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Saturday, 30 April 2011

Packing and panicking

So... packing. Panic stations yesterday afternoon: pile of 'must take' stuff on one side of the floor; choice of two cases on the other, neither of which look even remotely big enough! In fact, I was SO panicked that I jumped straight in the car and off to the Trafford Centre in search of 'bigger bag'.

Got as far as John Lewis when, (faced with, frankly, not too great a selection for my purposes),  rummaging in my handbag for the tape measure I'd had the forethought to throw in there, I discover that's about all there was – having tipped the contents out not half an hour before while sorting stuff to pack! In short: no wallet.

If ever there was a divine intervention to prevent me shopping any further (Adventure Eyes will be pleased to read!!) then this was it! And strangely, having ip-dip-dipped and ip-dip-dipped again between the two cases back home, (and edited the 'must take' pile a little), both are perfectly adequate.

Mind you, by the time I'd packed all the bits and bobs of equipment, walking kit and maps, (God help me if I forget those now!) first aid stuff and toiletries, there ain't much room for stuff to wear in the time left at the end of each day. Gonna be sick of the sight of that pink check shirt by the time I get to Robin Hood's Bay, I can tell you. And don't get me started on the probable state of my day-wear (two weeks splashing through bogs... can't wait!)

My friends, incidentally, no longer cling to the theory I have 'designer mud' on my boots. They simply shake their heads in silent wonder at the apparent transformation from designer-clad art director to wind-blown, mud-splattered fell-tramper. Had some amazing words of support from all of them, however. Thanks buddies – all of you!!

Quick check on the justgiving page and we've passed the two grand mark – 41% of our target. There's talk of a couple of live interviews over Radio Cumbria's morning slot, so here's hoping the continued media coverage and word of mouth help bring in the other three grand! Thanks to TV and press so far, we've already had very kind donations from complete strangers – thank you to them, and thanks for your good wishes.

Anyway... one more sleep and we're off.! Watch this space!!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

...and how could I possibly have forgotten......

...all the washing and reproofing.

Meanwhile, so much for getting some work done this week ahead of two weeks away! Spent all morning emailing the various teams and friends joining us along the way - including Sir Chris, hopefully on day three, Wednesday 4 May - organising the logistics of meeting up, estimated times of arrival, departure times and so forth. Flags, banners and team vehicles promised at various points.

Nobody's come up with a free foot massage yet but we live in hope! Did suggest to my chiropractor he might like to meet us at strategic intervals along the route - just to keep the joints creaking, you know - but, strangely, he's not taken me up on the idea... Looks like we'll have to manage on our own!

I hear the tide is up at Robin Hood's Bay early afternoon on the day of our arrival, if we fancy a paddle (look, if you think I'm swimming in the North Sea in mid-May - mid any month come to that! - you can think again!). Paddle sounds good though. We could take our trans-Pennine pebbles with us.

Anyway, must dash, just remembered something else I didn't get...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Monday quiz: how many lists can one woman make?

Answers on a post it note please – but make it a different colour to any of mine. So not yellow. Or green. Or blue. Oh and nothing on backs of brown envelopes or torn off edges of newspaper pages. Because they'd just get mixed in with all the notes wot I already wrote and confuse me.

Seems like only yesterday (nearly four weeks – how time flies!) I was witness to the last minute packing, unpacking, repacking, unpacking and repacking (repeat as many times as possible in a three week period), and multiple listmaking required in advance of a pretty major expedition. Things-to-do, things-to-remember and things-you'd-probably-rather-forget: post it notes must be making a FORTUNE!

Then there's 'must get out on the hill/get to the gym/go for a run or I won't be fit enough syndrome'! The sorting out work stuff, money stuff, house stuff, family stuff, friends stuff...

'Wow!' I thought, somewhat naively. 'Thank God I'm only going Coast to Coast! At least I won't have to do all this!'

Ha!!! No, ha ha ha ha!!

