Preparation for Phase 5

Monday 2nd July 2018

Phase 5 is less about kit and more about expectations. However, kit matters and I’m continuing to learn and adapt.

Bedding roll. I had swapped out the bulky OEX mat for an inflatable lightweight mat. I used the inflatable mat for one night only, and never used it again. It is totally unsuitable for me. I was more comfortable lying on the foil backed windscreen cover without all the hissing and rolling off the mat and sliding around the tent floor. So I’ve saved myself some weight on this next trip.

My shoes are already showing signs of wear. Two identical pairs of trail shoes were purchased at the same time. The pair called Amethyst were worn on Phases 2 and 4. They took quite a hammering on Phase 4 with the Pennine Way, and as always with Innov8, the uppers are showing more wear than the soles. The pair called Tealmark completed Phases 1 and 3, and still look OK. With the additional inserts I hope they will be fine for Phase 5.

Additional inserts? Yes. I had some serious foot and achilles pain at the start of Phase 4 which I mitigated with gel insoles and home-made (in a tent!) orthoses. The pain receded a lot with this treatment but the symptoms are still there and seems to focus on a not-very-bendy toe. Advice from the delightful Katie the Physio* means I’m spending a lot of each day doing gentle exercises to try to promote some healing before Phase 5. I can’t find my old made-to-measure orthoses, but shop-bought Plantar Fascia supports are very comfortable and I’ll stick with those for Phase 5.

Maps. I’ve been relying more and more on the Ordnance Survey maps on my phone but will still carry paper maps. It isn’t always possible to get a signal, very occasionally the GPS will put me in the wrong place for a few minutes, or to guarantee that I can keep the phone fully charged.

Midge Net. I am lucky enough to have a net that fits over my hat, and is relatively easy to see through compared to some. It was put to good use on Phase 4 after I discovered that midges are a) not unique to Scotland, b) fly as early as May in some parts of the country and c) think I am the equivalent of a steak dinner. It felt a little bit over the top to be wearing a net to pitch and strike my tent, but when I looked around the campsites at the number of people with hoods up, flapping their arms, I was glad just to be able to get on with my tasks unaffected.

Water. I lost two lightweight metal bottles during Phase 4, so have been reusing plastic drinks bottles. The water filtration kit was used twice and seems effective. I’ll keep that in the rucksack as it weighs very little.

Charity. Another £142 was collected from generous people en-route and has been sent to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Thank you all.

Each successive phase has been slightly harder than the previous one. My plan relies on an expectation that my body will adapt during the walk, and to a certain extent this has happened. I thought the two biggest risks were that either my resolve or my knees would fail, but so far both have got stronger. Phase 5 has longer average daily mileage, and fewer rest days, so my foot and my brain will continue to be tested.





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