Walking 1000 miles

Despite attempting to be “an outdoor blogger”, I spent a considerable amount of 2010 not being in the outdoors. At the start of the year there was a trip to the Surrey Hills, a trip to Brecon Beacons, a handful of local walks, and of course Offa’s Dyke – but from May onwards… barely anything more than a short dog walk.

There are lots of things I could try and blame: health problems led to a month or so where walking further than a few miles was just not possible, the nature of my work (a freelance web developer) means that it is easy to skip or cut short dog walks and miss out on holidays, and I have been very busy with personal projects of late.

The truth though is that I am not very connected to the countryside. Hiking is a relatively new re-discovery for me – despite years of school hiking trips and Duke of Edinburgh expeditions,  I spent my University years and several years afterwards, living in a city. It was only in 2008 that I dug out my hiking boots and headed out into the countryside for a long hike for the first time in years! (ok so I bought new hiking boots, but I am sure you can live with the poetic white lie!)

So it is time to make amends… in 2011 I will walk at least 1000 miles.

I appreciate that quite a few people probably walk 1000 miles a year as a matter of course, but considering my above excuses, I think it will be a suitably achievable yet difficult challenge for me.

By doing this challenge, I am expecting to rebuild that connection that had me roaming about the countryside as a child, to find joy from my daily dog walk rather than often seeing it as a chore,  and to find every possible opportunity to just take a walk.

Throughout the challenge I will be posting occasional updates here, as well as writing up any interesting routes. I will also be looking for suggestions of places to walk and volunteers for people to accompany me on hikes.

Happy 2011 everyone!

Review: Orikaso folding plate/bowl/cup [updated]

Orikaso (meaning “to fold plastic”) are lightweight flat pack folding cups, bowls and plates made from Polypropylene.

During my two week Offa’s Dyke hike, I found two sets of Orikaso an absolutely ideal solution for both me and the dog (using the plate for food, and the bowl for water). Orikaso are lightweight, durable and really easy to clean – available in red, blue and green sets, they are a bargain at £2.99 per set on Amazon.

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Training on the Brecon Beacons

The one thing that has been lacking in my training regime (well it isn’t really a regime, more a panicked collection of walks) is big hills. I love walking across the rolling farmland of Northamptonshire, but it is a far cry from the ups and downs of Offa’s Dyke.

So for the final training trip before our challenge begins, I am off on a camping and hiking trip to the Brecon Beacons. Unfortunately my fellow Offa’s Dyke team member Alex (@WinkySmileyFace on Twitter) is unable to join me due to work commitments, but instead I will be joined by Justin (@JustinFleming on Twitter).

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A few tips to avoid a miserable time on Offa’s Dyke

One of the things I have really enjoyed about the build up to Offa’s Dyke is the lovely people I have “met” on Twitter – to name but a few groups: fellow hikers and campers, locals near Offa’s Dyke, people who’s lives have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis and other foolish people who have walked Offa’s Dyke.

One of these foolish people is Pete (@Pete_Knight on Twitter) who walked Offa’s Dyke last May with some fellow Naturists for a diabetic charity – he has kindly put together the following tips on avoiding a miserable 13 days on Offa’s Dyke:

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The after effects of a 19 mile hike with an almost full pack

When we head to the Brecon Beacons in a few weeks time for our last training trip before Offa’s Dyke, we will hopefully be joined by Justin (@JustinFleming on Twitter). Yesterday I joined Justin on his own practice walk – what was supposed to be a 15 mile loop from Bugbrooke in Northamptonshire.

At the last minute we decided to modify our route slightly to take in a lovely area to the South of Long Buckby – but the resulting walk was 19 miles long, and ended with a rather tiring last few miles slogging down the Grand Union Canal in the dark!

View the full route and social commentary

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Online route mapping and social media whilst hiking – sharing the adventure!

Although I love the peace and tranquility of hiking around Britain, I also really enjoy sharing the experience online via social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

For Offa’s Dyke however, I really wanted to do something special to let friends, family and other interested parties, feel part in our adventure.

So I created this: http://www.mycountryside.org.uk/viewranger.php?date=2010-02-20 – this example shows our 17 mile walk in the Surrey Hills. This post explains what the app does and how, fairly non-technically, it works.

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The weight penalty of hiking with a dog

Now I have started putting together my kit for Offa’s Dyke, it has occurred to me that there is something fairly fundamental that I have completely failed to take into account… my dog.

Now I wouldn’t even think about going on a walk without my dog, let alone a trip like this – but I had not really thought about the implications, in terms of weight to carry, that having my dog with me would have.

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Help needed in choosing a hiking / backpacking tent

What backpacking tent to choice is proving confusing

I don’t really know very much about tents – I have owned three over the years, but they were all pretty much impulse buys.

I know even less about backpacking / hiking / expedition tents – I am assuming that being light and compact is important, but beyond that I haven’t got a clue!

Hopefully that is where you come in! This is an open invitation for suggestions and recommendations on what hiking tent I should get for Offa’s Dyke.

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