The Cleveland Way – the Yellow Brick Road

Last week we walked the Cleveland Way. Well, technically the Cleveland Way stretches from Helmsley to Filey but we only had a timeline of one week and decided to cover the stretch from Sutton Bank to Scarborough in that time. This was first and foremost a holiday but had the advantage of being great training for JOGLE as we would carry everything we needed on our backs and camp along the way.

We started in Sutton Bank bottom left. This is just a few miles outside of Thirsk.

We set off on a Thursday after work for Thirsk and stayed over in a really nice Wetherspoons hotel/pub. I have to say I’d recommend these. Really good value. We slept well and ate well for very little cost.

Day 1 – Sutton Bank to Ingleby (23.55km – 543m of ascent)

On Friday morning we set off at a respectable 9am in a taxi from Thirsk heading for Sutton Bank. The starting point for us (and for most people would be Day 2 of the complete walk) is high up on a hill. The taxi ramped up the 25% winding hill to the top where we got out at the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre for our start.

We started following the signs for the Cleveland Way but also had the route on our Fenix watches. It’s incredibly easy to follow and there are regular signs with little acorns on. The weather was initially quite sunny but it did cloud over as the day went on. It made for a very pleasant walking temperature.

Excited we are on our way!

After a few km we came across a little cafe (High Paradise Farm) in the middle of nowhere (or so it felt). There, we were able to get some coffees and cake and make a fuss of the resident dog which came to visit each table.

The views were spectacular and although there was some gentle undulation, the majority of this day was spent high up on a plateau, taking in the views for miles and miles underneath rolling clouds and blue skies.

We followed the path which was nearly always a sandstone path, which wound its way along the plateau and which you could see for a mile or more into the distance. It looked like the yellow brick road. Follow, follow, follow…..

An hour or so into our walk we got hungry and decided to squat down in front of a stone wall to hide from the strong wind, so we could get out our stoves and cook up some noodles. We followed this up with a nice brew each and then set off again on our way.

I should add at this point that we both carried all our own stuff. I took my JOGLE bag. It’s 30litres. I also have a 3litre waist bag. I’ll do a separate post on my kit at a later point but I can fit everything I need to survive in these bags. Chris had a much larger bag but essentially had the same stuff. He had two additional things for comfort, but mostly had a much more organised bag with things wrapped up separately for ease of use. My bag was more ‘stuff it all in’. It’s simply a choice of functionality versus weight/size and I decided to go with the exact kit I will be taking for JOGLE.

We eventually started to descend towards Osmotherley and found a lovely cafe where we had toasted sandwiches and some cold drinks. There was yet another ‘live in’ dog who came round and made loving eyes at us with his favourite toy in his mouth. Aww.

After Osmortherley there was a climb upwards again and we started to walk though woodland past the first of many fields of bluebells. Finally we descended quite sharply through the wood and navigated a very narrow path through the trees and over muddy ditches. This bit was ‘off’ the Cleveland Way and was simply to get us to our campsite for the night. It was at this point that Chris stepped down into a ditch that was much deeper than anticipated. There was much swearing. Being behind him I was able to find a different way but then had to scramble up a bank and tripped over some sort of sharp plant entrails. I adorned the long scratches across my shins for the rest of the trip.

A km on and we made it to the Bluebell pub where we were camping in the garden. As we arrived we heard a cuckoo nearby making that distinctive sound. After some dinner and beers in the pub we retired early to our tents to read and get an early night.

Day 2: Ingleby to Chopgate (20km – 846m ascent)

In the morning we took advantage of breakfast at the pub and then set off to rejoin the Cleveland Way.

Back on the yellow brick road

Day 2 was probably the hardest. It started off straight up a hill and was steep enough for a mini scramble at the top. Once up, the day proceeded to continue with many ascents/descents, four of which were steep up/down. Many of the downs were man made stone steps, which I find not only scary but also quite difficult as they never make the steps deep enough for a full foot. So you find yourself stepping down sideways then shuffle over, then a few more sideways steps, negotiate a bigger drop, grab something (oh yeah there isn’t anything) and so on. For me this was mentally harder than physically. I had to stop and pause now and again just to get on top of my breathing (due to feeling uncomfortable with the drops).

One of the peaks

The views on this day were astonishingly beautiful though. This is often the way. The best views are achieved by making the scariest ascents and descents. In one particular valley en route we stopped off at a lovely cafe (Lordstones) and parked our bums in the shade as it was an incredibly hot day. The food and drinks were much appreciated as was the brief respite from the up/down day.

Closer to Chop Gate we saw a sign that pointed to the village and decided to follow this rather than our original route to get there. We think it saved us 1-2km. On arriving at Chop Gate we found the Buck Inn pub where we were staying and put up our tents in the back garden, Wolfgang and his staff are excellent and very helpful. There was only us camping there but there were other people walking the Cleveland Way and Coast to Coast staying in rooms in the pub.

Camping in the garden

We had access to a shower room and toilet and loved staying here. There was a peahen (we think) living in the garden. He made a noise that sounded like one of those foot driven pumps you blow up a paddling pool with 😂. Eee’errr, eee’errrr. We called him Mr Squeaky.

We had both dinner and breakfast in the pub and the food was excellent. There was also a choice of German foods and German music playing in the background, whilst we ate.

