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Yes!!! I did it again! Signed up for the next Conqueror Challenge! πŸ€­πŸ€­πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

This one is set in Germany; The Romantic Road – awesome. The medal is of course, beautiful as always. πŸ’™πŸ’š

conqueror challenges
Romantic Road, Germany – Conqueror Challenges

I just couldn’t get online quick enough to bag the number 1 vest, so I guess #42 will have to suffice. Damn!! πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ I’m always ready, finger poised above the keyboard, card at the ready….but for some peculiar reason, I just couldn’t get the link to activate….but finally I got there.

ο»Ώthe conqueror challenges
ο»ΏThe Conqueror Challenges – Romantic Road, Germany 431 km

So here it is. Looking at the challenge map on the app, I can see that a number of people have already started the challenge. Wow. Impressive! I’ve got another 5 waiting in line before I can start this one, so probably only in 2022. But if I do enough walking I ‘may’ just be able to start this one in 2021….we’ll see.

Walking the Conqueror Virtual Challenges,
Romantic Road, Germany – Conqueror Virtual Challenges

I’m currently walking The Ring Road, Iceland alongside my Conquer 2021 challenge for my daily perambulations, and updating The Cabot Trail with my specified walks….like walking the Thames Path, and coming soon; continuing along the Saxon Shore Way. πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ Got my latest postcard on The Ring Road yesterday

conqueror virtual challenges
Ring Road, Iceland – Conqueror Virtual Challenge

I’ve got an extra 2 days at home in June before I return to this booking, so I’ll make the most of them and get some mileage in.

Anyway, in other news (and no surprise really) this is the 18th challenge I’ve signed up for!! Addicted? nahhhh

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A couple of days ago my phone had a bit of a ‘moment’ and wouldn’t switch on!! My heart almost stopped because besides my photos, most of which thankfully are in dropbox, are still in camera memory waiting to be transferred, but as well as that I have dozens of Samsung notes with information on all the walks I plan to do…depending on how long I live of course.

So in order to avoid the stress of losing the information if the phone needs a factory reset, its time to transfer them elsewhere. So why not here. It sets my intention and let’s the universe know I’m still wishing for a sponsor to pay for them all πŸ˜‰πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜ and from here I can copy paste to dropbox. Of course if dropbox goes down…..πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ😱😱

For starters: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jan/13/how-intention-turns-a-walk-into-a-pilgrimage-5-british-walking-pilgrim-trails

Anyway, here goes. In no particular order as they say on Strictly Come Dancing…..or should that be ‘strictly go walking’…

The Viking Trail, Kent : Cliff’s End to Reculver, Kent, Isle of Thanet – 32 mile (51.4km) / 2 days route on the Isle of Thanet. I’ve already walked the coastal route over various excursions, some of it a number of times. This trail takes you on a coastal walk from Cliff’s End off Pegwell Bay where you can see the Hugin Viking Boat replica, passing through Ramsgate, Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs, Kingsgate, Margate, Westgate, Birchington on Sea to Reculver, where it then heads inland….the inland section I have not yet walked, but I have walked St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury via Minster which is on the route.

Saxon Shore Way, Gravesend to Hastings : http://www.kentramblers.org.uk/KentWalks/Saxon_Shore/153-mile (246 km) / 14 days – as with The Viking Trail, I’ve walked a number of sections of this trail, but now that I’ve bought the book and see the whole route, I’m keen to walk all the way in one go…..we’ll see. The sections I’ve walked are from Gravesend to Faversham when I walked Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route (I diverted inland to Canterbury from Faversham) and from Ramsgate to Dover (this section I’ve walked over a few days in 2020 as part of my quest to walk the entire English Coast). What surprised me when I bought the book, is that the trail goes inland near Margate to Sandwich. But if you’re aware of the Isle of Thanet, then you’d realise that in fact the route did follow the coast at the time, when Thanet was actually an island and cut off from the mainland by the River Wantsum. The route also goes inland from Folkestone to Rye. The ‘historian’ is treated to the “Saxon Shore” forts built by the Romans at Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lympne, to the landing place of St. Augustine and of Caesar (Pegwell Bay) and to defences of more modem times against Napoleon and Hitler.

Celtic Way, Cornwall : https://www.cornishcelticway.co.uk/ 125 miles (200km) / 12 days – from St. Germans to St, Michael’s Mount. There’s a guide book and passport that goes with this walk…I guess I’ll just have to do it “sigh”.

Coast to Coast Britain : 182-mile (293 km) St Bees (west) to Robin Hood’s Bay (east) : passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park. Long Distance Walks This is probably going to be one of those walks that I maybe never get to do; it’s almost a 3 week walk….but hey, add it on.

After reading the book The Salt Path (a true story), I found I was suddenly very keen to walk the South West Coast Path as well, so I’ve added it to my list https://m.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walk-coast-path/south-west-coast-path-national-trail/SWCP-itinerary/

Southwest Coast Path, England : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/south-west-coast-path/ 630 miles (1008kms) / 56 days – this is a walk I would plan to do over a period of time for sure and incorporate it into my quest to walk the entire English Coast.

South Downs Way, England : https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/south-downs-way/ 100 miles (160kms) / 10 days – I’m well keen to walk this route ASAP. Winchester to Eastbourne; follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs.

The Egrets Way, East Sussex, England : https://www.egretsway.org.uk/route 7 miles (11.2kms) / 1 day : from Newhaven’s Riverside Park the Egrets Way follows the course of the River Ouse north to Lewes passing close to the villages of Piddinghoe and Southease. I’ll tie this in with the South Downs Way when I do that route.

