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Preview: The Longest Dog Walk In Britain (JOGLE)

The Longest Dog Walk In Britain (JOGLE)



In June 2009 my trusty hound, Patch, and I are backpacking from John O'Groats to Lands End. We will walk over 1200 miles in about 3 months without support - I will be carrying my own tent and supplies and will be unaccompanied. Please support us by visi



Updated: 2014-10-03T00:50:06.640-07:00

 



Out again - finally!

2011-04-26T04:02:18.022-07:00

CnichtTess chilling out.Patch - looking troublesome as ever!"The Girls" taking a break.The view from Cnicht summit.I've finally been out again in the mountains of Snowdonia...and here are some photo's to prove it!!Due to the addition of my Border Collie, Tess, I don't have a large enough backpacking tent at the moment - and I think a Collie, a Jack Russell, and myself would be pushing it squeezing into the bivvi bag! So this time I took the larger tent, set up "base camp" in a campsite in Beddgelert and did some lovely day walks. This time was my second time up Cnicht, but last time I included it in a totally different route approaching from the other side (and with two different dogs - no longer with us), this time I walked a circular route from Croeso.It was a fantastic day - walm and sunny. Even the breeze on top of the mountain was warm. Lovely.Another fab walk we did over the weekend included two lakes NE of Betws-Y-Coed but I'm sorry I forget their names and don't have the map with me at the moment! Lovely walk though with a nice mix of forestry, water and fab views.The dogs were great - Patch was game on as she usually is in Snowdonia. It was Tess' first trip, and although she found the whole experience a little overwhelming -she's not vary brave when it comes to people - and there were many on Cnicht and the campsite, and she found the climb up the mountain a bit tricky for a nervous fatty, but had great fun around the lakes and forestry.It was a lovely weekend...I'm now gearing up ready to go again this weekend![...]



I'm back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2011-03-20T13:42:10.091-07:00

I haven't been on here for some time. There have been a few changes since my last post...the trip to Vietnam was cancelled, the summer was spent busy dog training which was great fun but I missed getting away hiking...and the biggest change was the end of my marriage.

Before you say how sorry you are and feel sorry for me, you should know that it was my decision. It's a long story, but things hadn't been right for a long time and I felt it was the right decision to make. Ending a marriage is not easy, I'm left forever wondering if it was the right thing to do - and breaking someone's heart and having your family turn their back for a while really is not easy. Still, what's done is done, and it's time to move on.

Thoughts are now being turned to a summer of backpacking. The horses are now out after a winter of stabling them and being unable to get away, and although they still need some TLC I will soon be able to get away to the hills. I'm now planning excursions for the two long bank holiday weekends coming up next month...maybe snowdonia, maybe the Elan Valley, maybe Exmoor, maybe Brecon....the maps will soon be out for some serious planning. I just wish Scotland were closer!

A new tent is need though, as I've previously used either the Laser Competition or a bivi and tarp for myself and Patch (my Jack Russell), but the addition last summer of my Border Collie (Tess) now means larger accomodation is needed. The problem is, money is now tight... so if anyone out there has an ultra lightweight 2 man tent out there that they want to sell very cheaply then I'm all ears! I may yet try cramming Tess into the bivi bag as it is a good roomy one (Big Agnes) but the thought of two wet dogs in there isn't too appealing...!

All change!



A trip to Vietnam on the cards?!

2010-07-05T12:18:29.925-07:00

Hiking this summer hasn't gone well....I've spent many weekends (and weeks) at Barking Mad Dog Training Centre in Gravely (near Stevenage) to get our unruly pack of dogs under control, as well as taking steps myself to become a dog trainer.

I'm itching to get out with a pack on my back, and am determined to squeeze at least one trip in before the summer is over.

However...there could be a rather exciting trip on the cards...to Vietnam! Richard from the dog training centre (ex "Dog Borstal" Judge Richard Clarke) went there earlier this year to train Vietnamese dogs (that would otherwise have been used as food) to track turtles - a conservation project for the turtles, that has the added benefit of trying to change the attitude of the Vietnamese people towards the dogs. Hopefully in the future they will be seen as worthy working animals and pets rather than just as food. The project was so successful Richard has been asked to return to Vietnam to train another set of dogs and handlers in a new area.