Day 3: Chop Gate to Kildale (17.6km – 440m of ascent)

Waving goodbye to Mr Squeaky, we set off on what became the easiest day of hiking. The weather was warm but there was a constant breeze all day that made it perfect for walking. There was just one up at the beginning and one down at the end. We spent the rest of the walk up on a plateau with beautiful views all around, surrounded by moorland and the yellow brick road. There were no cafes en route so we stopped and shared an adventure meal of mashed potatoes and vegetables around midday.

Up on the plateau you can see Roseberry Topping in the distance (the hill with the little peak).

Arriving at Kildale we were both pretty tired. On reflection the previous day had caught up with us and we probably hadn’t eaten enough.

We arrived at Kildale camping barn farm and found that the owners were away on holiday. There were some people there doing an archeological dig and they showed us where the kitchen, showers (although these required money which we didn’t have) and toilets were. They didn’t know anything about us camping though. We went ahead and camped there for the night in the camping garden and were the only ones there. It was great to have the kitchen to ourselves and we cooked ourselves some more adventure food. Unfortunately we’d run out of snacks and I admit we went to bed a bit hungry.

There was a bit of a storm in the night and the tents shook but they stayed in place as they should do. Despite this, we slept incredibly well and got up to make our one and only adventure food breakfasts (chocolate muesli). It was gorgeous so I’ll definitely be getting more of those. We met the owners son before we left who checked in to make sure we’d made ourselves at home. Yes we did!

Still feeling a bit peckish we set off on our way.

Day 4: Kildale to Saltburn (24.74km – 611m ascent)

We knew today was a long day but we also knew it would end with a stay at a B&B in Saltburn and I was looking forward to a decent shower. Chris was looking forward to chips by the sea.

I set off on this day in a bit of a low mood. I think it was just lack of food on the previous day combined with the knowledge we would be walking 25km, our longest day to date. Fortunately a few km into our walk my mood picked up. This walk was probably my favourite day. It was very undulating but I don’t mind ascents and the descents were much more Lorna friendly. We passed many beautiful view points and walked through Forests and moorland.

We stopped en route for some noodles but it wasnt enough and by the time we found a cafe at 16km we were incredibly hungry. We both inhaled some toasties, cake, coffees and soft drinks. The Chase cafe was lovely and played 40/50’s music and had pictures of 40’s/50’s stars on the walls.

Arriving in Saltburn we eventually found our B&B and immediately unpacked all our stuff all over the room to dry out our tents and air sleeping bags etc.

The shower was unfortunately not the best but I managed to clean myself, my hair and my top with hand soap. (I only took two tops which I switched daily and washed when it was possible).

Saltburn was very picturesque and we went to a chippy cafe overlooking the beach and had chips with curry.. sauce/gravy and I had the battered fish. It was all delicious.

Day 5: Saltburn to Hinderwell (17.64km – 459m of ascent)

Day 5 was a special day as it was the first day of walking along the coast line. I was nervous it would be all ups and downs (well worried about steep downs) but it was a fairly easy day made even easier by beautiful weather and stunning views.

Between Skinningrove and Staithes there is a sculpture by Artist Katie Ventress celebrating 50-years of mining at Boulby. The miner in the photo below is sat at a ‘bait’ table, where miners sit to take a break and eat lunch.

We stopped in the picturesque village of Staithes and had teacakes and ice cream.

The descent into Staithes
First ice cream of many

We arrived at the campsite in Hinderwell early due to it being a shorter days walk.

Serenity campsite has to be the nicest, plushest campsite I’ve ever been to. It had a shower/toilet block which was posher than the one we’d had at the B&B. I still only had hand soap to wash my hair (but hey it works). There was also a great kitchen and another lounge type cabin which had Wi-Fi where we spent the evening reading our books.

We went to The Badger Hounds pub across the road for dinner. It was easily the tastiest food I’ve had in a long time. I would give it 5*. You know when you just keeping saying mmmm. This just finished off a perfect day and one of my favourite days of the trip.

Day 6: Hinderwell to Robin Hoods Bay (27.11km – 609m of ascent)

We set off early as we had a long day ahead of 27km. We set off from Hinderwell, rejoined the Cleveland Way and dropped down into Runswick Bay. From there we had a tough climb out of the bay climbing many steps.

The I like the climbing bit face

This was the start of a day that encompassed a series of steps down and back up again out of small ravines as you went along the coast line.

We stoppped along the way in Witsends Cafe in Sandsend and I had huge toasted teacakes with jam and Chris had a vegan sausage butty.

Under the trees is another ravine. You go down another set of steps under the tree line where and then up again.

After many ups and downs we finally walked through a small tunnel and could see Whitby town through the clearing.

We dropped down and down into the main streets where we saw more people than we had for the entire trip so far. An ice cream, a stop at some shops for food to carry and we quickly left as it was simply too busy. We climbed the steps that up to the Abbey on the hill and from there left Whitby behind.

After Whitby there were more ravines and steps….utterly beautiful and I was getting used to them by this point.

