos into this post, and it’s not working. Apologies if you subscribe via email and got a dead link. Hopefully I’ll get the pics inserted tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are the words and a couple of photos.

In my last post I forgot to write that I had passed the 500 mile mark. It happened on my peak Peak day. Now as I write this blog post I’m at 556 miles on the clock.

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The next milestone was that a couple of days ago I reached the hillier High Peak area of north Derbyshire. And with it, the Pennine Way. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this moment. I’ve never walked the Pennine Way. It’s our original National Trail, and runs north for 268 miles from Edale in Derbyshire up to the Scottish border, right up the hilly spine of England. My guidebook says:

“The Pennine Way remains the toughest of the National Trails, one that every long-distance walker should aspire to.”

Day One, up over the Kinder Scout moorland, didn’t disappoint. The weather was truly wild. Driving rain, sometimes hail, stung the faces of my poor sister and I. Walking upright and straight was a struggle in the blasting wind. Cloud all around us made for zero views. For Lucy this was meant to be an enjoyable few days accompanying me through the Derbyshire countryside. The first two days were exactly that. But the Pennine Way day was somewhat more exciting. Hopefully I haven’t put my sister off hillwalking for life.

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Despite the fierce conditions I was rather happy to be up and running in the higher hills, and embarking on this famous trail. And of course I was delighted to have the company of my sister. Plus somehow it seemed fitting that wilder weather heralded the start of the tougher new chapter of the Pennine Way.

The third milestone is that yesterday I crossed into my home county, that most special of counties, Yorkshire. Today I’ve weaved into and out of Lancashire too. There is something rather wonderful about crossing into new counties on foot. Also the slowness of a walking journey in comparison to biking or a car means that I’ve been very much aware of the gradual rise in the height of the landscape as I progressed from lowland Staffordshire up to the high Pennine country of north Derbyshire.

Finally, the fourth milestone is that I crossed over the M62 motorway today. (Not by sprinting like Usain Bolt, rucksack bouncing along behind me, dodging onrushing HGVs. There is a rather nice footbridge just west of junction 22). I now feel that I’ve officially in the north of England. I still am slightly incredulous myself that I’ve walked here. But it would seem that I have.

Today I was again almost blown off my feet, so strong was the wind. And on and off there were hailstorms. I made for a dramatic sky, as black clouds scudded by, followed by bright sunshine. The visibility was amazing. Walking over the high moorland in this area is interesting, as all around, low down below, there towns and cities. Rochdale, Halifax, Oldham, Huddesfield, to name but a few. And Manchester’s high rises were clearly visible. I saw not a soul all day. As I eventually passed north of all these towns, and over the M62, it gave me a feeling like I was in a different world. Sort of like walking about with a Harry Potter invisibility cloak on, high above on the moors. I can see the world below, but do they all know this roof garden exists?

Another good memory from the past few days was Lucy and I walking for a while with four lovely gentlemen who were a real pleasure to meet. Eddie, Clive, Norman, Stan – I hope you will forgive me for posting this snapshot. It’s great to listen to a group of people who’ve enjoyed a lifetime of friendship and hillwalking.

It’s also been superb to have my number one supporter and his campervan along this weekend. Thanks Ian!!! His visit also meant that I could swap back to my winter clothes again. It’s so cold and wet at the moment that the shorts and t shirts of less than a week ago feel like a world away. Today the wind chill was down to minus 12 at times! I’m not complaining though. It’s not bad that 11th May was my first truly rainy day since Exmoor – Devon – which was funnily enough on the 11th April. This far they’ve been the only times when it has rained solidly all day. The forecast for the rest of May is very mixed though, so I have no doubt I’ll see plenty more of the wet stuff. Not to worry. A few weeks ago a friend asked, “Are there ever any days when you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like walking?” I can honestly say there haven’t been any such days. I am well aware that this trip is a unique event for me, something to be relished and savoured every step of the way. Although it takes a long time to complete, it will end and so whilst I’m doing it I want to enjoy every moment as much as I can. I have felt very tired at times, and the muscles and ligaments in my feet went through a couple of painful weeks. But I’ve been so very happy to be doing this.

I also get asked if I listen to music or books whilst I’m walking, and if I get bored of my own company. Before leaving I put a load of audiobooks onto my iPod. And I thought I’d listen to books and music quite a lot as I plodded along. I have on previous weekend or 2 week walks. But I’m finding that a longer walk like this is different. For me anyway. That everyday busyness that is normally there in my head has ebbed away. And with it the need to fill every moment with external information and noise. For example when driving in my car or taking a train I would almost always listen to something, or read on the train. However right now I’m perfectly happy just walking along, looking at what’s around me, thinking my thoughts. And thinking about food.

Ooops, this is turning into a mammoth post. I’ll probably write nothing else for weeks now. However in relation to food, one other thing occurred to me. And that is that I’ve noticed that my body is now a lot more sensitive to what I eat. By which I mean, if I’ve walked a lot and for some silly reason, not eaten enough, I experience a really low, sad, miserable feeling. I just want to cry. It’s happened a couple of times. As soon as I eat I’m fine. Also if I eat a really big meal after again not refuelling enough in the day, after the meal I feel slightly dizzy, woozy, almost drunk on food. Who knew?! Breakfast is really important. If I don’t have a decent breakfast then I feel tired and lethargic during the day. My energy levels are much higher when I’ve eaten porridge in comparison to any other breakfast food.

Oh dear. I’ve become a Porridge Bore.

NB. Tonight’s tea. A bowl of custard with a satsuma and a Kit Kat thrown in. A delicacy you won’t find on many restaurant menus.

17 thoughts on “Milestones

  1. Flora, we are so enjoying your blogs and following your absolutely amazing progress. Don’t you dare not blog for a few days. We can’t do without your regular updates. Liz and Tony x

  2. Ah… Great to keep us updated, love the information on eating and an pleased you are taking note! Fuelling is important especially when you are doing such a challenge. Having only walked two days with flora, but hoping to do more i have realised that its not only fitness that’s important, but strength, stamina and most importantly mental Strength and spirit (don’t mean she is cracking up)! , Oh which flora has an abundance of! Don’t let the weather put you off!!! Typical Yorkshire! Heard yesterday the trail on pen y gent is much better (path now rather than swamp).. So all good!!! Xx

  3. Another great post! How wonderful to reach the stage where you don’t have to fill your head with external “stuff” – and you clearly are enjoying every step.
    Enjoying reading your musings Flora.

  4. Great post!
    Porridge is great
    Custard, Satsuma’s and kit-kat – not sure!
    Walking great
    Rain great – I love the rain!
    Moments to ponder, to see, to smell, to listen – priceless!

  5. Hi Flora, Remember Me, Guy and Alastair,we met on your walk on the Pennine Way, how are you getting on. Hope you have enjoyed the lovely weather this week. You must be well into Scotland by now, enjoy the rest of your walk, take care. Guy

    • Hello Guy. Of course I remember you and Alastair. Yes, I’m just about to enter the southern Highlands. And I’m very much enjoying this spell of dry weather. Long may it last!

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