Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011- The year of achievement!

Wow, what a year this has been. At the start of the year my goal was to make sure turning 30 wasn’t the end of the world, and I think I succeeded by achieving more this year than most years. 

The year started off well on the 1st January with a good walk, followed by hot chocolate at a little country pub then home to have Champagne in front of the fire… 3 days later we hit the Pyrenean ski slopes in Cauterets for a snowboarding weekend. Ok the snow wasn’t great, in fact it rained, the slopes were reached by a long and rather windy gondola ride and the entire trip lasted 3 nights- 2 of which were on a sleeper coach, so tiredness was ever present- but the chance to snowboard with only 1 day off work definitely made it worth while. Thank you Geoff and Jersey Ski Weekends!

Following our ski trip it was on with the walking boots and hitting the cliff paths to start our training for the ITEX walk. Another of my New Year resolutions was to attempt this 48.1 miles walk around the coast of Jersey. Many people fail in their first attempt and I had never done anything like it before. Ben was fairly confident, he has taken part in cycle races and of course the 2010 Deloitte Ride Across Britain so knew how the body is so more capable than the mind.

Our training went well ( for a very funny training plan readour friend Keith’s experience of attempting and training for the walk) until my knees, which I have suffered with for a while finally decided it was time for a trip back to the doctors. Bad news, I needed an operation, but the good news was I couldn’t do too much more damage in the short term so it was back on with the training- and lots of physio and painkillers!

The highlight of the year though for both of us had to be our trip to Finland with Exodus. For 2 people who love snow and outdoor adventure, Finland – and in Particular Basecamp Oulanka – was just perfect. I could write reams here about our trip, but having already done that read our blog pages here. The husky sledding though is something that will stay with me forever. 

Back from Finland, it was on with the training again for the big day in June. Nerves didn’t even begin to explain how I felt the morning of the walk. I was so determined to finish yet I knew the chance of me finishing was low on my first attempt. I also had the fear that Ben was going to leave me on my own. We had agreed that if we hadn’t reached Grosnez by 2pm Ben was heading off alone as he knew he had it in him to finish. Suffice to say that sheer determination and a lot of encouragement from Ben dragged me round in a hideously long 18 hours and 46 minutes. Here’s the full, painful account

A quick recovery was needed after the ITEX before it was time for me to turn 30 and for us to hit Scotland and the West Highland Way. Yet another achievement on that holiday, we summited our first mountain together- Ben Nevis in a very respectable 6 hours 40 up and down. We were extremely lucky with the weather and our waterproofs and woolly gloves thankfully stayed in the rucksack while we plastered on the factor 20! 

Back from Scotland and it was time for me to spend several weeks on the sofa and hobbling around after knee surgery. A frustrating time, but I did find lots of exciting challenges for the future and read lots of inspirational stories to keep me motivated and soon I was back on my feet and at Hot Yoga. This is something else that 2011 has given me: Hot Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga, both a great work out for the body and for the mind. 

Our final challenges of the year have been the ChristmasTrio Challenge, the walk and run were not really putting us too much out of our comfort zone, but were extremely good fun. The Christmas Day swim however was yet another great achievement, for me anyway, for Ben getting in the water in the freezing cold was just another walk in the park!

So that’s our 2011 round up. We may not have scaled the highest mountain or trekked the most remote path, but I personally have realised one big important thing- the human body is tougher and more capable than the human mind thinks. We trained hard for the ITEX and I knew physically I was in the best shape I had been in for while yet the mind kept telling me it was impossible.

So with that lesson learned it’s onto 2012. We have a big project in the planning, but that will have to stay under wraps for a while longer. In the meantime Ben is heading off to South Africa for a family visit in January, whilst I spend a few days with my parents taking them climbing and to yoga. In March we hope to spend another week up in Scotland, hopefully with some time on the snow. 

In terms of challenges, we have the Run for All Leeds half marathon to train for in May, the ITEX will be attempted again I’m sure, we are aiming for 15 hours or less this time round and I have my eye on the Scotland Coast to Coast in September… I just need to learn to mountain bike- or at least stay on which is more than can be said for my last attempt in Italy!

We hope everyone has had a great year, and all the best to our readers for 2012!

The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas Trio Challenge Round Up

Our three challenges are now complete and we succeeded in them all!
Following the Mid Winter walk (see our last blog here) the week after was our Santa Dash. This was the first year there were to be a whole gaggle of Santas dashing through the streets of St Helier at lunch time, and we obviously took a lot of people by surprise- we over heard many comments of ‘what on earth is happening’ and the such like, very amusing! Anyway, it was a short sprint, probably about a mile and seeing as half of the group were kids I thought it would be easy. Unfortunately, wearing running gear with a felt Santa costume over the top, including beard, made running (or sprinting) a bit harder than the kids that only wore reindeer antlers and I ended up puffing and panting around, although Ben seemed to managed it ok and dragged me round the last bit.
As a reward we had mulled wine and minced pies and got to walk into the office dressed as Santa. We also ended up on the front page of the local newspaper!

Our final Christmas challenge was the one I dreaded the most, and by Christmas Eve when the wind was blowing icy cold, I almost backed out but Ben insisted he was still going ahead with the swim so I felt compelled to give it a go. Thankfully Christmas Day morning was dry, but there was a strong, cold wind blowing directly into the bay… that was once we got into the bay! We actually missed the official swim, as it took nearly 40 minutes to drive down the hill. The swim, it turns out, is more popular than we thought and the car park ended up with one car out one in, so as we pulled round into the car park everyone was just getting out of the sea.
Queue a massive sulk from me and an annoyed phone call home, before being told by everyone sat in the warm living room back in Leeds to ‘Man Up’ and go jump in anyway. Ben had said this too, but having 4 people shouting down the phone seemed more encouraging, so we jumped out of the car, whipped off the clothes and made a cold run down the beach.
The water was freezing- well actually 11oC- but it was cold enough to be painful, lose feeling and I was unable to catch my breath. Ben ran in, dived in head first and was fine. I stood waist deep whimpering- not proud of my pathetic-ness, but I lasted longer than the girl next to me J I finally got my shoulders wet and after posing for more photos made the dash up the beach to warm clothes and mulled wine.
Photos of both events will follow!
We need to total up together but I believe we have raised about £150 for the 3 charities- Headway Jersey, Jersey Hospice Care and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. 
So that’s it for our 2011 challenges and adventures. We’ve had such a great year that before the Year’s out I will be writing a review of things done and things learned.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Trio Update- 1 day down, 2 to go!