In the last few kilometres my feet started to feel really sore. This made the going tough and I was glad to arrive at our campsite at the top of Robin Hoods Bay. It was yet another great campsite with shower block/toilets and a kitchen facilities. After a quick wash we headed down the fields to a pub for dinner and some beers. 😀

Robin Hoods Bay in the early evening

Day 7: Robin Hoods Bay to Scarborough (25.84km – 654m of ascent

This was the hardest day for me. I had already experienced quite a bit of foot pain the day before and had put it down to my boots and socks. I had then stupidly washed two pairs of socks the night before leaving myself with only one dry pair (which were too thin and inadequate for my boots and discomfort). I fashioned two mini extra socks out of some tubing which I cut with my penknife. However, it wasnt enough and i had to keep stopping because of the pain/discomfort. Finally my husband pointed out he had a pair of clean spare socks, which I immediately donned.

It was like magic and the pain eased significantly. This significantly improved my mood for a while. I was able to continue on and we walked 6km and found a lovely cafe in Ravenscar for breakfast. When we left, however, I suddenly got sharp pains in my right ankle and couldn’t understand what was causing it. I figured it must be just the boot chafing. I walked on through the the pain and thought maybe if I blank it out it will start to ease off. It seemed to work and I was able to cover another 6-10km in this way.

On the way I was helpfully distracted by the sight of two peacocks. One of them put on a beautiful show for us and we were able to catch this in a photo.

Eventually however, it caught up with me again and the pain went from a manageable 5/10 to an eye watering 9/10. At this point I was hobbling along and my husband pointed out that maybe we should go off the trail and find a bus to Scarborough. Noooooooo. I really didn’t want to do that. I made the decision to carry on as it felt like a test of my mental strength, something I will have to do for JOGLE.

After a dose of ibuprofen however, it started to become easier and I was able to walk the rest of the way to Scarborough and enjoy the views and the sense of accomplishment of being nearly at the finish. The sun was out as we walked along the promenade into Scarborough and we enjoyed the views and set about looking for our hotel for the night.

We did it!

Our final night was spent in the lovely Raincliffe Hotel in Scarborough. The room was great, they had a bar and a pool table and the pub where we got our dinner was shuffling distance. – perfect.

John O Groats to Lands End Running Schedule

For some time now I’ve been playing about with Komoot looking at multiple different routes to run through the UK that also take in the 3 peaks. The hope is to get me from John O Groats to Lands End within 6-7 weeks, averaging a marathon a day.

I’ve come up with the rough schedule below as I’d love for people to join me for the day, half a day or even a mile if they want to. However, I also want to have an adventure and be free to leave certain bits to the last minute. I’ve therefore, included a number of days that are to be decided ‘TBD’. In total I have 3 ‘wiggle’ days. I’ve kept these days free in case of insurmountable weather, illness or injury. If I don’t need to use them for these reasons (fingers crossed) then I will probably shorten some of the days proceeding the named wiggle room day. Sitting around in a tent or at a B&B for a whole day doesn’t appeal and from experience I’m more like to end up with a sore back or hips if I do so.

The plan was created using some hiking routes but also many mountain biking routes. It’s essentially off road where possible utilising the many miles of trails that cross our country.

So feel free to look below (please click on download) and if you would like to join me for a jog, full day or half day running or walking or a bit of both please message me and we can arrange where to meet and when etc. I would then do my utmost to meet any arrangements made with anyone. As I run, however, I’ll be tracked and also be updating social media so if I fall down a rabbit hole Alice in Wonderland style, you’ll hopefully know well in advance.

Two things should not change. I will set off on 3rd Sept (Saturday morning) and arrive at Lands End on Saturday 22nd October by lunchtime.

Hardest week yet. 14 hrs 40 training, 76km running/hiking and my first wild camp. 19 weeks to go to JOGLE woohoo!

It’s been a tough but amazing week in training. It was the hardest week in my training month but it was full of special moments like this.

One of those magical moments

The week started off with a full hour at the gym followed by a 11km run carrying nearly full kit. It weighed in at 8kg which was more than I was aiming for. I’ve tried all along to keep everything super light but I think the reality is that is light for ‘self supported’. Despite the weight, my Tuesday run went well and it’s definitely ‘doable’. I jog with it on the flat and downhill then I walk the uphills. I can just about jog with it if its a shallow uphill.

Photos 1&2 from Friday run and photo 3 from the backpack run.

Wednesday was an hour on the turbo. Its not exciting on a turbo but it’s serving its purpose as I generally feel better after. Spinning with a low gear eases my tired muscles.

Thursday I do a half hour run at a really slow pace. This is definitely a recovery run. I generally want to go faster but I know its good for me to keep it slow. After work on a Thursday I have a strength workout with my PT Emma. This week was mainly arms with some core. She had me dangling and trying to do pull ups using a box to put one foot on to assist. I really enjoy these workouts. She’s an excellent trainer and pushes me to get stronger.

Friday was my long run. I’m normally highly motivated. This week I wasn’t feeling it and had to push myself to go out and run 33km (which turned into 35km due to diversions). It was gorgeous weather. Perhaps too gorgeous as I was a sweaty puddle for most of it 🥵. I walked most of the uphills and ran the rest. It was hilly and quite technical in places so conserving energy on the tricky bits makes sense. By the end of it I was really enjoying it. Partly because it was flat in the last 5km 😝 and partly because I still had some energy which amazed me. It might of been the half time teacakes and Coca Cola – nom.

On Saturday my husband and I took a late afternoon train to Edale and hiked via Upper Booth, up Jacobs Ladder to the Wool Packs on Kinder plateau. It was ‘only’ 7km but it was all uphill, pretty warm and rocky. It was beautiful all the way and I really enjoyed hiking in the evening. The views were stunning (see some photos below).