The Fosse Way – a Roman route from Exeter to Lincoln, England : https://britishheritage.com/travel/roman-road-fosse-way 240 miles (384kms) / 21-28 a number of days!! I suspect this is going to be one of those walks that I do in sections. I’ve already walked a very tiny section of the ‘way’ in Shepton Mallet last year. During the Roman occupation in Britain (AD 43–410), they built some 8,000 miles of known roads, and to this day many of them underlie our more modern constructions. The name β€œFosse” derives from the Latin fossa meaning β€œditch”.

Hadrian’s Wall, England – https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/hadrians-wall-path/ The Hadrian’s Wall Path is an 84 mile (135 km) long National Trail stretching coast to coast across northern England, from Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria on the west coast. The National Trail follows the line of the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing through some of the most beautiful parts of England – from rolling fields and rugged borderlands to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle – with dozens of fascinating museums along the way. An absolute must do, I’ve got the dates pencilled in and plans are afoot.

And then we have the 4 pilgrimage routes I’m still keen to walk. I’ve already walked The Pilgrim’s Way 153 miles (244.8kms) and planning to walk St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way in August, but I’d love to walk some of these others as well. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/britain-best-pilgrimage-routes-walking-holidays-uk-b485539.html

Old Way Pilgrimage, England : https://britishpilgrimage.org/old-way/ Southampton to Canterbury a 250 mile (400km) 21-28 days journey. This is quite a lengthy pilgrimage and would require careful planning.

St Cuthbert’s Way, Scotland/Northumberland : https://www.stcuthbertsway.info/ 62.5 Miles (100kms) / 7 days : Melrose in Scotland to Holy Island, Northumberland and onto Berwick-on-Tweed I’m planning this for August 2021

St Oswald’s Way, Heavenfield, Northumberland : https://www.stoswaldsway.com/ 97 miles (155.2kms) / 10 days : Heavenfield from/to Holy Island and onto Berwick-on-Tweed I’m planning this for August 2021 and plan to walk the Northumberland Coast as well https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/

Two Saints Way, Chester, Cheshire West : https://britishpilgrimage.org/portfolio/two-saints-way/  92 miles (147.2 kms) / 9 days : Chester to/from Lichfield

Peddars Way, Suffolk to Norfolk : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/peddars-way-and-norfolk-coast-path/ 49miles (78.4kms) / 5 days : Knettishall Heath Country Park, Suffolk to Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. I’ll tie this in with my plan to walk the entire English Coast (in time) for when I reach Norfolk: Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea; Norfolk’s heritage coast 87miles (139.2kms) / 9 days

Pendleton Hill Witches Walk, Lancashire : https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/The-Pendle-Witches/ 4miles (6.4kms) – a one day circular walk

The London Martyrs Way, London : https://britishpilgrimage.org/portfolio/london-martyrs-way/ 8 miles (12.8kms) / 1 day I’m planning on following this route in April 2021 when I walk the Thames Path. I’ll overnight in London enroute and do the walk, then continue.

And walking in Scotland is a must do…

West Highland Way, Milngavie to Fort William, Scotland : https://www.westhighlandway.org/the-route/  96 miles (154 Km)/10 days. I had planned to walk this route in September 2020, but we all know what happened then!!!

Great Glen Way, Fort William to Inverness, Scotland : https://www.scotlandsgreattrails.com/trail/great-glen-way/ 78 miles (125km)/10 days. This was also planned for 2020; a back to back walk of the 2 ways…but you know…Covid ???

The Rob Roy Way, from Drymen to Pitlochry, Scotland : https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/uswalks/robroyway/index.html  79 miles (125km) / 12 days. Features along the route: Killin. Falls of Dochart. Lochte Tay and Oban lost railway. This walk follows the tracks and paths used by Rob Roy MacGregor in the 17th & 18th centuries as he worked fought and lived the life of Scotland’s most notorious outlaw (I recently read about Rob Roy in Neil Oliver’s book ‘The History of Scotland’).

And then there are these… https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/dec/28/10-best-winter-walks-uk-2019

Of course I’d have to do a Welsh walk or two

Aberglaslyn trail from Beddgelert, Snowdonia, Wales : https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/craflwyn-and-beddgelert/trails/cwm-bychan-and-aberglaslyn-pass-walk 5.7 miles (9.1kms) / 1 day Lovely views of snow-capped Snowdon along the way.

Anglesey Coastal Path, Anglesey Island, Wales https://www.visitanglesey.co.uk/en/about-anglesey/isle-of-anglesey-coastal-path/ 130 miles (200km) / 14 days – I’ve long wanted to walk this route as it would add to my islands for Project 101

Offa’s Dyke, Wales : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/offas-dyke-path/ The 8th century King of Mercia built this mighty earthwork to keep the Welsh out, and it still roughly marks the present England-Wales border, runs coast-to-coast and links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow on the banks of the Severn estuary with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the shores of the Irish sea. 177 miles (285km) / 18 days I’ve walked parts of this route when working in Montgomery.

Follow a river or two…

The Thames Path – Thames Barrier to Cricklade ‘the source’ : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/thames-path/ : 184 miles (294.4kms) / 14 days I have this planned for April 2021, but we all know how fickle Covid is, and how much our government dithers, so although I’ve ‘planned’ to do this walk, a long held dream since I lived in London, I’m not holding my breath!!

The River Severn Path, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Powys, Shropshire, S Gloucestershire, Worcestershire : https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/show_path.php?path_name=Severn+Way 224 miles (360km) : this would require careful planning and I suspect that I would also walk this over 2/3 sections at different times.