That sound you hear, dear reader, is hysteria. Just to put you in the picture, this fine, four day Easter weekend I have mostly been putting in a bit of on-the-hill training; pounding the treadmill and climbing the stairmaster thingie; shopping, shopping, shopping and more shopping (well I keep thinking of things I haven't got yet!); and making lists!

Gail, incidentally, tells me she doesn't make lists. How can you NOT make lists?

It's forward planning you see. Forward planning. Speaking of which, somewhere along the way I decided I'd plot the route ahead of time – prepare ourselves a set of easy-to-follow daily route descriptions, mark up the maps and work out rough timings. This latter not least so I can provide an ETA at each location for the mountain rescue colleagues popping along to meet us. But let me tell you THAT little exercise took a wee bit longer than anticipated! Still, should now have far more time at the end of each day to eat, drink, blog and sleep!

And, finally, that TV appearance. Can I just say, that cutting room floor must have been knee deep. The bit about ViewRanger; any mention of the iPad (okay, I get those two – it was the BBC after all); the bit about the battery in smartphones and the iPad in particular being power-hungry and if you lose that, and it's your only source of mapping, you've lost your navigational ability; the bit about map and compass absolutely being our first line of defence, the iPad destined to spend most of its journey tucked inside my rucksack... all gone. Do people now think I'm going to stumble around the bogs and crags of the north of England carrying an Apple computer before me like a tray?

That said, thanks to the power of television, I do seem to have acquired some new Twitter friends – handy, their own tweets would suggest, if I'm ever down wit the homiez or in the market for a purple pill.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bits and bobs

As date of departure draws ever closer, so the shopping and 'must remember to pack this' lists seem to grow longer. Popped up to the sunny Lake District last night for a couple of days (and incidentally there was NOTHING on the road – clearly setting off at 8.30pm, on the Thursday before Good Friday is a sensible plan!) so took the opportunity to trawl the outdoor shops of Keswick for a few last minute essentials.

Like an extra pair of walking trousers (and thank you George Fisher's who seem to be the only outdoor retailer in the UK that actually stock technical trousers for LONG female legs! And plenty to choose from); a new 1.5 litre 'bladder' for the rucksack (so I can carry more water and drink hands-free); a 22 litre dri-bag for the inside of the rucksack (just in case it rains – but, of course, it's not going to....); and another couple of pairs of socks.

Last week stocked up on Compeed, plasters, and general first aid items, as well as the usual toiletries. Think I might just about be getting there on the shopping list now. All I have to do now is pack the stuff.

Back to (hopefully also sunny) Manchester tomorrow and another job list: wash and reproof all the Paramo; finish sorting out our approximate route plan, mark up the maps and work out approximate timings so we can let the various teams know our ETA for each day; liaise with Huw and Sally about what happening when we arrive in Robin Hood's Bay.

The plan has always been to 'launch' the Mountain Rescue Benevolent Fund as we arrive on the beach, poised to throw our respective pebbles back in the sea (carried, as tradition dictates, from the beach at St Bees, all the way across the country). Rumour has it there's a bottle of champagne on ice. And we've even been promised home-baked Victorian sponge with lashings of butter cream by cousin Bee – how good can it get?!

I believe we may be accompanied for our last leg by members of the Scarborough and Ryedale team, in training for their own endurance walk later this year. They have been given strict instructions that they walk at 'Twirlie pace' – more to the point, 'Twirlie pace after two weeks of walking' and who knows what pace THAT might be! Could be we're SO fit, we're positively skipping round the coastal path to Robin Hood's. Let's hope so eh?

In fact, now I come to think of it, that sounds like a plan!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sheep poo on the shoe

Another day, another adventure for the Twirlies and this time it was off the Clough Head car park (in sunny Haslingden) to meet the film crew. Well I say crew, I mean the delightful Laura and her cameraman. And the weather gods were kind. Which is just as well what with Gail turning up in her slippers, having forgotten her boots... No, don't say a word.... I know, I know. (But at least the hair matches the Paramo now.)

