Climb of Life 2016

“A favourite of all fell walkers, Bowfell is a mountain that commands attention whenever it appears in view. And more than attention, respect and admiration, too; for it has that rare characteristic of displaying a graceful outline and a sturdy shapeliness on all sides. Bowfell’s top is a shattered pyramid, a great heap of stones and boulders and naked rock, a giant cairn in itself.”Alfred Wainwright

So for the first time I was taking part in the UK office products industry’s great fund raising activity, the Climb of Life.

Graeme Chapman MBE and his team of excellent supporters including Andrew and Susie Stacey and Frances and Jason Stephen together with a number of others organise a day hike in the Lake District each year in aid of cancer research. Over the 20 plus years the Climb has raised over £1.2 million for various causes, including over £100k last year. Amazing. 

1 in 3 people in the UK will get some form of cancer in their lifetime. Graeme had bowel cancer but recovered following a successful operation. 

The Institute of Cancer Research is doing some brilliant work to try and improve our chances of survival and indeed of continuing to look for cures and ways of avoiding getting the disease in the first place.

If you’d like to sponsor my team and I then the link to our Just Giving page is here. We are hoping to raise £2,000 and are over half way there. Plus gift aid on top of course!

So in an attempt to get fitter I went to the gym. Followers of this blog will remember my arthroscopy a couple of years ago. Well that had settled my knee issue of a torn medial meniscus really well with absolutely no pain experienced this summer and trouble free walking. Stupidly I think I over did the training. This week the pain has returned. I’ve walked longer and longer each day to try and see it off. Maybe I’m overdoing it. 

With Everest Base camp this time next year I’m hoping that I can get the knee back to normal. 

Meanwhile tomorrow we have an amble or scramble or worse to Bowfell. For charity. Did I mention that? 

 The forecast for tomorrow looks like it has room for improvement, with snow forecast above 750 metres. We are going to 900. 902 to be exact. That extra 2 metres could make all the difference! So good gear is the order of the day. And a chance to try out my new rucksack – hooray! I’m looking forward to a lovely 5 hour train journey up to Windermere later and then a bus to the Ambleside Yoof Hostel. I’m sure they don’t call it “yoof”. 

So an excellent adventure. In a great cause. And a chance to get to know some of my colleagues better in challenging conditions. And to test my knee. And to enjoy a pint of beer in the company of over 100 companions associated with our industry.  What could be better!

National Trails South Downs Way

South Downs Way – the last two days – Day 2 Alfriston to Eastbourne

After a hearty breakfast for some we set off slightly tardily at around 10.30am as breakfast was only available from 9.30 on a Sunday. Glorious weather and after a slightly false start through the village taking the official start rather than the shortcut past the hotel we found ourselves on flat land next to the river where I stripped the leggings down to shorts. 

This is one of the best stretches of walking in the South of England and gives great variety as it twists between farmland through small valleys, alongside chalk ridges with a view of the chalk horse in the distance and then into woodland before emerging from the mature trees to give a beautiful view of cuckmere haven and the river meandering down to the sea. 

Then the seven bitc**s sisters. But first an entirely unnecessary climb up the hill across and round the down land before rejoining the flat path that accompanies the river. Why? And how was it that I hadn’t remembered the folly of doing this from my memories of the last time I did the walk? Senility. Stupidity. Maybe it’s an attempt to warm up the muscles for the hilly section ahead. Slightly grumpily our party then started the climbing in earnest. 

The switchback of the seven sisters brought us stunning views in all directions with the contrast of the gleaming white cliffs and azure sea reminding me of why I love this walk. 

Boots were abandoned by Heather in order to protect the bruised toes, but the damage to the nail had already been done. 

Eventually we came to Birling Gap where some rewarded themselves with an ice cream before we rejoined the path for the final push up to Beachy Head and views into Eastbourne. Why do some people sit so close to the edge? Foolish, if not suicidal. 

Tired but happy, we reunited with the car we had dropped off earlier and didn’t bother to do the last mile or so down into the town, finishing instead at the crest of the cliffs with the sun beating down on one of the most stunning views in England. 

A very happy walk.