Grand Walking Plans 2011

Published 11 March 2011

What with the Pennine Way posts now being up, I’ve finally got through my insane backlog of walking blog posts from last year.

Shadow Play

Hurray, I thought. The results from my grand walking plans are finally finished. The South Downs Way? Done! The Coast To Coast? Done! The Dales Way? Done! The Pennine Way? Done (eventually)! About 500 miles all walked! Phew! I could relax.

Then various people started asking me about this years plans…

And I started thinking about them. And then I realised I was going to go through it all again… I’ve got another year of insane amounts of walking again. Yay! So what’s the plan then Stan?

The Glyndŵr’s Way

Catherine and myself were looking for something to do this April and we ended up deciding to do a walk. Our original plan of a simple few days walking seemed to end up evolving in to a ten day walking epic, and The Glyndŵr’s Way.

One of the newest National Trails having attained that status in 2000, it’s a walk of history as it takes a tour of Welsh history associated with Owain Glyndŵr who was the last Welshman to hold the title of “Prince of Wales”, and who instigated a long running, but ultimately unsuccessful revolt against English rule.

Coming in at 135 miles, the route looks lovely taking in a variety of sceneries from lakes to forests to hills. I’m really looking forward to it.

The Ridgeway

This came about by a bit of an accident. A friend of mine suggested a group of us did a little trip on the Ridgeway which is, cunningly, not that far from his house. Going through the Chilterns, the Ridgeway is a mere 87 miles long, but it does look nice.

What started out as a one day trip, ended up as a weekend walking and, no doubt, a pint or two inbetween. Our of the six of us going, I think only three of us have ever done a multi-day walk, so it will be interesting to see how the other three get on!

The Ridgeway can be done in six days, but public transport considerations means it’s not easy to split it up. You basically need to do the the first three days as one block, then days four and five together and then you can do day 6 seperately if you want. The group plan was to do days four and five as they’re nicely bookended by railway lines.

But that got me thinking. See, I’m a bit of a completionist. I liked the idea of completing the route, but when to do it. Myself and Catherine had a few days of leave to use up before April so we thought, stuff it. We’d do the first three days two weeks before the group walk, then we’d do the final day at our leisure. Or maybe arrange to do it with the whole gang.

The Southern Upland Way

I think it’s fair to say that for me, 2011 is a year of change. This summer I will be made redundant as my job moves to Salford. After eleven and a half years in the BBC, this will be a huge change in my life. It’s daunting; a little bit scary; a little bit exciting.

It also gives me an opportunity to take some time off, and I decided I wanted to do something different.

After completing the Pennine Way and Coast to Coast last year, it felt to me like the big walking challenges of the UK were now done. Between them and the West Highland Way which I did in 2009, it felt like there wasn’t much left to do.

Then I started thinking about a walk Catherine had spotted in her battered copy of Lonely Planet’s Walking In Britain

She always used to mention it in an aghast kind of way because the Lonely Planet book listed each stage as insanely long mileages. Starting with a mere 20 miles, it would then list days of walking that would require the superhuman walker to put in 35 miles. Even at the optimistic 2.5 miles an hour speed, that’s still 14 hours – 6am to 8pm, with no rest breaks.

That walk was the 212 mile long Southern Upland Way, Scotland’s Coast to Coast walking route and described by some as the most challenging walk in Scotland. I suspect it’s the most challenging in the UK myself.

The reason for the long distances is because accomodation is sparse to say the least. There are regularly huge gaps between villages, and not many shops and pubs. There are some bothys on route, and you can arrange with B&Bs to get lifts to and from the path.

Alternatively you can pack up your tent and sleeping bag and do it in style – mixing wild camping with resting in formal sites or just outside the local pub.

I’ve never walked and camped before. I don’t own a tent, a sleeping back, camping stove or all the other things you need. But I will soon. And I’m going to do it completely without plans. Camping gives you an amazing amount of flexibility, so I won’t be booking a return train ticket before I go. Each day I’ll decide where I want to walk to, or indeed whether to walk at all. I reckon it should take me three weeks at the most, but who knows.

Doing the Southern Upland Way like this is just one of those things you can’t normally do with a normal day job and it may be years before I’m able to do something quite like this again.

The Mystery Walk

In April the new annual leave year starts and in June I’m leaving. Apparently that works out as five days leave – some of which will be used for our Wales trip. And I’ve also got 2½ days of Long Service Leave to use up. And in May I get another 2½ days!

My plan is to have a week off in May and maybe do some walking. My original thought was to test the tent (the one I haven’t bought yet) out in the Lake District and do some Wainwright’s, but we might be heading to the Lakes in July anyway and lately I’ve thought another walk would be nice – maybe a 5-6 day one.

But what? Where to go?

Well that’s another question. Come back here to find out! (Or alternatively, you could help me out by suggesting something? Oh go on. You know you want to…)

Your Comments

Strato

5 April 2011 at 6:42 pm

I really want to cycle Hadrian’s Wall. Not that long but should be quite nice. The difficulty being that you should do it West to East but that means ending in Wallsend.

Mike Redfern

15 April 2011 at 8:34 am

I would say that The Cape Wrath Trail is probably the most challenging walk in Scotland

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

15 April 2011 at 9:22 am

Right, that’s August sorted out then!

Mike Redfern

15 April 2011 at 10:32 am

Not unless you like being eaten alive !!!!
MIDGIES MIDGIES !!!!!!!!!
not good in a little tent !

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

15 April 2011 at 10:38 am

Ah but I have the amazing Avon Skin-so-soft. So effective that marines buy it.

Your Comments