Life event

Challenge completed

When I said in my last post that I would update the following week, I hadn’t intended it to be a month, but here we are…

Anyway, I did it! I walked 100 miles in less than 48 hours! (Technically I did it in 46 hours 26 minutes.)

The worst part was the lack of sleep. So many times I wanted to stop by the side of the path and have a nap (which I knew would be the end of my adventure). The final morning was very much a struggle not to fall asleep, even whilst walking. Despite being in a terrible state after finishing, I felt absolutely fine after a good sleep.

Other walkers told me of their previous (or current!) terrible experiences with getting blisters or other foot problems. I just relied on my trusty Darn Tough socks and Merrell shoes (and a bit of tape on the hotspots). Absolutely no problems for me.

Here’s some things I learnt:

  • Walking with other people is easier. Joining with a couple of other people for the final 25 miles made it much easier.
  • It’s also easier when one of those people has already practiced the route and knows which paths to take where.
  • Every checkpoint is further away than it feels it should be. Especially once my GPS watch battery had died and I had no way of knowing exactly how far I had gone.
  • 100 miles is a really long way to walk.

Will I do it again? I’m not sure. It definitely wasn’t a “fun” experience, but I can say that I have now completed the challenge (and have the certificate to prove it). But I could also become one of those people who has done the event twenty or thirty times…

Let’s see what happens next year.

Life event

Challenge reactivated

Remember last year when I talked about the challenge of walking 100 miles in 48 hours? And then I tried it and managed to complete 75 miles?

A year later and the event is back on again, but as an actual in-person (not virtual) one this year. If everything goes to plan, I should be walking 100 miles between Friday morning and Saturday evening/Sunday morning.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to familiarise myself with the route (by just studying the instructions and the maps), but it’s quite hard not being able to see it for real. That’s the main disadvantage I see compared to last year when I knew the route well and could do it without looking at any maps at all. This year I’ll be trying to navigate completely new territory in the dark which will be testing in its own way, let alone with the walking. But the main advantage I see of an in-person event over the virtual one is having frequent checkpoints with actual people who can cheer me on and provide food (so much less weight to carry).

That’s not to say that it won’t still be really hard, but I’m trying to think positively. And if you want to track me, you can do so here (walks starts 10am on Friday). I’ll let you know how it went next week…

Out and about

So long

Back in October 2020, I started walking the 78-mile Capital Ring (in segments, I’ve not been continually walking since then…). This week I had my first free weekend in a long time so thought I’d walk the next leg (sections 9-11). I knew it had been a while since I’d done the previous leg, but when I checked I discovered I hadn’t been out on the trail since April 2021, almost 11 months ago.

I had plenty of time on my 17-mile walk to think of three reasons why it had been so long:

1. I’ve been busy doing other things

Last Summer, I spent most of my time training for a marathon. It’s hard to find time for a 17 mile walk when you also need to do a 17 mile run on a weekend. Last year, my focus was on the marathon. This year, that’s not a problem I have to balance.

2. I’ve done other walks

I’ve actually done over 300 miles of walking* since I last set foot on the Capital Ring. That includes walking the North Downs Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way, but it doesn’t actually include my 26 mile walk in the Chilterns or my 75 mile walk challenge. So I’ve actually not been short on walking in those 11 months.

* Walking along a dedicated trail or route, rather than just walking in general.

This is what 1500km of walking looks like. I replaced my walking shoes this January after two and a half years of use.

3. It’s just on the wrong side of London

I live in south-east London. The Capital Ring starts in Woolwich and goes clockwise around the city. At the end of April 2021, I was 56% of the way round. To do anymore of the walk I would have to travel all the way across London to get to the start of the walk and then the same to get home again afterwards. It sounds lazy, but an hour and a half journey either end of a walk isn’t particularly tempting. Not a reason not to do it, but when the walk isn’t on your doorstep, it’s hard to remember that it’s still to be walked.

Although now having completed Saturday’s walk, I just have another 17 miles to go to get back to Woolwich. But when that’ll be, I’m not sure.

January Habits

January Habits: 10,000 steps

It’s January, so it’s time to pick some habits to follow throughout the year. Some I’ve been doing for a while, some will be new. I still have room for a couple more, so let me know me know if you have any suggestions.

First off, I chose this as I thought it would be fairly straight forward and easy to measure. Looking into it further, it turns out that 10,000 steps a day is no longer the recommended amount of exercise, instead it’s three brisk 10 minute walks per day. I could change my challenge but we’re already 5 days into January and I probably do enough walking/running to meet or exceed the health target anyway, so this is more just for fun (although I don’t see why extra steps aren’t good exercise anyway).

I’ve previously noted that my normal day is between 6000 and 8000 steps unless I go for a run, so I don’t think 10000 steps is too ridiculous. I also mentioned that my watch sets a different daily target depending on whether the previous day’s goal is met or not, however I’m ignoring that for the purpose of this habit.

The aim is to do the 10,000 steps every day, but there are of course some exclusions such as being ill, having to self-isolate or otherwise being physically incapable of doing the exercise. I could come up with a definitive list of rules but I’d be bound to miss something.

As I said, we’re five days into the year so we can have a look at how I’m doing so far:

1 Jan – 16,733 – I started the new year with a 7 mile run so this one was easy to achieve.

2 Jan – 11,429 – I was planning to do a 10km walk, but shortly after starting it began to rain and I also realised I wouldn’t finish before it got dark so cut my walk very short. Fortunately my planned takeaway choice later was shut so I had to walk further to get to the next one that was open.

3 Jan – 24,499 – A 13 mile bank holiday Monday run ensured that I easily hit the step target.

4 Jan – 10,048 – This was the first day that I almost failed. Despite going out to do some chores and adding a really long diversionary walk to get home, I was only on 9500 at bedtime so I had to walk around my flat for another 500 steps. I can see this being a common occurrence if I’m not too far off the target, but hopefully not too often.

5 Jan – 17,858 – Another 7 mile run sorted it out today.

Come back later in the year to see if I can keep it up.

Out and about

“Walking” From Home

I know, I did a post with a very similar title recently about doing a long walking route where I went home every night and back again the next morning. Well, this one is different.

Back in May, I went out for a 26 mile walk in the Chilterns (I know I’ve done a lot of walking recently). This was a set route with questions to answer at various checkpoints to prove that the route had been followed. All of the grid references for the questions were available before the walk started, and part of the challenge was to plan your own route. But given the questions and the available footpaths between them, there was really only one possible option for the majority of the walk. For example, in the picture below, the only sensible option between points 7 and 8 is to follow the green-dashed footpath (the red line shows the direct line between checkpoints).

However, there was one point where I got distracted and forgot to look for the answer to the question I was on. It was only when I was a few hundred metres later on that I realised I’d missed it out. I knew exactly where the answer was as I’d seen it as I walked past (but just not realised I was supposed to be paying more attention). Rather than go back, I decided I would just check Google Street View when I got home.

And then that got me wondering: how much of the walk could I just do from home on the internet without doing any actual walking. So I thought I would check.

Some answers were very easy to find on Street View (including the one I needed). However, Street View doesn’t generally cover footpaths and so a lot of answers couldn’t be found this way. And even if there is Street View coverage, some questions relied on reading signs which is quite impossible due the image resolution not being high enough.

This is the correct signpost, but good luck trying to answer “What symbol is displayed in a square sign for the National Trust?”

Some of the answers remaining were quite easy to find elsewhere on the internet. For example, there was a question to state the reference number of the trig point at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon. The internet is full of photos of trig points and it was easy to find the answer.

My photo of the trig point plate at Ivinghoe Beacon. There are lots of very similar photos at Trigpointing:UK

Some other questions were guessable based on the context of the question without even visiting the area, although not always correctly. For example, “Happiness grows on what?” is probably “trees” (correct), but “Warning! What vehicles are operating?” is “agricultural” (my initial guess was “farm”).

But a lot of answers couldn’t be found at all (or at least not without specific knowledge of the subject or a much more detailed search).

Number of correct answers visible on Street View or available elsewhere on the internet10
Answers that may or may not be correct based on guesses or incomplete information on the internet6
Number of answers not possible without visiting the actual location16

There were six questions that I could possibly make a guess at based on the question or making an extrapolation based on internet data, and even if these guesses were correct, it would only be possible to get 16/32, a measly 50% score. I don’t know if there was a “pass rate” as such, but I don’t think that only half marks would qualify as completing the route.

I got 100% correct by walking the route and to be honest, I think it would take longer to try and find all the answers on the internet than just doing the walk. And I also had the advantage that I had already done the walk so I knew what the actual answers were and what I should be searching for online. So really it’s well done to the organisers for choosing good questions which can’t be found on the internet and ensures that “walking” from home can’t happen.

If you want to look at the questions (or to do the walk), it’s available here. (Note: You had to do it before the end of May to do it as part of the organised event, which is why I can talk about the answers now.)

Life event

Challenge (partially) complete!

I did it. Well, partially did it. Remember the challenge to walk 100 miles in 48 hours? Yeah, I didn’t completely do that. But I did walk 75 miles continuously and in doing so I did achieve the secondary target of walking 50 miles in 24 hours. At triple the distance of my previous longest walk (27 miles), I’m very happy with what I did achieve.

