What a week of weather we’ve had! I know that here in the UK it’s not been as bad as in some places; I feel for those who were in the path of Storms Marco and Laura over in the Southern USA. I admit that I have spent some of my week off work hiding from Storm Francis, to the extent that I ended my camping trip to the Lake District early so that I could hide from the storm at home. Not exactly the week I had planned, as I will explain in this weekly blog episode.
A Mini Adventure in the Lakes
I booked this week off work so that I could have a bit of a fun week in the Lake District. You know, some camping, some hiking (I had planned Zoe-suitable routes for Helvellyn, Great Gable, and Aira Force waterfalls), and a rematch at the Via Ferrata over at Honister Slate Mine.
It turned out to be a very mini adventure. After a couple of lovely days in the Lakes, camping very close to Helvellyn as that remains the hill at the top of my list at the moment, I made the decision to cut my trip short on Monday night and retreat home to hide from Storm Francis here rather than under canvas.
I mean, the Green Cone (read my review of this fabulous tipi tent here) is pretty good in wind and rain, but there was no need to test it to breaking point, and with the forecast being 45mph in the valleys and 85mph on the fells, I wasn’t going to be doing anything other than waiting. The campsite I was staying at was already waterlogged even before the big storm, there was no point pushing my luck.
I posted on Instagram that I did feel a bit of a failure in some ways, but completely acknowledge that retreating home is sometimes the best decision. Thank you for all the messages of support there, it meant a lot. The mountains will still be there next time, and there will be a next time, because I was sensible and came home. On this particular occasion, it was absolutely the right decision – Tuesday really was horrible, I swear the wind moved the house an inch closer to the road!
I did, however, manage to do the Via Ferrata Xtreme course. And it was utterly brilliant. I don’t want to spoil it here because I’m going to give it the full blog post treatment as soon as I can. But just to say I had a great time on Fleetwith Pike with a small group of others and our ace instructor Nic.
Salvaging the Week with my Summer Bucket List
As you will have gathered by now, instead of hiking up Helvellyn and Great Gable, or even to Aira Force waterfalls and around Ullswater, as I had hoped, I ended up back home in Gloucestershire hiding from the storm. Enter that summer bucket list I wrote back in episode 28 (head here to read it), which was a small list of things for me to “achieve” in these summer months to help me get back into some kind of happy and motivated place.
I did two half-day hikes from that list, including one at Bredon Hill in Worcestershire and one at Sapperton in the southern Cotswolds.
It was beautifully sunny for my walk on Bredon Hill, which has amazing 360-degree views all around – I could see The Malverns in one direction and over to the ridgeline of the Cotswolds very clearly. I mean I could basically see my house from the top of the hill. I really should take a better camera when I hike, I’d have got some great shots!
I walked around six miles, that’s all, on easy terrain. There was a reasonably big ascent at the start, nothing taxing, and a steep descent at the end, but nothing that made the walk too strenuous. I loved how one of the farms I walked through had lots of signage about the wildlife and farming practices, which kept the interest.
This is the route I followed on Bredon Hill (start here if you’ve not already got a subscription – affiliate link). The view from Bredon Hill is featured as my weekly blog header image this week.
My second local-ish walk was in the southern Cotswolds, down at Sapperton near Stroud and Cirencester. It wasn’t quite such a good day weather wise, but it was still way better than it could have been, and I was primarily in woodland where I was sheltered from the rain showers.
This undulating walk really was all about the woodland, and I loved that about it. It meandered through peaceful trees, I hardly saw a soul all day, over high plateaus with views all around, through a beautiful cottage garden (actually through the middle of it, the path definitely went that way!), through a number of wildflower meadows and a nature reserve on the side of a hill, and along the route of the Sapperton Railway Tunnel (you walk on top of it…) with it’s straight line and brick built air shafts.
It was such a peaceful walk I saw a deer sat in the path ahead of me, and only came across other people when I was close to a village. The route used part of the Macmillan Way, which always makes me smile as we used to use the other end of that for family walks back in Lincolnshire. I guess I could (technically) walk all the way home to see them. Might take a few hours though, maybe that’s a walk for another day!
This is the route I followed at Sapperton (please start here if you’ve not already got a subscription – affiliate link).
I’m not sure if you want walk-reports for this kind of walk here on Splodz Blogz, please let me know if you do and I will be very happy to write them up for you to follow yourself sometime.
My walks this might have been much more, well, low-level than I’d anticipated this week, but I have honestly still had a great time outdoors. Let’s face it, at least I knew these hikes were within my fitness abilities, and there is something lovely about being able to come home for lunch and a fresh cup of tea when the walking is done.
I could definitely be a professional day hiker. Is that a thing?!
Three Cool Adventures to Follow
Some of my fellow GetOutside Champions are rather into their World Record breaking challenges, which I find hugely inspiring. I really do admire people who can leave everything else behind to tackle one single thing with all of their being. I think my head is far too full of rubbish to succeed at that kind of dedication, but I do love seeing it in others.
This week these three amazing humans are doing their thing, and you’d be wise to check them out if you fancy seeing the world in a slightly different way for a day or two.
Alex Staniforth – Running the National Three Peaks
It likely that by the time this post goes live (early evening on Sunday 30 August 2020), Alex Staniforth will have completed his challenge. At 3.30am today he left to start the final 42 miles to summit Snowdon and finish in Llanberis. I’ll be refreshing his tracker this evening to find out!
His challenge is to run The National Three Peaks Challenge – that is, climbing the three highest peaks in the UK (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon), and running the entire distance between them. You read that right – no cars here! The route is approximately 440 miles, which Alex hopes to complete in under nine days in order to become the fastest person to have ever done that. Wow.
James Forrest – All the Wainwrights in 18 Days
James Forrest, our Mountain Man, is on Wainwright 86 of 214 in his world record attempt to hike all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District in a continuous, non-stop round. His expedition, including 525km of walking and 36,000m of ascent, is a solo and self-supported hike that will take him approximately 18 days.
I mean, that’s quite some way to spend a three week “holiday”. James is a really lovely bloke, who tells open and honest stories of his adventures that are inspiring to all, and I wish him all the strength and stamina he needs to complete this challenge.
Follow along with James’ challenge here on Instagram, where you will also find a link to his live tracker. Oh, and read my review of his Mountain Man here.
Matt Kettlewell – Let’s Kick It Lejog
Matt Kettlewell is about to embark on an epic sounding adventure taking on the iconic Land’s End to John O’Groats end to end challenge on a kick scooter. His route, which he will start on Tuesday (1 September) will take him along 1,450km of tracks, canal paths and cycle ways. For those interested, the ascent will be over 12,000m (Everest is 8,848m…). Matt hopes to do all this in less than 21 days.
There are potentially a handful of records in it for Matt if all goes well, including Fastest Lejog on a Scooter, Fastest Mile on a Scooter, Furthest Distance in 24 Hours on a Scooter, and more. Should be an interesting and fun one to follow, for sure.
Matt is using his challenge to raise money for the Youth Adventure Trust. Follow Matt’s scoot on Instagram.
I don’t think I’ve got enough energy to try any of these challenges, or even come up with something equally as epic in the first place! Good luck to all three of these amazing people in their adventures this week – I know you can do it!
I’d love to know how your week has been. Let me know how you found Storm Francis, and the rest of the week, in the comments below.
If you enjoyed reading this episode, if you think my weekly blog series is a fun thing to read regularly, and especially if you got to the end of this one(!), I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Come on by next Sunday evening for the next in the series.