As it was, we didn't have to walk far, just up and down, then up and down and across and down, down and across, then up and down, down and up... we looked at the map, poked about a bit with the iPad, tried to look natural, pointed at the far horizon, you know the sort of thing. Julia Bradbury: eat your cotton-picking Countryfile heart out! Then a few lambs gambolled across the field ('Ahs' all round) and I stepped backwards into a very large pile of sheep poo. And me in my 'Sunday best, don't really go on the hill' trainers! Ah well.

But I think it went okay. And hopefully there's some stuff there for Laura to use. There's more filming to be done with the Lakes teams, then a live bit as well. So, watch the screen on Easter Monday, from 6.00am and then through the morning. BBC News.

I'll be hiding somewhere behind the sofa.

Monday, 18 April 2011

...what price that media training now?

Seems the Twirlies might hit the small screen soon – 'Z list' status here we come! Panic? Moi?

'All you have to do,' says Laura from BBC News, 'is imagine it's just you and me, having a blether...'

I'll try to remember that. Once I've calmed down, remembered how to breathe – and, more importantly, how to speak. Oh, and whatever the heck it is I need to say. Ohmmm...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The things you can do with a tennis ball

Another weekend preparing for our adventure and it occurs to me life is starting to resemble the 'set-up' scenes on some dodgy TV reality/makeover show. You can just hear the Nick Knowles-style voiceover, every syllable oozing sardonic delight as he sums up the catalogue of woe thus far: evidence – if evidence were needed – of the sheer enormity of the protaginists' challenge, the impossibility of success against such odds.

...'Will the girls remember which end of the compass points north?... Will Gail remember to pack her map and will her hair colour exactly match the Paramo jacket?... How many finger nails will Judy break before throwing in the towel? And whose was this crazy idea anyway? Don't they know there are beaches out there, poolside recliners with a never-ending supply of gin and tonic, fresh towels and sun cream, vast expanses of unfeasibly blue water just waiting to be paddled...

Last week it was slipping on a scree path (broken finger nail, bruised bum, grazed coccyx), and dehydration, followed by a points-earning backflip off stepping stone in the-beck-that-bit-back (very bruised ribs, soggy pants).

At some point, too, I've acquired a 'tweaky' knee – generally fine for most of my walking or running but every now and then, it just 'tweaks' – cue a session at the chiropractor and some instruction from him on how to inflict pain on myself by the judicious application of thumb pressure. And it does seem to do the trick. Once I've stopped myself screaming.

And then, as if not being able to breathe thanks to increasingly painful ribs wasn't enough, the birch pollen decides to put in an unseasonably early appearance – prompting friends to ask if I'm okay because my 'breathing sounds a bit laboured'. Just what you need when you're attempting to walk across England, taking in the odd hill here and there. So now the asthma medication is upped – but at least that's manageable.

And THEN, yesterday, my little 'LDW Gruppenfuhrer friend', as I've now affectionately named her (seasoned long distance walker in whose wake uphill I am often to be found puffing, panting and generally begging for mercy) suggests we do a walk from Dovestone Reservoir, up and round the crags which line the Chew valley. Great, I thought, good training... until I climbed out of bed... no, attempted to climb out of bed, yesterday morning and realised that the pain in my ribs has now partly migrated to my right hip joint! Cue another little trick from Tim the chiropractor, involving pinning a flourescent (although I have to confess the day-glo bit is not mandatory!) tennis ball to the wall with my bum and wriggling around until I find the spot that REALLY hurts, then applying even more pressure. I generally stop when the screaming gets too loud. Heaven knows what the neighbours must think.

Anyway, what with that and the Nurofen, it was a cracking day out with blue sky and sunshine and (largely) the place to ourselves, as we skirted the valley sides with some amazing drops beneath us into the valley.

More torture with the thumb screws and the tennis ball on my return – accompanied, I probably should say, by a large glass of wine. (I'm told it's an integral part of the Coast to Coast experience!)