Here’s three things I learnt:

  1. 100 miles is a very long way to walk
  2. 75 miles is also a very long way to walk
  3. Eating a pot noodle without a t-shirt on isn’t the best idea (it’s quite splashy)

Here’s three things I’ve done since finishing the walk:

  1. Slept for 11 hours
  2. Washed all my walking clothes
  3. Realised I’d left my earphones in the pocket of my walking trousers (they’re actually fine)

Here’s three things I should have done since finishing the walk (but haven’t):

  1. Fully unpack my backpack
  2. Clean the mud off my walking poles
  3. Put some effort in to writing a blog post about it

Walking From Home

Last week I walked the 125 miles of the North Downs Way (the southern route). Because of lockdown restrictions, there’s currently no accommodation available so I couldn’t do it as one long continuous trip. Instead what I did was to get the train to the start, do a day’s walk to finish at another station and get the train home. The next day I got the train back to where I started and repeated until I got to the end of the walk. I did the same thing last year when walking the Vanguard Way.

Previously though, I have walked the Hadrian’s Wall Path and the Cleveland Way stopping off at hostels and B&B’s on the way (although camping could be an option for future walks). I thought I’d do a comparison of the two approaches. (Note: I’m talking back-to-back walking days here, rather than some walks like the London Loop where I’ve just done sections on random days over a number of months/years.)

Walking distances

Both methods have similar problems in that a walk can only start or stop at a suitable point, whether that’s accommodation or public transport within a reasonable distance of the path. The accommodation or transport options also needs to be reasonably spread out throughout the length of the route with no large gaps. Ideally there should also be multiple options. This is probably the hardest part of planning a walking itinerary.

Winner: Tie


Once the accommodation is booked, the route is pretty much fixed. It could be possible to adjust or rebook, but this would have knock-on effects on other overnight bookings. However, unless train tickets are booked in advance, the transport approach provides a much more flexible option. For example, last week on the North Downs Way, my legs were sore and I decided last minute to take a rest day halfway through the week. This was fine as I hadn’t pre-booked anything. Another day, I chose to walk further to the following station because I knew the next day would be wet and I could then walk less far in the rain. That’s just not an option with fixed accommodation (although it does rely on their being a “next” station to walk to).

Winner: Transport approach


With the accommodation approach, everything for the whole walk has to be carried for the whole walk, even if it won’t be needed until the last day. With the transport approach, things can be left at home if they won’t be needed that day. For example, there was a wet day last week when I decided there was no point carrying sun cream. I was however grateful that I kept my waterproofs on the “sunny” day as a surprise thunderstorm would have caught me out otherwise. Walking with less weight is definitely a good thing.

Winner: Transport approach


Accommodation can be expensive. There’s also the additional cost of meals (normally in a local pub) and beers (why wouldn’t you, if you’re already in a local pub?). However, trains are also surprisingly expensive, especially when you have to get two a day, and you probably can’t get a return ticket because the return journey is the following day. It’s probably not as expensive as accommodation, but it does all add up.

Winner: Transport approach (just)


When you have to add on two hours in the morning to get to the start of the walk, and two hours at the end of the day to get home again, there’s no way that the transport approach is going to do well here.

Winner: Accommodation approach (easily)


As well as being able to leave things at home on days when they’re not needed, there are other benefits to staying overnight at home. You can sleep in your own bed. You can do laundry. There are downsides though. All the usual household tasks such as cooking and washing the dishes are all still there. It definitely isn’t as much of a break as being away from home. On balance though, being home is a good thing (although some accommodation can be quite nice too).

Winner: Transport approach

Distance from home

Whilst the transport approach could be used for any walk, there’s only a reasonable distance that can be travelled every day. I guess it could be possible to operate from a friend/family member’s house or to rent a holiday home, but then that’s not what I’m comparing here. The accommodation approach can be used geographically anywhere (assuming there is accommodation available).

Winner: Accommodation approach


I mentioned it already, but visiting local pubs is one of my favourite things of doing a long-distance walk. Whilst I could stop off at pubs on the walk itself (which I have done once or twice), I’m really talking about going for a meal (often a pie) and a pint in the evening once the walk is done. Especially in some of the more remote pubs, there’ll often be other walkers around who you can compare journeys with, or local people who will want to share some of their local knowledge. You just don’t get that when you’re spending the evening on a train and then in your own house.

Winner: Accommodation approach

The other part of being at home is having to leave again the next morning, knowing that whilst you have been at home, you haven’t really had much free time there, and it’s quite an effort to force yourself to go out again first thing in the morning day after day. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s not a problem I’ve ever found when staying away from home.

Winner: Accommodation approach


On my fairly arbitrary scoring system, it’s a tie between both approaches! (I may have fixed it slightly.) But I think that both options have their advantages. I personally think I prefer the accommodation approach, mainly because it feels like more of a break as it gets away from home more. But I’m not ruling out doing another walk from home in the future.

What do you think? Have I missed anything out from either of these comparisons? Have you tried either of these? Let me know in the comments.