Let’s throw a few islands into the mix:

Isle of Wight, England – https://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/walking/coastal-path approximately 67 miles (107.2 kms) 5/6 days : I’ve walked quite a bit of this coastal route already, but I’m very keen to actually walk the whole perimeter in one go…over a period of days of course

Anglesey Island, Wales – as above…. https://angleseywalkingholidays.com/routes/ approximately 140 miles (224kms) / 14 days  The Coast Path is a  circular path around the whole Isle of Anglesey. This is a walk I’ve seen other people do on instagram and I’ve saved the photos!! It looks amazing. I’ve only been on this island twice since arriving in the UK and both times it’s been on a bus in-transit from Ireland to England and visa versa…time to put my feet on the ground and walk.

Isle of Harris, Scotland – Hebridean Way https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/hebrideanway/walking Over the course of 156 miles (252km) / 14+ days : the route goes through 10 islands, crosses 6 causeways and includes two stunning ferry journeys. It is a route of astonishing variety – one day you may be walking on an exquisite deserted beach, with silver shell sand stretching far into the distance. The Hebridean Way walking offers keen hikers a unique opportunity to walk the length of this spectacular archipelago.

And then we have the canals…there are 2,000 miles of canal towpaths you can choose from! Not going to get bored then…these are my 4 favourite routes that I’d love to walk.

Kennett and Avon Canal – London to Bristol : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/kennet-and-avon-canal 87 miles (139.2kms) / 7 or 8 days This is one of my must do canal routes

Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, Somerset : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/bridgwater-and-taunton-canal 14 miles/22.5 kms / 1 day

Leeds & Liverpool Canal, England : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/leeds-and-liverpool-canal 127 miles (203.3kms) 14 days This route includes a World Heritage Site; Saltaire.

Royal Military Canal, Kent : This 28 mile (45km) regal waterway, which was built as a watery defence against Napoleon, runs from Seabrook near Folkestone to Cliff End, near Hastings in Sussex. I’ve walked a small section of this canal near Hythe and it’s beautiful.

How about a viaduct…. or two

Glen Ogle Viaduct, Scotland : http://www.walkscotland.com/route96.htm – I love that the old disused railways have been turned into walking trails. 5 miles/8km I could do this in 2 hours LOL

Avoncliffe Aquaduct on the Kennet & Avon Canal : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/avoncliff-aqueduct

Disused railway walkshttps://www.mountainwarehouse.com/community/spring-time/top-15-rail-trails I especially love the look of The Strawberry Line: Somerset and The Cuckoo Trail: East Sussex and then right on my doorstep The Crab and Winkle Way: Kent I may well investigate these as easy walks to do with my grandson.

Monsal Trail, Peak District, England : https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/trails/monsaltrail The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.

High Peak Trail, Peak District, England : https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/58518/PDNP-White-Peak-Trails-Map.pdf17.5 miles (28 kms) 2 days

Tissington Trail, Peak District, England : website as above 13 miles (20.8kms) / 1 days these 2 trails connect at Parsley Hay (that name alone would make me want to do the walk).

And what about these for good measure….https://www.kent-life.co.uk/out-about/places/waterside-walks-in-kent-1-6674762

Lands End to John O’Groats, Britain : I’m still not sure about this walk…..I may just save it till I run out of ideas for long distance walks and pilgrimage. https://www.landsendjohnogroats.info/route/ 1,111 miles/3 months LOL I may just drive it

Other countries:

Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail, southern Cape, South Africa – https://www.tsitsikamma.info/listing/tsitsikamma_mountain_trail Beginning in Nature’s Valley and ending at either the Storms River Bridge or Village 38.9 miles (62.3km) / 6 days.

Kumano Kodo, Japan : https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html – specifically the Nakahechi trail 19 miles (30 kms) / 2-3 days. I’d love to do this walk in spring over my birthday, then I can see the cherry blossoms too which has been a dream of mine for decades….I may well plan this for 2025 when I visit Australia and New Zealand.

St. Francis Way, Italy : https://www.viadifrancesco.it/en/# 344 miles (550kms) / 28 days a pilgrimage route from Florence through Tuscany, Umbria and Assisi to Rome and its seven pilgrim churches. I’ve purchased this walk via the Conqueror Virtual Challenges and plan to follow this while waking St Cuthbert’s Way & St Oswald’s Way and Hadrian’s Wall in August/September.

NORWAY https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-worlds-northernmost-pilgrimage-route-is-in-norway-and-almost-no-ones-heard/amp?__twitter_impression=true

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this website, but if I ever go walking or camping in Belgium it will be very useful https://welcometomygarden.org/explore Is a brilliant concept. I just wish we had something similar here in the UK.

And finally….”Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…” Wilferd Peterson

I have no idea if I’ll get to do all these walks, but so long as I have life in my legs, I shall give it a damn good go…meanwhile, perhaps my list have given you some ideas of walks to do. I’m going to tie in 4 of my Conqueror Challenges with the 2021 walks I have planned, and I have no doubt that they will come up with a few more that I can add to my itinerary for 2022.

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And finally…I did actually push myself today and managed to finish this challenge

On the border of Nepal and Tibet (autonomous region of China), standing proudly at 29,032ft (8,848m) is Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world and crown jewel of the Himalayas. First summitted in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, Everest has since been summitted by over 5,700 people a staggering 10,000+ times. Of course like any high risk activity, accidents and deaths do occur and in the last century just over 300 people have lost their lives on Everest. Although Everest has 17 different routes to the summit, only two of them are primarily used: the North Ridge route from Tibet and Southeast Ridge from Nepal.

As the air continued to thin the remainder of the climb was done with supplemental oxygen, using a full face mask with a rubber tube that connected my mask to a metal cylinder that held the oxygen tucked inside my backpack. The cylinder had a regulator on top that controlled the flow of oxygen.

