August 2020

There was no possibility of starting this year’s walk in May because of the lockdown. With the easing of restrictions I am going to attempt the Pennine Way, although the weather forecast for the next few weeks looks a bit changeable. Of course, it wouldn’t be the Pennine Way if it didn’t rain. I will then, hopefully, complete the Scottish segment of the walk next May and June which will, at least, reduce the number of midges for the first few weeks.

I have managed to keep fairly fit. Prior to lockdown I had joined a gym and my PT prepared a set of exercises I could do at home. Amazing what you can do with a sofa, stairs and 2kg bags of pasta. Once lockdown eased I was able to cycle and walk so hopefully I will be OK . My hamstring has never fully settled down though. Ibuprofen gel will be important!

Most of the places I was going to stay have re-opened. I will mainly stay in pubs and the B and B that I had planned to stay in earlier in the year but will camp some nights.

COVID raises two issues. Firstly, for the last few weeks I have taken care to minimise my risks of carrying the virus to others by strict social distancing and avoiding indoor spaces where there could be a lot of people. It does mean my hair is approaching student length. I may ask Angela to cut it, if so I promise to publish the picture.

Secondly, most of the places I pass through are sparsely populated so the risk of cross infection should be small. The biggest problem could be a sudden change to lockdown rules

To minimise weight I have been shopping. I used Otside and Alpkit in Hathersage, check them out, two great independent shops. I did click and collect from Outside. My old sleeping bag weighed over 1kg so I bought a Rab Mythic which weighs 400g. This feels impossibly light. So, when I got home I got in it and had to get out within 10min because I was too hot. It should be fine in the tent. I have an ultra lightweight thermarest mat, an MRS stove. With social distancing I have cut back considerably on spare clothing . Anyone close enough to smell me shouldn’t be there!

My old cagoule was no longer waterproof so I bought new one from Alpkit. My plan was to walk along Stanage edge while I was over that way. There was persistent drizzle in the valley but I thought this was a good opportunity to try the jacket. On top of the ridge it was windy and wet. I got slightly sweaty on the climb up to the ridge but from then on I was perfectly dry. (Jackets are always a compromise between cost and breathability and I don’t want to spend several hundred pounds on a high end one, this is a good compromise). An excellent bit of kit.

I have been up here several times before and the views are normally superb, but not today. There are a over 100 man made troughs on the ridge

These were carved out in the early 20th century to provide drinking water for grouse. They are numbered, but not in any order. The two grooves are to help rainwater drain into the trough.

To minimise map weight I have bought the A to Z strip map booklets. These have 4cm to 1 km OS maps of the route and weigh almost nothing. Most of the camping will be in the Northern half of the walk so updates to the blog may get patchy as I lose WiFi.

It will be very different to the Southern half of the walk. I will swap cliff walks, interesting villages and pub lunches for open, windswept moorland a heavier rucksack.

So, welcome back to the blog for a truncated Stage 4: Edale to Jedburgh.