Saturday was the first of our Christmas Trio Challenge, with The Jersey Christmas Walk - an 18 mile walk along the cliff paths and beaches of Jersey.
The morning started lovely and dry with a spectacular sunrise, although we should have heeded the warning ‘red sky in the morning, shepherds warning!’ A coffee at the La Fontaine pub nearly scuppered our plans as it was far more tempting to stay in front of the roaring fire than head out for 18 miles of walking, but we were soon gathered for our pre-walk meeting and at 8.30am on the dot we were off.
Over the first few miles of cliff paths our pace was determined by the walkers in front of us and at times it was pretty slow, but once we squeezed past a few groups we were off and made good pace to check point one at Greve de Lecq, 4.5 miles in a respectable 1 hour 20 minutes. The weather stayed dry to this check point and was warm enough to be in just a long sleeved top. Feeling good we put our heads down and trekked on to check point two, 4 miles away.
It was in between these two check points the rain decided to make an appearance, just a slow, steady drizzle but enough to put the rain coats on, then the sun came out and it was nice and warm so the coats came off again, then the rain came back… that’s how the rest of this part of the walk went!
Anyway- check point two at the picturesque site at L’Etacq appeared just 2 hours 55 into the walk, then came the part most people dread on the ITEX Walk - St Ouen’s Bay. A long stretch of nothing but sand for almost 5 miles down the west coast of Jersey. The walking is easy, nice and flat but that’s where the problem lies - there’s nothing interesting and the fact you can see the end makes it even harder to keep going (especially with lots of nice eating places along the way tempting you to stop!)
The next point was at the farthest end of the bay another 5 (rather boring) miles along, but we were there in 1 hour 10 minutes, so had managed to skip along at almost 5 miles an hour! I think this may have something to do with the fact Ben wanted to get the flat bit out of the way as boredom prompted me into several renditions of the 12 days of Christmas, if we had trainers on I’m sure he’d have run…
It was just after this point the rain started again so the jackets went on, then a beautiful rainbow (the 3rd of the day) led us to believe it was going to dry up again so off they came just in time for a heavy downpour that lasted all the way from Corbiere to the start of St Brelade’s beach. By this point we were wet, a bit chilly and really looking forward to our free drink in front of the fire at the Smugglers Inn at the end, a great motivation to get into gear and crank the pace up again.
By the time we hit the half way point of St Brelade’s Bay a little jog to ease pain on knees, toes and hips meant we were aiming for a sub 5 hour 15 time, a great personal achievement seeing as since the ITEX Walk and my knee op we have done little in the way of proper training walks and we were aiming for 6 hours best!
Finally we were welcomed at the Smugglers Inn with a round of applause, a photo and our free drink token. As in Scotland all I craved was an ice cold diet coke - a bit of a waste of a free drink voucher but it went well with the steak and onion baguette we managed to devour in record time!
Total time 5 hours 12 minutes, only a few small blisters (probably because of the rain) and very pleased we beat our estimated time by 45 minutes!

Next up this lunch time- the Jersey Hospice Santa Dash, in about 45 mph winds, hail and thunder. We are going to be rather soggy, wind blown Santa’s, here’s hoping it’s at least a tail wind…. Report will follow in the next few days.    

Monday, 28 November 2011

Our Christmas Trio Challenge

Well not content with entering the Leeds half marathon next year, we have decided to test ourselves a bit sooner with a “Christmas Trio” of events in aid of Jersey Hospice Care, Headway Jersey and Motor Neurone Disease.
Our 3 challenges kick off with an 18 mile walk on Saturday 10th December. Ok not much compared to the 48.1 mile walk earlier this year but a. it’s winter so probably cold/wet/snowing and b. it’s the day after Ben’s Christmas party so he will have his own issues to deal with!
Next up is Jersey’s first Santa Dash. Included in our registration fee is a full Santa outfit ( hat, boots, coat, trousers and even the belt!) so on the 16th December we will be ‘dashing’ through the Jersey's capital St Helier dressed as Santa, having a laugh and raising money for the very worthy cause,  Jersey Hospice.
Finally, while most people on Christmas morning will be opening presents around a fire drinking bucks fizz, we’ll be taking a chilly dip in the Atlantic Ocean at Ouaisne Bay on Jersey’s south west coast, yes we have lost all leave of our senses, but it’s a Jersey tradition and seeing as this is our first Christmas in Jersey it seems rude not to partake.
So there we are 3 challenges in 3 weeks. The Charities we are raising money for are very worthy causes; find out a bit more about each below:
Jersey Hospice does an amazing amount of work on the Island and receives no funding from the States. It costs £6000 per day to run the hospice and they rely on fundraising and donations to keep the hospice running. Although, thankfully, neither of us have had to use the facilities or services the Hospice, both myself and Ben’s families have been touched by cancer in the UK and South Africa so know the devastating effect it has and how much support can help get both the patient and the families through such a tough time.
Headway Jersey supports those who have suffered brain injury through accident or illness and their families by providing a day centre to drop in and have a coffee or a chat as well as organised activities- golf days, aerobics and yoga classes and craft sessions. This is all designed not only for an opportunity to socialise, but also to stimulate the brain. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to visit the day centre a few months ago and met a few of their members including one gentleman who had recently completed the Jersey Triathlon only 18 months after his life support machine was nearly switched off following a head injury. 
The Jersey branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association was formed in the spring of 1991 during the illness of Miss Rosemary A'Court of Motorneurone Disease. Their role is not only to provide equipment and advice but also to provide qualified volunteer visitors who will call on a regular basis and give support both practical and emotional to people with MND and their families. With this in mind, they support local nurses who are likely to come into contact with people with MND by financing their attendance at Study Courses on the Mainland.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

First Training Session

Well our training has started for next years half marathon. It may be 6 months to go but I’m keen (even if Ben is less so!) to get out running as early as possible as I would like the event next year to be more enjoyable than painful.
So Saturday morning we donned our running shoes for the first time in over a year and headed to Queens Valley Reservoir in St Martins.
There seems to be a common misconception that paths around a reservoir are flat and whilst we didn’t have any mountains to run around it certainly wasn’t flat- in fact it started with quite a nasty hill that I opted as our warm up- walk up hill J
Quite impressed with our first lap though, managed to keep jogging all the way around and felt ok for a second lap which to start with was more of a walk-jog but soon got into a rhythmic pace.
Two things I learnt from Saturday.
1.       I need to take my iPod- ideas of jogging around chatting to Ben were dismissed within the first half a lap when trying to answer a question all that came out was a wheezy grunt.

