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Limping home....

saxonaxe

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#1
I've given some thought to this report, I could dramatise it and turn it into a chapter from a cheap paperback, or omit some of the detail and report my trip as a stroll in the park. Neither is my style, so I'll do the write up as it happened and comment on points learned by me and perhaps others will benefit from my experiences.

The objective was to spend 5 or 6 days walking from central Norfolk to the North Coast to the area of Hunstanton, Norfolk. On the map my route as planned was just over 50 miles and followed, approximately, the National Trail known as the Peddars Way although deviating from that path in places.

I caught a National Express coach from Sussex to London where I caught another coach to Thetford, Norfolk. Booked a month in advance the journey cost me less than £20. As a shake down, test and adjust kit opportunity I walked the 15 miles from Thetford to the start at Knettishall Heath Nature Reserve where the Peddars Way and other National Trails begin, which is in fact in Suffolk.
P1040864.JPG


I've shown my pack and contents in another, earlier post although I had added 5 litres of water or another 5 kilos, so another 10.5 lbs so 50+ lbs all up weight. If you look at the weather records for that day local temperatures were in the 80's F.........A hard introduction into what was ahead, both in load weight and more critically water consumption.
As expected the reserve had dog walkers and other visitors so I rested and camped late in the evening deep in the woodland.
The next day after an early start I basically followed the Peddars Way. Crossing from Suffolk into Norfolk over the boundary marked by the Little River Ouse
P1040865.JPG


Once again the temperature was very high, in fact I later heard it reported that Norfolk had been hotter than many Mediterranean locations on a record breaking day. Norfolk Mozzies, Black Fly and anything else that likes human sweat made the most of it as I walked through woodland. And so a head net was necessary, not a luxury, but really restricted air flow and made walking very hard work in the heat. Map reference showed I had walked 12 miles when I camped deep in woodland that night. On a personal note I was beginning to feel my 73+ years, strangely not so much the weight but insect bites ( inspite of applications of lotion, the need to ration water intake and chafing from sweat sodden shorts and T shirt which was promoting that old favourite which many on the form will know as 'Bergan Rash...:( ) There were also indications that an injury sustained many years ago in training was becoming noticeable because of the weight I was carrying.
P1040874.JPG


Second night camp. The tree is a healthy Field Maple some no fear of dead fall and the position about the least fly infested that I could find. During the night I could hear the measured bursts of machine gun fire and sporadic rifle fire from the extensive Military Training area close by.
The dehydrated meals I was carrying were edible but water consuming, more about them later..

Some views of the trail, the course of a Roman road and the path of prehistoric people before the Romans. Later a Pilgrims trail to holy places on route and also used as a trade route.
P1040876.JPG

Unfortunately the puddles in this photo had dried by day two.....
The original paved road bed shows through Centuries of accumulated soil in places.
P1040880.JPG


The countryside was in full bloom in the blistering heat, this Horse Chestnut looked majestic with it's white flower clusters and what I think was a wild Cherry or similar? seemed to glow in the bright sunlight.

P1040878.JPG


I can't recall seeing the deadly Giant Hogweed growing in such profusion where I live in Sussex, and on this blistering day it seemed to host a million flies lying in wait for me to pass by.
P1040866.JPG


Leaving the breezeless but at least shadey woodland I entered open countryside to be greeted by an Adder lying on the trail. By the time I had taken the camera from my belt pouch he was whizzing sideways into the nearest patch of grass. They are alarmingly swift...but I captured his portrait...:D
P1040869.JPG


I was low on water, not quite a litre left, but my forward planning meant I would arrive at an official campsite where water would definitely be available within a couple of hours or so. It was then about 09.30 hrs.
Suddenly I felt an excruciating pain in my left foot..I went down on my right knee and ended up almost falling on my face as the bergan pulled me forward. My first reaction was astonishment that anything could have penetrated my good quality boots but on looking I could find nothing in the sole of my boot.
Removing my boot I saw the cause of the pain.
P1040884.JPG

After a clean up of the blood that had stuck my sock to the open wound I took this photo. The skin seems to have split, my mate who was a Medic tells me...Heat+ dampness from sweat+ weight = split skin...
I now found myself in 80 degrees of heat, low on water and after applying first aid to my foot, hardly able to walk..Great.

