ABLE – Adventures Beyond Life Expectancy

30th November 2017

I wrote a page entitled LEJOG, and the one question I didn’t answer was ‘Why?’

It’s maybe the hardest question of all, but I was asked it today, by someone who already knew the answer and nodded with recognition when I spoke about expanding boundaries and making memories, “What an amazing thing to look back on, and just imagine all the things you’ll see and experience…” Yes, you ‘got’ it. 🙂

Much of 2015 was spent in a dark haze of pain as the result of a multiple-cause shoulder problem that was eventually resolved by surgery in August. With the aid of physiotherapy I progressed quickly and by the end of the year I had not only recovered almost all of the use of my right arm, but was feeling much better and finding the joy in life again, as well as trying to regain some of the lost fitness.

Joy is about recognising opportunities and not just obstacles, choosing to say “Why not?” more often than “No way” or “I can’t” and sometimes just taking a deep breath and going for it.

I follow the exploits and achievements of some extraordinary people. The point about them is that they are ordinary people who just kept going when other people stopped (including me).  Physically they may also be statistical outliers, but they are my inspiration – not to emulate their achievements, but to recognise their ‘can do’ attitude and apply some of it to my own dreams. (I may come back and edit this paragraph to name the names and embarrass individuals…)

When I was at primary school I wanted to become the youngest person to swim the English Channel. The reality of a North London suburban childhood meant this was a dream that went unfulfilled. And when I investigated the logistics about ten years ago I discovered that, although I now had the resources to plan and train for a channel swim, I’d rather gone off the idea.

LEJOG was a distant thought in my mind. Gradually over the last year it has gone from something that ‘other people’ with amazing fitness and experience and reserves of awesomeness do, to something that is ‘way outside’ my capabilities to… hang on, I used to be a project manager. Now, remind myself, how do you eat an elephant*? And gradually the idea moved from the impossible fantasy to a planned possibility, and if it can be done, and doesn’t involve goose fat and oil slicks, then why not?

ABLE – Adventures Beyond Life Expectancy
Given that there’s not enough time in one life to do everything that interests me, or that catches my attention; given that there are adventures that have had to be left behind because there’s always a balance of needs – e.g. working close to home while my children were young… given all sorts of other reasons/excuses… there are still adventures beyond life expectancy – too many for a bucket list 🙂

I’d rather reach the end of my road knowing I’ve taken as many of the opportunities as I could, when I could. That includes building a home and a family and faith, caring for others as well as the different career stepping-stones. And it includes the occasional foray into the “She’s doing what?!” category. If only to show my grandchildren that the world is a wonderful place, that most people are kind and lovely, that even old people can have fun, and that dreams are worth pursuing.

Lose this day loitering—’twill be the same story
To-morrow–and the next more dilatory;
Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.
Are you in earnest? seize this very minute–
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it,
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it,
Only engage, and then the mind grows heated—
Begin it, and the work will be completed!


*One slice at a time


End of Phase 1

Saturday 4th November 2017

Hopefully most of the blog is now updated, even if the unpacking isn’t complete and the washing is piled up.

It was odd sleeping in a bed last night after a few nights in a tent, and normal life has to be resumed between now and April.

I’m happy with most of the kit I took with me, but now need to practice carrying my bigger rucksack over winter because I’ll need to include tent, sleeping bag etc in the loads for next year, and no matter how much I like the Deuter, it simply isn’t big enough.

We took a lot of food that we didn’t eat – it was too cold and wet to be cooking out of doors and I won’t risk carbon monoxide poisoning so cooking in the tent is out of the question. We used the microwave in the car to boil water and heat soup, and that was about it.

I also found that I wasn’t particularly hungry during a day of walking and never did touch that emergency can of pilchards recommended by Daryl May. (As I recall his idea was that emergency food should not be so attractive that you eat it because you want to. I demonstrated the accuracy of his idea when the chocolate vanished during the last three miles to Tintagel.)

Overall I’m happy with Phase 1.

I’d planned to walk around 100 miles and managed 96, which included a day lost due to toothache. My knees didn’t dislocate (no strapping required), my legs are stronger and I estimated the effort fairly accurately. The way I used my walking poles has strengthened my upper body more than I expected, which is no bad thing. At this rate it will even get rid of bingo wings; I may be onto a new exercise fad.

My attention to navigation needs to improve, especially when I think I know where I am and where I’m going. Complacency is dangerous.

Using a mobile for blogging needs a lot more work, and the lack of a signal for huge areas is something I need to think more carefully about, especially if I need to use it as a backup for navigation.

Now to spend winter planning…

Walk Day 9 – Wadebridge to Tintagel

Thursday 2nd November 2017

15 miles today, 96.2 miles in total.

A cold mist was lying low over the land as I started walking again from Tesco car park after a day off. Rather than go back up to the A39 roundabout I elected to go down through the town. It’s always up or down in Cornwall!

2017 11 02 DSC_0124 Wadebridge to Tintagel


In the middle of Wadebridge is the ‘Old Bridge’, with seventeen arches.

2017 11 02 DSC_0125 Wadebridge to Tintagel

It spans the River Camel, this is five miles upstream from Padstow. The new bridge that takes the A39 is in the distance. The Camel Trail joins the two towns and it’s where we walked the dog yesterday between dental appointments.

2017 11 02 DSC_000001f Wadebridge to Tintagel

With the exception of a chat with the man in the ‘Nice Baps’ roadside cafe (he stamped my log-book for me) the first few miles were boring and rather dangerous, walking along the side of the A39. There is no footpath and the traffic is relentless, with heavy lorries, tractors, white vans aplenty (their wing mirrors are at my head height), and a variety of different driving styles on display. I felt I needed to concentrate better than pheasants to avoid becoming roadkill.

After a while I turned onto the side road through St Kew then up to the B3314 at Pendoggett and was rewarded with better views and a less dangerous road. But it was still road, and very hard underfoot.

There were some good views to either side. This was looking south. The sea was to the north.

2017 11 02 DSC_0128 Wadebridge to Tintagel

I stopped at the top of the hill coming out of St Kew for lunch, sitting at the bottom of this signpost.

2017 11 02 DSC_0127 Wadebridge to Tintagel

At Delabole I turned off the B road towards Trebarwith Village. Tintagel came into view, so near and yet so far.

2017 11 02 DSC_000001g Wadebridge to Tintagel

I found Trebarwith, and chatted to a local man who told me I was close to Tintagel but at least an hour’s walk away. He gave me directions which I managed to mis-hear or ignore. Coming down the (very steep!) hill from the village I turned left at the bottom of this hill instead of carrying straight on, and walked down almost to sea level at Trebarwith Strand instead of back up the equally steep hill on the other side.


There’s always a silver lining, and in Trebarwith Strand I came across a (closed) art gallery with some stunning seascapes painted by Dean Murphy. If you like art he’s worth checking out.

The diversion meant I added another steep stepped section of the SWCP to get back up the cliff to Treknow, (at least it wasn’t road) and sat down to rest on a bench at the top of the climb.

Today’s route seemed to go on for ever, but it was simply a brain/legs combination that had decided 12 miles was ‘enough’ and 15 miles was ‘too much’, and the fact that the last three miles were the steepest and hardest to walk meant I was playing the “Rest if you must but don’t you quit” mantra for quite a while.

Tintagel tourist office was also closed when I arrived. The Post Office marked on the OS map closed some time ago. I found the car in the car park and waited for Mr to return to take a souvenir photo of the end of Phase 1.

2017 11 02 P 1059065 Wadebridge to Tintagel

It has been a cold and sunny day, perfect for walking.

15 miles in total, hilly and at times quite hard.

7 hours walking.

Phase 1 complete.

Thank you to all who have already contributed to the fundraising at

2017 11 02 P 1059065a Wadebridge to Tintagel

Home tomorrow to replanning. I’ve learned a few useful lessons, not least that road walking makes my feet sore and that I need to keep concentrating, especially when I think I know where I’m going.

1st November – not walking.

Wednesday 1st November 2017

The toothache is taking all my attention and the emergency dentist appointment is at lunchtime. Today will be an official rest day. One lost day won’t destroy the plan.

Update.  Tooth now drilled and filled and I have antibiotics and Ibuprofen. A bit of replanning means that I think I can finish tomorrow at a bus stop that will be reachable next year when I restart.