Money permitting, I will be going also to help train - and learn an awful lot while I am there. The dogs and husband will be left at home while I get to grips with the jungle and insects...I've been reading about the leeches - not good.

I can't wait!



Hhhhhmmmph!!

2010-05-10T14:14:33.621-07:00

What a frustrating year so far - as far as hiking goes....

Following a fantastic couple of days at Barking Mad Dog Training Centre in Gravely we are busy working through our dogs issues...Patch's noise phobias have no quick fix, however we do go out for a local walk every morning (before the RAF start playing overhead) and her confidence is growing. Unfortunately we've been told not to take the dogs out together until some issues have been sorted, so hiking has been put on hold. I can't tell you how frustrated I am!

We also have a new addtion... a 3 yr old border collie who was given to me as a failed sheepdog from a local farm. She has never even been in a house let alone on a lead, so she is as raw as they come - but she is a sweetheart. She and Patch are getting along nicely (although our other jack russell, Snowy, can be a bit of a cowbag).....which means there is a possibility of a long distance hike on the cards with both Tess (the new girl) and Patch - Patch loves having another dog around to boost her confidence. All I need to do now is persuade John that solo hiking really isn't such a bad idea.

I'm going to need a bigger tent....I wonder if I can squeeze a collie into my bivy bag as well as Patch.....

(Apologies for the lack of hiking stuff at the moment - and thanks for those still following while things are quiet. Hopefully posts will be a little more interesting soon!)



Almost out again!

2010-03-27T11:14:49.479-07:00

Having spent a long winter stuck at home looking after my old horses, the milder weather and emerging grass means it's just about time to leave the horses to fend for themselves and get away to the great outdoors again.

In my frustration I've bought 4 books from amazon (internet shopping is just too easy) for ideas on new backpacking jaunts as well as a book on dehydrating food - last years summer spent eating Batchelors Pasta 'n' Sauce is not to be repeated!

Maps have been examined, put away, brought back out to be examined again...swapped for a different area...examined again...put away again, and I'm still not decided where to go for Easter weekend - but Dartmoor is a distinct possibility.

The big problem I'm having now is the forcast of rain is not helping my efforts to persuade John that backpacking is a much better idea than caravanning. I've always struggled to drag him out as it is, but since buying the new (old) caravan last year it's become more of a battle. "Discussions" have already been had over the 3 seperate week long excursions I've been planning for the summer. This could be interesting!

Tomorrow we leave in the caravan for a 3 day dog training course in Stevenage. I'm really hoping to make progress with Patch's noise phobia's and confidence - then maybe I can steal away for a weekend backpacking with her alone!



JOGLE photo's!

2010-03-19T06:30:04.484-07:00

Leaving John O'GroatsPatch PoopedDunrobin CastleDornochI found Nessy on the Great Glen Way at Inverness!A rare glimpse of Loch Ness from the Great Glen WayA refreshing stop on the West Highland WayThe Falkirk WheelA bothy on the Southern Upland Way where I stayed the night (not my pack!)The bivvi and tarp set up used for a large part of the hike (Big Agnes 3 hoop bivvi and MSR E-Wing Tarp)Patch chilling out under the tarp! All she needs now is a beer...Soggy on the Pennine Way (photo taken by Mike - who I passed on the way)The Pennine WayThe Pennine Way...again...Still on the Pennine Way!The last pitch in a field by the seafront at Penzance (tent - Terra Nova Competition)Entering Lands End!The end photo!Here they are - I finally figured out how to get them out of my phone![...]



The kit review - what worked & what didn't!