I was always taught that if I was at least mobile and needed water, then look for it. It's no good going static and hoping that the water would come to me. I considered caching my Bergan and just taking my water bottles and belt kit, but as I knew where water was available it wouldn't be so much a search, more a hard task to get to it. So my trek began, more an ordeal really, very painful. I had seen nobody since leaving Knettishall 2+ days earlier and I was now no longer on the recognised National Trail, so there was no reason to expect someone to magically appear now. Those of us familiar with the relatively busy areas of the British countryside can be surprised by the fields and open country which seem to stretch to the horizon with no visible signs of habitation in parts of East Anglia.
After about an hour I saw three barns about 3/4 mile away across a huge field of flowering Oil Seed Rape. I made my way through it, actually walking on a compass bearing because of the need to walk a straight line while occasionally out of sight of my objective. I arrived exhausted. Nothing! Three tin barns and stacks of wooden pallets, no water tap, trough, plastic pipe that I could possibly disconnect. The product I think of modern 'Prairie farming' methods, no farm house nearby anymore. The workers travel from miles away and go home at night, the barns were merely storage for pallets.
The trek back through the Oil Seed Rape to my starting point seemed to be even further than the trek out to the barns and I had lost more in perspiration and used some of my water.

Anyway, enough of the drama. I made it to the campsite at 17.45 hrs. I felt unwell, and on drinking (sipping..I know better than to gulp) the water gushed back down my nose!! Constricted throat I've since been told. Blinding headache and difficulty focussing and...this sounds daft...suddenly very chilly with the shivers.
I knew what the score was, so I didn't put my tent up, I simply climbed into my sleeping bag on my kip mat and sipped water very slowly, it was about 18.00 hrs and I awoke with a start at 20.55hrs in a partly wet sleeping bag, clutching an empty water bottle...minus it's top!!:p
Formal campsite, and 24 hours of recovery. Lot's of liquids, food and rest. I suffered some fairly horrendous leg cramps when I eventually got the tent up, had some food and turned in properly.

P1040886.JPG

The decision to cut short my 5 or 6 day planned trip was easy, it was made for me..and I seemed to lead a charmed life with bus and coach connections the next day and was home in Sussex by evening.

A summary.....
Too hot
Too heavy
And I was going to say Too old, but under more favourable weather conditions I would have completed the planned trek. I'm not new to walking distances having lost count of South Downs Way walks I have done, a large section of the Northern sector The Pennine Way, South West Coastal Path and many others.
Why not shout for help?? That's a personal decision, I'll admit I did consider it and under those circumstances it would have been Air Ambulance or at least 4x4 rescue because I too far from a road for an ordinary ambulance. Had I not known the exact location of the campsite and felt I was going down even faster than I was, then I would have considered calling for help. Dead heroes are not required....

The dehydrated meals from Dehydrated Freeze Dried Meals - Summit To Eat - Camping & Adventure Food I found good value about £5.50 each. Filling, tasty, well to me anyway, but I think a bacon sarnie is the height of Cordon Bleu... and if the weight of water required is added to the dry weight, they are still lighter than Rat Packs)

Warning Nudity...:lol:
The old injury which started to play up was this dislocated shoulder joint sustained years ago. Strangely it never stopped me passing any physical fitness tests, operational requirements or restricted my flexibility after the initial healing.
Shoulder bump.jpg


That old injury was reactivated and caused considerable pain especially when I went down in a heap with the Bergan after the foot problem.
All in all an interesting trip. Lessons learned and strangely a boost to my self confidence as at one stage it was the old "Pass of fail" syndrome, but the old bloke passed...and it's nice to be back almost in one piece...:rofl: :rofl:
 

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WildWood1965

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#2
An excellent honest telling it like it is account of your trip which we can all learn from I'm sure. :)

I hope that you are feeling much better now & I bet what happened has given you a lot of food for thought.