Heading out from Camp 3 at sunrise I made my way up steep terrain for about 500ft (150m), traversed to a strip of limestone known as Yellow Band, across a stratified (layered) rock-ledge and up a 200ft (60m) at 40 degree angle stepped rock cresting the Geneva Spur. Following a rocky path I arrived at South Col (Camp 4) and had my first view of Everest’s peak. The true summit wasn’t visible from here but I could see most of the route to the South Summit (the secondary summit).

South Col was a waypoint for the final stretch at an elevation of 26,000ft (7,925m). Here I ate what little I could ingest as my appetite waned (a common problem at high altitude as the body no longer metabolises food efficiently), rested and waited for the night to roll in. Most climbers will depart for the summit between 10pm and 2am and take anywhere between 8 to 12 hours to reach the summit.

Wanting to catch the sunrise just before 5am, I checked my gear, put my headlamp on and headed across a broad plateau before ascending the steep 40 degree Triangular Face to the Balcony, a resting platform at 27,500ft (8,380m). Many of the early climbing teams including Edmund Hillary, put in a higher camp here in order to give them a shorter time to the summit and more time to climb in the warmth of the sun. Nowadays it’s rarely used. I took the opportunity to change my oxygen bottle, rest, eat and hydrate.

Once I crossed over 26,246ft (8,000m), I was technically in what is known as the “Death Zone”, where the oxygen is so thin that it is unable to sustain human life. Up here the oxygen level is 33% of what is available at sea level. At this altitude the body uses up its oxygen stores faster than it can replenish and without supplemental oxygen the body deteriorates and shuts down. That is not to say that experienced climbers haven’t succeeded in reaching the summit without supplemental oxygen. In 1978, Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were the first climbers to summit without bottled oxygen. A mere 0.02% have succeeded to summit without oxygen since.

From the Balcony the route took a slight left on gentle terrain till the route moved north and I was met with a 200ft (60m) slab of steep rock and snow terrain. Clipped into my fixed line, I pulled myself up using a jumar (ascending device) and in some exceptional steep sections my crampon points were precariously placed on jutting rock, strongly hoping they wouldn’t slip. It didn’t end here. When I made it above the slab, I was met with an even steeper section with a 60 degrees incline but thankfully it was shorter at around 100ft (30m).

Cresting the South Summit, I stopped for a short hydration break and a snack. From here the next section was a 20ft (6m) vertical drop, followed by the Cornice Traverse, a knife edge-like ridge-crossing to what was once known as Hillary Step. The Step was a nearly vertical rock face of 39ft (12m) and a technically difficult climb but it was destroyed when the region was struck by an earthquake in 2015. What was left were snow steps at 45 degree angles. It was debatable whether this was an easier way to climb but the real loss was the “Hillary Step monument”, a testament to Hillary and Tenzing’s success as the first summiteers.

With the end in sight, it took a further 20minutes to reach the pinnacle of the world. Adorned in prayer flags the summit at 29,032ft (8,848m) was a breathtaking 360 degree view of mountain peaks, glaciers and valleys. I watched the sun rise, casting an orange-red hue across the diminishing night sky as I reflected at the magnitude of this journey.

In Edmund Hillary’s words: “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

And on that note, I’m reminded that for me its about the adventures I have with my walking and over the last 4 years, I have truly conquered quite a lot, albeit not Mt. Everest, I’ve climbed my fair share of mountains – both actual and metaphorical.

Done and dusted

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Mt. Everest, and even though it sounds absolutely amazing, I’m still not in the least interested in actually climbing Mt. Everest…I’ll leave that to someone else πŸ˜‰πŸ§—β€β™€οΈπŸ§—β€β™€οΈπŸ§—β€β™€οΈ

Onwards.

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Yesss…..I know!! I said “no more challenges” – don’t criticise me please πŸ€ͺ😁😁

But I signed up for not one, but TWO of the new Conqueror challenges….how could I resist…I mean seriously, just look at that medal. Is it beautiful or what!!! 🧑🧑

Mount Kilimanjaro https://www.theconqueror.events/kilimanjaro/ can you just imagine what the postcards are going to look like! πŸ”πŸŒ„πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜ I’ve been hoping they would produce another short-distance challenge that I could squeeze in somewhere this year, and this fits perfectly 97km.

and please don’t tell anyone 🀫🀫🀫but I’ve also signed up for the Kruger Park challenge – since I have visited the Kruger National Park a couple of times in my life, this was a MUST DO. I’m going to do this challenge in memory of my brother Arnold who died when he was in his late 20s from a ruptured ulcer. He would have been 66 in August of this year…. One of my fondest memories of him is on our 1st visit to the Kruger National Park. We were in our mid teens, when my father took us, his 2nd wife, my baby brother Kevin and my younger sister Susan to the KNP. While we were driving there my baby brother threw up all over Arnold’s trousers…..so instead of walking around in his underpants, my father made me give him my bright blue psychedelic bell-bottoms (1970’s fashion) to wear…the top fortunately was long enough for me to be wearing a very short mini-skirt 🀭🀭 It wouldn’t have been quite so bad, except that Arnold had on a burnt orange stripped shirt…paired with bright blue psychedelic patterned pants…not so cool. And that is my over-riding memory of my 1st trip to the KNP. I’m sure we saw lots of animals, but mostly my memories are of that, oh and the breakfasts…I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! The breakfasts were sumptuous.

The pink outfit in this image is pretty much what it looked like, except blue with multi-coloured patterns. If I recall correctly, it was a suit my Mother would have made for me since she was a seamstress and made most of our clothes growing up.

Kruger National Park https://www.theconqueror.events/kruger/ these postcards are going to be amazing!! Looking forward to the information that comes with them.πŸ¦“πŸ¦πŸ˜πŸ¦’πŸ¦›πŸ¦πŸŒ…

Anyway, they’re the very first African themed challenges so of course I simply HAD to sign up – Mt. Kilimanjaro whoop whoop Of course my reason for signing up for this one is that my sister and her husband have in fact climbed the REAL Mount Kilimanjaro. I wonder if maybe one day I too will climb it…..??? I got my race bib!! #29 I’m getting closer and closer to #1 But! to my utter dismay, the internet was very slow in my area today and so my race bib number for the KNP is #87 too sad!! πŸ₯ΊπŸ˜ͺπŸ˜ͺ damn

This will be my 3rd mountain challenge 1. Mt Fuji 2. Mt. Everest and now 3. Mr Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

Kruger National Park

My other race bibs were St Francis Way #149 / Giza Pyramid #178 / Mt Everest #218

If you’d also like to walk these challenges, you can find the details here https://www.theconqueror.events/all-challenges/#hw_card This is not my affiliate link….I’ve already had 39 people sign up under my link which is just crazy….so I’m not using it anymore.

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I’m not sure if I mentioned this before πŸ€”πŸ€” but I’m walking the Thames Path for my birthday…its a milestone birthday in as much as according to the government I can officially retire!!!Β  πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ if only.

Initially I really wanted to walk from source to sea, but have not been able to find a good relevant guide book. The Cicerone books are excellent but they only had a sea to source guide, which has been irritating me.
So I’ve been pondering how I can turn this around so I can enjoy the walk instead of feeling like I’m doing it the wrong way around…

And I just had an idea πŸ’‘ ping the oldΒ  🧠 woke up….I shall pretend I’m an explorer πŸ˜πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸ•΅οΈβ€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ who has just stumbled upon this great river, and now I have to follow it to find the mysterious source hidden in the jungle….in reality it’s in a barren field and the stream is mostly dry,πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈπŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ but who’s checking πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ€·β€β™€οΈ this is my adventure and if I say it’s a jungle, then it’s a jungle πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ†πŸ…πŸ¦πŸ˜πŸ¦’πŸŠπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

Sometimes it helps to be on the verge of senility, you can make up all sorts of πŸ’©πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£

Thames Path…I shall πŸ‘€πŸ‘‰ in April well that’s the plan anyway…the PM may scupper those plans once again, unless I go incognito.

Walking the Thames Path has been a dream of mine ever since we lived in London, and I’m actually quite excited that finally I can bring my dream to fruition πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ Hoorah

Gravesend
The O2
Bermondsey
City of London – Commemorating the 1666 Great Fire of London in 2016
Westminster
Chelsea
Richmond lock
The Great River Race 2016 Richmond
The Gloriana processing along The Thames during the Tudor Pull near Teddington
Teddington Lock (during my 3 Days in London days)

Over the years I’ve walked sections of the Thames Path from Gravesend to Hampton Court and I initially toyed with the idea of skipping this section, which will take me 3 days of solid walking at approximately 20/5 kms per day, BUT I know myself too well…I won’t feel as if I’ve ‘actually’ walked the whole Thames Path unless I walk the whole route.

So, according to the guide, the path starts at the Thames Barrier, so that’s where I shall start my adventure…

The Thames Barrier

Did you know that the River Thames, a tidal river, is considered to be part of the English Coast right up until Teddington Lock ….

All I need now is for everyone to 🀞🀞🀞 that we don’t go into another lockdown before 20th April…thank you πŸ˜‰

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And tah dah!!!! I’m done! I reached Stage 9 and the end of my Alps to Ocean challenge on 2nd February. Hoorah.

Finally here I am 180miles (290km) later, having travelled from the alps of Mount Cook, along multiple lakes, countless connecting rivers, past seven Waitaki Hydro power stations, various mountain ranges, through tussock grasslands, beside electric fences (do not touch) to arrive in the urban town of Oamaru on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Oamaru is the largest town in the region and renowned for its Victorian precinct. A commercial streetscape, the Neoclassical architecture is a result of Scottish architect and engineer, Thomas Forrester, who emigrated with his family to NZ in 1861. Arriving in Oamaru to supervise the construction of the Bank of Otago, Forrester stayed on and shortly afterwards was integral to the construction of the Oamaru Harbour. Taking samples from the harbour floor, he deduced that the seabed could be dredged permitting the development of a deep water anchorage. This in turn allowed large ocean-going vessels to safely steer in and out of the harbour. Forrester then changed direction and together with his business partner, over a period of three decades, designed and built the various commercial buildings that still stand today. The precinct bustles with cafes, antiquity shops, bookshops and galleries. Each year it conducts the Victoria Fete, a one day fundraising event with stalls, music, food and period costumes. The funds raised go towards the ongoing care and restoration of the Victorian buildings.

For steampunk enthusiasts, inside one of the Victorian buildings is Steampunk HQ showcasing a collection of quirky items in retro-futuristic sci-fi style whilst outside is a full size train engine spitting fire and billowing smoke. Promoting sustainability and recycling Steampunk HQ collaborates with like-minded artists on projects to continue expanding the collection. Wish you could join me for a steampunk-Victorian era inspired dress-up and for a time feel like we have been transported into an alternative 19th century England.