2010-03-19T01:24:06.263-07:00

Here's a kit review at long last...it may be of some help to this years challengers!Backpack - Golite Quest (1355g)Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Wonderfully light weight but still tough and comfortable. I grew very fond of this pack!Sea to Summit pack liner (94g)This was the lightweight (ultra-sil?) version and it was hopeless. Water got in every time it rained.Bivi - Big Agnes 3 wire (850g)Excellent - loads of room for both patch and myself. I'm very fond of this also now!Tarp -MSR E-Wing (185)Brilliant - kept the rain off and was suprisingly stable in wind. A good amount of room underneath too. It's lovely to sit under a tarp and watch the rain!Terra Nova laser Competition (950g)Generally good. Quick and easy to put up and take down, nice and roomy. I din't have too much confidence in high wind - largely as the outer would blow against the inner and I worried about getting sodden - although it never happened. I did have condensation problems during the last 10 days of the hike, although I'm not sure that it wasn't water seeping through the groundsheet - I have more testing to do.(I left on the 1st June and finished on the 19th August - during this time I spent the first month using the tent to avoid midge problems in Scotland. I then spent the second month or so using the Bivvi and tarp. I used the tent again for the last 10 days as I got fed up with being stared at on campsites! During the whole jogle I spent 2 nights in a youth hostel, 3 in b&b's and 2 with friends - other than that I was always camping -except when I had days off with John in the caravan 3 times during the hike...about 8 days total I think)Sleeping Bag - Cumulus Quantum 200 (536g)Excellent bag. There were a few nights after leaving JOG that were pretty cold, and I did feel it - but with Patch in the bag, my down jacket on and my coat zipped up around the bottom of the bag I was comfy. For the rest of the hike it was great - warm enough and so light weight and small pack size. It developed a stitching fault at the end of the hike but it was repaired and returned to me with no bother by the manufacturer.Sleeping Mat - Thermarest NeoAir (370g)Brilliant. Faultless. Comfy. Lightweight and small pack size.Big Agnes Pumphouse (46g)Brilliant bit of kit - made light work of inflating the NeoAir mattress night after night and doubled as a dry bag for my sleeping bag. AceStove - Primus Micron TiInitially brilliant - lightweight and user friendly, however one of the arms developed problems folding out into position and then it snapped off with a broken weld. I'm still waiting for Primus to get back to me about this (no reply to my email yet).Cook Pot / Mug - MSR Titan (118g)Brilliant, lightweight, reliable.North Face Merino Wool Tops (186)Wouldn't be without this. I feel the cold but found I didn't need a fleece with these. The clothing combination of T'shirt, merino top, waterproof coat and down jacket meant I was always comfortable in every climate.Waterproof Coat - Bergahus Paclite (390) / Montane Adventure Jacket (420)I started with the Montane Adventure Jacket which initially did a great job of keeping the water out, but it soon leaked so I swapped it with the Berghaus paclite...which did the same. I've come to the conclusion that all lightweight jackets will probably do the same - as long as they keep the worst of the rain out I found this to be ok. A wet back and shoulders (where my pack had been) became the norm.Waterproof Overtrousers - Berghaus Paclite (150g)To my suprise these did a great job - although the bottoms were trashed by the end of the hike.Down Jacket - PHD Ultra Down Pullover (224g)Brilliant - I loved this. It kept me warm in the evening / at night when necessary and packed to a tiny size. I'm very fond of this!Boots - Asolo Atlantis GTX (1130) / Brasher Hillmaster (1200)/ Asics trainers (570)The Asolo boots were comfortable but not at all waterproof - just walking thro[...]



Ellie Dog!

2010-03-14T08:25:36.731-07:00

(image)

This is Ellie - who I lost a few years ago to a tumour on her spine. She was a fantastic dog!

We are in Snowdonia - I forget where this time....but from this photo I really think I ought to start wearing make-up out hiking...!



Thoughts on the JOGLE - and with a dog...

