The Pennine Way. Inception and planning.

I have wanted to walk the Pennine Way for a long time, probably for as long as I had known it existed.  Certainly, after the West Highland Way trek with my son Ross.  There was never the time or an opportunity to do so. Ross and I did several other shorter long distance walks, but the Pennine Way was never a reality.

At some point last year my wife suggested that maybe I should do it in September this year, whilst I was still able to, leading up to my sixtieth birthday in October. The idea was intoxicating.  My first thought was ‘yes’, tempered with being away from my home and family, my wife in particular, for that amount of time.  We had promised that after a week apart when Ross and I walked the South Downs Way we would never be that long apart again and here we were talking about a month.

Yes, a month.

The Pennine Way is long 221 miles long, and I’m no spring chicken.  So that’s twenty one days at ten miles a day and ten days off. Initially I planned to use regular campsites, as I have mostly done previously, but with some wild camping.  However, there weren’t always campsites in the places I figured I would want them. I’m still very much going to use them if they are in the right place, or even close to them. I like to shower as much as anyone else. But wild camping gives me the freedom to work, or walk, to my abilities. Some days I may walk more than ten miles, others less. I expect terrain will play a part in that. I remember walking up Connick hills in Scotland by Loch Lommond, that was a steep path.

I know that I can walk approximately 10 miles a day with a full pack on. At my pace, that’s five hours plus breaks, and that’s in the Kent countryside. So, ten miles a day is realistic, certainly as an average.

I also know that keeping a mobile charged at all times is vital and I don’t know how often I will have access to mains charging. There have been requests by the younger members of the family to load my phone with apps so I can be tracked at all times, in case of emergency.  I believe they will kill my battery, as I know from those I currently have on my phone. I also know that if you don’t shut them regularly it’s easy to leave lots open and that kills the battery.

So, I intend to have my phone on Flight mode for large parts of the time. I will want to take photos and I may wish to post some of them on Social media later. I will also want to talk to my wife on a regular basis. I have though purchased a solar phone charger. There will be sunshine I’m sure. Even in England.

I’m ‘old school’ as has been pointed out. I’m not a fan of sat navs, you never know where you are in relation to the world around you and they also are battery killers. On every other walk I have used the trailblazer guides and they have always been superb, so I have purchased the latest edition of the Pennine Way one. I also know that four maps a day is usually a good distance indicator, but if it becomes three occasionally, that ok.

I also know that ups and downs with my knees can be tricky. Some the outdoor View Over the Wall Experiences I have led have pointed out to me that I need to be careful and I have used the walking pole that was my fathers that he gave me many years ago. At the time, I remember thinking, ‘what do I need that for?’ He knew…

All my kit needs checking, is it still good enough? Is it still serviceable? Do I still know what to take and what to leave behind?

Shakedown walks best be planned then.

We have four sons in the family. I figured it would be great to include them if at all possible, Ross obviously, I have done all the previous walks with him, they have been ‘our thing’ for over ten years. Lloyd has done several walks and has begun to understand the healing nature of the outdoors in the last year or so, Dale and Troy also said ‘yes’. Probably with less of an idea as to what they were getting themselves involved in.

More need for shakedown walks then.

At some point during this process I began to think about using the walk to promote positive mental health and raise awareness of the growing rate of suicide in modern times.

I emailed Mike McCarthy of the Baton of Hope if the Baton could come with us, in principle he said ‘Yes’, which was confirmed earlier this year, that gave weight to the walk and its fund raising status. I didn’t know it then, but I would become the director, along with Martin Carnall of Slow the Mind CIC which has now been incorporated and can formally operate.

Failure is not an option.

This freedom takes a lot of planning.

More need for shakedown walks then.

Next week I’ll bring you a report of the first shakedown walk!

Simon Pollard    Urban Countryman   April 2024

Similar Posts