The weekend saw what will, in all likelihood be the only sunny weekend of the summer. As a result I headed up into the Dales for the first of what should be many “training walks”. My goal was to complete a nice leisurely 10 mile loop, starting and ending in Settle and following part of the Pennine Bridleway. My aim for the SWW (South West Walk – new acronym) is to be covering between 20 and 25 miles a day, as this daily distance is going to have to be maintained for the whole of the 30 days it seems sensible to try and keep the pace fairly slow, around 2/2.5 miles an hour, which will result in fairly long 10 hour days but should mean that I get less tired overall. With this in mind I should’ve been aiming to complete the walk in 4-5 hours, as it was it took me little over 3 and a half, at a pace that I think I could feasibly keep up for days on end. However I did fall asleep on the train back to Leeds – probably a sign that far more training is needed.
The walk itself was absolutely grand, after heading up the steepest hill out of Settle you soon find yourself on your own with a great view over the town and the Dales beyond, once the route leaves the tarmac-ed, single-track road it makes its way over a mixture of rocky and grassy stretches taking in some absolutely ace Dales scenery. At the halfway point of the walk you can see Malham Tarn and I think there were a couple of other noteworthy geographical things along the way (Langcliffe Scar and Victoria Cave). I think that I saw 2 of Yorkshire’s “3 peaks”, although this may be due to me being surprised and impressed by any hill bigger than the one I am currently on. The only slight sour note was a 200 yard stretch of the walk that passed a small wood (or ‘plantation’ as it was labelled on the map, although ‘plantation’ always makes me think of far more tropical climbes…and slavery) during which I was completely and utterly inundated with flying ants and had a bit of a girly, flappy-arms episode.
After watching England’s hilariously incompetent collapse in the cricket on the Sunday I headed into town to meet Bex for a drink after she finished work. At a pathetic 5 miles each way this was still the longest bike ride that I’d done since a 25 mile trundle that I did last summer whilst on holiday in Bavaria. For some reason I don’t feel safe on my bike unless I’m wearing my fluorescent jacket, this jacket is lightweight and waterproof, completely fit for purpose and great. The trouble with wearing it yesterday is that it is also not that breathable and the weather was stifling, after a pretty quick trip into town with a bag on my back I was disgustingly drenched in sweat, pretty much anything that came into contact with my upper body immediately wilted, changed colour and died…not good. In fact, with hindsight, a similar thing had happened on Saturday whilst walking, my light green tshirt had gone very noticeable dark green in large patches…it would seem that a good base layer is a must. This was surprising as I don’t consider myself to be a particularly sweaty person, it seems the addition of a backpack of any size changes this dramatically!