Next year my dog and I are going to walk Offa’s Dyke to raise money for The Multiple Sclerosis Society (MS) – all 177 miles….. phew, there I said it.
This will be a massive physical challenge for me – 12 days walking carrying full kit and camping every night!
I committed to this plan about week ago on twitter (view the tweet), but it has been an idea building for quite a few years.
Offa’s Dyke path is a 177-mile walk that weaves in and out of the England – Wales border, from Chepstow on the Severn Estuary to Prestatyn on the North Wales coast. When I first read about Offa’s Dyke a few years ago, I was captivated by the story of Britian’s largest man-made monument – built by Offa, King of Mercia from 757 to 796 A.D to try and create a boundry between his kingdom and the independant Welsh kingdoms. The route today is lined with impressive castles and abbeys – and as I am a big fan of castles, I decided that “one day” I would walk it.
When I renewed my interest in hiking last year, I started thinking about the idea of walking one of the national trails, perhaps The Ridgeway, which is a fairly local 87 mile walk along the Chilterns. Like with all such ideas, I kept on putting it off.
The finally straw was an article in English Heritage’s Heritage Today (March 2009 – “Beauty on all sides”) about Offa’s Dyke and all my previous plans and ideas came flooding back. This was coupled with a desire to do something to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, so before I changed my mind – a quick tweet commited me!
The Challenges Ahead
There are a number of challenges (in no particular order) that I will need to overcome:
- Equipment – Unless you count my huge impractical pop-up tent, I really don’t have the right kind of equipment for a trip like this.
- Raising Money – My target is to raise at least £1k for MS.
- Fitness – Judging on how sore I am two days after a 15 mile walk, I have a lot of work to do to bring myself up to a suitable level of fitness, and the last time I carried a full pack was when I was a kid before I discovered beer! I also had key hole surgery on my back a few years ago which still haunts me, and a pair of dodgy knees!
- Logistics – I need to work out how to split up the route, which campsites to stay out, how to carry 12 days worth of dog food etc.
- The Dog – It isn’t just me that needs to be fit. My dog’s welfare is paramount, and I need to make sure she is fit and healthy to complete the walk. She is also “overly playful” when she encounters other dogs, something I need to work on.
- Technology – I hope to blog, tweat and facebook (is that a verb yet?) throughout the walk, so somehow I have to work out how to keep my N95 and netbook battery going for 12 days…..
- Finances – I want to donate 100% of the money raised to MS, so all my costs will be coming out of my pocket. Hopefully I can convince some relevant businesses to offer discounts to help reduce the burden!
I intend to blog the whole process from start to finish – from the planning & preparation, the training walks, and the equipment, through to the walk itself: the rain, the campsites, the blisters and the aching limbs! Any helpful comments and advice throughout would be much appreciated!
For the technologically minded, you can follow me on twitter. I will also be using the twitter hash tag #offasdyke4ms for all relevant tweets. There is also a facebook group. I would love to hear your advice, support and comments!
Finally you can donate money on my Justgiving webpage: