Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Peak performance

I thought it would be a good idea to find out now whether or not I'm up to a full day's hillwalking again, following on from my tendon injury, and also to try out a new pair of boots kindly donated by Alt-Berg for the Tay watershed walk. Not easy to do from London, but I worked out that the Peak District was just possible in a day by train. Raw-eyed and nauseous from a 4.30am alarm call, I slumped onto the train at St Pancras.


Back in 2001 I lived in Sheffield for a year and got quite familiar with the Dark Peak and the hills around Hope and Edale. Last time I was here was a few years ago with my other half on a blistering August bank holiday weekend. We did a round of Edale, along the edges of Kinder Scout and Edale Moor round to Mam Tor, Hollins Cross and back down to the valley. We got seriously sunburned and ran out of water. No chance of that today. There was water in abundance, falling from the sky and flowing down the hills.

The train dropped me at quiet weekday Edale and I was off up to the moors via the path to Ringing Roger.





The streams flowing off the misty moor were peat-stained and full to the brim. After weeks holed up in London, fretting and brooding over my injury, preparations on hold and unable to do anything, it was wonderful to be out again amongst the sights, sounds and smells of the mountain.



The famous granite tors along the edges get fairly out-there. Best experienced alone in the mist for maximum strangeness.








Round the head of the Vale of Edale and onto the peaty morass of Brown Knoll. The trig pillar is unapproachable, surrounded by a wide circle of knee-deep mud. Heavy showers are rolling across from the west. Duke of Edinburgh kids are out in force.


I make it to Mam Tor as the weather is clearing.



Mam Tor - the Mother Hill - was an ancient Celtic hill fort from pre-Roman times. The slanting afternoon sun picked out the old ramparts and earthworks in relief (unfortunately not captured in the picture below).


Lush greenery and strong sun on the walk down into the vale from Hollins Cross. I dawdled down to the station and had a half-hour wait for the train.


So, the anterior tibial tendon held up. I was glad of the boots as well. They were incredibly comfortable and in combination with full-length gaiters kept my feet warm (not hot) and dry all day.

I suspect that a factor in my tendon injury was doing too much, too soon in trail shoes. They've worked well for me on training walks on the Thames path and on days out walking trails in the south-east. However backpacking in the Luss Hills was a different proposition, and I underestimated this. The terrain is as tough as anything in the southern Highlands - very steep slopes, tussocks, and some mean bogs. I should've been wearing boots.

So, my footwear plan for the Tay watershed walk is to play it safe and old-school: Alt-berg Tethera leather boots, with full-on gaiters for the wet boggy stuff. I'll carry my Inov-8 Terroc trail shoes for rest days and road walking.

I'm walking the Tay catchment boundary for two great charities, Scottish Wild Land Group and Venture Trust.
You can sponsor me by making a donation to Scottish Wild Land Group here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/taycatchmentwalkswlg

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