Stepping Up

19th March 2019

Yesterday, was a red letter day. I walked from Islington to Ilford – nine miles – with my backpack for the first time.

Google Maps reckoned the journey would take a fraction over three hours. I told my sister, to whose home I was going, that it might take me between three and four.

Normally, I walk quite fast, but with a fully loaded backpack slung over my shoulders I was prepared to be much slower.

The Olympic Stadium at Stratford

In the event, Google was right. I managed the journey in roughly 3hrs 5mins. Well, considering I thought it might take a lot longer, I was very happy with that!

I didn’t weigh the backpack before leaving. My sister did, though, and found that it weighed 1 stone and 3 pounds. I have read and heard that when doing the Camino, your backpack should be no more than your tenth of your weight. Well, I weigh 16.9 stone. Divide that by 10 and you get 1.69 so my backpack was within the one tenth limit!

That’s the good news – the bad news is that yesterday, it didn’t contain everything that I will be taking to France and Spain. The following did not come with me,

  • Sandals
  • Trekking poles
  • iPad
  • Toiletries
  • Portable battery, adaptor and leads
  • Assorted Bits & Pieces: Pebble for the Cruz Ferrero, sewing kit, clothes pegs

I haven’t yet made a final decision as to whether I will take the iPad. I would really like to but if I find that after everything else has been put into the backpack its weight is well over the limit I will have to think about leaving it behind.

The Walk
Back to yesterday’s walk – I undertook it in cool conditions; the sky was pretty overcast throughout to the point of threatening rain, though none came until I arrived back home. In the entire journey, there was no upward elevation to speak of; in Google’s opinion, I was going slightly downhill all the time. At some point, I shall need to do the old wearing-the-backpack-while-climbing-stairs thing to get myself used to steep climbs. My boots felt good, though I think if the walk had been any longer I would have been in danger of a blister.

I bought a bottle of water on the way but only drank from it once. That was bad of me and I shall have to make sure I drink more often when I am in Spain. I also wore my normal day-to-day clothes, which was also not wise as it means I now have a nice red chafing marks on my inner thighs: cotton is the walker’s bane. I am hoping that the specialist underwear that I have bought for the journey will prevent this from being in a problem but in case not, I will be travelling with a good supply of vaseline! Finally, I didn’t take a proper break during the walk. In Spain, I think I will aim to do so every five miles or so.

As important as the walk, was how I felt afterwards. Well, I mostly felt good though by the time I got home (via train) I was very tired. To be sure, I was not helped by having a slight toothache (following a visit to the dentist on Monday!); fortunately, it has now gone; I very much hope it stays gone. The tiredness was significant enough for me to do nothing in the evening.

Yours truly at journey’s end

What’s Next?
I shall take another walk on Friday. I’m not sure where to go; if I can’t think of anywhere, I shall just walk west along the Thames. I’m going to aim at walking for ten miles (five out and five back).

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