coast to coast 2011

coast to coast 2011 - preparation

Whilst my love of walking is beyond doubt, I think that I must spend almost as much time planning and organising walks. It is for these reasons that the C2C holds so much fascination. I had long held a yearning to undertake this walk but needed to convince myself that I could respond to the physical and mental challenges of getting out there and waking every day for almost 3 weeks. My 60th birthday gave me the reason I needed to subject myself to the C2C challenge and to commence the necessary planning & preparations. A friend had told me about the Coast to Coast Packhorse company who could book my accommodation and move my luggage between stops. They also had the added advantage of taking you from Kirkby Stephen to the start of the walk and bringing you back again from Robin Hoods Bay. This is something that many of their competitors don’t do, leaving you to find your own way to the start and home again. Although I’ve had only minimal email contact with C2C Packhorse, they quickly responded to my booking and 8 months in advance of the walk I already know where I’ll be staying each night with the bonus of a single room in each location.

I know that the traditional way of doing the C2C is a 12 day walk with legs of up to 21 miles. As I’m not in a hurry, don’t want to walk too far in a day and I’m not constrained by time or money, I decided to take spread it out over 17 days. This meant that my longest day would be 14 miles and on the shorter 8 or 9 mile days I could have a later start, an earlier finish and stop off along the way.
I should add that I’m not one for stopping in bed, I’m still up at 6am each day, despite being retired, and think that 10 minutes is quite long enough for a lunch break when out walking.

To get me in the way of C2C thinking, I borrowed 3 books on the walk from the local library and even spent some of my hard earned pension on buying Martin Wainwright’s “The Coast to Coast Walk”. This gave me a good impression of the route along with extracts from the relevant Ordnance Survey maps. Being a tight-fisted Yorkshireman, I didn’t want to buy all of the OS 1:25,000 scale maps and the Memory Map download from the Walking Places website proved to be invaluable in my planning.

In addition to the paper maps, I had already invested in Anquet’s mapping products and have digital maps for the whole of the country at 1:50,000 scale and for the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales at 1:25,000 scale. I find this invaluable for walk planning on my home PC and for navigation on portable GPS devices. I currently have this digital mapping running on a GPS enabled Mio P360 Digiwalker PDA and on my recently purchased, Windows based, HTC Touch Diamond 2 mobile phone. Both devices are shown here.

The beauty of these devices is that through their GPS capabilities I always know where I am and can download/upload routes when I get home. Both have in-built batteries which can be recharged via a USB connection. Battery life is sufficient for a day’s walking and I also carry an auxiliary external battery, should I need it.

Whilst I’m no expert on long distance walking routes, I didn’t think that it would be a good idea to start out with a brand new pair of boots and it is for this reason that the Asolo Fugitive GTX boots that I bought some 6 months ago, and have comfortably broken-in, will be set aside for the C2C. Although I’ll be doing the walk in June, I expect to encounter some muddy sections, notably around Nine Standards Rigg, and will then be using my Trekmates Sprint Gaiters.

During my 15 or so years of walking, I’ve accumulated a wealth of walking gear which has cost me a packet. I have a number of Gore-tex jackets (it seems like one for each season) and intend to take my Berghaus Paclite shell jacket and Sprayway Gore-tex over-trousers (which I had specially shortened by their factory to fit my 27” inside leg). More recently, I’ve switched allegiance to Paramo clothing and will also be taking my Cascada jacket with me, in case of heavy weather. My rucksack is a Berghaus Freeflopro40 and this will be supplemented with a Trio 4l chest pouch. I have walking poles but generally only need these on the steepest of descents and I’m undecided as to whether to use them or not. I know that it is claimed that poles save wear and tear on knees so it may be wise to use them throughout the 192 miles of the C2C.

Having read the above, you might think that I fall into the “all the gear and no idea” category – hopefully not! I know that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get walking, but once you start it tends to get the better of you and I can’t pass a walking gear shop without looking in. Just to prove that there are bargains to be had at the lower end of the market, my last purchase was a couple of mid-layers from Mountain Warehouse for just £10 each.

Having discussed gear, I guess that I should say something about food - a topic dear to my heart or should I say my stomach! Napoleon Bonaparte said "An army marches on its stomach" and if I’m to make it to the end of the C2C then I need to give serious thought to food. On my normal 3 or 4 hour walks, food isn’t a big issue, but when walking for 5 or 6 hours then some form of sustenance will be required. Packed lunches can be variable and with this in mind, I think that I would prefer to provide my own food. My plan is to use Multipower Flapjacks which are around 500 calories per bar. These will be supplemented by fruit and Clif Shot Blocks for a quick energy boost. Fluid intake is a must and this will mainly be water, flavoured/supplemented by either Nuun or High5 Zero electrolyte tablets. Other than the fruit, which can be bought en-route, the remainder are dry goods and can be carried in my luggage and transferred to my rucksack, as required. I can also dump some, along with clean clothes, in my car at Kirkby Stephen and pick up fresh supplies when I pass through on day 8 out of 17. Of course, I’m not averse to an odd pint, a packet of crisps, a cup of tea or piece of cake. These can be bought along the way, as opportunities arise. Everything needs to be kept in perspective and even if I didn’t have anything to eat, I wouldn’t die of starvation between breakfast and dinner! However, the idea is to enjoy myself and I’ve had enough of starvation diets in my ongoing battles with weight control.

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