At the north end of the Victorian precinct is the oldest public garden in NZ. When the town was surveyed in 1858 an area of 34 acres was set aside as a public reserve. Eighteen years later in 1876, the Oamaru Botanical Gardens was opened. Besides the flower beddings, bushes and trees the garden is dotted with various attractions such as the Japanese red bridge, Oriental garden, croquet lawn, sundial, aviary, peacock house, an Italian marble fountain and the Wonderland Statue made by the famous Scottish sculptor Thomas J Clapperton which he donated to the children of Oamaru in 1926. Thomas also made the bronze soldier sculpture on the World War 1 Memorial in Oamaru and is famous for his Robert the Bruce sculpture adorning the entrance of Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

As I stand on the end of the pier and look across the expanse and vastness of the Pacific Ocean, I wonder at its hidden stories, sunken ships and deep trenches. I wonder what Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan was thinking when in 1521 he sailed across the Strait of Magellan into the Pacific Ocean and was inspired to name it Mar Pacifico which translates as Peaceful Sea. It’s certainly questionable when you consider the heavy swells, the earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis that have battered many Pacific islands and sometimes obliterated complete towns. When I consider the depth and perpetual darkness of the Mariana Trench or the Pacific Rim with the highly active Ring of Fire, peaceful is not something that comes to mind but it is intriguing and fascinating.

This has been such a fascinating journey, it is indeed intriguing. I mean snippets like this are just awesome: Mar Pacifico which translates as Peaceful Sea, although I’m not too sure about the earthquakes et al.

Albeit a virtual journey, it’s made more exciting with the postcards and the information you receive as you reach each stage, and how much I’d love to see that train!! I’ve learned more about New Zealand than I ever knew, as well as from my previous challenges: Mt. Fuji in Japan, The Great Ocean Road in Australia, Ring of Kerry in Ireland etc They’ve all been so interesting.

So far I’ve completed 9 challenges which includes the Conquer 2020 challenge which was a sum total of all my challenges and more in 2020. My favourite so far has been Hadrian’s Wall and I never did get to blog about it…I only thought about sharing these challenges on my blog while I was doing Mt. Fuji because it was so fascinating. I’ll try to blog about the others, but I’ll stick with the shorter ones otherwise it gets too tedious for everyone….anyway, The Ring Road in Iceland is 1,332kms long and I imagine has lots of postcards LOL and the St Francis Way is 503 kms…so likewise.

But I’m starting the Mt. Everest challenge next, and then the Giza Pyramids challenge after I’ve done The Cabot Trail in Canada, so I’ll share that at the time. Of course I may just change my mind and blog about The Cabot Trail too πŸ˜‰ And here is my certificate. Seriously, within seconds of updating the app, the final postcard and certificate land in my mailbox. I’m going to make books from all of them for each walk….will be fun to look back on one day when I’m older, and infirm and unable to walk far….if I live that long LOL

Not too bad eh!! 5 weeks and not every day walked

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You have received a new postcard! πŸ™Œ its ridiculous how excited I get when I post a day’s mileage to my app and within seconds I hear the ping of a new email πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ I reached Stage 8 on 28th January, and

It’s with mounting excitement that I realise I’m nearing the end of my virtual journey on the Alps to Ocean route in New Zealand. I started off the challenge on 30th December 2020, and except for a few days along the Kent coast, the majority of my walking has been in the countryside of Throwley, near Faversham – still in Kent.

I’ve been hard put to get my kms in because I only get a 2 hour break each day and some days due to weather I’ve not been able to walk at all. I set my initial goal at 5 weeks but was hoping to complete the challenge in 4 weeks. However, that plan was scuppered when the booking was extended for 3 weeks. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” Nonetheless, I’m not complaining, I’ve enjoyed my stay in Throwley and with another 10 days to go till I leave (as of the 28th), I’m hoping to finish the Alps to Ocean challenge and start on the Giza Pyramids…meanwhile

Stage 8
Stage 8

The small farming-town of Duntroon is home to around 120 residents. It’s main economy is largely sheep farming and crop growing such as wheat and barley.

The town was bestowed its name by one of a handful of Robert Campbells that emigrated from the United Kingdom to Australia and New Zealand. It took quite a bit of unravelling and genealogical construction to discover which of the four generations of Robert Campbells was the relevant one associated with Duntroon. It seems that the name Robert was greatly favoured in the family.

The first Robert (#1) was a grand-uncle from Scotland who was the first merchant in the 1788 British colony New South Wales (Australia) and later a politician. Having built a private wharf at the time he is now referred to as “Campbell of the Wharf”. He had a son named Robert but his brother, John, also had a son named Robert (#2).

This nephew, Robert (#2), arrived in Sydney in 1806 and by 1818 he was the Director and afterwards the President of the first formal bank in Sydney, the Bank of NSW, today known as Westpac. Having also built himself a mercantile business on Bligh Street, Sydney, he became known as “Campbell of Bligh Street”. This Robert, unsurprisingly had a son also called Robert (#3), who was born in Sydney but chose to return to England and became a Member of Parliament from which he was unfortunately unseated threes month later. To distinguish him from previous Roberts’ he was given the appellation “Robert Campbell Tertius” meaning the third.

Finally the relevant Robert (#4), son of Robert Campbell Tertius, who was born in England in 1843, travelled to New Zealand early 1860s to either buy or lease land on behalf of the family. Robert became a successful sheep farmer, property owner and later politician. Together with his father, he owned a sheep station in the Waitaki District upon which they built a small town they named, Duntroon, a Scottish name possibly as homage to their ancestry and their ties to Clan Campbell of Argyll, Scotland.

Robert’s (#4) wife, Emma, bequeathed Β£6,000 to the parochial district with instructions to build a church for the benefits of Church of England members. The result was St Martin’s Anglican Church in a 14th century Gothic style, built out of limestone quarried in a nearby region. The side church door bears the Clan Campbell coat of arms. Sadly both Robert and Emma died childless and within a few months of each other.

