I’ve hummed and hahed about wether to carry this blog on, is it all a bit egotistical? …well, probably! But I realised, whilst looking up a new route to walk this year, that in all the hundreds of pages of information you can find out there, I always come back to ordinary people’s blogs detailing their experiences. I love reading about ordinary people’s issues with routes, their highlights, where they wild camped, how they managed with water and, most importantly when you’re a 47 yr old women, where the toilets are!!
There seems to be a huge amount of blogs, instagram accounts with young, beautiful, super- fit adventurers doing the amazing things that they do but there is not quite so many for people like me! So… on that note I will endeavour to re-ignite this blog, mainly for my own egotistical needs (!) but also because I hope it will help someone out there plan their own little everyday adventures.
I walked some of the Arran Coastal Way last year but never actually finished writing it up so that’s first on my list…if I can find my notebook!!
After a very tiring two days and a lot of soul searching the night before I decided that a change of plan was needed. This walk was never about enduring pain and wearing myself out just to get around the Coastal Way and say I had done it. It was always about enjoying the experience, seeing the sights along the way and giving myself a break mentally. So after sorting out blisters and making it possible to put my walking shoes on without grimacing (!), I decided to have a hobble around and enjoy Lochranza for the day.
Before leaving home I had downloaded all of the geocaches for Arran onto my phone thinking that I could find them as I walked…mmm, not so easy to do when your phone is out of charge and the thought of taking a heavy rucksack on and off to scrabble about for hidden boxes fills you with dread!! So today, minus the bag and with a fully charged phone, I went off in search of one near to the campsite. The great thing about geocaches is that they often take you to places you may not usually explore. This one was in a little bit of woodland with a pretty stream running into the Loch, a peaceful spot with dappled sunshine coming through the trees.
Walking back out onto the road I spotted a little white church, St.Bride’s. I love looking around churches and graveyards (is that a bit weird!?) and love the fact that a lot are kept open for anyone to enjoy. It has some lovely stained glass windows and colourful prayer kneelers, well worth a look in.
When we stopped at Lochranza many years ago there was a great little sandwich shop at the top end, just over-looking the Claonaig Ferry and I was glad to see it still going, a few changes of ownership since then but still great food and coffee. I enjoyed a delicious pulled pork on rye bread and the first decent coffee since I’d left home…bliss!
And of course you can’t go to Lochranza without visiting the castle.
Then back to the campsite, wandering across the golf course with resident Deer. A relaxing day was just what I had needed and the campsite itself is excellent with plenty of space, a room for campers to use with a sofa, microwave, table and plugs etc which is a brilliant idea on cold evenings!
I haven’t done much the last few weeks, no real walks, no wild camping, no getting out much at all. All I seem to have done is work, work, work…between that and ferrying teenagers around it’s all got a bit dull around here!
BUT… there is light on the horizon. I’m going to Arran in a week and a half. It was touch and go for a bit as to whether I could realistically do it. Life has a way of throwing all the crap at you at once and you have to scrabble to stick your head above it all, hence the work, work, work. We decided that despite not really being able to afford a week off work (I’m self-employed so if I’m not here, I’m not getting paid) I am going. This is time-out for me, a breathing space to re-energise mentally. There’s things in the last five years which I’ve not really dealt with and have taken their toll so getting back to nature, on my own, dealing with my own rubbish will be good for me.
I feel like I’ve been a bit of a sloth and I may not have got all the training walks in I intended but I know I can do this both physically and mentally so bring it on!
Plus, you’ll be inundated with hundreds of photo’s very soon…be prepared!
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about the possible need for a different tent to take around the Arran Coastal Way, the smallest tent I had was a great little Eurohike one which had never let us down but weighed in at over 3kg. I’ve spent weeks wading through Ebay to find a half decent one that I could actually afford, that was a more reasonable weight of 2kg or less, and failed miserably. In a last ditch attempt I put a shout out on some Outdoor Gear Facebook pages just asking if any one had one they were upgrading, chucking out, or willing to sell. I thought I would get back some snidey comments about never finding anything for my budget but how wrong was I!?
I had a whole host of helpful comments about where to look, giving advice of what to look for, offering tents for sale as close to my budget (which wasn’t much!) as they could go. I was extremely grateful for all offers but the one that blew me away was a lovely lady offering me an older tent, still in great condition, which she just wasn’t using anymore. At first I didn’t catch on and kept asking for the price but it turned out she was actually offering it to me for free!! WOW !! Not just any old cheap tent, an older model Lightwave T1 Cylq… not only that, she posted it to me and wouldn’t let me pay the postage either! She had upgraded and wanted someone to make good use of her old tent and obviously thought I might be a likely candidate.