2010-03-14T08:23:15.483-07:00

This is rather a late reflection on the hike - apologies for that.Where do I start....I'll try not to make this too long a post as I ramble on!My original reason for doing the hike (briefly), was the need to do something different (I get bored easily and need a new challenge), a break from the rut you can too easily slip in in day to day life, and 3 months just me and my dog - which I thought would be bliss!I've always loved hiking, always hiked with my dog's, and enjoyed backpacking for a few years now too, so I thought I was pretty well prepared. Big mistake. I ended up replacing virtually all my old backpacking kit with newer lighter versions of everything...which ended up being pretty expensive!I love being on a mission - planning the route, sorting the kit - all that sort of stuff is so much fun. The moment John left me at John O'Groats and it was just Patch and I walking alone it did briefly go through my head "Oh my god, what have I done!". It was very strange to know I had a month before I would see John again, and the usual luxury of picking up the phone to talk to people whenever I fancied was on hold to conserve the phone's battery life. It was a strangely lonely feeling - but at the same time I felt wonderfully free.For me the hike became very difficult mentally as Patch's noise phobia's kicked in towards the end of day two when an RAF jet screamed over. She went into a panic - and she didn't enjoy the hike again until we were on the West Highland Way around 3 weeks later. After that she worried every time a jet went over, or there was traffic noise, or the noise of industry in the distance, or passenger jets entering / leaving the airport at Glasgow in the distance - or we heard people out shooting rabbits.On the radio recently I heard a comment from a mother saying how a mum is only as happy as her unhappiest child - it was a debate about a mother who helped her daughter who was surffering from ME to die. The comment I feel is very true also to dog owners. If your dog is miserable you will feel the same. This was my problem on the hike - Patch lost all confidence and constantly listened to the skies for aircraft or other noises, she was constantly looking for somewhere to hide and at times it was hard work just getting her out of the safety of the tent in the mornings so I could get packed up to go - then she walk walk along miserably with her head and tail down. I'd made a big mistake - I thought the hike would help her with her phobia's but that wasn't the case at all. Eventually she went home when I met John for the second time after 620 miles so she did well, but she'd had enough.The thing is, we live in a "Low Flying Area", so Monday to Friday the RAF jet's zoom over and Patch spends all week hiding in her bed - so really she was no worse off on the hike, but I had to make the decision that she was better off coping with it in her own way by hiding in bed.So with Patch worried and miserable it was impossible for me to enjoy the hike. It's not possible to feel happy while you watch your dog suffer. Once Patch went home I felt miserable that I was without her so I increased the mileage, changed my route and got back as soon as I could.So overall, the hike was an amazing experience - although I spent a large part of it miserable for doggy reasons, I'm still glad I did it and have many fond memories. I met some great people along the way and made some new friends, I learned more about Scotland and England, and I learned a whole lot about lightening my backpacking load thanks to comments left on this blog! I think about the hike all the time - it will always be a part of me. I remeber one evening somewhere in Englad when I had walked 26 miles and found no campsite or B&B...I'd walked 30 miles the day before and was looking to just stop and get my tent up - I was soaked and my boots felt twice[...]



After the hike....

2010-03-09T12:56:07.096-08:00

Well I've been back some time now...apologies for the rather late update - but there's just nothing quite as exciting to write about now I'm home!

Before leaving for the jogle I was interested in whether or not the hike would change me at all. Don't get me wrong - I wasn't looking to "find myself" or anything dramatic like that, but I was interested in what I would learn about myself and how it may change me. Well the answer has been a while coming.....

As soon as I got home I yearned to get "back to basics" more...after the best part of 3 months in a tent or tarp and being closer to nature I didn't want to get lost in our modern world again. I found myself cooking outside on the barbeque as much as possible, and I put up my tarp to hang some washing under rather use the tumble dryer when it rained (which happens a lot here in Wales). I thought in time I would soon convert back to modern day living but in fact quite the opposite has happened. The more time goes on the more I want to get back to nature. By winter time I peruaded John that it would be a good idea to get rid of the central heating and install a wood stove instead...ok, it's been a bit nippy some mornings, but overall we love it.

The draw to live closer to nature and independent from the big power companies has now got to the point where we are planning to eventually retire to an "Off Grid" house. I hate the way we are dictated to by the government - how we should live our lives, what we can do, what we can't do, how we get taxed like crazy....how the big energy companies are often greedy and overcharge us knowing that we are totally reliant on them....well not for much longer! There are some things we can't avoid (taxes etc) but what we can change, we will.

I've been looking into rainwater harvesting, solar panels, wind tubines, mini hydro turbines...even composting toilets! Poor John!

Who would have thought.....!



Our end photo (finally!)

2009-09-28T06:59:04.301-07:00

(image)



Walking the coastal path

2009-08-20T10:21:04.412-07:00

Well this is my first day off after completing the JOGLE so what did we do today....go out walking!