By 1875 much of the acquired Campbell lands became plagued by rabbits that were imported in the 1830s and released for sport. Unable to curtail their rapid reproduction rate, by the early 1880s the pastures were depleted and hillsides eroded. This in turn produced lower quality wool thereby affecting the prices of wool. In the end, the devastation wrought in the region forced many sheep station owners into bankruptcy and the Campbell’s businesses in NZ were eventually wound up and ceased operating by 1920.

Just off the main highway is the Vanished World Heritage Centre, a fossil and geology museum that includes the fossils of two species of extinct genus of large penguins from around 27-28MYA. Known as Archaeospheniscus, the species is about the size of an Emperor Penguin. There was a third species, albeit a smaller one, in this genus that was discovered in Antarctica. These three species are the only ones currently existent in this genus.

Having left Duntroon, I’ve parted ways from Waitaki River which has been my companion since the Waitaki Dam and moved in a south-east zig-zag direction until I stopped at the Rakis Railway Tunnel, an old disused railway line. During the 1880s depression era the construction of the railway provided much needed unemployment relief. The 11mi (19km) line was in use from 1887 to 1930. Today the tunnel is only 330ft (100m) long and although it can be explored, a torch is needed because halfway in the tunnel curves cutting out all source of natural light.

Today will be by far my longest route of this entire journey, hence writing this letter on one of my rest stops. I look forward to rolling into my final destination, Oamaru.

Interesting information provided…..and therein lies the foolishness of history. You can’t just import alien species into a country for whatever reason and expect it to have a happy outcome. If you read history, you’ll discover that there were dozens of similarly stupid and foolish mistakes made by the invaders (of the people kind, not the animal or plant kind) of these islands as well as in Australia and various other countries around the world; the British Empire!! Geez. Well I have to admit that I have no sympathy for the unfortunate Campbells, shooting rabbits for sport – how cruel…and talk about a lack of imagination. With the huge variety of names on offer, could they not come up with something a little different…I mean I like the name Robert on the whole, but surely a little variety wouldn’t have gone amiss?

I do like the Elephant Rocks though and the Vanished World Heritage Centre, sounds like an awesome place to visit.

Anyway…. I’m rapidly reaching the end of my Alps to Ocean NZ challenge!! I always feel a little sad really when they reach the last few miles…..they become friends eventually LOL Okay, okay, don’t say it…I know, it’s daft.

Didn’t take any photos of the area this day because, seriously I have so many already, but I did spot that gorgeous iris hiding under a hedge and the snowdrops are in bloom. So pretty..I love this time of year when the first snowdrops appear…

And because I didn’t faff around too much taking photos, I managed to clock up 11.44kms in 2.5 hours πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ˜

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Nearing the end of my virtual journey, with just 46 miles/74 kms to go…this postcard and story about the route, popped up on 26 January….

Summer fruit orchards and wineries seem to be the economic backbone of Kurow, a small town that in the 1920s was the base for the construction of the Waitaki Dam.

Kurow sits within the Waitaki Valley, a rich limestone region with a cool maritime climate. With warm summers and long, dry autumns this region is a wonderful environment to grow grapes for wines such as pinots noir and pinot gris. The first vines were only planted in 2001, making this valley a very young winery region. I can imagine it took passionate and dedicated viticulturists to have the courage to explore new grounds and experiment with different plantings. Small scale, family-run vineyards are now dotted through the valley creating bespoke, boutique wines.

Stage 7
Stage 7

Just outside of Kurow is a family-run orchard growing summer fruits such as peaches, apricots and cherries. Conscious about fruit that is rejected by supermarkets due to imperfections, the family built a commercial kitchen and went about turning rejected fruit into a range of products such as jams, sorbets and baked goods. With a half dozen box of summerfruit tarts under my arms, I was ready to leave Kurow.

Joining the trail alongside the Waitaki River, I marvelled at its characteristics. This 68mi (110km) braided river begins at the confluence of Pukaki, Tekapo and Ohau Rivers with Lake Benmore atop it. The river acts like a link between the lower lakes by running through and connecting Lake Benmore to Lake Aviemore to Lake Waitaki before it freely and swiftly flows the rest of the way into the Pacific Ocean.

Between Kurow and Duntroon, I had to ford three rivers and I was grateful they were not flooded permitting me to travel beside Waitaki River and admire the mountain range behind it, instead of using a trail next to the highway. I’m also glad I read the instructions to not touch the fences along the way as many are electrically charged and not necessarily marked for information. Might’ve added an element of excitement I wasn’t really looking for.

Just before reaching Duntroon, I stopped at the Takiroa Rock Art Shelter to see the Maori art on the limestone rock that dates back to between 1400 and 1900AD. After the rock art site, I carried on through Duntroon’s Wetlands into Duntroon straight to the local pub for a feed and more Waitaki Valley wine sampling.

Seeing those grapes reminded me of when I was in Portugal on the Portuguese Camino coastal route to Santiago. The path invariably goes inland at some stages, and one day it took me through a vineyard. I shouted “Ola!! Buenas dias” to an elderly couple amongst the vines cutting down bunches of purple grapes. The lady and I got to chatting (her English was way superior to my Portuguese), and it turned out her daughter was at that time, living and working in London πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ How cool is that. So after a long conversation, she gave me a big fat bunch of the MOST delicious, juicy, aromatic grapes you could imagine…the flavour was like heaven.

I strolled along eating the grapes with relish, and shortly afterwards met the one and only snake in my entire Camino. 🐍😱😱 It was lying there, on the path, looking for all the world like a skinny stick, and as I was hesitating, thinking “is it, or isn’t it ” – the bastard moved. 🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣🀣😱😱😱😱

It still cracks me up when I think about that…3 things happened simultaneously : I discovered that I could indeed run if I needed to, I lost most of the grapes, and peed my myself 😜😜😜😜 of course the bloody snake slithered off into the grass with an evil grin ‘gotcha’. 😬😬 not funny.

