From Slackpacker to Backpacker

Because of a fall at the end of 2012, this year got off to a slow start. My convalescent winter was spent reading about other people’s adventures, which inspired me to plan some of my own. The injury knocked my confidence, and dented confidence sometimes takes longer to recover from than broken bones.

I first ventured out into the country again on a group trip to Kirkby Stephen in February. I discovered how out of condition I was when I couldn’t complete the first 15 mile walk. I did manage a shorter walk the following day.

First trip out of 2013 to Kirkby Stephen
First trip out of 2013 to Kirkby Stephen

A few weeks later in March of 2013, I planned a week of some of my favourite Northumberland walks from a base in Rothbury in order to boost my fitness and my morale. Kirkby Stephen had taught me that I needed to take things at a more comfortable pace at first. Although it was still quite wintery on the hilltops, it was really good to get out again and revisit north Northumberland.

College Burn
College Burn near Westnewton

As some of you will know, my big plan for 2013 was to walk the Pennine Way to raise funds for Crisis UK, so I knew I had to get back into condition. With advice from some people about my camping kit, I began my attempt to transform myself from a slackpacker to a self supporting backpacker.

PW Kit
Backpacking kit for the Pennine Way

I made plans to do two hikes in the spring; the 65 mile St Cuthbert’s Way¬†during the wintery April, followed by the 75 mile Cumbria Way¬†during May. I never stop learning when I hike, and these hikes were no exception. I was able to experiment with new kit, footwear, and different kinds of accommodation. The strange weather of the 2013 spring presented challenges on both walks, with 25cm of snow in places across the Scottish borders, and hail showers on the Cumbria Way.

Eildons
Snow on the Eildons

When the time came for me to set off on the Pennine Way in June, I was apprehensive about my achy tendons, and about camping in my new tent. I had consulted a podiatrist who gave me some exercises designed to prevent tendon injury, and sought some advice about camping, but I was still nervous when I arrived at Edale in June.

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Pennine Way practice in the garden

With hindsight, I can honestly say that all the kit and exercise preparation and all the advice I sought turned out to be valuable. I saw quite a few people on the Pennine Way during the summer heatwave with problems such as sunburn, heat exhaustion, heavy packs and injury, which luckily didn’t affect me during my hike.

Pennine Way route map
Pennine Way route map

I completed the hike in 20 days but allowed a few negative comments at the end to get under my skin, which wasn’t helpful. My advice is to avoid negative people as they will drag you down. Some of the “areas for improvement” which emerged on the Pennine Way were my wild-camping and my mountain skills so the remainder of 2013 has been spent trying to address these issues.

I was lucky enough to team up with 4 other wild-campers on social media for my first wild camp in the Peak District. After the Pennine Way, it was relaxing not to have a schedule to adhere to, and to have the logistics planned by somebody else. Many people have made the point that we are generally much safer in the hills than we are in most cities, so I have no excuses left to stop me getting out there to wild camp in 2014.

I had planned to try and fit two more short trails in to the end of the year, but responsibilities at home have put these on hold. I did manage half of the Northumberland coast path which I hope to finish at some stage.

Alnmouth
Alnmouth

I can’t write about this year without mentioning some of the people in it, as well as the hikes. As my ambitions to do longer trails have grown, I have realised that the best people to turn to for advice are people who have done them. It was therefore a huge pleasure to meet trail walkers Sarah, Alasdair, Colin and Chris and to chat about many aspects of their experience on some of the worlds great trails. In October I was invited to the Lake District by the National Trust to meet Tanya Oliver of Fix the Fells to see some of the vital path maintenance they do to tackle problems caused by erosion and poor drainage on the upland fell paths. 

In November I took myself to the Kendal Mountain Festival to meet some more mountaineers. Over the weekend I met some friendly people, enjoyed some good craic, and saw some great talks and films, so I look forward to returning in the future. Watching films about mountains in the snow finally persuaded me that I need to improve my winter skills if I am going to complete any longer trails. Thus the year ended with me playing with my first ice axe and crampons at a Winter Skills lecture and booking myself onto a course.

At the end of 2013, many of the assumptions I had about hiking have disappeared, and I find myself planning to improve my mountain skills in the coming year. Thanks for reading and I hope all your plans for next year come to fruition. All I can say about 2013 really is who knew!

Cross Fell
Summit of Cross Fell

The End of a Vintage Year

2013 has been an vintage adventure year with three solo trails and a return to the Lakeland fells. Although my hiking has been confined to this country, I have experienced everything from deep snow in April to intense heat three months later, which has presented some challenges. I have also met and listened to some inspiring people, with fascinating tales to tell, so lots to learn and write up in my review of the year, coming soon.

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Milecastle, Hadrian’s Wall

Domains and other news

Thanks for visiting and following my blog which has been going for almost a year.

Like most of you, my thoughts have been turning to winter, and this has made me focus again on clothing and kit for winter. Looking at my video last year on this subject, the quality was like something out of the early days of wireless. I am happy to say that the “technical department” has had a much needed upgrade so this year’s video offering doesn’t sound so creaky.

In other news, I have got a domain name so the blog is now at rucksackrose.com It has taken me a while to develop the blog from humble beginnings almost a year ago but I am really enjoying filling it with trail write ups, reviews, information and news, as well as reading the feedback to my posts by other readers and bloggers

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Rucksack Rose – Avatars

Finishing the Pennine Way

Just a quick hello to say that I am safely back from my Pennine Way walk for Crisis UK which took 20 days and was supported by Cotswold Outdoor and Gossamer Gear. I apologise that I was unable to post to this blog during the walk but I was without phone signal, 3G or wifi for most of the route with my ineffective sim card. I have published a write-up of the walk which I hope you enjoy. You can see videos on YouTube, photos on social media under the hashtag #RosePW and you can donate until the end of August 2013  by texting ROSE71 ¬£(Amount) to 70070 ūüôā

Thanks for supporting my Pennine Way for Crisis UK
Thanks for supporting my Pennine Way for Crisis UK

Time in reconnaissance…

As I have now completed the St Cuthbert’s Way, the Cumbria Way plus a week of day walking as part of my training plan for my Pennine Way walk for Crisis UK, I am now resting up until I start my charity walk later this month.

I have recently been assembling and testing out my kit for the walk including a new lightweight tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mat. I am relatively new to camping while I walk, so this has included getting some advice and sleeping out for trial weekends to discover what works and what doesn’t.

Here are a couple of pictures of the tent and equipment I will be using for the walk.

Trying out my kit in the garden

Many thanks for reading.

Rose

Happy New Year 2013

2012 has been a great year for my walking. In June I completed Hadrian’s wall from Wallsend to Bowness on Solway for the MS Society and in August I did the Dales Way from Ilkley to Bowness on Windermere for the British Lung Foundation. I also had walking weekends throughout the year in Rothbury, Craster, Bamburgh and Wooler in Northumberland,¬†Berwick on Tweed in the borders, and Coniston in Cumbria. As well as completing my two of my first distance trails,¬†I also completed my first three Wainwrights and bought my first tent which will change the way I approach walking.

Birdoswald
Birdoswald
The Strid
The Strid, Wharfedale

In 2013 I am planning to walk the Pennine Way for Crisis UK which I am really looking forward to. Realising that I can combine my favourite activity with fundraising is a win win combination. Apart from the Pennine Way, my wishlist for 2013 includes the Cumbria Way, the St. Cuthberts Way, the St. Oswalds Way and a trail in Scotland, if resources allow

There are so many walks I would like to do and the list seems to grow rather than diminish as I hear other people’s suggestions and read blogs of their distance walks. I would like to thank everyone for reading and for the suggestions and conversations during the last year. I wish you a very happy new year and hope that 2013 will see you fulfil some of your dreams too.

About me

I have been doing day walks in my spare time since 2000 in Northumberland and the borders starting with friends and then a walking group. Realising how much I enjoy walking, I have gradually started doing more independent walking, and attempting distance walks and National Trails, sometimes for charity. I have also recently got a tent to use for distance walks & walking holidays.

Creating videos on my RucksackRose Youtube channel of the walks started as a way of cheering myself up during the cold, dark northern winters but some people might enjoy them. I am still learning about the countryside and about walking so am always ready to listen.

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall