July 10, 2012

I was going to post today about upcoming Advanced Cognitive Edge courses and the forthcoming CalmBeta event, but some supporting information hasn't made it on time.  So instead I decided to report (and thereby commit) to the one private project which has been keeping me sane between proposals, costings, reports and email overload.  Our sitting room is currently occupied by piles of maps and guidebooks arranged where I can grab them while not disturbing the cat,  Said feline expects me to provide a resting place between 2200 and midnight.  She'd like me to give up sitting at the computer earlier than that, but lives with the late slot.

The project is for my 60th Birthday which arises on the 1st April 2014 and I have been trying to think about what to do.  Then the Wales Coastal Path opened last month and I thought That looks like a good idea.  I decided that I might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb and added in the Offa's Dyke Path which means I would be doing a full circuit of Wales.  That meant that a walk of 870 miles became 1,050 miles.  At the moment there isn't a single guide book so I dug out those I had and bought others.  In the main the path follows established trails other than a few sections such as the stretch from Prestyatyn to Bangor in North Wales (which is nothing but caravan parks) and Industrial sections of the South Wales Coast.  I rather like not having one guide book as the result is rathe messy.  I now have large maps of Wales (one for the north and one for the south) spread out on the floor and I am marking them up (cat permitting) with distances, possible resting points etc. from multiple sources. 

I quickly decided that I should have a rest day at the tip of the Llyn Peninsular as that would allow me to add Bardsey Island if the weather was good.  Its also where my parents ashes are scattered and the location of many a family holiday.  I listened to the moon landing on the radio from a caravan above Porth Colmon too long ago.   For the first section I picked up the walking guide to the Dee Way to give me details of the Chester to Prestatyn section.  Reading through that I realised that this started at Llyn Tegid where I learnt to sail as a child and passed through the route of my first ever walking holiday without parents – at the age of 11 from Llangollen to Harlech over a week with an organised YHA group.  My plan is to blog every night, mixing the experience of the walk, my own memories (and I have them from almost all parts of that walk), local history etc.  I've got some interest in those from a publisher.  Given that this seemed a good addition and as you can see it makes for a more interesting shape on the map (route shown in yellow).

With that extension it means the walk is around 1,160 miles which would mean an average of 19.3 miles a day if I aim to complete it in 60 full days (not counting rest ones).   That might be a bit much, and I am now into detailed planning with maps and guidebooks of each stage.  The temptation to make it 60 days at 60 is high, so if I exclude rest days and add a few more in then its doable.  Eight hours a day is a leisurely pace in summer, and for many sections I can probably do more, others less as coastal paths can involve a lot of climbing!  By the time I reach the mountainous bits on the border I should be more fit anyway.  

Planning is often more fun than doing!  It also plays to my timetable obsession.  I have no intention of slumming this and the chance of getting my wife to act as unpaid support is non-existent.  I therefore plan to stay in pubs/hotels and B&Bs moving the car between locations and using public transport to get to the start, or form the end of each section.

Its going to be a lot of fun, and I think I will start on either the 1st March (St David's Day and the tenth anniversary of my Mother's death) or the 1st April (my birthday).  An earlier start may mean too short days, but it would avoid the main tourist season.  I could start 1st May which might be best for the weather, but that has not special meaning or significance.

Either way, I will publish the plan as it develops.   Guest walkers also welcome for stages or part stages (or for special friends the rest days but expect derision).



Have just realised that if I start it on the 1st April, I can manage the schedule to reach Hay-on-Wye for the Festival of Philosophy and Music end May/early June which sounds like a plan, but it might be better as a reward at the end.  Choices, choices ….

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