I am pleased to confirm that I have now moved north of the border to Scotland. I am hoping that this will inspire some good walking and trips to explore new areas.
As National No Smoking Day is coming up on 14th March, I thought I would include a post about giving up. On or about this time of year a few years ago, I finally gave up smoking using nicotine patches and healthy nibbles, after a couple of failed attempts. I am not trying to preach about the dangers of smoking, because any smoker would be hard pressed to ignore the warnings emblazoned on cigarette boxes.
If you decide to give up, focussing on a physical activity you enjoy helps to remind you how much better you feel by not smoking. I started with easy walks and built up over the course of a year or so to more challenging routes. Getting fit again was not an overnight achievement and I had to work at it gradually.
If friends find it hard to accept your decision to stop, maybe it’s best to broaden your circle to include more non smokers. Since I gave up smoking I have met new friends through my hiking who have made me feel like a reasonably normal person without a cigarette in my hand. I may not be an elite athlete, but this doesn’t matter as much to me as having improved my health.
I am happy to support anyone who tries to give up, having seen the damage it can do to a member of my family. Statistically many of us are likely to have friends or family affected by lung disease, so please donate to the British Lung Foundation if you have a few pounds to spare.
In May I walked the Speyside Way as a way to remember a relative who sadly passed away this year. During the walk I made a call to rescue services for navigational advice as there was a route discrepancy between my map and the signage. It was getting late and I was stuck in a seemingly endless rocky barbed wire corridor which wasn’t indicated on my map, and wasn’t wide enough to pitch my tent in. My tired reasoning was simply that a call for advice now might prevent a call for help later. Unfortunately the people I spoke to were unable to answer my query. When I mentioned this dilemma on Twitter after my return, James Boulter and a few other people began making unpleasant remarks about my decision to make a call, so this is just a quick response to them.
In the 20 years since I began hiking, I have once requested a call out from Mountain Rescue following an attack of vertigo, and have sought advice (usually regarding route diversions) two or possibly three times on solo long distance walks. On each of these occasions I made a donation to the relevant team.
I would just like to quote a DM I received from a professional rescue person (who shall remain anonymous) regarding my call for advice:
“I think if your call prevented you from getting into danger then it was worthwhile. The Mountain Rescue teams would rather you didn’t get hurt and so would I…I’ve met lots of people who should have done what you did”
I would also like to point out that, as I have a relative who was involved in mountain rescue, I realise how valuable their service is to the outdoor community. My relative sustained a permanent injury whilst carrying out a rescue with his team, so I am fully aware of the risks teams face while providing this service. I am also aware of my personal responsibilities to use their resources sparingly, to donate as and when I am able, and to provide the best outdoor advice I can.
Many of the endurance athletes I respect have managed to cover long distances by camping in farms and gardens or using bothies, rescue huts, hostels and bunkhouses. In spite of this, wild camping seems to have become a by-word for outdoor proficiency. Listening to discussions, I have realised that some women share my apprehension about wild camping. It has been a relief to hear this discussed by people with amazing achievements under their belts.
I backpacked the Pennine Way in 2013, staying in some very small campsites, on farms and in gardens, and my first wild camp was with a group of people in the Peak District, shortly afterwards. On the whole this was a fairly good humoured introduction to wild camping. I learned a lot by simply watching what was going on around me and left feeling encouraged.
About 6 months later I was pleased to be invited out for a second wild camp by Chrissie Crowther, a retired woman from the Peak District on Twitter. This trip didn’t go so well. After a winter which was largely spent indoors supporting my father, I was a bit out of condition, but I didn’t regard it as a competition. I joined the other walker (and her partner Geoff Crowther briefly) at their motorhome at Jedburgh for a bright and sunny day of walking on the St Cuthbert’s Way, which I had walked once before using hostels and B&Bs.
Unfortunately by the time we pitched our tents, the invisible enemies of dehydration and heat exhaustion were causing me to feel very unwell. I had a throbbing headache, my head was spinning, I felt sick and a bit delirious. Whatever assessment Chrissie claims to have made of my condition was made from zipped inside her tent.
Most rescue people advise that if you don’t feel well you should turn back, and that is what I did. In retrospect I think this was the right decision.
I packed up and left Chrissie, who had refused (from inside her tent) to make a call out or come with me, but by the time I reached the road in the dark, I was feeling too sick to walk. I finally decided to call the hotel we had passed earlier in the day. The owner heroically came out in his car to pluck me up from the side of the road in the dark and take me back to the hotel where I was given tea and a much needed room for the night. The people at the hotel were critical of Chrissie’s decision not to come with me.
I mentioned some of this in an online review of the hotel made at the time in early 2014, and I have not seen either of the people involved since that time. A month or so later I discovered that I had been blocked by the couple on Twitter, so I emailed Chrissie again to apologise and reiterate that I had had too much sun.
I may be useless at some things, but I can recognise the symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration, having suffered from both before. Chrissie’s decision left me quite hurt but, because she had offered to take me out, I spared her blushes by not discussing what had happened on social media for over two years. Sadly I now realise that saying nothing has given this couple the opportunity to claim that they know me far better than they do and to spread malicious untruths about me within the outdoor community while I was doing my M.A.
I don’t tend to gossip and I didn’t know how to respond to any of this unpleasantness after my course. I have been advised to point out that I began writing this blog, which is dedicated to my mum, for pleasure, and at the time of writing this is still being marred by the online hate campaign which began after this trip. So reader beware of apparently kind offers from strangers on Twitter which can turn toxic.
My own appraisal of the day.
For what it’s worth, my own appraisal of that day is that I was affected by the sun because it was a bright & sunny day and I had been indoors all winter. I had not taken a sunhat as I thought it was too early in the year to need one, but this was the wrong decision. I had also recently abandoned my rucksack hydration system with a hose because several had leaked whilst I was camping. Instead I had put a 1.5L plastic bottle of water in the back pocket of my rucksack, which meant that I had to stop and take my rucksack off whenever I wanted a drink. During the course of that day I only did this once or twice at the most which caused me to become dehydrated.
I have since taken advice regarding the problems I have been having with this couple and reported them. When I tried to post a link to this post on Geoff’s blog, it was deleted and I was threatened with legal action for slander and libel. The advice I have been given is that something cannot be libellous or slanderous if it is true which it is, and so.
Anyway, to return to the much more interesting present, and to answer some questions, the main reasons that I haven’t wild camped again until recently are:
- I have been completing an M.A. for the last year
- I have been trying to support my father
- I have no car
- I am an assault survivor which still makes me afraid of some situations.
- I was really put off wild camping after the trip I have just described
Apologies to my readers for having to use my blog to counter gossip rather than just write about the outdoors which is all I really want to do on here. Thanks very much to the people who have stopped by since I first published this post in December of 2016. It really does mean a huge amount to me.
NB In February 2020 I finally listened to advice and came off Twitter completely and have never looked back.
Just a quick feedback post on re-launching my blog after a year away and the various plans outlined recently in my Sprucing things up post.
- Creating fresh content
Creating fresh content also forces you to confront content which is frankly not fresh. I have therefore deleted the Reviews tab as an old review is about as relevant for gear buyers as an old newspaper is for news. With some regret I have also done away with a couple of geographical sections on my blog to focus on areas which I know more about. This is not an indication that I love them any less than I did, but an acknowledgement that there are very good blogs out there which cover these areas. Regarding producing new content there are more walks in the pipeline
- Refreshing all the content and some of the pictures on my blog
I have been gradually working through all my blog posts editing both the text and pictures in the interests of accuracy and appearance. I hope this will bring about an overall improvement in the relevance and interest of the content.
- Giving more opportunities for feedback
I am generally happy to get constructive feedback or suggestions which will be beneficial to my readers. I normally respond promptly to comments and messages when I’m at home. Your comments have helped shape my future plans and decisions
- Improving my existing and forthcoming videos.
This is a big project as I have over 80 videos on YouTube, but I am enhancing the thumbnails, descriptions, tags and in some cases re-uploading the poorer quality videos. I have also started using a better camera and improved software.
Thanks for reading, viewing and following. Rose