Good Friday. Good weather. Bright blue sky sunshine and light winds. Perfect.
The South West Coast path is a long distance footpath of some 630 miles from Minehead to Poole. Over the years we have walked all of the path (and also kayaked all the way round too). On this occasion we were just walking 20 miles from Lynmouth to Minehead. Minehead is where most people start and there is an official starting point with a Sculpture.
The SW Coastal Path sculpture at Minehead
In preparation (training is a difficult concept for Ian) for a much longer walk we have planned later in the year, we walked 100k from Dulverton to Minehead last week over 4 days. We carried everything we needed but stayed in guest accommodation and ate in pubs. Archie our Border Terrier came too, as he also need some multi day walking preparation.
We left our car at Dulverton and set off along the River Barle heading North. There is a good path that keeps close to the river for about 5 km to Castle Bridge. There is then a gentle ascent to Hawkridge where the path meets the Two Moors Way.
Hawkridge is one of the oldest communities on Exmoor. It lies on the track that crosses the River Barle at Tarr Steps and in sight of the barrows on Anstey Common. The church has Saxon origins.
The Two Moors Way is a long distance footpath between Ivybridge on the Southern edge of Dartmoor and Lynmouth on the North coast of Somerset. We have previously walked the Dartmoor section. This walk is within the Exmoor National Park and passes through landscapes of exceptionally high quality. Not only does this include the high moorland but also the deep and wooded valleys of the moor.
The Two Moors Way
Machhapuchchhre – The sacred mountain
In November we went to Nepal on a trekking holiday with Lost Earth Adventures. As we all know an army marches on its stomach and Richard Goody the MD of LEA and our trek leader worked very hard to ensure that we were well fed. In a former life Rich was a chef so we all benefited from his high expectations.
Throughout the 14 days we were trekking in the Himalayas we stayed in tea houses. These are the Nepalese equivalent of Alpine huts which provide food and lodging. In Nepal the huts have developed, so usually there are private rooms and a wide choice of food.
Walking for six or so hours a day means that food takes on special importance! At the same time, the Annapurna region’s relative isolation makes getting supplies to the teahouses quite a challenge. Almost everything you see on trek has to be hauled up by animal or human power. All the food has also got to be carried up to the teahouses or grown there.
Some of the food is grown there. Chicken for supper!
And some more suitable for vegetarians – impressive at 3700m
The first part of our trekking adventure in the Annapurna region was to Mardi Himal Base Camp. We returned to Forest Camp from Mardi Himal, where we all became bright eyed and bushy tailed with a return to a decent level of oxygen and warmer temperatures.
The group ready to leave Forest Camp for Chomrong.
From Forest Camp we descended into the Mardikhola valley. We had spectacular views of Annapurna South.
View of Annapurna South
Nepal is well known as a great destination for enjoying the beauty of the mountains through trekking. The diversity in Nepal’s nature and a range of exotic cultures makes Nepal ideal for trekking. The paths into the interior of the country follow ancient footpaths which wander through scenic river valleys passing intricate terraced field systems and along forested ridges connecting picturesque hamlets and mountain villages. The highly developed well defined trails have been used for centuries.
We had travelled to Pokhara by mini bus and had enjoyed a peaceful day of rest and recreation in the town beside Phewa Tal.
On 3rd November our group of 12 left Pokhara at 06:30 in pouring rain and journeyed into the Annapurna district by mini bus. The road out of Pokhara was mostly of a hard surface but became increasingly rough as we closed on our destination – Birethani (1025m). The road does not actually end here but we had decided on balance that it was better to continue on foot from there. Birethani is also where the Annapurna Conservation Area office is. Everyone needs an entry permit.
Our trekking permits
Nepal is a land locked country in South East Asia with a population of 27 million. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered by India to the South, East and West and by China to the North. The mountainous region of Nepal has eight of the ten world’s tallest mountains including the highest point on earth – Mount Everest. Nepal is commonly divided into three physiographic areas: Mountain, Hill and Terai. The southern Terai region is fertile and humid. These ecological belts run east-west and are vertically intersected by Nepal’s major, North to South flowing river systems.
The mighty Himalaya – Annapurna
Nepal is a developing country with a low income economy. It has high levels of hunger and poverty.
The moment of finishing the ironman is the culmination of a years training. That was my main goal for the year and our lives had been geared up to achieve that goal.
So what’s next? The perceived wisdom seems to be that six weeks rest are in order before a return to gentle training. Well that was never going to happen!
In order to avoid post ironman depression syndrome (PIDS – yes really!) I had a few things lined up in advance so the coming months in the diary were not empty!
The first week after the ironman I rested – apart from some gentle pool swimming. I was very hungry and despite being tired I had to get up at about 03.30 to make porridge and toast as my rumbling tummy was keeping me awake.
The second week was spent in the Lake District on a planned holiday. Time to reconnect with my family and my inner – non-triathlete. Hill walking wasn’t a problem and we enjoyed some long walks in the hills around Keswick.
Walking in the Lakes