Thursday, December 4, 2008

Training and Tequila Don't Mix

So last weekend Glen, Brooksie and I headed up to the Cotswolds to get some training in on the hills. We planned to get 5-6 hours walking in on both Saturday and Sunday. My training so far has been mostly running and Trim Trail sessions, so this was a good opportunity to get a few solid hours hill walking under my belt.

The preparations for the trip had been going on for some time, and our original plan was to walk from Dowdeswell, near Cheltenham, to Winchcombe where we would spend the night before walking to Chipping Campden and catching the train back to London. However, thanks to the extreme awesomeness of Hillsy and The General, we had the offer of crashing at their place in Cheltenham, which was gladly accepted. Brooksie had a map that covered most of the path we were following and Glen made last minute trip to Cotswolds (the outdoor store, not the place Brooksie) to pick up a map that covered the missing section so we were all set to go.

Friday evening came round and Glen, Brooksie and I met at Paddington Station and experienced the joy of shelling out £44 for a one way train ticket to Cheltenham. We grabbed seats on the train and sat back for the 2.5 hour trip. Hillsy was there to meet us on arrival at Cheltenham Spa and we headed back to his to drop of the car before heading off to a brilliant noodle bar. The food was great and watching The General get visually molested by the hideous waitress was even better. After a couple of beers we headed home to prepare for an early start the next day.

We were out the door at 8am and rearing to go after some bacon and eggs whipped up by Hillsy. We found our entry point onto the Cotswolds Way and headed out into the freezing morning. After about 10 minutes we lost the path and decided it was time to consult the map. That went a little something like this:
Brooksie: "It's in the back of my bag, can you grab it out?"
Glen: "Um, is it?"
Brooksie: " Yeah I put it in there before we left - its just in the main bit?"
Glen: "Um, are you sure?"
Brooksie "*****"
So after 10 minutes of our walk we found ourselves lost and without a map.

Fortunately the previous day I had downloaded a new mapping application for my phone. The ViewRanger application uses the internal GPS on my N95 8Gb to plot your position. The application allows you to purchase and download Ordinance Survey maps - the same maps that Brooksie had left in the back of Hillsy's car. The maps come in tiles so you can just download the tiles that you are intersted in, which is good, cos they aren't particularly cheap. When I bought the app I got credit to download a few map tiles and so I had downloaded the tiles that corresponded to the route we were taking.

Unfortunately I had used up my credit downloading the tiles for the walk, but had missed one tile. A fairly crucial tile. The tile that covered the area in which we were lost, without a map.


I did have the tile directly north of the area in which we were lost and I could see the track heading north on that tile. So I knew we had to go North for about 2Km. And Brooksie had managed to put the compass in her bag which was quite an achievement. So we set off once again, with no idea where the path was, but knowing that we had to head North. After about 90 minutes, which included 45 minutes stuck in a paddock from which there seemed there was no escape, we stumbled back across the Cotswolds Way. Within a few minutes we emerged onto the section of the path that was covered by my map and we were laughing.

The morning was icy cold and as we headed up towards Cleeve Common the trees were covered in frost and it was so foggy that visibility was limited to about 10 meters at times.

The next few hours proceeded without too much drama, although a the path was quite hard to follow in places, especially given that it was so foggy We arrived at our designated meeting point at 1.40, after 5 hours and about 25Km and had time for a few stretches before Hillsy rolled up to meet us and take us back to Cheltenham.

After a very quick change out of dirty gear it was down to the pub to watch the English get schooled by the All Blacks which was a satisfying end to a long days walk.

When the first tray of Tequilas came out at 4.45pm I knew that the plan of walking another 6 hours the next day was looking shaky. 11 hours, several Jager Bombs, a couple of pubs, a club and £100 later we made it to bed. Glen and I dragged ourselves up and were set to go by about 9.30, the rest of the house emegrged about 11 looking decidedly rough. The General knocked up some sausage sarnies which we devoured and at about 12 Hillsy finially rustled up the energy to drive us up to Winchcombe for the second days walking. Brooksie decided that she had had enough and that another days walking wasn't quite what she needed.

Glen and I hit the path at about 12.30 and decided to try and get 3 hours in before catching the train back to London. The second day was reasonably uneventful, the hangovers slightly dampening our enthusiasm. We pushed through it though and got another 15 Km out of the way. We followed the Cotswolds Way for about 90 minutes before looping back on a footpath that led to the Gloucester Way which we then followed back to Winchcombe.

The friendly bloke at the coffee shop in Winchcombe gave us a lift back to Cheltenham for £15 which was good of him. We were then met with the joy of shelling out another £44 for a train ticket to London. It turned out a return was £45 so we were pretty gutted we hadn't picked one up in London before we left...

We hadn't quite achieved the goal of walking 5-6 hours a day and had deviated from the original path we were to take, but I'm not too disappointed. Once of the reasons I wanted to do two days was to get used to putting the boots back on tired feet and backing up after a long day. We did that. With killer hangovers. So to me, thats a pretty good result.

I'm relatively fit now and can run 10Km in 50 minutes pretty comfortably, but I found parts of the walk quite tiring. Walking uphill is very different to running on the flat so I'm going to need to rack up lots more hours in the hills.

Big ups to Hillsy and General for the hospitality and to Brooksie for organising the map - oh......

1 comment:

White-Pages said...

Love your work Blinks!