For my long distance walk I’ve decided to walk the Great Glen Way. For it to count as the challenge on my list I have to complete it in one go and not just as a series of individual day walks. I also want to do it whilst carrying all my own gear. As I’ll be camping each night I’ll need to carry a tent, Thermarest, sleeping bag, stove, pans, etc as well as few toiletries and a couple of changes of clothes.
My walking in Exmoor last week was the start of my training towards this. I’ve been worried about my knees and whether or not they’ll hold up to walking consecutively over a week. I’m also not sure if I’m fit enough and strong enough to carry all my gear. I tried to carry a fairly heavy bag each day I walked in Exmoor and after a while I did ‘forget’ I was wearing it. My bag on the GGW will be a lot heavier though and more bulky, so I’ll have to do some training with this too.
My knees are going to be the biggest problem. I had to take two rest days in Exmoor. Each time was after a 15 mile walk with a lot of descent. I’m not too bad on the uphills – I can take short breather breaks if I need them – but the downhills are real killers. I walked slowly and used two poles but still had a lot of pain and swelling and later on stiffness in my knee joints.
One of the reasons I’ve chosen the GGW is because it’s only 73 miles so I should be able to keep most of my walks along it to a 10 mile maximum. Also, the first few days walking will be fairly flat. By the time I hit the descents I should have a lighter pack (I will have eaten away at the weight) and be more than half way there. I’ll take my poles and a stash of ibuprofen and will hopefully be able to complete it.
I’d like to combine my wild camping task with the long distance walking task. There are actual ‘official’ wild camps at some places along the route. Do they still count if they’re official? On some nights I will have to find my own wild camp though, so whether or not the official ones count, I’ll still be completing this task.
I’ve been googling the GGW to try to get as much information on it as possible. I’ve found a detailed blog from a few years ago, some general information sites and a very good photo diary on flikr. The photo diary in particular is good because it means I can see what the various bits of the route look like and how feasible it will be to camp along the way.
Now I just have to do more training, get a map and a guidebook, sort out train tickets and arrange to leave my car with a friend in Glasgow.