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Archive for Adventure

My Walk Across Wales (Sort Of)

I only got to day 3. The trip was cancelled at 2pm on day 3 in Builth Wells, about 65 miles in.

I'll start with the sob story, then share some highlights and finally show you some pictures.

I'm a little bummed I didn't complete the goal. In short I underestimated the difficulty of the landscape and the hours needed each day to walk the required mileage.

Duncan and I covered 65 miles (40% of the country) in the two and a half days of walking. Originally I assumed we could walked the 23-25 miles a day in 7 hours, leaving enough time to rest and recoup. However I never factored in how mountainous Wales is. It's all hills! Also, I didn't consider how much slower we would be walking with 11-12kg on our backs, and how much quicker this would fatigue us. On the second day walking through the Breacons I got sunstroke and later that night I was awoken with a splitting headache and then proceeded to projectile vomit alongside my sleeping bag - nice. The third day I was recovering from this, I was dehydrated and my feet were in agony (Blisters. Big blisters). At 2pm on Wednesday the 15th April, I ended the trip. I just couldn't possibly face or bare any more miles. Wales had succeeded in breaking me.

The 65 miles we did was definitely the hardest 3 days of my life. From the middle of day one, I was relying on motivation to push through the pain and 12 hour days. If you donated to Centre Point on my behalf and aren't happy with my incompletion I will happily cover your donation and give you your money back. Drop me a message.

On the brightside of the trip. Between long stints of agony, there were glimmers of sheer beauty. The Welsh countryside is unbelievable. Miles and miles of rolling hills, amazing rivers and sheep. It was lambing season so there were tons of little lambs galloping around their fields, which picked our spirits up. The two nights we slept wild were clear, so we fell asleep under the stars (a little cold). The Welsh people have to be the most accomadating, friendly and happy people I've ever met. Big thanks to all the people that helped us along our journey. Thanks to Duncan for walking with me, and picking my spirits up when I needed it. We had some good laughs, mostly at the pain.

My friend Tessa once told me walking long distances was really hard. I did not believe her. Now I do. Only wussies run.

Key learnings -

  • Correct training is important - although I trained I didn't train in hilly areas and I didn't train with a weighted backpack. I deteriorated quicker than I hoped.
  • Music - I was careful with my phone battery. I could have brought a spare this would have allowed me to listen to music to keep my spirits higher, allowing me to push for longer.
  • Why - You need a powerful why. I had a good why, however after 3 days of constant pain and grinding I was miserable and this allowed me to break. For such a savage task you need to either love pain, have an incredible reason to do it that resonates so deeply with you or you need to have marine like will power.
  • Pack lighter - if I ever do or try anything like this again I will be ruthless in my packing aiming to carry no more than 5kgs.
  • Welsh people don't hate the English - I had always grown up thinking that Welsch people somehow resented the English. From my first hand experience I don't see how this is possible. They showed me more respect than any other country I've ever been too (even my own).

So there you have it. My humbling experience. My naivety failed to allow me to see the size of the task. But as my Dad told me "nothing ventured, nothing gained". Thanks to Centre Point for working with me, although I didn't complete the task hopefully I still did you proud, and raised some vital money and awareness for your great cause.

To your success,

Stu

P.S. Thanks to all who donated. Your money will be put to good use, helping young people who need a chance in life.

P.P.S. You may wonder if I will attempt it again. My answer to you "No fucking way". I joke. My ego won't let me not attempt it again. Next time I will remove the things that hindered me i.e. heavy back pack, certain routes and swap sleeping wild with hotels. "I'll try anything once, unless I fail. Then I'll try it twice".

P.P.P.S. Here are some pictures from the trip:

Map Reading

Reading the map outside Pontypridd.

Hillside view

Amazing view to wake up to after the first cold night under the stars.

Breacon Beacons

In the Breacon Beacons. Behind me is Fan Y Byg (lol).

Duncan of Spirit Pig Hiking

Duncan always looking emasculate. About to start the descent out of the Breacons.

Broken Man

This is what a broken man looks like.

Bivvy Bagging

Bivvy bagging post projectile vomiting.

Builth Wells Bridge

Builth Wells Bridge. This is were the trip ended. What a view.

WALKING WALES (FOR CENTRE POINT) – PART 6

Onnnnneeeeeeee wwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkk away!!!!!!! The walk is one week away.