We did about 9 miles of the coastal path north of Lands End today. It was so nice to be walking with Patch again - and John and Snowy (our other Jack Russell) of course! The walking was fabulous, lovely scenery, good weather and interesting walking.

Patch loved it and is currently flat out asleep. We're going to have a meal in the campsite bar now and decide where we're going tomorrow...life's good!



Made it to Lands End woohoo!

2009-08-19T08:17:28.163-07:00

Well I finally arrived at Lands End today - very exciting!

It's a strange place...a bit like entering Disneyland but it's full of gift shops and cafe's. I savoured the moment and had a wander around before getting the final stamp on my "Transit verification form" and leaving a message in the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed a latte and a piece of carrot cake while awaiting the arrival of John and the dogs. Patch was over the moon to be out of the car and was ready for walkies - we didn't go far, just down to get our photo taked at the famous signpost, but it was good to be out together again. It was of course good to see John again too!

I've now had a shower and am in clean clothes - always good. I have a cup of tea on the go and am looking forward to a meal in the campsite bar later. I must say, I'm feeling rather pleased with myself!

Thanks to everyone for following and your supportive comments, I read them all and it really helped. When I get back I'll start reviewing the kit I used and the campsites I stayed in for anyone that's interested. I'll also keep blogging about new adventures with Patch, but I'm sure they won't be as big as this one!

Thanks again!



Just Outside Penzance!

2009-08-18T09:55:38.540-07:00

I'm currently about 2 miles east of Penzance...I thought I was going to be in trouble as my planned campsite was apparently full so I had to plod on with no known campsite for another 8 miles or so. Thankfully as I walked along the seafront I noticed a field with a rough board that said "Camping - pitch your tent and the farmer will be around later". Excellent.

So here I am in a field with one other tent and a caravan. There are 2 portable toilet cubicles and a tap for drinking water - all that I need! Oh, and it's just 4 pounds.

I've been sitting by the sea admiring the view for an hour or so before wandering off and having some fish and chips - again, by the sea. I do love the sea...

Tomorrow I have a final plod to Lands End, it's only about 13 miles away so I'm going to have a lay in first. Then it's 3 nights in a comfy caravan before going home to an even comfier bed. Very strange!



Almost there!

2009-08-17T10:23:52.322-07:00

Wow, I'm almost there!

I'm currently camped about 3 miles west of Truro. Tomorrow I'm heading for a campsite near Lower Downs - about 6 miles east of Penzance....and then Wednesdays the big day.

All's going well, the trainers have been brilliant- really comfortable and breathable too.

I have to mention a great place I stayed at a couple of nights ago as it was a good find. I'd walked 26 miles and with no campsite around I spotted a field that would do the job nicely. I ventured up towards the driveway to the house to ask the owners permission to camp only to find there was a tea room there. The owner was fab - he plans to sort an area for camping, and I was shown an outside toilet and shower before being taken to a perfect pitch just around the corner. He wouldn't take any money, so in the evening I had a lovely and very well priced meal in his tea room (come restaurant in the evening!). Lasagne & chips, red wine & a latte all came to about 10 pounds which I thought was very reasonable.

The place is called Louis Tea Room, and is just a mile or so east of Liskeard on the main road from St Annes Chapel. A really nice fella.

I've had some good luck lately on the camping front - I found a very basic campsite that did the job for just 2 pounds, then a great quiet site by a pub for just 4 pounds. I plan to list all the sites I stayed at once I get back along with the price and whether or not I recommend them or not!

Not long now...!



I'm in Somerset!

2009-08-11T11:38:38.768-07:00

Another 30 mile day today...I'm very pleased with myself- I even fitted some shopping in!

I bought some trainers today and sent the Brashers home. So much better, now I just have to wash the blood out of my socks!

It was a lovely sunny day today - a pleasure to be out in. I'm currently camped in a lovely site just south of North Petherton. This site is really a caravan park I think, but he gave me a pith with no problems and only charged 4 pounds! A lovely guy.



We've crossed the M4!