Another fine walk this morning, this time a little nearer home – in fact, walked straight out my door and off on an admittedly very flat route round the local footpaths and looplines. Good three hours' yomp. I can't pretend my alter ego Creaky Old Jude didn't climb out of bed masquerading as me this morning but one look at that tennis ball and she was off!

So there we are. And – getting back to Mr Knowles and his genre for a moment – you and I both know it's only so much televisual windbaggery. It always comes good in the end.

That said, those three little words 'flourescent tennis ball' now added to my ever-lengthening packing list...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Winchies and winces

Onwards and upwards we go, breaking past the third-of-the-way barrier to a whopping 34% (lol!) thanks to my favourite paramedic winchman. More than this I cannot say, but thanks Duncan! Just hope we won't be calling on your services (or any of your mates, come to that!) during our two week yomp across England.

Speaking of which... bruised ribs! No, I mean, REALLY bruised ribs! Those stepping stones really bit back! A quick trip to the doc's yesterday (worried the pain seemed to be getting worse, not better – a definite rise in the wince:movement ratio), and I'm told I haven't broken anything. However, I'm also told it's normal to get worse before it gets better and it'll take 6-8 weeks before I'm feeling less pained – so, at that rate, there might be any number of bruises, blisters, sprains, strains and broken finger nails to contend with in the meantime. Better get on with it then!

That said, had an acupuncture treatment today and, as usual, Joshua goes straight to the problem - a few needles, including one in the most painful point (to 'draw out some of the stagnation'), and I have felt much better through the day. Fingers crossed the healing effect will continue.

Meanwhile, fellow Twirlie went off on a walk on her own this morning. We spoke just as she was setting off... she assured me she was packing a map!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Third of the way there...

Update on donations so far: a few more arms twisted up backs this week and we're up to £1,626.00 – that's 33% of our target!

Our wonderful 'press person' Sally (see Sal, I said it again, just to check you're reading the blog lol!) has now sent out a second press release so hopefully there'll be a positive rash of donations over the next few days.

Sally's latest press release focuses more on the fact we're hoping whatever we raise will get the new Mountain Rescue Benevolent Fund off to a good start. So what is this benevolent fund?

Well, it's a tricky one this. As anyone who keeps a weather eye on the news knows (or anyone who read my book, come to that – 'Mountain Rescue', written with mountain rescue colleague Bob Sharp, and published by Hayloft, ONLY £20, email me for details!!!) mountain rescue can be a risky business.

Most of the time, it's picking up casualties – more often than not a fractured tib and fib – or finding those who are lost. Sometimes it's searching for missing persons – and when it's a missing child, it can be particularly traumatic – and sometimes it's assisting the ambulance service during harsh winter conditions. Then again, there's been protracted mountain rescue involvement in civil stuff like the floods which hit Cockermouth, Sheffield, Avon and Somerset – all high profile natural emergencies during which volunteer team members walked away from their families, their work and their hobbies, to support their communities. Wading through chest-high flood water, dodging plate glass windows in full sail down the high street, avoiding debris, effluent, bobbing cars, or a cat's cradle of wool set free from the local wool shop by the unstoppable tidal flow – to rescue residents from their own homes, deliver food, or even district nurses, to those in need.

Every incident team members undertake is dynamically risk-assessed by those leading the team. (If this were the official sales pitch, I'd be saying something like 'safety is paramount'.) And inherent in team membership is trust in your fellow team members in what might be quite surreal circumstances. Back in the floods, what if anything had happened to one of those team members? What if one of them had tripped on some unseen hazard, lurking under the waters? Been knocked off their feet by a water-borne Renault van? Or pinned to a wall by a garden chair? What if a team member had lost their life during the rescue operation?