Once we found a nice spot we started laying out our tents for the night. I was really excited as this was my first experience wild camping! I tried out a new footprint which was hilarious as it was so lightweight it kept trying to blow away. It also didn’t have any holes in it to pin it down (lesson learnt there). I had to put all my kit on top of it to stop it blowing away, then put my tent up on top and then slide out my stuff from underneath. 🤦‍♀️ 😆

Once we had all our stuff sorted we set about finding a nice spot to see the sunset whilst cooking our adventure meals on the stoves. Having one of these dehydrated meals was also a first. I have to say I’m very surprised and also delighted – it was really yummy! I had a creamy mashed potato mixed with vegetables and hubby had bean chipotle chilli. We will definitely be getting those again.

From top left clockwise: Our perfect wild camping spot, me making my way to Jacobs Ladder, me near the top of Kinder, the sun setting behind Kinder.

We settled down after tea for some chocolate and whiskey – great combination if you’ve never tried 😁. After a while it got too cold so we disappeared in our respective tents to read our kindles and shout out to each other about our books. I should add we have two ‘one man’ tents as we plan to go on separate adventures so this made the most sense.

Hubby nearly at the top, a quiet moment taking it all in

I got up in the night for a tinkle and the view was stunning – perhaps I should rephrase that!! The moon was so bright – it was gorgeous. It didn’t really get dark. I can really imagine it’s worth going up there with a good camera.

The view at night, Chris posing in front of the glorious sunset

We slept like babies 😴. In the morning it was amazing to wake up to the spectacular views. I think I’m a wild camping convert! We had porridge and coffees and started packing up for the days hike.

Our Easter Sunday hike was only 18km but it was really tough. On a physical level there was a lot of rocks, boulders, steps, technical ground etc. On a meditational level it was amazing. The views were utterly stunning non stop all the way. From a psychological perspective, however, the descent down William Clough dialled into my anxieties. I know I need to work on my fear of technical downhills since I’m planning to climb and descend the 3 peaks.

Today, however, was a reminder of how tough its going to be for me. It’s hard to describe how uncomfortable I get when staring down at a steep descent when it’s rocky and especially if the rocks are wet. I have to take my time, a step at a time and just try not to look too far ahead. One of the hardest things is knowing that others find it so easy. I wonder why I cant find it easy also. The positive to takeaway from this is that I did it. I walked down William Clough – ta dah. Hubby pointed out that I should probably do that kind of descent many times to get ready for the 3 peaks. So we will work this into the plan. I know it will get better. I will nail this – grrrr… 💪

Views from the hike today

21 weeks to go………

The last few weeks in training have been interesting…..

There was a great 32k run carrying a small amount of kit, stopping to make a brew with my new kraku stove in the warm sunshine. This run also included my fourth time filtering river water using my mini Sawyer filter which filters out 99.99% of all bacteria. It doesn’t filter out viruses (but you wouldn’t unduly expect many in UK rivers) and it doesn’t filter our chemicals (simply dont use river water near factories).

Photos from the beautiful 32k run

The day after this run I became ill – very ill. Probably the worst case of gastroenteritis (assuming thats what it was) I’ve ever had. Following the initial gruesome bit (details spared here) I carried on feeling sick, a bit dizzy and generally rubbish for several days. Was it the water? Or did I just eat something dodgy? Or did I make contact with something undesirable on my run and then eat my sandwiches. 🤔

To say that this experience made me paranoid is an understatement. I’ve been second guessing everything I’ve read about water filters. However, I’ve regrouped and done some more research. Well I contacted an amazing Adventurer on Twitter and she advised that she uses purification tablets on top of a filter unless she is high up in the mountains. Following my mini ‘hiccup’ I’ve decided this is also what I shall do.

After my “recovery week” I intended to cautiously step back into training for week 1 of my new workout plan. My coach at North_Endurance sets out a new plan every month. Week 1-Week 3 build up gradually with week 3 being the hardest. Week 4 is then a recovery week where sessions are halved or made easier in terms of intensity. Each four week plan might incorporate a new element or goal and will generally also include a new strength workout.

This months plan includes the following new elements:

  • One weekly run including the rucksack with full kit and weight
  • A longer gym session to test muscular endurance
  • A 3 day weekend of aerobic endurance. Fri is long run, Sat long (well ish) bike and Sun long hike.

My long run will build to 21 miles by the end of this plan. Next month the coach will put me on back to back runs Sat/Sun but reduce the distance (then rebuild it again).

I’ve been very impressed with my coach. He’s kept me injury free so far (my own attempts to poison myself aside). Long may it continue!

I absolutely loved this last week of training, although I will admit it left me shattered by the end of yesterday and I’ve had today off to rest with another rest day tomorrow.

On Monday I did an hours workout at the gym. I’m really enjoying the gym and strength work so this was all about the fun for me.

On Tuesday I ran with my rucksack for the first time. Well technically speaking its not the first time I’ve run with a weighted bag but it was the first time with this particular bag and the first time its been that full. I managed to pack it with 6kg. In reality it’ll be more like 7-7.5kg for JOGLE as I will pack adventure food, a tracker and yet more water in a bladder. I simply don’t have these things yet but I should get the bladder soon at least.