2.       I need new running trainers- as I set off for the 2nd lap I could feel the instep starting to blister and by the end of the lap I couldn’t wait to get my trainers off and inspect the damage… of which there were some nasty hot spots and a blister.  

So 3.8 miles and 47 minutes isn’t going to break any records and there is still a long way to go (thankfully also 6 months!) but it’s put my mind to rest I am still reasonably fit and should be able to get back in shape ok, shame it’s got to be over the cold winter months though!

As a footnote- well done to Sarah's Mum and Dad- Julie and Phil Kelly- for completing the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k last Sunday in 1 hour 6- whilst feeling under the weather with a cold!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

What a Fabulous Weekend!

Like public transport, you wait ages for one to come along then you get two at the same time, just like our blog at the moment!
This weekend was fantastic though, I couldn’t help blogging about the beautiful autumn walks we had. Saturday was a blue sky sunny day and we chose to walk the ‘Beaumont Circular’ and an 8 kilometre walk, starting on the south coast of Jersey and walking through St Peters Valley and round past the Jersey War Tunnels. We set off in fleeces as it is the middle of November so it’s going to be cold of course… but we were soon down to t-shirts and zipped off trousers to ¾ length.
Autumn and spring are my favourite times of year for walking, I love the changing colours of the leaves and the crisp sound they make when walking though them. I also can’t help but kick them like a child which Ben finds highly amusing/ irritating, not sure which. J

It felt good to be out on a proper walk again, I was wearing my heart rate monitor to see how my fitness levels are going and I was pleased to see my average heart rate stayed fairly low.

On Sunday we took a walk through another of Jersey’s valley’s- Waterworks Valley, so called because there are reservoirs from top to bottom linked by streams and little aqueducts that run to the Jersey Water plant at the bottom. The valley is always quiet and peaceful with the foot path climbing from road level up into the woods.
Sometimes when I’m on my own thought the quietness can freak me out a bit after reading the story of the ghost bride. Jilted at the alter she committed suicide on her wedding night. There have been several ‘witnesses’ on a full moon night, of the sound of galloping horses coming down the valley, a horse drawn carriage comes round the corner with a bride in the back but when she turns around her face is a skeleton. It may only be folklore, but it still plays on my mind when walking alone!
Thankfully on Sunday I was walking with Ben and the ghost bride didn’t cross my mind. It was another blue sky sunny day warm enough to be out in t-shirts although a keen wind was picking up. We walked at a good pace but had to stop often to pick dandelion leaves as our pet house bunny is now on a ‘natural’ diet so we are regularly seen in the garden or hedgerows picking grass and dandelions, I think our neighbours think we are slightly mad! There were some enchanting patches of wild mushrooms, some were real fairy tale style...

 During our walks we decided it was time to focus on our next challenge. I blogged a while ago that I was setting myself the challenge of a marathon next year, which I am still keen to do and so far have decided that it has to be either the Edinburgh Marathon (flat-ish) on the 27th May 2012 or the Marathon du Medoc (wine and oysters- yum yum!) on the 8th September 2012 but we are going to be aiming to do the ITEX walk again in June- 48 miles around the Island of Jersey. This year we completed it in a painful 18 hours 45 minutes, next year we are setting ourselves a goal of sub 15 hours, so the marathon training will definitely be coming into play! Our final plan of 2012 or 2013 is to do the Rat Race Scotland Coast to Coast, 15th & 16th September 2012- 2 days of running/ walking, cycling and kayaking from the East to West coast down the Great Glen. Would love to do it next year… but we’ll just have to see for that one!

We have decided to start a little smaller than a marathon and will be taking part in the Leeds "Run for All" 1/2 Marathon on the 13th May 2012. Read more about the inspirational Jane Tomlinson charity here...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Why I love Hot Yoga

In May this year I came across a wonderful thing- Hot Yoga. I have enjoyed yoga on and off for a while, but whilst I enjoyed the stretch and the quiet that came from Hatha classes, I often felt that I should have spent that 90 minutes doing something to burn calories as weight has always been issue with me. 

So when I heard that a Bikram class can burn an average of 600 calories per session I was interested, but stories of instructors shouting ‘feel the pain’ and people passing out because of the heat scared me off. Then I came across Absolute Hot Yoga- kind of Bikram but without the shouting, you’re only expected to go as far as you can and they will open the windows when 40oC gets too much.
Turning up to my first class, I was nervous to see that a lot of the class were rather fit, slim, gym bunny looking people and the heat really hit you as you walked through the door- how was I going to cope with 90 minutes of this heat! Carefully positioned at the back under the watchful eye of the tutor- and near the windows- the 90 minutes passed quickly and I left feeling energised, and although sweaty, like I’d had a really good detox session. 

As part of the Absolute yoga offering you can get a 10 day pass for a set amount to try as many classes as possible in those 10 days to check you like it before signing up. 4 classes later and I was signed up to monthly membership. 

The yoga is 50 hatha asana’s (rather than Bikrams 26) with many being the same or a variation on the Ashtanga Primary Series and even though it’s the same sequence every session, the fact that I could feel and see the difference week on week stopped it being boring. My first class I could hardly reach my toes in Paschimottanasana, now my forehead is merely centimetres away from my knees, I no longer need a strap to connect my hands behind my back in The Sage Twist (Marichyasana) and l though I still can’t quite touch forehead to knee on the standing, at least I can stay stood on one leg (most of the time) 

If you are looking for a sedate class then Absolute Hot Yoga is not for you, there is plenty of relaxation at the end and the focus throughout the class is on the breath, but it is a fairly fast paced class, and with the heat expect your heart to be pounding by the end of the standing series, if not before! 

I am currently on a break from Hot Yoga, an office move to a different part of the Island has made it difficult to get to evening class, so I have been experimenting with other styles such as Vinyasa Flow and Dynamic Yoga which are just not for me. Although I have found I enjoy practicing the Ashtanga Primary Series almost as much and will definitely be continuing my practice, I am planning a way to get back to my regular Hot Yoga practice as well!

There are Hot Yoga studios springing up all over the world- I attend the Jersey Classes at Central Yoga, I know of one in Durban South Africa and there are several in Thailand, including the Absolute resort on Koh Samui where I hope one day I may get to spend a month doing my teacher training… Edinburgh has finally got it’s first Hot Yoga classes- not quite the same as the Absolute Yoga, but offering Barkan, not tried it yet, but going to try and get to a class in January when we are up there on holiday. 

So if you want a good stretch, workout and detox all in 90 minutes I recommend you find your nearest Hot Yoga studio. Have a look here at some of the Absolute Hot Yoga graduates and where they are now offering classes.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A short update...

A short update as we have been very quiet on the blog front. We have no current adventures and challenges in the near future but at least finally I (Sarah) am back on my feet after recovering from my knee op and able to get out enjoying this late bit of sunshine with some nice walks last weekend as well as back in full swing at hot yoga!

It feels great being able to get back to some sort of fitness and time off my feet has made me realise just how much we take being able to walk, run and cycle for granted. I'm still getting twinges of pain, but thank fully they are getting less and less.

Tomorrow we are taking a day off work to enjoy the 28 degree weather and the good surf (hopefully as forecasted) as this could be the last surf session of the year!

I'm really getting into hot yoga and a future post is going to share some of the great experiences and benefits of yoga and in particular yoga in the heat!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Scotland Photos

It's taken a while but here they are- photo's from our recent holiday in Scotland...

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Inspiration in a time of Boredom

The blog has been quiet for a while, as you may or may not know the last two weeks have seen me (Sarah) laid up on the sofa following an operation on my knee to smooth and shrink some broken cartilage. 

Before the op I was the fittest I have been in a long time, possibly ever, having completed the 48.1 mile ITEX walk and hiking up Ben Nevis. So suddenly not being able to walk for more than a few metres left me feeling pretty frustrated and miserable!

Instead of feeling sorry for myself (well only a little bit of the time) I decided to take inspiration from books, blogs and tv programmes to help me set goals for the future.

So here's a few tv shows and books that have inspired me over the last two weeks:

Jack Osborne, series one Adrenalin Junkie, climbing El Capitan. 
A few weeks off my feet is still going to leave me fitter than Jack at the start, ok I don't have famous trainers or unlimited money, but if he can learn to climb that, I can learn simple single pitch climbs!

James Cracknell, The toughest foot race on earth
 I thought I was in pain but watching the  Marathon Des Sables (and Jack Osbornes attempt) I realised it wasn't really pain in comparison. Would love to give the MDS a go but I can't see it happen... For a while anyway :) 

Holding On, Jo Gambi
My favourite book when I feel down, if Rob can climb the 7 summits whilst in remission from cancer it makes me realise the human body can do so much more, especially if you're doing it with the person you love!

Alastair Humphreys Thunder & Sunshine
A great book to escape with and it confirms that there are more good than bad people in the world. Makes me want to run away on my bike.

The Hill, Ed Hommer
Ed lost both his legs and two friends on Denali whilst piloting his plane, yet after losing everything including his family, he fought back and triumphed by summiting the mountain that nearly killed him.

So what has this inspired me to do?
As well as eventually following our dreams one day, I'm going to...
... Run my first marathon.
I don't know if it will be next year or 2013 but I'm thinking either the Edinburgh Marathon, nice looking profile and decent cut off time. Or the Marathon du Medoc, wine and oysters rather than water and bananas at the refreshment stops! 

I realised me and Ben have big dreams (next blog, our ever growing bucket list) but most of them  involve large amounts of fitness and endurance both physical and mental. I'm not much of a runner, but the ITEX showed me I can do more than I think and a marathon is a great test of strength needed for future adventures.

So stayed tuned here to find out my progress on getting back on my feet after the op and the latest on my quest in running 26.2 miles.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Scotland- The last few days

After our adventures in the Highlands we planned to meet Sarah’s parents at Comrie, just North of Stirling and on the edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. We’d found a beautiful Eco Campsite, Comrie Croft, and it was a proper campsite, no heated pool,  fancy restaurant- just a few fields, a wood and some basic showers.

The day we left Fort William was grey, rainy and low cloud which made the drive through the Glencoe pass absolutely amazing, with mountain tops missing and sunlight shining through onto small patches of mountain side. Rannoch Moor looked the wild place I imagined it would be when we walked over it almost a week before in blue skies and the water on the lochs were grey and choppy.

The bus service down to Glasgow is really good, they run every few hours and stop along the way at most of the villages on the
West Highland Way
. We had to change bus at Glasgow Bus Station and jumped on the shuttle to the airport to pick up our little hire car.

Living on the Island of Jersey is lovely, but only being able to drive a maximum of 40mph and not being able to drive for more than an hour without doing an entire tour of the island, it feels good to fly along motorways- even if it was only a 900cc car!

Comrie was a cute little village but that’s about it and our campsite was on the outskirts. Our pitch was in the top meadow, meaning stunning views over the valley below and to the lowland mountains in the distance. We pitched the tent when my parents arrived and then set to work building a campfire. So many places won’t allow open fires, it was nice for a change to be able to cook sausages and toast marshmallows.

The next day was another rainy day and still feeling the ache from our walking, decided to skip the mountain biking and head to the Oldest Distillery in Scotland, Glenturret, fro the Famous Grouse Experience. The tour was really interesting and told fantastically by our tour guide. As well as seeing the working distillery (no photography as there is a risk of explosion!) we watch a CGI tour of the ‘Famous Grouse’ fly over Scotland and then it was the tasting.

There are several tour options- all of them the same but with different amounts of tasting at the end. Being we were glad we chose the least amount (which was still 2 different Whiskeys) and I’m (Sarah) pleased to say I actually enjoyed the Glenturret whiskey- the first one of the week!

Still rainy and grey after the tour we took a drive up to the loch where the water comes from for the Whiskey  then decided to head back to the Highlands- where I think we left a little bit of our hearts- and enjoy lunch at the Bridge of Orchy and shopping at the Green Welly Stop.

Back at the campsite it was more marshmallows around the campfire and an early night as we were up at the next morning for our Easyjet flight back home.
Our holiday in Scotland really has been amazing and once again, like Finland, we came away with the realisation that being outdoors and active all day everyday is what makes us truly happy. We love that feeling at the end of the day of being tired from physical exertion and fresh air, not mentally drained from being at a desk staring at a computer. We did by a lottery ticket, just in case our luck was in… but for now it’s back to the desk job…

Scotland- Ice Climbing, Harry Potter and a Big Waterfall…

A few days later than planned but here's the next installation of our adventures in Scotland!

After our walk up Ben Nevis we planned a fairly relaxing day on the Saturday with just an ice-climbing session at the Ice Factor Kinlochleven, but of course relaxation is not what we go on holiday for, so we hired a car and tried to fit as much as possible in one day as we could!

Waking up I (Sarah) was surprised at how little pain I was in from Ben Nevis the previous day. Sore knees and a little bit stiff, which I thought would make ice climbing interesting, but felt relatively good.

The Ice Factor is Europe’s largest indoor climbing facility, set in the old Alcan buildings, and the chamber is literally a giant walk in freezer! There’s some impressive indoor walls too, which I had contemplated on giving ago after the ice session… but seeing as my arms felt like they were going to fall off a walk around their shop felt like a better option.

I was really excited about this, I loved the ice climbing in Finland, even though I found it tough and putting on the crampons and ice climbing boots reminded me how much I loved it. Ben was really excited too and we couldn’t wait to get in and get going.

Andy, our instructor, ran over the basics again and let us play around on the lower part of the wall, practising moving with crampons and putting the ice axes into the wall. Then it was off up the first wall. At first I struggled, but once in a rhythm and remembering to keep the axes close together and feet wide apart I made it to the top.

Next up was Ben, he was doing well and I was in a rhythm belaying when he slipped. Thankfully I reacted quickly, sat down to take the weight and held him before he fell too far.

We had three goes each, the last one on a steeper wall which really tested those tender muscles from the walking. Our knot tying and belaying skills seem to be good after the sessions at Leeds Wall and we are almost ready to be let loose on our own!

Next up was Glencoe Visitor Centre, I visited it last year with my parents and standing on the viewing deck with the mountains towering around you is just an amazing feeling and makes you feel very small! We took the woodland walk, but unfortunately there is a lot of tree felling at the moment so parts of it were a bit boring.

After asking at Glencoe information desk about the Ben Nevis Distillery tours, we hopped back in the car and drove North, pulling up we jumped out of the car expecting tours very half an hour, as we had been told. Presuming the sign was wrong, that said the next tour was the following day, a very unfriendly man informed us it was correct- only one tour per day! There were plenty of us milling around and a mini bus pulled up for a tour just as we were leaving, so there definitely wasn’t a lack of interest.

After a bit of indecision, it was then off west to Glenfinnan to look at the Harry Potter viaduct from below. One thing we weren’t prepared for was the cost of parking, toilets and entry everywhere- so a tip is to make sure you always have change, especially 20p for the loos!

We took some great pictures at the Viaduct and across Loch Sheil- also famous in the movies as the backdrop of the viaduct. Heading back to the car we spotted a huge stag on the hillside- even from a distance his antlers were very impressive!

Then it was off back to Glen Nevis and up to waterfalls at the head of the glen. The Lower Falls actually run right under the road and we watched some crazy guys jumping off the bridge, and off the roof of a van, into the pool at the foot of the falls. The higher falls, or Steall Falls were a short drive up a single track to a car park then a walk up the gorge.

By this point there were a few dark clouds coming over the mountains and as we set off the storm alarm on my watch started to bleep. We had a rucksack with the necessities for highland walking, but not knowing how long the walk was, how strenuous and it was getting late in the day, I was quite nervous. We asked a few walkers coming our direction but got different answers, so we set a time to turn back and carried on walking.

Having seen some people come back from the falls in flip flops, suit jackets and various other ‘not suitable for walking’ clothes, we were surprised at the scrambling and slippery rocks on the route that runs high above the gorge, with the sound of water pounding below. Suddenly the gorge opens up to a wide meadow and in front is a waterfall straight out of Jurassic Park. Even from a distance the height is magnificent.

Reaching the river we found it was either a river crossing or a steal rope bridge and with my storm alarm still going off I made the decision it was time to turn back. Later we found it was extremely muddy on the other side anyway, so it’s on our list to still do next time we go back.

So that was out last hectic day in the Highlands, before heading down to Comrie, just north of Stirling. Still to come… open campfires, camping, woolly cows and proper Scottish weather!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Scotland- the last few days, coming soon!

We are now back to reality- boo... but atleast we have a WiFi connection which we didn't have for the last few days in Scotland.

So the last few days of our Scotland adventure will be on here in the next day or so once I sort out my diary notes!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Ben Nevis

Today was a not too early start for our ascent of Ben Nevis, meeting Lena our Guide at 9am. We had booked to go with Liz from Great Glen Adventures, but she had been taken Ill she had contacted Lena for us.

From the start the path climbs steadily and at first I thought the pace Lena set was really slow. We kept being overtaken by other walkers and it was tempting to speed up... an hour later though whilst others sat at the side of the path huffing and sweating we made our way steadily past!

The views on the climb grow more and more beautiful with height. We were lucky to have blue skies and sunshine again after yesterday's rain, although it was almost too hot and we were both soon sweating buckets.

Lena was great company and good to chat to, as well as a great guide pointing interesting places like the Harry Potter quidditch field and the hill they superimposed Hogwarts on.

Reaching the 'halfway' Lochan, that's less than half way, we could see down the next Glen. The Lochan is definitely on our wild camping list, just stunning! We crossed the Red Bun, knowing we had fresh water on the descent, and soon it wa onto the famous zig zags. As we started climbing the clouds started coming down on the summit, we stopped before reaching them for a quick food break, then it was back up the zig zags.

Until the zig zag we were still surrounded by grass off the path, but soon the surroundings were rocks and loose scree. It was so desolate and it started to become easy to see why some many people get lost. The temperature was going from hot to cold as the clouds came down then parted and soon we were higher than the main layer of clouds.

Nearer the top the paths straightens, but still climbs as at the top you can see the observatory and hotel ruins and realise they are at the far side of the summit plateau.

Lena took us over to look down the steep North Face, a gully with nothing between you and the ground but hundreds of feet of thin air. There was still now in the gully, we had seen a little patch a bit lower, but this made us realise how you could see the summit hotel and it bad weather or thick snow walk straight ahead and straight down the North Face.

Reaching the summit was a great feeling, Sarah's first mountain and the first together. Although cloud kept coming across we had enough breaks to enjoy a view across to the mountains on Skye and over Glencoe.

Photos, lunch and a call to Sarah's mum and it was Time to descend. I (Sarah) found the down harder than the up with serious concentration not to slip or twist and ankle.

Once the path evened out slightly we got to take in the views again, now under cloud level. Filling our bottles at the Red Burn was lovely, ice cold fresh water!

The descent seemed never ending, it had taken 3 hours 20 up, half an hour at the top and 2 hours 50 back down.

We said a huge thank you to Lena and hit the Ben Nevis Inn for the best pint of cider ever. A paddle in the ice cold River Nevis, shower, change and it was back to the pub for far too much burger and sticky toffee pudding before almost falling asleep in the Baileys coffee!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Day 4: steam train to Mallaig

This morning saw us getting up to a very different day to what we were used to in Scotland.  Until now we've had nothing but sunshine decent temperatures, but this morning was very misty, wet and pretty chilly to start. We were a bit disappointed that the weather has decided to change the day before were are due to summit Ben Nevis and it been so clear for such a long time.

So we had to get to Fort William train station early enough to get some tickets to go on a train.  This isn't any train though, it is the Jacobite - a steam train running between Fort William and Mallaig, which goes over the Glenfinnan viaduct which is featured in the Harry Potter movies on their way to Hogwarts.

The trip to Mallaig took about 2 hours, stopping for about 20 minutes in Glenfinnan, then about 5 minutes in Arisaig, the most westerly train station in mainland the UK.

When we arrived in Mallaig, we decided to go straight to the Fishmarket restaurant.  We had a starter called Cullen Skink, which is basically smoked Haddock soup, but it was the best smoked haddock soup I've tasted!  We both also had fish and chips because we just thought it wouldn't be right if we didn't seeing that we were visiting a seaside/harbour village...

We had about and hour and a half in Mallaig, and after we had a little wonder around, quickly stopped off at the ice cream shop at the station for dessert, on the way back to the train.

Once we got back to Fort William we stopped at the local supermarket to get some supplies, got a bus back to the hostel and decided to go for a short walk (even though it was meant to be our day off) along the Glen that runs past the bottom of the garden where we're staying.

By this evening though, the cloud had risen well above the Ben Nevis summit so that we could see exactly what was in store for us tomorrow...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Day three, Kinlochleven to Achintee Farm (foot of Ben Nevis)

Woke up to another scorching blue sky day, the difference this morning though was the famous Scottish midges! At the Macdonald Cabins the shower block is a short walk over a stream and without direct sunlight this is a perfect place for the little midges. Whilst waiting my turn in the shower I went from one bite to several!

Anyway, on to the walking... The start was a sharp ascent through some pretty woodland, crossing streams either by bridge or just walking through the shallow water. The uphill seemed to last for ever but after about an hour we looked back to stunning views across Loch Leven and the valley.

The next few hours followed a valley, or Glen, that can only be reached by footpath and feels hidden from the real world. Again there were streams to cross by fording them and they were so clear it was tempting just to stop and drink from them. We came across a couple of ruins, sad reminders that someone used to live in this special piece of wilderness. Although the ruins were too dangerous to camp inside, there were several spots we saw and decided next time we would wild camp there, beautiful, isolated, fresh mountain springs and enough shelter.

We finally reached the first 'forest' marked on the map, although most of it had been cut down, there was still a small patch to give shade from the midday sun. Shortly after lunch, Sarah managed to twist her ankle again and whilst distant sight of a Golden Eagle gave some respite, it was nothing compared to the 'tea' station at the information board!

Imagine being hot, sweaty, have a painful ankle and know there's still at least another 3 hours to walk. Then out of nowhere a friendly bloke asks if you would like tea or coffee and chocolate biscuits. He may have been an angel, but I think he actually worked for the people who maintain the West Highland Way and our cuppa only cost a donation and answering a few questions!

The next few hours were basically walking along not very interesting forest commission paths with a breathtaking (and slightly scary as we'll be doing it in 2 days) view of Ben Nevis. The last hour or so felt never ending but finally the Visitor Centre was in sight with diet coke and Achintee Hostel just a minutes walk across the foot bridge.

We've just had a great dinner at the Ben Nevis Inn with plenty to drink to celebrate our Not Walking Day tomorrow and an early night with the hope of catching the Harry Potter train tomorrow!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Day 2: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Had another early start this morning. Sarah woke up at 6:30am after not being able to go to sleep again. I was woken up 15 minutes later with Sarah looking for something in our already packed and ready to go ruck sack... but that's why I love her :)

Packed our ruck sack about 3 more times before heading for breakfast. We both had a full Scottish breakfast, me having lorne sausage and potato cake extra.  We finally left Kingshouse and started off on the next leg.

For the first hour we walked alongside the Buachalle Etive Mor, a mountain we had a perfect view of from our bedroom window at the Kingshouse. It really is a perfect mountain with a pointy top and craggy sides, there's apparently a hillwalkers path up it, something we have both decided we will be back to try.

Sooner than we realised we were at the bottom of the Devils Staircase. Standing at the bottom looking up in the already hot sun it looked a pretty tough climb, but within an hour we were at the top having photos taken with spectacular views across the glens and mountains and fighter jets flying below us.

The descent turned out to be more of a challenge with us both suffering knee pain. Lunch was had next to a small waterfall and it was a blissful half hour before back on our feet for more downhill walking which took nearly 3 hours in total and Sarah re-spraining her ankle as well as having her usual hissy fit about sore knees :-) 

We're now sat in the bar at the Macdonalds Hotel and Cabins drinking very welcome ice cold cokes waiting for our baggage. As soon as it arrives we are taking a short walk up to the Grey Mary waterfall and to buy supplies for dinner, we'll be cooking ourselves tonight... Although the half roast chicken is sounding good! 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Day one Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse

Following this mornings early start on the bus, we arrived at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel to drop our bags for luggage service Travel-lite to collect and carry to Kingshouse. The hotel was lovely so we decided to stop for coffee and ordered packed lunch, great value at £6.50.

To start with we got lost within the first 200 metres of leaving the hotel, but realised we'd missed the path behind a parked car before getting too far. The start was a gentle-ish climb through forest, but got the heart pumping, before finally cresting a hill with a breathtaking view of Loch Tulla below. There's a small detour not much further on to a small cairn on a hill, definitely worth the slight climb for the fabulous view down onto Inveroran.

Following the road past the hotel (which clearly states their facilities are for hotel residents only, no chance for a last loo stop then!) the road finally leads to a gate and the start of Rannoch Moor.

The moor was one of the parts I was most worried about after reading stories of fierce winds and thick fog making navigation difficult. Under blue skies and sunshine, it was a pleasant stroll along a well kept path, starting in woodland and being watched by deer in the long grass.

Another thing we had prepared for was midges, the famous Scottish ones, but today with sunlight and strong wind it seemed to be horseflies that were the main irritant, and not particularly adverse to Deet Jungle Formula! Thankfully even though we had our lunch break over looking a pond surrounded by peat bog, they kept away and let us enjoy the stunning mountain scenery around us.

After lunch I struggled to get back into the swing of walking and started struggling with sore toes. Our map didn't seem to match with where we thought we were and the middle stretch of today seemed to last forever. I just kept looking around though and taking in the view to forget my aches and pains.

Finally Glencoe ski lifts came into view, and unsure how much further we had until the hotel, we decided an ice cold coke and bathroom stop was needed. A trip back in winter is now on the cards, even if it's just to sit in the cafe with huge picture windows over looking the valley and wood burning stove, not needed today though in the 20 degree sun!

Kingshouse turned out only to be a half hour walk from the ski centre and stood outside the front of the hotel, happily grazing was a small deer. Later we saw several more, seemingly not bothered by the hotel guests and pretty interested in us as we sat outside by the river drinking local ale and ice cold cider.

We were a little nervous after reading many bad TripAdvisor reports on Kingshouse, but we've had a few drinks, tasty dinner of venison casserole (Sarah) and venison burger (Ben)and the hotel staff are friendly and helpful. Some of the hotel furnishing is a little out of date, but surrounded by mountains and with views down the valley, from our bedroom and the main lounge, the furnishing was the last thing I noticed!

So after a quick dram of a local whiskey (got to be done in Scotland) it's going to be an early night before a short but steep 9 miles into Kinlochleven tomorrow.

We're in Scotland!

After months of planning our first real walking trip, we've arrived in Scotland.

Had a great trip up on Megabus yesterday, so glad we chose to pay £6 instead of the £70+ some of their competitors were charging! On the way found probably the most scenic service station, with duck pond and mountain views at Tebay North.

Last night we stayed at the Glasgow City Premier Inn. Again, another budget option but good food, very comfortable king size bed and every thing else needed for a one night stay.

This morning we're on the Citylink coach (typing this on the free WiFi)heading to the Bridge of Orchy and the start of our walk. We have clear blue skies, promises of temperatures in the 20's and wondering why we are carrying down jackets and fleeces... Although with Scottish Highland weather you just nevr know!

Will hopefully update tonight but not sure of the WiFi situation so maybe a day or two when we'll be really into the Highlands.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Scottish Food and Phrases

In the run up to our trip away we have had plenty of advice from those who have fled the Highlands for warmer weather down South.

Our favourite Scottish sayings so far (from Avril Mclaren at Dolan Hotels) are:

Auch aye the noo
Ye canny shuv yer granny af a bus
Dinny da that
Awa an bile yer heid
Awa an no blether ye haiver 
Yer glakit

We’re not too sure of the translations of all of them so I’m not sure if we’ll be trying them out just in case. Of course anyone who can give us the translations please let us know in the comments box below.

Another great email was Scottish Food we must try from Gill at Capita. From the list below I’m glad we will be burning several thousand calories walking each day:

If you come across a hotel serving High Tea - go for it. This is a main course like  Mixed Grill - chops, sausages, egg  chips and tomatoes and mushrooms served with toast and butter and tea  followed by cakes and scones and raspberry jam and more tea- traditionally served around . This is a dying species but still available in the smaller "toons"
  • In addition buy a packet of Pandrops to suck whilst walking - they are like mint imperials but better
  • Callard and Bowser Toffees
  • The fish and chip shops are so much better also -ask for White Pudding or Red Pudding it is a cereal based sausage like creature which is deepfried with chips
  • Haggis - obviously
  • Arbroath smokies - which are like kippers but better
  • Mackerel coated in oats ( you can also have this for breakfast)
  • Square sliced Lorne sausage for breakfast
  • Potato scones –breakfast

With further recommendations Because of the softness of the Highland water the following items taste one trillion times better in Scotland”:-
  • Tea
  • Whisky
  • Marmalade
  • Bread
  • Scones
  • Shortbread
  • Tablet - a very sugary fudge like confection.
  • Porridge
  • Butter - (nothing to do with the water but could have, cows have to drink!)

So Scotland here we come! (after a few days in Leeds) The weather forecast is looking a lot better for next week. A little bit rain but at least it’s not as bad as it has been… and at least a bit of rain might help keep the famous Scottish midges away! 

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Scotland Update

Following our previous blog about walking the West Highland Way and hiking up Ben Nevis, we have now booked our final bits and pieces.

Although Ben was very keen to carrying all of our own gear, I wanted to be broken in gently to multi-day walking holidays, and seeing as we are not camping and doing the whole walk so therefore not doing it ‘properly’ anyway I opted for us to use one of the baggage carrying services. Travel-lite-UK have been in operation for 16 years and at £20 for the 3 stages, I think it’s going to be worth the money!

We have also finally booked our Ben Nevis guide. We are going with Great Glen Adventures which is run by Liz, an ex-Exodus Guide I’m pretty sure we are in safe hands and looking forward to walking up the highest mountain in Britain!

Finally, we have decided to hire a car when we get back down to Glasgow and got a great deal though Holiday Autos and even better they changed our booking for free when we booked Prestwick Airport, instead of Glasgow International. Apparently there are 2 airports in Glasgow and Prestwick is about 35 miles away on the West Coast- oops!

We also had quite a big spending spree last week and hit the outdoor shops for supplies. Emergency shelter bags, whistle and midge head nets were among the heaps of items purchased, hopefully we won’t have to use any, although I don’t think we’ll get away without using the midge nets!

So with only 2 weeks to go until we fly to the UK and a few days more until we arrive in Scotland we’re getting very excited, especially as Visit Scotland seem to be constantly advertising on TV at the moment, I just know that the tune will be stuck in my head for the walk. Sarah is also a little worried as the blister she gained during the ITEX on her little toe is still painful to walk on, hopefully it will heal soon! 