BUT…the story doesn’t end there readers (!) The day it arrived I had another message from someone else offering me a older Vango Banshee 200 for ‘cheap as chips’ money! I didn’t want to appear greedy so explained I had just got one but that my son would love it so we could go wild camping. So now we will have two great little tents to go adventuring with. So, so happy!
I read a post on one of my favourite Facebook pages the other day where a lady was asking about completing the Arran Coastal Way in less days than the suggested six/seven because the daily mileage didn’t seem high enough (slightly paraphrased!) I think I was tired and grumpy and my hackles rose just a little bit. For a brief moment I felt as if my efforts weren’t quite good enough. I am planning to take the whole six/seven days, take in the scenery, explore the caves, swim in the sea and plod along happily… I got over myself!
I’m a 46 (ahem) year old mother, staring the menopause straight in the face, a dodgy hip and 17 years of hypothyroidism under my belt. I never have been and never will be super fit, super energetic and super enthusiastic about notching up as many miles in a day that I possibly can… and it doesn’t matter.
It’s so interesting reading other people’s posts and blogs, finding out about their adventures and their plans, some I would jump at given the chance, and others I would run a mile from (if I had enough energy!) Everyone is different, with different bodies, different opportunities, different wishes and that’s what makes the world go around.
My plan to walk the Arran Coastal Way on my own, wild camping, carrying all my equipment may be a drop on the ocean for some people but it’s a biggie for me, one that makes me nervous and excited at the same time. The reasons are many, life is short and it’s too easy to get dragged along in the everyday of ‘getting by’. So, enjoyment or endurance? Personally, I would choose enjoyment every time.
Being an extreme budget, wanna-be backpacker I’ll run through some of the gear I manage to pick up along the way.
So, first up is my new-to-me camp stove. We’ve had an ancient trangia set for years which has had a lot of use and is still going strong but I wanted something a bit more compact and lightweight just for me. On the ‘Outdoor Kit Exchange UK’ Facebook page I found a guy selling a Trangia Mini which is exactly as it says… a mini trangia!! For your money you get a standard trangia burner and screw on top, a seperate simmer top, aluminium saucepan (holds approx 0.8 litres), non-stick frying pan (which also doubles as a pan lid) and a pan handle. The whole thing weighs 330grams, not for the ultralight community but fine for the rest of us (!) So after a trial run here are my pro’s and con’s so far:
Small and compact – packs together with the burner and holder inside the pan and frying pan (also the pan lid). Lid snaps shut nice and snug.
Easy to use.
More stable than a screw on gas stove.
Cools down in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, so can be packed away once you’ve finished.
Has a simmer ring lid so the flame can be a bit more controlled if needed.
Non- stick frying pan.
Great lightweight pan handle which actually works, although it looks really flimsy!
The pot and the lid / frying pan have handy little grooves on the bottom so they sit snug onto the stand or the top of the saucepan to make them safer and more stable.
This uses a standard trangia burner and it maybe would have worked better with a slightly smaller version for this model to avoid flaring.
Generally a bit slower to cook with than gas but I’m not in a hurry!
It doesn’t like any wind!! This was an issue which has come up a lot on other reviews and I wasn’t quite sure what they meant until I tried it on a breezy fell! I had fortunately taken a folded piece of foil with me which helped fend of some of the wind, but without this the flame was blowing all over the place. This could be a huge issue if you had to use it in your tent doorway on a rainy, windy day!!
Only really big enough for one person which is absolutely fine for solo trips but not quite up to any more.
Overall, you can’t go far wrong with Trangia’s and I like the compact size of this one but we need to find (or make) a decent windshield before I’d be really happy taking this away with me.
Well, I wasn’t actually planning to do the Dales Way … It just so happens that this is one of the closest Long Distance Walks to us and happened to be a good place to be dropped off on Mr Gnomead’s route to work. Ok, I only did the first bit but I’m thinking that maybe I’ll carry on and do the rest in stages and see how I get on. I’ve started from where most people finish so I’ll be doing it back to front (not literally!)
Todays walk was from Bowness to Staveley (about 7’ish miles) with a stop to try out a new-to-me stove, which I’ll write another post about later. The whole route on this section was pretty well sign-posted and the only time I really needed my map was to figure out where I was along the route rather than finding the way. Most paths were obvious and easy to follow with some road walking (quiet lanes) so a pleasant walk with some great views. I’ll let the pictures do the talking …