You should be proud of what you have achieved & at least you are getting out there instead of sitting on the sofa instead. :thumbsup:

Take care & all the best,

Neil
 

saxonaxe

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#3
Thank you Neil, yes 99.9 % although I'll be walking lopsided for a few days I suspect...:rofl:

For some reason (operator error probably.) The Horse Chestnut photo didn't appear...
P1040882.JPG

Ha! Better. On target.:thumbsup:
 
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#4
I hope you recover fully soon, an interesting turn of events all coming together to foil the trip, a heavy load in record temperatures with rationed water, a foot injury out of nowhere and the shoulder, not to mention heat stroke by the sounds of it to boot, there are lessons to be learned by all of us, get well soon :)
 

Joecole

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#5
I've given some thought to this report, I could dramatise it and turn it into a chapter from a cheap paperback, or omit some of the detail and report my trip as a stroll in the park. Neither is my style, so I'll do the write up as it happened and comment on points learned by me and perhaps others will benefit from my experiences.

The objective was to spend 5 or 6 days walking from central Norfolk to the North Coast to the area of Hunstanton, Norfolk. On the map my route as planned was just over 50 miles and followed, approximately, the National Trail known as the Peddars Way although deviating from that path in places.

I caught a National Express coach from Sussex to London where I caught another coach to Thetford, Norfolk. Booked a month in advance the journey cost me less than £20. As a shake down, test and adjust kit opportunity I walked the 15 miles from Thetford to the start at Knettishall Heath Nature Reserve where the Peddars Way and other National Trails begin, which is in fact in Suffolk. View attachment 13830

I've shown my pack and contents in another, earlier post although I had added 5 litres of water or another 5 kilos, so another 10.5 lbs so 50+ lbs all up weight. If you look at the weather records for that day local temperatures were in the 80's F.........A hard introduction into what was ahead, both in load weight and more critically water consumption.
As expected the reserve had dog walkers and other visitors so I rested and camped late in the evening deep in the woodland.
The next day after an early start I basically followed the Peddars Way. Crossing from Suffolk into Norfolk over the boundary marked by the Little River Ouse
View attachment 13831

Once again the temperature was very high, in fact I later heard it reported that Norfolk had been hotter than many Mediterranean locations on a record breaking day. Norfolk Mozzies, Black Fly and anything else that likes human sweat made the most of it as I walked through woodland. And so a head net was necessary, not a luxury, but really restricted air flow and made walking very hard work in the heat. Map reference showed I had walked 12 miles when I camped deep in woodland that night. On a personal note I was beginning to feel my 73+ years, strangely not so much the weight but insect bites ( inspite of applications of lotion, the need to ration water intake and chafing from sweat sodden shorts and T shirt which was promoting that old favourite which many on the form will know as 'Bergan Rash...:( ) There were also indications that an injury sustained many years ago in training was becoming noticeable because of the weight I was carrying.
View attachment 13834

Second night camp. The tree is a healthy Field Maple some no fear of dead fall and the position about the least fly infested that I could find. During the night I could hear the measured bursts of machine gun fire and sporadic rifle fire from the extensive Military Training area close by.
The dehydrated meals I was carrying were edible but water consuming, more about them later..

Some views of the trail, the course of a Roman road and the path of prehistoric people before the Romans. Later a Pilgrims trail to holy places on route and also used as a trade route.
View attachment 13835
Unfortunately the puddles in this photo had dried by day two.....
The original paved road bed shows through Centuries of accumulated soil in places.
View attachment 13836

The countryside was in full bloom in the blistering heat, this Horse Chestnut looked majestic with it's white flower clusters and what I think was a wild Cherry or similar? seemed to glow in the bright sunlight.