I know I skipped a week. But the previous week was pretty uneventful, and I didn't want to bore you - I do care. This week I did a circa 14 mile walk with Duncan. We walked from Embankment in London and followed the river Thames west. I think it dawned on us both how tough this challenge is going to be. I then did a short walk in the South Downs near Chichester on Saturday and a short walk in the New Forest today. My new boots are the bomb-diggity. They are comfy and so far not causing blisters. Praise the boot Gods.

Stuart Ralph New Forest

I got the last of the main bits and bobs for the trip. Such as:

  • Environmentally friendly soap - so we can wash our nuts in the river.
  • Micro-fibre towel - quick drying and lightweight. But damn is it pricey.
  • Compass - so I can look like I know what I'm doing.
  • Plastic case for the maps - to further my awesome look.
  • Kendal Mint Cake - because it's part of being an explorer.

I also planned day 4 and 5 of our journey on the many many maps we have. Tomorrow I will finish day 6 and 7. I am pretty worried that translating this map knowledge to the real world may not quite work.

I will try and update you either before or directly after our adventure. I will try to update you all throughout on Twitter.

To your success,
Stu

If you want to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/walk-wales-2015/

I will be tweeting throughout so you can keep up to date - follow me @StuartARalph.

Find out more about my challenge here: Walking Wales for Centre Point

Here's part one of my adventure update:
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 1
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 2
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 3
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 4
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 5

WALKING WALES (FOR CENTRE POINT) – PART 5

There has been a lot of progress this week towards my goal of navigating across Wales in one week. Details below.

My friend and now fellow adventurer Duncan (host of The Spirit Pig podcast) has agreed to join me. It's going to be great to have company other than the sheep.

I've made my kit list. I'm trying to be as light as possible as I don't want to lumber a load of shit across Wales. I've purchased my bivvy bag. I'll be using this to sleep in, so I don't have to carry a tent.

Yesterday I went on a 10 mile training walk with my friend Guvner around Richmond, towards Kingston and back through Twickenham. The walk was good, except my feet started to feel sore. It wasn't until I got back that I realised I hadn't put my innersoles back in after washing my boots. Haha epic failure.

Today I planned day 3 of our route. Another 23 miles (roughly). Day 3 will mainly be following roads, as the national trails are slightly long winded in this section. We'll hit a pub at the end of the day for some grub and a beer (or five). The next day will begin our journey into the beautiful but isolated Snowdonia.

This coming week I'll be doing 20 miles training. I will also plan day 4 and 5 of the trip.

I'm going to film the trip, what do you want me to record/document?

To your success,
Stu

If you want to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/walk-wales-2015/

I will be tweeting throughout so you can keep up to date - follow me @StuartARalph.

Find out more about my challenge here: Walking Wales for Centre Point

Here's part one of my adventure update:
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 1
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 2
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 3
Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 4

WALKING WALES (FOR CENTRE POINT) – PART 4

This week I did my longest training walk yet - 13.6 miles. I walked from Tower Hill in London all the way to the very west part of London. It was fun ploughing through all the tourists. Realistic training for Wales don't you think. The walk was all good, apart from the final two miles got tough. I was bursting for a piss. So I had to stop in a McDonalds (I grabbed a large chocolate milkshake while I was there, of course).

Then last night I went on a micro adventure with my friend Eliot. We went camping in the wild landscape of Surrey. I used nothing but a sleeping bag and survival bag for warmth and shelter. In preparation for my no tent journey. I'm slowly getting used to sleeping without a tent. I'm hoping that on the trip I will be so knackered each night that I will fall into a deep sleep.

A quick update today. More map planning and training walks coming this week.

To your success,

Stu

P.S. I want to hear about any adventures you have coming up, or want to do? Comment below.

If you want to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/walk-wales-2015/

I will be tweeting throughout so you can keep up to date - follow me @StuartARalph.

Find out more about my challenge here: Walking Wales for Centre Point

Here's part one of my adventure update:

Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 1

Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 2

Walking Wales (For Centre Point) – Part 3

Yo,

Week 3 done.

I only managed to get one training walk in. I took a stroll around Richmond and Twickenham for 9 miles. I did it in just over 2 hours. So with rough calculations my walking time each day in Wales will be 5 hours. This of course doesn't factor in mountains, weather and rest stops. I did ok on the 9 miles, I only got one blister. Which I believe was due to my right boot not being tight enough. This week I got a 13 miler to do, and on the weekend I'll be doing a micro adventure which will involve some hill walking.