2009-08-09T12:16:05.600-07:00

We're still going - sorry for the rather late updates....now I'm covering more miles I like to start earlier, which means I can't leave my phone in campsite receptions charging up overnight - so I'm being a bit stingy with the battery use!

Lately I've been following the wise advise of "10 by 10" Mr Manning passed onto me from his PCT experience. The idea is to walk 10 miles by 10 O'clock then you have all day to do the rest. I must say, it really is good advise. I'm now packed up and walking by 7am, so 10 miles are covered by 10am. The pressure is off to cover the other 15 or so miles. I do actually stop now to eat lunch and air my feet when it's warm (yes - it's actually been sunny!) whereas normally I keep plodding all day without stopping as I hate arriving in camp late.

I've now walked to about 7 miles or so south of Chipping Sodbury - John then picked me up to whisk me off to the caravan site he had just set up at, for 2 days off. Lovely! Tomorrow John will drop me off to the same spot to continue walking. This will be my last stint.

I've spent the last couple of days changing the route on my maps to a slightly more direct route. This means leaving some good walking out, including time I was very much looking forward to in Exmoor which is a shame. It's very difficult as I know I should me making the most of this walk and enjoy the hiking, but since Patch went home all I want to do is get back to her. It's very difficult to explain, but I've always walked with my dogs - for the last 3 years it's been Patch, and before that I walked with my collie Ellie, for 11 years. Walking alone isn't really my thing, so the choice was to either go home with Patch (which I deperately wanted to do) or to just crack on and finish the walk. What I am planning to do though is to return to many of my favourite areas at a later date with John and the dogs for some walking we will really enjoy - it's time we ventured out more away from our old haunting ground of Snowdonia!

It's been a lovely couple of days off, and the end is in sight now. Apologies to those who hoped for more information on the actual walking...as the day goes by I make mental notes of the things that have happened during the day that I want to tell you through the blog, but by the time the evening comes I'm often tired, wet and fed up and end up whinging!

Tomorrow I set off with a different set of boots...my original boots (Asolo) are pretty worn from my wonky walking, and have started giving me blisters again. I'm setting off in my Brashers that were originally bought for the hike but ended up giving me alarming blisters and were not at all comfortable. I'm hoping that the combination of ENGO patches, Superfeet insoles, and volume reducers will do the job, but unfortunately these haven't been tried and tested yet as I ended up buying the Asolo's last minute before the hike and breaking them in. I'm very concerned about covering 25 miles plus a day in these boots, but I know the Asolo's are causing problems themselves now so it's worth the gamble....eeek!

In the last 10 days walking since Patch went back I've covered 226 miles, and I plan to finish the walk in another 10 days. If I can stick to my plan of 25 plus miles a day then I should get into Lands End a week wednesday. This is my own personal challenge now, and although strange things are happening to my feet and ankles I'm sure I can do it!!

I'll keep you updated.



Still going!

2009-08-04T11:43:20.487-07:00

I'm still plodding on!

I joined the Severn Way at Bridgenorth and it's been a mixture of nice walking and some boring stuff. Today I passed through Worcester and am camped just south on the outskirts.

My boots eventually dried out (yay!) but then got sodden again (boo!) and are currently outside my tent stuffed with toilet paper from this way overpriced campsite!

The forecast is for some dry days now thank goodness...I just wish I hadn't put my Selskinz socks on inside out this morning in my sleepy state as my feet got soaked and the socks too. I have one pair of dry socks that I'll have to wear tomorrow now the sealskinz are sodden, but as the boots are somewhat soggy I don't think the joy of dry feet will last long!!

The good news is my pack is much lighter and emptier without Patch's clobber and food. There, I said something positive!!

I'm making progress!



A couple of things wring with the blog's name...

2009-08-01T12:35:42.204-07:00

Soon after creating this blog and calling it " The Longest Dog Walk In Britain" I found that at least one person has walked their dog around the entire UK coastline - which is considerably longer than my JOGLE!

The other problem is that it is no longer a dog walk...Patch is now at home putting her feet up as the walk was too stressful for her as we came off the footpaths to avoid the problem with dogs & cows. It's very strange not having her around, and I really do miss her terribly. John would love to go abroad on holiday but I won't leave her so it is incredibly frustrating that I'm now plodding across the UK alone in the rain. Not fun anymore.