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was not only able to jog but to keep this up for a full hour quite easily. It felt really comfortable on the whole. The only issues to resolve are getting a bladder as the pockets at the front are not large enough for soft water bottles and finding a way to stop the small ridge in the back of the rucksack from rubbing me and causing chafing when I run.

Wednesday and Thursday included a turbo session, a short run and a death by Emma session with my PT 😬😆. She worked me seriously hard but its good to feel I’m getting stronger.

On Friday I ran 23km, mostly on road. It’s amazing how easy road running feels when you always run on hilly trails. Having said that I was still slow as a) I got lost (as always!) and b) I was bollocksed 😆.

Lovely view from Broadbottom just before the getting lost episode

On Saturday I went on a hike with Emma and some of her friends. It was a really lovely day and we walked through beautiful places on undulating trails. We parted ways at the top of Jacobs Ladder and they continued onto Castleton finishing a long day of 24km and I finished my 19km in Edale meeting up with hubby who had also hiked 22km from a different starting point (so clearly I was the laziest that day 😆). We were both carrying full kit and camped in Edale at a lovely place called Fieldhead Campsite. I can highly recommend.

Top left and clockwise: Vegan brownie after a long hike, stopping for lunch with the ‘girls’ on our way up Kinder Scout, me first thing enjoying a cappuccino in my tent, two of us having a good natter on the hike yesterday.

Thankfully my lovely husband brought me a second sleeping bag as it was -1 degrees and my season II sleeping bag just doesn’t cut it in those temperatures. I was toasty warm and had a lovely sleep listening to the sounds of a nearby stream as I drifted off. The pint of beer and nip of Martell brandy at the Nags Head helped though. A lovely finish to a lovely week.

Beautiful photo from the hike

24 Weeks to go – 3 Peaks JOGLE

I’ve been suffering from writers block lately. I know there is a jumble of words in my head but its difficult to spit them out in any particular useful order. After some dithering and focaccia bread making, I decided if I just start typing perhaps the thoughts will spill out and the writing will take care of itself. We will see – miracles do happen.

With 24 weeks to go till JOGLE, training has been increasing. I’m still covering 3 runs and a hike a week – this will no doubt increase in the next months. The runs are one hilly one, one short slow one and one longer one that gets longer each week. This one is following a marathon plan. This last week it was 24km and next week it’s 27km. The long run is my favourite run. It allows me to get out onto the trails and lose myself for a few hours both in mind and sometimes literally 😆.

A lovely moment on this weeks run – cute donkeys awww

On top of the runs, I do a long hike with my husband carrying a 30L rucksack and full camping/JOGLE kit. Longest to date was 30k but todays was “just” 19k. I say “just” because they are genuinely really hilly and often include some technical ground. By technical I mean loose large rocks, slippy muddy steep hills or boggy fields. This is all the norm for most trail runners or hikers but its definitely more energy sapping than running or walking on roads.

My husband was routing the hike today so all I can tell you about these is somewhere near Rowarth (top and left), not too far from Etherow (middle) and no idea 🤷‍♀️

My coach plans in all the training runs for me. He also sets out one bike session and two strength sessions each week. Recently my strength workouts have become more advanced. Where I previously did a plank, I now do a plank with leg lift. Where I previously did calf raises I now do them on one leg holding weights. In addition to these two sessions, I see my PT each week who gives me exercises that push me to my limit.

It’s good to see that I’m starting to progress. I can do moves I couldn’t do before and the stronger I get the more my PT introduces something new to push me again. Currently she is also working on my back strength. This is something I will certainly need for carrying my rucksack day in/day out.

This last weeks training totalled 12 hours. In my head this doesn’t sound a lot when I consider I will need to run/walk for 6-8 hours a day. But it is a lot and my body is tired today. I’ve had achy hips, a twinge in my ankle and my right shoulder makes lovely cracking sounds when I rotate it. Hopefully my body will adapt to this loading and start getting less tired – of course then I will add more training and hours 😉.

Kit:

The only addition to my kit has been some merino wool liner gloves with touchscreen compatible pads on the thumbs and index fingers. I absolutely love them. Considering how thin they are they have kept me warm when its been 2 degrees and I’ve still had them on when the sun is shining and my hands dont sweat in them. I also love the pads which mean I can take photos or check for messages without taking off my gloves.

My stove has arrived. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet though. I’m still waiting for the accompanying gas cannister to arrive – kind of essential. I should hopefully get a camping opportunity in April so this would be a good time to try it out. Fun times 😀.

This week I practiced with my Fenix watch for the first time using my own route. Or rather using the route that Komoot found on the app. Picking a starting point and an end point and letting the app choose something suitably ‘traily’ I found myself on new paths, exploring steep steps in a wood, jogging up paths that looked like dry river beds and crossing fields with no obvious path. All the time you simply make sure the little arrow is sitting on the purple line on your watch. It’s easy to use. It just feels odd to not know where you are and simply trust it. Fun though 😀.

I also used my water filter again this week. The more I use it the faster the water will flow out. So its good to practice. You simply screw on the blue filter onto your bag (in which you’ve collected river/stream water), turn it upside down and squeeze. You can squeeze into your own clean bottles or just drink directly from it by sucking on the blue filter at the other end. Now my runs/hikes are getting longer I’m finding this gadget very useful and the water tastes really nice too.