Very recently, members of two Lake District teams went out in appalling conditions (slates being blown horizontally through the air, team members only able to make progress forward on all fours) to search for a missing walker, a man with plenty of experience on the hill. At the end of the search, and the missing man now accounted for, one team member had not returned to base (he eventually returned safe and well) leaving his team leadership debating what they might be telling his family by the morning light, and how. My point is, whatever the risk assessment says, however experienced you are, these things happen.

And, if a team member dies – or gets seriously injured during a rescue – chances are there's a family at home having to cope with the loss. There might be bills to be paid, children's dinner money to find, food to be bought: stuff that won't wait while paperwork is sorted, t's crossed and i's dotted. And this might be where the benevolent fund steps in, to ease that family's financial worries.

Anyway, I'm starting to sound like that sales pitch after all... so I'll put a sock in it now. Just thought you should know.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dehydration, sun stroke, bruised ribs and a broken finger nail – perfect day on the hill...

Think we can safely say training is continuing in earnest. A big thanks first off for my Buttermere 'parking angel' . Got there as early as I could, knowing the rest of the walking world would have had the very same idea and, guess what, I was right. No chance of parking at the usual place behind the little church on the Newlands road  so doubled back through Buttermere to the National Trust car park. Now unfortunately, I'm not a member so I have to pay. Damn!

A rifle through the purse, several pockets and the bottom of my rucksack and I managed to get together £4.70 – still one whole pound short of the necessary £5.70 for a day's parking. £4.70 only gets you four hours. (Note to self: investigate cost of joining! Must pay for itself over the year in car park charges alone!!) So, I wandered along to a fellow walker busy gathering stuff from the boot of her Mini (same colour as mine funnily enough). Could she change a fiver? No, but please just have a pound, she said, handing me the coin.  So thanks to her, off I set at 9.50am...

...past The Fish, then right at the t-junction in the path, and along the valley a bit before turning up past Scale Force and on to Red Pike, over High Stile, down and up across Hay Stacks, in the direction of Rosthwaite (our destination for a C2C stop), then a left turn down the beck, past Gatesgarth Farm and round the lake back to Buttermere. According to the iPad*, 19.1km with a fair bit of uppy downy stuff in between.

A great day out... which would have been all the better but for a few things...

Having seriously underestimated the potential warmth of the day, I didn't take enough water. So, by the time I was approaching High Stile, I already knew I was going to be 'on rations'.  Managed to eke it out so the final mouthful was perfectly timed a few hundred yards from the pub – where I bought the BEST pint of soda water I have EVER tasted!!!

Then there was the baseball cap – the one I looked at in the boot of the car and didn't bother to pick up! My that sun was hot!

But incidentally, I now know without doubt that I am English! Because what I DID carry around the entire day was the Paramo Twirlie jacket – just in case it rained! Surprised, quite frankly, I hadn't packed the brolly.

Then there was the beck-that-bit-back... doing so well, I was, negotiating big boulders across Warnscale waterfall when I swear one of 'em moved. Or maybe it just threw me off? Either way, I landing on my bum, in the water. Ouch. Still at least it cooled me off for a while.

 So... dehydration, sun stroke, couple of bruised ribs, a broken thumbnail, and one soggy trouser leg... perfect day on the hill, I'd say.

Picture caption: Tired, windswept, sunburned, dehydrated, rather fetching hairdo, yet-to-be-soggy-legged and bruised. But happy. No really, this is a happy face!

*iPad battery still going strong 12 hours after it started out this morning, despite having the GPS signal switched on all day, including just under eight hours of tracking as I walked. So not really sure why it only lasted six hours last Tuesday. Maybe it was an knackered as we were? Anyway, whatever, research continues...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

'Let's see what it can throw at us...'

...hmmm. So said my fellow Twirlie as we made plans for a 'C2C training day' – a trip to Keld and the 'halfway point', from where we plotted a route down towards Muker (where we stay one night) followed by an easy amble along the Swale to Gunnerside, then turning to the north along a wide track to Lownathwaite lead mines before a left turn west to head back via Crackpot Hall to Keld.