The new goal is to get finished ASAP so I can get home! I'm now doing more mileage each day - a minimum of 20 a day (30 covered today!).

Things have been good lately though on the social front. I met Gayle & Mick who treated me to a very nice bar meal, and 2 nights ago I had a lovely evening with John, Martin, Sue & Viv. I stayed overnight with Martin & Sue & thoroughly enjoyed everybody's company - a really lovely group of people.

I'm currently near Cannock Chase and sodden. My boots & socks honestly couldn't get any wetter if I threw them in the river. Let's hope the rain stops soon!



Still going!

2009-07-28T11:51:44.111-07:00

we're still going - I've just been a little late updating due to a lack of phone signal!

We have met John for a couple of days off by Hollingworth Lake, which has been lovely. I didn't plan that too well though as I'm now struggling to sort a campsite to get to tomorrow night!

There's a good possibility that Patch will go home with John tomorrow due to a couple of reasons, one being the fact that she's often too stressed for my liking because of her sound phobias, and the other being our worry of crossing the many fields of cows safely after 3 people were killed in four weeks doing so with dogs. I've had the chance to have a quick look on the web for advise on this matter but have only come across information telling me not to go through fields of cows with a dog. Not very helpful! I've tried to stick to quiet roads and bridleways lately to avoid this problem, but Patch just ends up stressed - she's much happier on a footpath where she can absorb herself in the scents of rabbits and sheep, but unfortunately these often lead to fields of cows...very difficult. It's a difficult situation for both dog owners and farmers, but I do feel something needs to be sorted to ensure both sides are safe and happy.

Onwards and upwards (southwards!)



A hot bath and a warm fire....

2009-07-22T10:15:47.769-07:00

I'm a happy chappy.

I've had a hot bath, am wearing clean clothes, and I'm sitting in front of a log fire. Lovely!

Patch and I are in the home of John, Steph and baby Sierra who are putting us up for the night. Steph kindly picked us up from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, and we are very comfortable and grateful. Patch is a little too interested in baby Sierra and is a little too boisterous with her introductions.

After a day off in Hawes yesterday we walked over the Pennines again today. It was a lovely walk - even the wind and rain didn't detract from what a lovely part of the world this is. Patch had a lovely time trying to chase sheep and rabbits (she's on a lead of course) until the jets came over again.

We must have done about 560 miles now - almost half way!



It's a scarey world for a little dog...

2009-07-19T10:55:40.988-07:00

Poor Patch has been having a tough time. If it's not the RAF buzzing about in the skies then the MOD are busy blasting up the hills. Why is it that as soon as you find a nice bit of countryside "The Forces" have to play war games on it. A sign on an earlier part of the Pennine Way read "Do not touch debri as it may blow up and kill you". Very subtle.

On top of the military creating havoc we had the added bonus of rabbit shooting to contend with this weekend. I was hoping Patch would start to handle scarey noises a little better on this walk, but the poor soul was reduced to jelly legs today. I'll see how she goes and if she's still stressed when I see John next (in a weeks time) then she may have to go home. The problem is we live under a RAF "Low Flying Zone" so the jets go over everyday, so even in the security of her home the poor girl is reduced to a quivering wreck.

The last couple of days have been rather boring plods along quiet roads so we're looking forward to getting back on the footpaths again tomorrow. Hopefully this will perk Patch up a bit. We are currently camped in a nice quiet site just outside Kirkby Stephen. Rain has threatened a few times, but thankfully it's been a lovely sunny day mostly. Lovely. I've had my evening meal...Pot Noodle was a welcome change from "Pasta n Sauce", but hardly fine dining! Good enough for me though!



I've made a decision...

2009-07-17T13:36:50.818-07:00

It wasn't an easy decision to make - I'm a proud person, also very stubborn, and hate failing. I thought long and hard about it and took everything into account, but eventually the decision had to be made. I booked into a B&B. There, I said it.