Great place to get some fresh water

Charities

I’ve had emails and information from both Mind and The Menopause Charity now. I can set up just giving for both. This is something l will set up circa 3 months out from the run.

Thoughts

I’ve had some nervous thoughts lately. Will my body allow me to do this? What if my hip/Achilles/back gives up? What if this/what if that? Two of my friends told me ‘you’re catastrophising’. So true – clearly something I’m guilty of. Oops. It’s good to have that honesty from friends. I need to be positive. I need to remember I’ve been in pain before and I dont give up easily.

It also makes me think though I need to train my mindset as much as I train my physical ability. Both are so important, perhaps the mind is even more important. I’ve seen some interesting books on Mindfulness and The Chimp Paradox that I might give a go. On a lighter note, I’m currently reading ‘ducking long way’ which is a really funny, easy to read book on Ultra running. I highly recommend it if you are into running.

30 weeks to go

Been busy with admin today setting up a new facebook page for my 3 Peaks JOGLE run in September.

I was sat with my husband in a cocktail bar yesterday (yes I know Human League reminder….) debating what to call the run. After a number of drinks involving rum, fizz and glacier cherries we came up with 3 Peaks JOGLE – as you can see its completely unoriginal and basically just does what it says on the tin. Still the cocktails were nice 😝.

I’m not social media savvy or ‘techy’ I would call it. There has been a lot of ‘Chrisssss’, ‘pleassseee help’. He is lovely though and very patient with me 😆.

Hubby has rejoined me doing PT sessions. He gets distracted though 😆

It feels weird and sort of alarming that my little adventure is drawing nearer. I have plenty of kit, I’ve been camping, become reasonably fit (I hope) and done some decently long and hilly hikes. However, I’ve not yet built up really long runs. My longest (recently at least) was 16K and I’ll need to run 42K every day.

It’s in the plan of course to build up distance. It just plays on my mind sometimes that I’m not ‘there’ yet.

I have to remind myself though that if I put in too much too soon then I run the risk of injury. Better to be patient and trust in the coach.

A recent mini back sprain led me to go swimming again. It’s really good for low key mobilisation without putting a strain on anything. I’m almost glad I pulled a muscle as I’m now back swimming once a week and loving it.

Following a pretty easy week (recovery week) – next week sees a step up in training. Swimming, strength work and the long hike will be kept the same, spin (bike) sessions will get longer and the long run will get longer. Not sure how far I will run as it’s based on time. So I’ve got 2 hours down for next weekend, building up to 2 hours 30 minutes by the end of Feb. This is still a far cry from the number of hours I need to get to but patience Lorna patience.

Generally on the weekend of the long run my husband and I will also go for a long hike. I’ve started to take my rucksack filled with kit with me to get used to it. These hikes have generally been around the 3 hour mark but the last one was 6 hours (long story involving a cancelled train).

I guess the combination of the long run and the long hike start to feel like I’m getting somewhere.

A few moments below from recent hikes and runs:

Above: A foggy day in Macclesfield Forrest. Below: New Years Day Sunrise on Hollins Cross, Jacobs Ladder, Werneth Low

Boxing Day and 35 weeks to go…

Happy Christmas everyone.

My Training Peaks has the start day of my JOGLE adventure planned in, So at a glance I can always see how many weeks there are to go. I’m undecided as to whether this is a good or bad thing.

On the one hand, part of me wishes it was tomorrow as I’m raring to go and on the other hand 35 weeks sounds so soon and its a bit scary! These two different thoughts may seem like they conflict. Actually they stem from the same place. I believe that once I start I won’t feel so nervous. There will be no time to overthink and the time for just ‘doing’ and ‘being’ will be upon me and thats no bad thing.

Well its been an interesting month in training. On the one hand its definitely stepped up and also taken a slightly different direction. On the other hand I’ve had a fair few days additional rest due to not feeling well. I even joined the nation in doing a PCR test this week after having a sore throat for a while. It’s negative and I now think the real culprit is dry air/central heating. A dehumidifier is on its way tomorrow – fingers crossed that helps.

Successful steps forward this last month, include a lot more hiking, hiking with a weighted backpack, running more often and running with a weighted backpack. Furthermore I’m very excited to have discovered a new backpack, which will now allow me to take a stove with me and cook on the way when I camp. So many thanks to Jenny Tough (not only an inspirational lady but also the person on you tube that recommended the backpack). Check out her website its really amazing what she’s accomplished. http://jennytough.com/

Hubby and I have recently hiked over Lose Hill, Mam Tor, Lantern Pike, Cown Edge. We are so lucky to have these beautiful places on the doorstep. (See photos at the bottom).

Running with a tent/sleeping bag etc. Does slow me down a bit (as you’d expect) but I need to learn to slow down even more as my heart rate was a little high this morning. It’s easy to get carried away but I’ll need to perfect the act of jog/walking if I’m to continue everyday carrying weight.

My coach has reduced my bike rides from 3 to just 1 a week as we start increasing my running/walking time. However, I can switch out a hike for a mountain bike ride anytime I want (its all good for fitness). My swimming hours have gone completely (sad face). I do miss it and I could ‘squeeze’ it in somewhere just for some relaxing fun but its not easy to know ‘where’.