Richmond River

Richmond River Sunset

I started route planning yesterday. What the fuck. It's so complex. Needless to say I ploughed through. Luckily for day 1 and 2 there is a national trail I can follow. The Breacon Beacons will be tough both physically and navigationally, but oh my will it be worth it. If you have any map reading tips, let me know in the comment box below.

Maps

Key learning this week:

Broke down your goal. I was terrified of route planning. So I just broke it down to way days planning at a time. Bitesize pieces are easier to digest.

To your success,

Stu

P.S. I want to hear about any adventures you have coming up, or want to do? Comment below.

If you want to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/walk-wales-2015/

I will be tweeting throughout so you can keep up to date - follow me @StuartARalph.

Find out more about my challenge here: Walking Wales for Centre Point

Here's part one of my adventure update:

Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 1

Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 2

WALKING WALES (FOR CENTRE POINT) – PART 2

Hey dude/dudette,

This week I've made some good progress on my goal of walking Wales in 7 days, and raised some more money.

Here's what I'll cover in this update:

  • Training plan
  • Visiting Centre Point HQ
  • Purchased my bag and did some supplies research

I designed a 7 week training plan. It covers cardio, and strength. The bulk of it comes from actually walking, up to 70 miles a week. There is no training like doing the actual thing. The reason I don't go over 50 miles in training is because of my work schedule and more importantly I don't want to fatigue myself.

Training

On Tuesday I got to visit one of Centre Point's main offices in London. In fact it was their wellness centre. Not sure its' exact name. It was cool to meet with them and talk about the charity. They do some really noble work. Helping 16-25 years get back on their feet, so that they don't fall into a life of homelessness. It was hard not to shed a tear. Not all homelessness is caused by alcoholism or drug taking.

I finally purchased my bag, I managed to get a good one with very soft straps. No one likes chaffing. I've started my research into what supplies I need. I'm looking for the lightest versions of each thing. Weight is going to be one of the key differences between finishing in 7 days and not finishing at all.

I finally purchased all of my maps. They will take up half my backpack haha.

Maps

11 explorer maps, 2 road maps

Key learning this week:

Certain goals can seem out of reach and scary. However, when you start taking small amounts of action, they appear much more achievable.

To your success,

Stu

P.S. I want to hear about any adventures you have coming up, or want to do? Comment below.

If you want to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/walk-wales-2015/

I will be tweeting throughout so you can keep up to date - follow me @StuartARalph.

Find out more about my challenge here: Walking Wales for Centre Point

Here's part one of my adventure update: Walking Wales for Centre Point - Part 1

Walking Wales (For Centre Point) – Part 1

In my initial article on walking the entire length of Wales for the charity Centre Point, I set out my challenge. I now want to update you each week with my progress, planning and lessons learned. I'm sure there will be much drama, fear and hopefully plenty of laughable situations, but above all that, I hope there will be some inspiring words.

So it was just over a week ago since I committed to this nutty challenge. In true Stuart Ralph fashion I came up with the idea and without thinking locked myself in. As I am now unravelling, walking 23 miles a day with a backpack on hilly terrain is harder than my ego initially anticipated. This may catch me out, however I think there is a valuable lesson here. If I had truly thought about it I never would have committed. I think there is genius in committing to some challenges without thinking. It's like false courage. Whatever the outcome, I'm glad I'm pushing myself and pursuing something great.

That being said, I've started training. I did my first 8 mile walk. It was good except my innersoles are really old and caused me a lot of pain. Fear not, new springy innersoles have been purchased. I'm doing a 10 miler tomorrow morning, starting at 7am.

A lot of people think I'm crazy. In the good way. Which is awesome, it's nice to have their support. Some people, mostly family are concerned for my safety. They know I am a cautious individual, but family will always worry - it's a good thing. I have realised that people will project their fears and perceived limitations on to you. Try not to take this on board, unless it's constructive. If I'm already scared to do this, the last thing I want is someone else's negative scripts running in my head. Trust your intuition and planning.

Right I got to go get some rest for my walk tomorrow.

Good night, God bless and stay tuned for part 2 of my adventure (map route planning),

Stu

If you want to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/walk-wales-2015/

I will be tweeting throughout so you can keep up to date - follow me @StuartARalph.

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