In the 7 or so weeks that we have been walking this is only the 3rd time I've used a B&B. The first 2 times there was literally no-where to camp, but this time I actually walked past a campsite to get to it. The strange thing is, now that I'm here I don't feel the slightest bit guilty. I was absolutely sodden...my feet were squelching, and poor Patch was frozen. PLUS we've just been down to the pub for a bar meal. I'm so naughty.

Yesterday we walked along an old railway line (the South Tyne Trail) to Alston. I reached the campsite to find a very strange set up. It was full of static caravans which people seemed to live in, with a tiny bit of grass for tents. I was told where the water was, and that it was "probably all right". To get to the toilets you had to go through a yard full of skips and old machinery, through a strange tunnel underground that seems to be part of some old big pipe, and into the bottom of a 3 storey building. The facilities were basic, and the showers were free but very grotty looking so I stayed clear. That said, it was only 5 pounds a pitch, and the lady running it was very friendly so I was happy to stay there.

Today's forecast was for heavy rain and gales, so instead of the Pennine Way I opted for a mixture of roads and footpaths to a small village called Ousby. I'm now in a B&B called "Bradley Foot", which I highly recommend. My boots are drying by the fire, my socks have been rinsed and dried (they were very brave to do THAT) and I've had a cup of tea. Lovely. I've also had a bar meal from the pub just down the road. That's blown the budget. Patch has been very happy from the moment we set foot indoors. She loves the B&B and all the fuss she has got. She also loved the pub and meeting everyone...and everyone laughed at us when she then refused to leave the pub to return to the B&B.

I must admit, nothing would make me happier right now than a phone call from John saying we had won the lottery...I would straight away send the tent and gubbins home and use B&B's from now on...I may be getting soft, but I'm loving being comfortable!



We've crossed Hadrians Wall...

2009-07-15T12:54:44.550-07:00

From Byrness we walked to Bellingham. The weather was wet and windy so instead of the Pennine Way we opted for a quiet lane that ran over the moorland parallel with the footpath.

The first campsite in the centre of town had chickens everywhere - not a good plan with Patch. We walked to the larger site just outside of town which would have been a good site if it weren't run by Hitler. The woman seems to hate backpackers - I even got warned to take my boots off before going near the shower as "backpackers make it messy".

I reluctantly took a day off as Patch needed a break. I met a lovely couple (Fred and Natalie) from Scotland, who I ended up having dinner with that evening - and had a really enjoyable evening.

The next day we walked along the Pennine Way again to Hadrians Wall Campsite near Haltwhistle. The site owners greeted me like an old friend and gave me a cup of tea - John had been on the phone to them a couple of times about a re-supply parcel he sent here for me.

Unfortunately my Satmap GPS unit was playing up so I sent it home. I didn't realise John had quickly got on the case for me and the good guys from Satmap sent a demo unit here for me to use for my walk while mine is fixed. I'm so impressed with their service. Unfortunately they just missed the post with it though, so I had to take another day off to wait for it's delivery this afternoon. Very frustrating, but at least this is a great campsite.

To be honest I'm already fed up with the Pennine Way. All I've got so far is sodden feet. I'm trying to avoid it as much as possible now...especially with more rain on the way.

Patch has enjoyed the day off - that was until the blooming RAF jets came over again.



We made it to England!

2009-07-11T12:22:52.313-07:00

I'm not sure what I expected as I crossed the border...a marching band...balloons etc, but all I got was a notice on a gate as I hit the Pennine Way reminding me that I no longer have the right to roam. Ok then.

Yesterday I met up with someone who wishes to stay anonymous, so I'll just call him "A Proud Scottish Gent". A lovely fella who I thoroughly enjoyed walking with. He went out of his way to meet me, and even brought me his Thermarest mattress to use until I can collect mine again from John. What an absolute star. I loved walking along and leaving the navigation to someone else for a change, and I needn't have worried as he was clued up on all the footpaths. I had a lovely time, and walked the rest of the way to Jedburgh with a smile on my face.

After stopping at Shell (just outside the campsite) for some more supplies I noticed a cafe with outdoor seating - dog friendly! I treated myself to sausage & chips...a welcome break from dried packets of Pasta'n'Sauce. I saved Patch a sausage of course!

Today we walked 22 miles or so to Byrness campsite. We're getting there slowly!