Well, all I can say is, (indeed I think I did, somewhere between Lownathwaite and Crackpot – which, now I come to think of it, perfectly describes our little adventure, but then nobody ever said we weren't barking!) next time my wee walking pal throws out a challenge to the Universe, can she please include me out and keep it all for herself!!

It started out a little ominously, I suppose, as we drove across the moors, through Settle and Hawse, and the clag crowded in on the car. But then, we're used to that in Lancashire! Then the rain started, but nothing too heavy, just that fine spray mist that barely touches you. Almost pleasant. I think we said that too at some point, something about the rain being 'quite nice actually', as we sat on a wooden bench in the centre of Muker, daffodils nodding at our boots. Then, as we set off towards Gunnerside, scattering rabbits and lambs as we negotiated stile after stile 'designed for whippet-lean local farmers' (allegedly), the sun started to bleed through the clouds, the odd patch of blue sky appeared. We're on a winner we thought and headed uphill towards the lead mines.

Big mistake. Up we went. And down came the rain. Down came the clag. And up came the wind. That said, it seemed okay at first, until we reached the point of no return (or at least a blummin' long walk back the way we'd come) so we pressed on. And the wind howled louder.

But let's cast back, for a moment, to Gail's house: 9.00am. Let's meet nice and early, we said – we'll be in Keld by 11.00. Four hour walk. Back in time for tea. Sorted.

Until I arrive on Gail's doorstep (just before 9.00, admittedly but traffic was actually 'good' for a change!) and there's no sign of her. No car. No lights. No note. So I ring her.

'Are you at mine?' she asks. Er... yes? I say, with that slightly rising ending we seem to have imported from 'Neighbours', where every sentence appears to end in a query, whether it does or not. Only this time it did. A great big unspoken 'Where the heck are YOU?' query.

I should have guessed when I drove past Mr Heywood at the wheel of the team's brand new Land Rover Discovery. Call out. So, an hour later than planned, we set off from Rawtenstall. And, if you're wondering why I led you down this tiny detour... I can sum it up in one word: map. The one I didn't have in my collection. The one Gail DID have – all ready to stuff in her rucksack (ref last blog post). The one she left sitting on the stairs. At home.

Fortunately, I was test driving the Viewranger with the iPad, and I did actually have Martin Wainwright's Guidebook AND Harvey's Coast to Coast map with me although, at 1:40 000, it's not as detailed as the OS version – especially if you need to do a bit of fine navigation. (ie. get lost in the fog.) The Viewranger maps, of course, ARE 1:25 000, but – even wrapped in its waterproof bag – I didn't fancy carrying the iPad in my hand, what with the wind threatening to chuck me off my feet on more than one occasion.

But, walk with it in my hand I did. We'd slogged along for what seemed like hours – I was genuinely beginning to think I'd never see my sofa and bed again, let alone a glass of wine and a bag of crisps – every possible hatch battened down, each lost in our own private misery, when I just got the feeling something wasn't right. The ground to the right seemed to be dropping away from us rather too steeply – that was evident, even against the Harvey's. Cold, wet, extremely fed up,  and clearly not thinking 100% clearly (hypothermia here we come!) we stopped for a quick conflab and neither of us could work out from either the map or the guidebook where the hell we were. So out came the iPad, which had been tracking our every move since setting off.

I'll carry it in my hand and it'll soon tell us if we're going wrong, says I. And sure enough, it did. The thing was, we were on the wrong path, but neither of us could remember seeing any other path branching off to the right. We'd have stopped to check it out.

So, we backtrack – and I keep my eye on the little black arrows as they magically appear on screen – towards the point where the path forks. And then, we saw it. For a brief moment, the clag thinned and we could JUST about make out a path to our left, on the other side of the beck. A bit further on and there it was, the elusive fork, onto a very, very indistinct, crumbled and and boggy path (in fact, a few yards along this path, the ground had fallen away entirely, meaning we had to scramble above it, clinging onto clumps of heather and, quite frankly, praying!) Confident we were now on the right track, I stuffed the iPad back into my rucksack – two hands definitely required for aforementioned prayer-moments.

The rest of the journey was more an act of endurance than anything else. Slight detour at one point, when we had to choose between two gates and, guess what, chose the wrong one, with immediate corrective action with iPad. Oh, I'm lovin' this Viewranger! When we finally dropped down a few contours, the wind quietened but we were still wet and tired, and very glad to see the car again, six hours after setting off. Quick change of clothes, a divvy up of a very large piece of cake (thanks Bee – Gail says you can definitely bake a cake for the end-of-walk party in Robin Hood's Bay!) and we were on our way back to civilisation.

I think you could safely say we had a day's 'training'!

On another note, speaking of the iPad, it was useful to see how much battery life the pad has with the GPS tracking pinging away all day. Fully charged at the outset, it was down to just 8% after six hours – clearly not sufficient for a longer day's walk. So, this lunchtime I emptied another few quid into Apple's bank account and bought a spare battery – should make the iPad chargeable on the hoof and give several hours more battery life. It's charging up as we speak and I'll be testing it on the hill at the weekend. Watch this space for an update!

And now I am exhausted just writing about yesterday's epic. Till the next post!

PS. Gail said to say she might not have remembered the map but she did have her whistle.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lost? Us? Never...

So, off we trotted from the car park at Turton Towers. (And, remarkably, this time we'd actually managed to park on the SAME car park, unlike the last time we walked in the area. But that's another story.) Sun shining, butties in rucksack, Gail's occasional four legged companion, Scree, doing her usual backwards foxtrot, snapping at Gail's boots (collies, eh?). What could possibly go wrong?

'I presumed you were bringing the map,' I say, 'as this route was your suggestion...'

'Yes,' says Gail, stuffing the map in her rusksack, and I think no more of it.

Until we come to a fork in the path - waymarked to left, not waymarked to the right - so we follow the waymarked route, taking us across the golf course. Wee bit further on and, 'I don't think this is right,' says Gail. So we stop: off comes the rucksack; out comes the map. Er... 'What do we always tell people?' I venture. 'Walk with map in hand, not in rucksack?'

'Yes but I know where we are now... we'll just go up this path here... we're aiming for that lump there... and then we're back where we're meant to be,' says Gail, stuffing map back in rucksack.

Wee bit further on again, we pass a couple of horse riders, and reach a gate clearly marked as a bridleway, beyond which lies a semi-urban sprawl looking distinctly un-moorland-like. Which bothers Gail. A semi-urban sprawl not being expected. Nor a bridleway, come to that.

'This is definitely not right,' says Gail. Off comes the rucksack and out comes the map a second time... And we change direction again, climbing up through the golf course, across tussocks as big as your head, (no path, you'll note) towards the 'lumpy bit' – to a junction of resolutely barbed wire fences. Scree, of course, wriggles underneath to the other side (the other side being where we should also be, en route to that elusive lumpy bit).

Quick assessment of the wriggle route and I'm pretty sure even my slim frame won't fit under the fence. 'Well, we'll go through the gap at the top,' says Gail. 'What?!!' Not convinced the Paramo will survive unbarbed. 'You go first,' says Gail, undeterred, 'and I'll hold the fence...' as she unfolds the laminated map, wraps it round the barbs and lifts it clear for me to clamber through. See: THAT'S why we keep our maps in our hands.

PS. The rest of the walk passed without mishap (I promised I wouldn't mention the compass), a minor drenching, a spot of lunch in the rain by Entwistle reservoir, topped off by a sunny stroll back to the cars. Even managed to say a Mother's Day hello to my Mum, whose ashes are scattered round a very verdant holly bush by the reservoir. Perfect day, I'd say.

What, incidentally has happened to the heron sculpture – which now looks as though it's dipping for fish? Has someone kicked it over or does it come alive when no-one's looking?