My main task over winter is to continue building strength. I do 2-3 gym type sessions a week (one of those with a personal trainer) as well as a minimum of one structured run a week that includes hill repeats or intervals designed to make me stronger. Being strong is the main thing that will keep me from getting injured when I run/walk day after day carrying ca. 7kg (ish ish).

After our hike up Lantern Pike we are rewarded with these views
From run today up Werneth Low – carrying tent and sleeping system
Chris at the top of Lose Hill
Stunning views on the way to Mam Tor
Morning views from Werneth Low
It felt windy 😆 – coming down off Lose Hill – steeper than it looks

9 and a half months to go 😁

No I’m not pregnant 😆. It’s just 9.5 months until I run/jog/walk JOGLE woohoo.

The Getting Fit Bit:

I’ve been training with a coach since June and its going well. I’m not yet running long back to back distances but there is plenty of time for that next year (I hope eek!). He has, however, helped me to build up my base fitness to a really good level. This last week aside, when I felt poorly for 4-5 days I feel fitter than I ever have before.

The plan for winter is to build up strength and become more injury resistant. (Even more vital at my age). I am now doing 3 strength workouts a week and have to work upper body, lower body and core (each section at least twice in the week).

I have also started to hike more and will continue to build up hiking distances, preferably carrying some weight now and again. Eventually I will need to be able to jog carrying ca. 7kg.

I’m still cross training with cycling and yoga which is good for strength and recovery. I’d love to swim too but am struggling to find the time at the moment. Next year I will be running more and perhaps cycling less as I start the ‘build up’ phase. I’m looking forward to that as I hope I’ll start to feel a bit more ‘ready’.

Kit:

I still have some kit to get but I already have my rucksack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and a decent rain coat. When its possible I intend to go camping and establish what the minimum temperature I can sleep in is at night. After one camping experience two weeks ago when it dropped to 3 degrees (feels like -1), I can safely say my current kit was inadequate for such low temperatures. I had to get up and dance around the toilet block every hour in order to get blood back into my toes. It was not a fun night.

Since then I’ve bought a silk liner and a long sleeve merino top which should help keep me keep warmer. I would like to camp in the back garden at different temperatures (from 1-6 degrees maybe) to see what is comfortable. At least then if it’s too cold, I can dash back in the house and thaw out.

My husband bought me a Fenix watch which I’m absolutely psyched about. I’ll detail more about this in a separate blog, once I’ve had a chance to play around with it some more.

The Route:

I don’t really want to plan the trip in detail since its supposed to be a fun adventure and I would rather work it out ‘as I go along’.

However, I had to book time off work and arrange cover etc so it was necessary to roughly plot the route and establish timing. I have 7 weeks off work so I have to take less time than that as I need to get to the top and back from the bottom of the country. This means averaging 26 miles a day ish but the exact route in between is flexible. I can plot the routes for the day ahead the night before and/or ask locals for their knowledge ‘down the pub’.

Charity and Motivation:

I would like to raise money for a mental health related charity as well as a menopause related charity. This is something I’m looking into. Both mean a lot to me personally. You’ll see a few blogs on here related to menopause. It’s amazing to me – what a significant ‘event’ it is and yet how little its talked about.

My motivation (apart from the selfish need to have an adventure) is to feel like I’m in the driving seat, feel that sense of independence and gain some of the confidence that menopause sometimes strips away.

Tracking:

Yep I’ve put in an order for a tracker so people can see where I’m up to. This is a risky strategy since I’m completely clumsy and may fall over on day 2. It puts a sense of pressure on me. In some senses I sometimes think I should not talk about my adventure, not blog about it, not raise money for charity and not have a tracker. Then I could sneak off and if it all goes ‘t’ up no one would know (except my colleagues, husband and family).

However, I’ve thought about this. Sean Conway said if you are going to do an adventure tell absolutely everyone – then you have to do it. So I’m trying to go with that theory. I also think the tracker will be a nice thing for friends and family. They can follow where I am up to when the time comes.

Now I just need to keep training and at some point run a marathon distance – with a bag. The clock is ticking….. (apologies for the Sharon Gaytor reference).

101 Life Lessons

One of my 60 before I’m 60 bucket list items was to write 101 life lessons. I’m no Oracle. Some are useful titbits, most are lessons learnt as a result of me doing something stupid. Here are the first 10.

1. If you are decorating your house and have put the painting tray on the floor, remember where you put it! It’s all too easy to step backwards into your tray of very purple paint. If you get this wrong, you may need to hop all the way to the bathroom (and save the carpet from purple foot prints).

2. Always keep spare underwear in your swimming bag. You will inevitably forget them at some point and having a spare stash is incredibly handy. Particularly if you dressed that day in something flimsy, white or both.

3. Beware of trying on complicated clothing you don’t understand in a small shop cubicle. You ladies know what I mean, we’ve all been there. That top with too many holes where you cant quite work out which one you put your head through or that dress that has too many straps and maybe a tad small. If you aren’t sure put it down and step away from the garment.

If you fail to make this decision you may find yourself standing there with a large unrecognisable lump of material wrapped around your neck and face, one strap over your left ear and another in your left armpit.

The next decision is vital. Do you A) risk ripping it by pulling it off quickly? B) risk cutting off the blood supply by wiggling it slowly back off, nearly dislocating your shoulder in the process, or C) humiliate yourself by calling the assistant to come and help you, who will then of course gleefully tell their friends later in the pub in hideous detail. This decision could live with you for a while, so make it wisely.

