Categories
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.)

Categories
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
Categories
Discussion

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

Flexibility

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

Carrying

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

Cost

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)

Time

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)

Convenience

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

Other

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

Results

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.