Saturday 11 February 2012

c2c rumbles on ... a flashback

Looking through some old photos, as one does when 'of a certain age' I came across a reminder of earlier perambulations on the North York Moors, circa 1962/3.  Almost 50 years ago, now those were the days, I reckon I could have seen the c2c off in no time :o) - if it had existed!

1963 me on the way up to the Wainstones, North York Moors

 1963 - Me near the Wainstones North York Moors

The dangers of crossing (Lyke Wake Walk) the North York Moors in the 1960s

1962 - About halfway on the Lyke Walk at Hamer House - a group of Middlesbrough Area Telephone Engineers trying to keep warm just as dawn is breaking.

Monday 30 January 2012

My c2c - 'twas only a ramble

From here:

To here:

with a few hills, lots of green bits, and sunshine and rain, on the way!

My Coast to Coast walk, what was it all about?  Was it difficult? Was it worth the effort?   Any regrets, and would I do it again?

It was all about fulfilling a 20 year's dream of attempting, and completing, Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk after watching AW and Eric Robson describing the route on TV.  Business and other personal 'things' meant that it was never possible to plan far enough ahead for leisure activities such as the c2c.  My interest in walking, rambling, goes back to my school days of rambling on the south Shropshire hills. Later, living on the edge of the North York Moors led to my love of the moors, this was further driven by numerous completions of the Lyke Wake Walk and other more aimless perambulations.

Walking the coast to coast is not a sport where one has to race against the clock.  It is a leisure activity where the only competition are the elements and the terrain.  So, the degree of difficulty is down to how well prepared you are for walking 192 miles, some which will, more than likely, be in adverse weather conditions.  It isn't just the physical preparation that is needed, but also the logistical planning - most probably regular c2c-ers and wild campers will disagree - oh! to be young and to be able to agree with them but I am 70 and like my comfort!  As far as I am concerned, planning is everything - sloppy preparation produces sloppy results.  I had planned my walk in detail, breaking each daily walk, according to the terrain, into distances that would be within my capabilities.  The theoretical daily schedule was calculated using Naismith's Rule and then practically tested on the Tuscan terrain.  In addition to my regular walks of 8 to 15kms, three or four times per week, I checked the distance I could walk in a day on very steep ascents (in excess of 800m, 2500ft); on long, relatively flat walks, and also on mixed terrain.  When I had built up a reasonable degree of fitness I tried three consecutive days of approximately 24km (15miles) on mixed terrain.  Finally, thinking about the long day's walk from Richmond to Park House, Ingleby Cross (39km/25miles), I did a similar distance around the hills and ridges of Northern Tuscany.  It was a day that turned out to very wet, with rain, hailstones and lightening, so another test, but I managed this in 10 hours. Then I declared myself fit enough to tackle the c2c. So was my c2c difficult?  Not for me!  No blisters or injuries apart from bruises and grazed shins when I was blown over by hurricane Katia in Grisedale.  Can anyone do AW's coast to Coast?  My answer is a definite yes - if you do the preparation.  For my training routine etc, see the link in the side panel of this blog and

At this point I should give credit to everyone who supported me and helped me to complete my c2c.  Particularly my wife Mary, who not only put up with me disappearing every other day when I was training, or else had my head buried in the pc, planning all the details, when I should have been doing some of the jobs around the house - these now await me.  Mary also accompanied me on a number of stages of the walk which I really appreciated, for her, as an Australian, this was an opportunity to see England close up.  On the walk, when Mary wasn't walking she ensured that every day the packing and unpacking of the luggage was done, sorting out what was to be worn and what was to be washed - all I had to do was walk!  Also the support from my children and grand-children was fantastic turning up when school and work commitments permitted.

A final but very big thank you has to go to Eilidh Austen-Smith, my chiropodist in Pescia, Italy, without who's help I wouldn't have got a foot off the ground.  Prior to starting training I had suffered very badly for over two years with Plantar Fasciitis .  At one stage opinion was that I might need surgery.  My GP suggested some very expensive shoes, MBT, and they were good and worked for every day walking but were not suitable for serious walking off-pavement.  I had found some comfortable walking boots, Keen, but they needed a more special support.  This was where Eilidh stepped in, not only did she find the right orthotic insole supports but she was able to adapt to meet a new problem that arose.

Meeting people from all walks of life from all over the world while walking across England's green and pleasant land is a very pleasant way of spending a day.  Even hurricane Katia didn't dampen my enthusiasm, on the contrary, it provided an exhilarating experience.  Then there was the opportunity of meeting those good people who allow people to enter their homes for B&B, inevitably with a very warm welcome.  All of these experiences made it worth the effort - most definitely!  To be able to clamber up Haystacks and wander down to Innominate Tarn, where Alfred Wainwright's ashes are scattered, was a high point for me - being able to pay tribute and respects to the great man was very important. Details of what happened on, my c2c can be viewed by clicking on the links on the side panel, or  - and

My only real regret is that I didn't find, or make, the time to do this walk 20 years earlier - I can' t recover that one.  My minor regrets, that I can recover, were not being able, because of weather conditions, to go up to Red Pike and along the ridge to Haystacks; not go over Sunday Crag / Striding Edge and not go over Kidstey Pike.  One day I hope I can get out there and at least pick them off one at a time, but preferably to walk the Wainwright's Coast to Coast again - before my 75th birthday (that gives me four and a half years!).

If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that life is too short and precious.  If you really want to do something get out there and do it - if it's AW's c2c, good!!

Friday 30 December 2011

The Year's End

Well here we are, 30th December, and only part one of the  c2c written up.  I have got a list of excuses, but never mind I promise to try harder to complete parts two and three.  Part two will  cover the section from Shap to Ingleby Cross and part three will be about crossing the North York Moors, each part will be on a separate page.
Having nursed a heavy cold which turned to 'flu and then to bronchitis over the last four weeks I can take some optimism from the fact that at least it was during the hunting season here in Tuscany, when it isn't safe to venture out in the woods - only another month then I should be able to roam wherever I want and get back to some sort of fitness.


Monday 21 November 2011

How time flies!

There I was thinking that it shouldn't take too long to knock off the account of my Coast to Coast walk.  At the rate I'm going it will take longer to blog than walk it!!

Only a few weeks ago the hills around this part of Tuscany had a bright red, gold and green overlay as Autumn was at its best.  The tree-lined road around our village was covered in crisp golden leaves, laying in drifts at the side of the road - it was wonderful to walk through kicking up the leaves, like being a child again.  The blue skies and warm days were starting to get an edge as the sharper nights set in for two or three weeks.  Then we had two days of rain and walking along the side of the road was like walking through a soggy bowl of cornflakes!!  Well the rain has gone and the  glorious colours are still there, and so is the account of my walk.

I have only managed to get as far as Stonethwaite in Borrowdale published, so still another 14 days to go - click the link on the right  'c2c Sept 2011 - What really happened, Part1 the Lake District' .  Please have patience.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

My Coast to Coast walk, September 2011

Nearly eight weeks after completing my c2c, I have finally got around to writing about how it really happened.  I think I have been suffering withdrawal symptoms from 16 days walking through such beautiful and awesome countryside - incomparable!  The 'How it really happened' page is no longer showing on the blog at the moment as it is in draft form, and I have only written about our attempt to get to St Bees!   Hopefully, I will have the first four days of the walk, with photos, written up this weekend (20th Nov.).

Sunday 3 July 2011

Ancient pathways around Valleriana

When walking along the high trails around Valleriana, one can only marvel at the achievements of the inhabitants of former times. These high trails formed the major arterial routes for travel between the habitations across the numerous valleys of northern Tuscany.  The routes generally followed contours around the valley to minimise sudden changes of elevation, unlike their modern equivalent of hairpin bends every 200metres, and tracks descend to the villages, as opposed to today's roads up from the valley floor.
What also impresses me is the number, and size, of buildings en-route, principally churches, chapels, refuges and farmhouses.  Examples taken from the trails, as if walking from Pescia or Collodi  along the ridge to M. Battifolle, then to the Croce a Veglia and on to Lignana and Sorana are shown below:-

Chiesa S. Anna (about 7km from Pescia) above Pietrabuona

Capella della Mura, about 2km north of S. Anna - above Medicina

Madonna del Tamburrino on the slopes of M. Battifolle - above San Quirico

The refuge hut at Croce a Veglia - above Pontito

Maddonna delle Grazie, church above Pontito

Church on Lignana, also on the site of a medieval village - above Sorana

Sunday 1 May 2011

In the woods something stirred

Walking through the woods above the village where I live, could sometimes be a weird experience - a feeling of being watched!  Figures flitting silently between trees, momentarily concealing themselves behind the broad trunk of one the numerous leafy chestnut trees - only  to appear, nonchalantly on the trail some hundred metres ahead. As we pass I am greeted with a smile and 'Buongiorno' , ten seconds later they have disappeared.  A figment of my imagination?  No, they are funghi hunters searching for a particular mushroom, the' porcini'.  A secretive world.  Porcini pickers each have their favourite spots amongst shady glades of the chestnut trees, so secret that it is rumoured they will not reveal them to members of their own family!  Now I am accepted as just a 'crazy Englishman' who walks for hours just because he likes walking through the woods and they quite often show me what they have gathered, secure in the knowledge that I will not know where to look for their porcini.  If they realised that the 'rather large watch' on my wrist was a GPS trail recording device on which I could record their location - it would be a different matter.  They are safe, I have no intention of spoiling a centuries old tradition of secrecy, and if I do find any porcini it will be the traditional way - poking around the leaf covered roots of the chestnut tree - and not with the aid of technology!