I was fortunate with the weather in 2018 but when I spotted that Celtic Leisure who run several gyms in my area had a joining offer in September I decided that it would be a good idea to join for the winter months so that there was no temptation to let my level of fitness slip!
Royston was very concerned that most of my training walking was being done on the towpaths and that I wasn’t tackling many hills!!
He had a point……. I live surrounded by hills and mountains but my choice was always the flattest route! My walk was going to start in the Scottish Highlands so there would be no getting away from hills there! This is where the gym membership came in handy. I was able to build the hill climbing muscles without actually climbing hills!
I think my aversion to hills is a left over from when my knees were so painful with arthritis (before I started taking Rose Hip tablets).
I didn’t use the gym obsessively and always chose to be outdoors when I could be! The advantage of the gym was the concentrated workout when I didn’t have the time for a long walk.
In October I did a 3 day walk along the Monmouth and Brecon Canal using the camper van as a support vehicle and our bed for the night! I walked 55 miles in the 3 days.
All went well but this was still a flat walk and I didn’t have much navigation to cope with! Just follow the canal!
By this time Royston was busy route planning which took many, many hours partly because he is very meticulous, and partly because he knows I have no sense of direction and am hopeless at map reading!
He planned the section of the route from Tiverton in Devon down to Camborne in Cornwall about 112 miles. This was so that I could practise on part of the actual route and tie in the training with visiting my aunt & uncle in Dorset and my grandsons in Camborne.
He equipped me with maps and very detailed instructions which referred to the maps and even photos of some of the more complicated junctions. This walk was a real test of how the JOGLE would work. We used Find Friends on our phones so that he could keep an eye on where I was!
I needed to prove to myself that I could walk 20 miles a day back to back whilst sleeping in the van!
We needed to establish a routine for ‘walking’ days.
We had to work out how I was going to eat properly when on the 9 week walk using the vans limited cooking equipment and food storage space.
Royston needed to know that I could follow his instructions!
I needed to tackle ‘real’ hills and believe me Devon has plenty of those!
November is a challenging time of year to train like this as the weather was not very good…. there was plenty of mud and puddles to deal with. This helped us plan how to modify the van to deal with wet clothes and muddy footwear.
The other main problem with walking 20 miles a day in November is the lack of daylight hours and the fact that when the weather is bad so is visibility! Once again it gave us information on what equipment I needed to carry and what hi viz clothing I needed.
This walk was very challenging but I did manage 112 miles in 5.5 days.
It gave us answers to many of our questions about the John O Groats to Lands End Walk.
It proved to me I could consistently walk 20 miles a day and gave me the confidence to tell the world my plans for 2019!
My dream was going to become reality!
More about our preparations soon!