As I hinted at yesterday, I have been thinking for a while that I'd like to take up a serious physical challenge in 2010. As well as helping with my physical fitness it might also contribute to my ongoing weight loss and give me a sense of real achievement. Just as climbers of Everest respond when asked why they do it - "because it's there", I suppose I want to do something - "because I can". Now. Before, I couldn't. Now I can - so I'm going to!!
I have always wanted to do something really serious like climb Kilimanjaro. I'm further convinced of this by the November efforts of the UK Children in Need celebrities who did it for charity. However, I don't think I would be fit enough in time so that will have to wait for 2011! So, by way of preparation for perhaps an even bigger challenge next year, I have given a great deal of thought over the past few weeks, to what challenge I might take on in 2010. There were two general activities in the running - walking (hiking) or swimming. After being inspired by Robson Green's recent exploits on ITV, I thought about going for some 'wild' swimming adventure. I've done some outdoor swimming in the past when I entered a triathlon in my early twenties. However, that kind of thing would take some very serious training - and time - which I don't have in abundance. So I decided to focus my thinking efforts more on hiking.
In the UK there are a number of long distance footpaths. Many years ago I made serious plans to do the Pennine Way. This is about 320 miles and takes about 19-20 days following the spine of hills and low mountains that passes from the Peak District National Park in the south (central England) to the edge of the Scottish border in the north. However, I gave up on this at the time because I simply cannot take three weeks off work! But in my searching, I came across the 214 Lakeland Challenge - and this is more exciting.
The 214 Lakeland Challenge (also referred to as the Wainwright Challange) involves climbing to the peak of the 214 summits in the English Lake District described by Alfred Wainwright (pictured) in his famous seven volume pictorial guides. The summits vary from about 500 to 1000m and traverse all regions of the Lake District. The challenge is to complete all of these climbs - in one year. Well, since I love the Lake District, it's within a couple of hours drive from here, and the challenge can be completed over a period of time not requiring a huge amount of time off work, this is what I've decided to do! Think of all the steps and burned calories!!!
I've already bought the seven-volume Wainwright guides together with another guide that groups the walks into sensible units that can be completed over 36 separate trips. We already have the 1:25,000 OS Explorer maps that I will need. All I need now, are a couple of fleece jumpers because I no longer own any that fit! Oh, and the courage to actually begin! I think that I will 'officially' begin tomorrow - January 1st and my aim will be to complete by December 31st 2010. Who knows - I may even time my final ascent for December 31st and have a mountain celebration of New Year's Eve!