Monday, 27 June 2011

The ITEX Walk 2011- in Sarah's Words

Firstly, a 1am wake up call for a 3am start was the earliest I have been up for anything and even with a week of ‘acclimatising’ to early nights and early mornings I still managed very little sleep the night before through nerves, excitement and the fear of sleeping through the alarm.

It’s worth to mention here that I had planned the ITEX walk similar to a military mission, everything had been packed 2 days in advance, sandwiches made the day before, bedtimes adjusted to make sure we got maximum sleep, so when we arrived at the car park that morning and realised we had left the sandwiches in the fridge, which involved a ten minute drive home, another back and a late arrival at the start line, meaning we set off at the back- panic set in and for the first 2 hours my sole concentration was not to be last into the check point- not the best start!

It was an amazing sight though in the dead of night, under the streetlights with a fine mist of rain, watching 1200 walkers set off around Elizabeth Harbour and I tried as much as possible to take it in and remember moments.

The first few hours were fairly unmemorable, a few people, crazy enough to be up at 4am, waved from their gateways then there was the 2 guys in deckchairs, who very obviously hadn’t been to bed yet giving out Alpen Bars and bottles of water at about the 7 mile mark- a little light relief after the initial adrenalin had worn off.

Breakfast was a bit of a nightmare and we wasted nearly half an hour strapping up my feet again and trying to work out which was the breakfast queue and which was the check out queue. Eventually we gave up on breakfast, deciding to have one of our sandwiches… that were still in the rucksack with my walking poles that were now well on the way to the next check point in the back of a truck- aaargh!!!

A bacon roll and coffee at St Catherines CafĂ©, made up for the missed stop at Jersey Potteries and we were onto the “North Coast”. This is one of the toughest sections of the walk- nearly 20 miles of cliff paths, lots of ups and downs and steps which are a killer on the joints! It’s also one of the most beautiful sections, although to be honest the most I saw was the tip of my boots plodding one foot in front of the other!

At the half way point of the walk, was a great stop supported by the Freedom Church. A cheer and Mexican wave welcomed us to the La Fontaines check point and we were soon in a marquee with cupcakes, tea and coffee in abundance. Feeling refreshed we were on our way again, 3 miles on at the next stop the treat was ice-lollies and seeing as I’d burned about 6000 calories at this point it was great to eat guilt free!

Unfortunately the eating soon came to a stop as I reached a personal mileage goal of 26 miles, my left hip and knee decided it wanted to go no further… however determination and fantastic support from my husband had other plans. Breaking my walking stick, by continually getting it stuck down rabbit holes at about the 28 mile point, didn’t help matters physically or physiologically, but I was determined to get to at least Grosnez at mile 30 and the end of the North Coast.

At Grosnez a quick sit down, banana and carton of orange juice gave me the fuel needed to get back up out of the chair and head to La Braye, 5.32 miles further along. We had been getting soaked with heavy rain showers, before boiled with hot sun all day, but now we faced our worse weather yet- wind, from the side and with gusts up to 50mph- literally strong enough to hold Ben up when he lent into it and to knock me sideways off my feet! 

Previous walkers had warned of the feeling of standing at the top of L’Etacq and seeing the 5 mile stretch of beach ahead- enough to make many walkers give up. I gave into the temptation of looking but when I could resist no longer and feeling of dread filled me so my head went down once more and I concentrated on my next stop- getting to the loo near Jersey Pearl- yep that was as bad as it got when ‘treats’ became toilet stops as I could no longer face eating anything other than raisins!!! The toilet stop, nearly became the last stop when I feel asleep sitting down, but thank fully revived myself and swallowed an energy shot to keep my eyes open.

Reaching La Braye the temptation to quit was strong, but I now knew that with only 13 miles to go and many of them flat, I couldn’t give in here, I’d got this far in pain with my hip and a whole load of painkillers to try and numb it, so another banana, some more juice and another top up on water and we were on our way with more of a tail wind now.

By this point, I had started a little routine which involved tears, tantrums and check points. As I hot a check point my mood would be buoyed, I’d feel ok and decide to carry on, as we left the check point I would suddenly feel tired and in pain and the tears would fall, as we settled into a rhythm I would feel blank, no feelings just one foot in front of the other, in the last miles or so before the check point the tears would pour, I would utter ‘I can’t do this, this is the last check point’ and Ben would assure me I could keep going and then I would be filled with determination that I had to reach the finish line, then reaching the check point it would start again. This routine occasionally changed with the middle 2 bits being repeated more than once if there was a hill (up or down) or other ‘obstacle’ in the section or if it was a particularly long one or during the last 2 sections when I was literally running on empty and blistered feet.

At the 3 mile mark, encouragement from colleagues gave the final push and when I realised we had slowed to less than 2 mph along the sea front and the finish line we could see was not getting any closer, the thought of being able to stop walking the quicker I got there gave me the push to step it up and get on with it.

We finished at 9.45pm, in the dark, as we had left. On seeing the finish line I could not control the tears any more and I literally sobbed my way across the line. I’d love to say there was an amazing feeling of elation, of achievement and I suddenly got a second wind to make it back to the car, but I can’t. I creid to the tea stall, sat down, cried on the phone to my mum, nearly passed out while Ben went a picked up the car, cried when I took my boots off and saw blood on my toe nail, then shivered my way home to a hot bath.

3 days on, the aches and pains are subsiding, the toe nails are still (for now) hanging on and that feeling I expected at the finish line has finally been felt.

Of the 1200 walkers that started that miserable rainy morning, only 677 completed it and I’m pleased to say that me and Ben were 2 of them. Some people run it in 8 hours, others do it as a ‘fun’ day out, but I can honestly say it was the hardest thing I have done in my life so far.

As we were walking around one of the things that got me to the finish line was that I never wanted to do the walk again, on Sunday I pleaded with Ben to remind me of the pain I was in should I ever think about doing it again, but now as I’m slowly starting to walk properly again and my blisters are healing I’m already excited about taking on the challenge next year of beating the thing in 15 hours!

So here are my stats as of the Monday after the walk:

48.1 miles
18 hours 45 minutes
Average heart rate: 147
Max heart rate: 179
Calories burned: 11302
Blisters: 2 (they just cover the entire feet)
Cut fingers: 1 (from a staple on a packet of sweets from Finland- it was the most I bled on the whole walk!)
Knees working properly: 0
Toenails I’m about to lose: at least 1 big one and maybe a few more