Of course, encountering that snake, thereafter put a slightly different perspective on my walk, and I never looked at a stick in quite the same way again, or crept off into the bushes without trepidation 🧐🧐🧐

Meanwhile, I’m nearing the end of my Alps to Ocean virtual challenge across New Zealand. And I’m now seriously considering actually doing this route when I visit the island. It might mean postponing my trip down south to Ozzie land for a year to save more funds, but it would be totally awesome. And of course, if I did, and since I’m going that way, I’ve pinned my ‘intention’ to my metaphorical board of walking the Kumano Kodo in Japan. I mean seriously, how awesome would that be!!

Like the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo is designated a UNESCO heritage site and would slot in nicely with my Project 101 https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html

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I got back yesterday after working away for 5 weeks and opened my vast pile of post….

It’s like Christmas really πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

And in the pile were my last 4 Conqueror medals πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

In order of completion, from left to right

Great Ocean Road, Mt. Fuji, Conquer 2020 and Alps to Ocean which I completed this month. Awesome πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

My target for 2020 was 2,020kms and I reached that on 31 December 2020

I probably walked wayyyyy more than that, but I mostly count ‘boots on’ mileage and if I’m stuck indoors at work and unable to get out for my break on any particular day, I count my indoor walking, which extraordinarily sometimes amounts to 12kms between going on duty at 8am to 2pm when I take my 2 hour break. Mostly I try to get out to walk, but sometimes like these last few days, I get snowed in, or its pouring with rain….ergo, no good for walking if you don’t have the right gear.

I first started these virtual challenges on 26th March 2020, and the Alps to Ocean is my 9th challenge completed. I have 5 to do this year, as well as the Conquer 2021 challenge which is a compilation of all challenges walked during the year. Of course they may well introduce more…in which case 😁😁😁 and ‘boots on’ and getttt walking!!!

Also in the mail were my next two Cicerone books: The Thames Path, which I’m planning on walking in April for my birthday. Its something I’ve wanted to do for years, and years, and of course I’ve walked many miles along the River Thames between Hampton Court Palace and as far as Greenwich – not all in one go, but different sections over the years, and right along the whole length between Rotherhithe and Lambeth, also at different times.

And of course the South Downs Way is a desirable walk for this year too.🀞🀞🀞 because so many factors affect that possibility.

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Now that I’m at my next booking my time has been limited. But I try to get out every day and explore the area.

After a week of daily walking, I reached the 4th stage on 10th January…

The roads here are very long and it takes me a good 10 minutes to reach an intersection, which means I can’t go too far afield as it will take too long to get back. But I’ve made a point of trying out different routes, in as much as my options are minimal, but I’ve discovered some lovely country lanes.

Meanwhile, on my virtual journey…

Here I am at Lake Ohau, the third and smallest parallel glacial lake in the Mackenzie Basin that serves as a water storage for the Hydro scheme. It is connected to Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo (the other two parallel lakes) via an artificial canal. Lake Ohau is stunningly located between The Barrier mountain range to the west, Ben Ohau range to the east and Naumann range to the north which lies between Hopkins and Dobson rivers that feed into the lake.

Stage 4

This turquoise blue lake is a perfect environment for both powered and non-powered activities. Although at the height of summer the temperature reaches a mere 60Β°F (15Β°C) any swimming enthusiast wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity for a crisp splash in the lake. Luckily for me the weather was in my favour and I went for a brisk swim before starting my onward journey. However, I did hear that any sailor or windsurfer on the lake must be mindful of the northerly winds as the water gets choppy very quickly.

It might be debatable what’s considered a national dish in NZ, perhaps fish and chips or perhaps a gourmet meat pie. No matter, my choice was the traditional piping hot meat pie encased in a crispy pastry. This humble meat pie has been part of NZ’s cuisine since 1863 when the early British settlers brought it to NZ’s shores. It’s the perfect size to be eaten with one hand whilst chugging their popular Lemon & Paeroa soft drink with the other. The soft drink’s history goes way back to 1907 when it was originally manufactured in the town of Paeroa by combining lemon juice and carbonated mineral water.

After my finger-licking good pie and L&P hydration, I set off for what was to be the hardest part of the journey. The first 3.5mi (6km) was an easy section as I traversed the lower slopes of the Ohau range across several creeks before I found myself on a narrow track and a sustained climb of about 2.5mi (4km) to the highest point of the trail at 2,952ft (900m). Not that I particularly trusted that I was at the highest point for a while since all along there were several “false summits” where the trail appeared to reach the highest point to then discover that there was more upwards winding to go. During the winter months part of this upward climb proves to be even more hazardous as it becomes part of an avalanche path.

Reaching the top was quite the accomplishment but given its exposure and strong winds I spent little time admiring the view and started my descent. If I thought the climb was a challenge the steep descent with its tight steep bends was even more ghastly for the next half-mile or so.

The rest was a rolling descent crossing several streams. Clean drinking water could be collected at these streams enabling me to top up my bottles. The track joined with Quailburn Road and for the remainder of my journey I travelled beside Quail Burn River first to the west of me and once I crossed it to the east of me, almost like a constant companion, until we parted way with the river flowing into Ahuriri River and me rolling into Omarama for the night.

Like the Mt. Fuji virtual challenge which I finished in December, I’m really enjoying learning more about New Zealand and its history. The powers that be could/should consider teaching history and geography in this way, the subjects would be so much more interesting.

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