4. If you’re avoiding cows milk for any reason, soya milk splits in hot coffee, oat milk does not. You’re welcome.

5. If you really need to pee outside when you are out for a walk make sure to do this far from the prying eyes of people on paths. Whilst dog owners may possess the tact to ‘pretend’ to ignore you when you squatting behind a tree that is clearly too close and too thin…., dogs do not possess the same tact. Being snarled at by a large dog up close and personal does not enhance the peeing experience.

6. Never ever put the washing in your washing machine wearing a sweatshirt with long toggles hanging from the neck. Better said, never ever switch the machine on if one of your toggles gets caught in the door……..thankfully for me I clicked the off button in time.

7. If you are fond of long distance trail running become acquainted with Vaseline. Your toe nails will thank you later.

8. Multi-tasking is a load of nonsense. All it means for me is forgetting I left laundry in the dryer and burning the dinner.

9. When someone waves at you in the street who you don’t recognise, look behind you first before you make a complete pillock of yourself.

10. White wine really does remove a red wine stain from the carpet.

Landmark moments! Countdown to my big run begins!; 2.5 months coached training; longest run since the face planting episode and first time drinking river water using a mini filter system 😀

2.5 months of coached training 😀

So its 2.5 months since I started training with North Endurance and it’s going really well. A few niggly Achilles twinges asides its been pretty smooth sailing. I’m still enjoying following a plan which is posted for me on the training peaks App. I generally get about a months worth of sessions in advance, although he sometimes tweaks bits here and there so you need to keep checking.

There is a comments box where you can say on the App how a session went and the coach will add his comments after that. It can be anything from the more general ‘you’re doing really well’ to the more specific ‘you need to eat more when running/cycling, increase your carbohydrates to XX grams an hour’. I take all these comments on board. I think I’m a good student 😁. To my mind; there isn’t any point in paying someone for advice if you aren’t going to take it on board. In addition to this, we have a call once a month to go over the previous month and what he expects from the next month from me.

The Grand Skiddaw Ultra

We went to stay in the North Lakes this weekend. The original plan was to run the Grand Skiddaw Ultra, which is 44 hilly miles including the climbing of Skiddaw (unsurprisingly). Unfortunately due to my ‘mishap’ earlier in the year we had to pull out. We decided to keep our booking at the lovely Thornfield glamping cabins, however, and enjoyed a lovely weekend there in the sunshine.

On Saturday we pottered over to a spot on a small rise, just 0.5km from the finishing line. We stayed for an hour ish, so we could clap and support the people finishing the Ultra. As you can see from the photo below my husband is looking and waiting to spy the next runner coming. It was really rewarding to be able to encourage people up that the last little hill, tell them they were nearly there and clap them as they went past. My husband also went up to the next gate and held it open for them. We always appreciate Marshalls and people watching and clapping when we run races, so its nice to give back a little.

They all did amazingly well running 44 hilly miles on a really hot day. There were some tired faces going past and some looked surprisingly fresh like the lady in third place who went past us smiling and seemingly with energy to spare.

Longest run since the big comedy fall

My husband and I ran 24km on the Cumbria Way yesterday. This is a stunning trail route that runs from Dalton to Caldeck. In fact it starts just before this picture above and aligns with the first part of the Ultra. We did an out and back on this run. Normally out and back routes are not my favourite but this route was so beautiful we didn’t mind at all. We didn’t take as many photos as we’d intended, but I include some nice ones below (along with general ones from the holiday).

Our mini glamping pod with the rather lovely hot tub addition
Enjoying a gin in the hot tub with a lovely fire nearby
The start of our run through the hayfields
How to maximise attractiveness wearing a backpack under your T-shirt whilst inhaling a cream scone (in Caldeck)
Running selfie on the return leg
Idyllic surroundings near the River
Husband showing his hay leaping prowess

The Sawyer mini water filtration system

In preparation for my long run next year, I’m starting to assemble some of the kit I will need to take with me. I will be doing some ‘practice’ long weekends where I run from A to B to C carrying my backpack and kit. One of the things I will need to take is a water filter so that I can drink from rivers rather than having to wait until you see the next shop/cafe.

Following a lot of reading and reviews I decided to buy the Sawyer mini water filter system. The system offers 99.99% elimination of all bacteria and is very light to carry. It doesn’t filter viruses or heavy metals or chemicals, however, I’ve read that viruses in the UK are not really an issue (in the water) and I guess I just won’t take water close to factories. So on our long run on Sunday I took the mini filter with me and filtered some of the water from the river in Caldbeck to drink on my return leg.

Honestly speaking it was the least risky test, since the water looked very clean to start with but you have to start somewhere. Apparently it will filter even dirty puddles, however, I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to try that one out!

Easy to use – you simply fill up the bag (shown in photo below), screw on your filter and turn it upside down to let nature take its course (you can lightly squeeze the bag too) and watch as your lovely clean water comes out the end. I filtered mine into my Salamon soft bottles to to put back in my backpack.

Happy with my new filter. As a follow up I should add I survived after drinking it too! 🙂

One year till the big run!

The clock has started ticking. Just one year to go until my run. Cover has been discussed at work. Kit is being assembled. I’ve started plotting a rough route. The training is just beginning really. A lot, lot of running still to do but it’s starting to feel real.