View attachment 13840

I can't recall seeing the deadly Giant Hogweed growing in such profusion where I live in Sussex, and on this blistering day it seemed to host a million flies lying in wait for me to pass by.
View attachment 13841

Leaving the breezeless but at least shadey woodland I entered open countryside to be greeted by an Adder lying on the trail. By the time I had taken the camera from my belt pouch he was whizzing sideways into the nearest patch of grass. They are alarmingly swift...but I captured his portrait...:D
View attachment 13842

I was low on water, not quite a litre left, but my forward planning meant I would arrive at an official campsite where water would definitely be available within a couple of hours or so. It was then about 09.30 hrs.
Suddenly I felt an excruciating pain in my left foot..I went down on my right knee and ended up almost falling on my face as the bergan pulled me forward. My first reaction was astonishment that anything could have penetrated my good quality boots but on looking I could find nothing in the sole of my boot.
Removing my boot I saw the cause of the pain.
View attachment 13843
After a clean up of the blood that had stuck my sock to the open wound I took this photo. The skin seems to have split, my mate who was a Medic tells me...Heat+ dampness from sweat+ weight = split skin...
I now found myself in 80 degrees of heat, low on water and after applying first aid to my foot, hardly able to walk..Great.

I was always taught that if I was at least mobile and needed water, then look for it. It's no good going static and hoping that the water would come to me. I considered caching my Bergan and just taking my water bottles and belt kit, but as I knew where water was available it wouldn't be so much a search, more a hard task to get to it. So my trek began, more an ordeal really, very painful. I had seen nobody since leaving Knettishall 2+ days earlier and I was now no longer on the recognised National Trail, so there was no reason to expect someone to magically appear now. Those of us familiar with the relatively busy areas of the British countryside can be surprised by the fields and open country which seem to stretch to the horizon with no visible signs of habitation in parts of East Anglia.
After about an hour I saw three barns about 3/4 mile away across a huge field of flowering Oil Seed Rape. I made my way through it, actually walking on a compass bearing because of the need to walk a straight line while occasionally out of sight of my objective. I arrived exhausted. Nothing! Three tin barns and stacks of wooden pallets, no water tap, trough, plastic pipe that I could possibly disconnect. The product I think of modern 'Prairie farming' methods, no farm house nearby anymore. The workers travel from miles away and go home at night, the barns were merely storage for pallets.
The trek back through the Oil Seed Rape to my starting point seemed to be even further than the trek out to the barns and I had lost more in perspiration and used some of my water.

Anyway, enough of the drama. I made it to the campsite at 17.45 hrs. I felt unwell, and on drinking (sipping..I know better than to gulp) the water gushed back down my nose!! Constricted throat I've since been told. Blinding headache and difficulty focussing and...this sounds daft...suddenly very chilly with the shivers.
I knew what the score was, so I didn't put my tent up, I simply climbed into my sleeping bag on my kip mat and sipped water very slowly, it was about 18.00 hrs and I awoke with a start at 20.55hrs in a partly wet sleeping bag, clutching an empty water bottle...minus it's top!!:p
Formal campsite, and 24 hours of recovery. Lot's of liquids, food and rest. I suffered some fairly horrendous leg cramps when I eventually got the tent up, had some food and turned in properly.

View attachment 13845
The decision to cut short my 5 or 6 day planned trip was easy, it was made for me..and I seemed to lead a charmed life with bus and coach connections the next day and was home in Sussex by evening.

A summary.....
Too hot
Too heavy
And I was going to say Too old, but under more favourable weather conditions I would have completed the planned trek. I'm not new to walking distances having lost count of South Downs Way walks I have done, a large section of the Northern sector The Pennine Way, South West Coastal Path and many others.
Why not shout for help?? That's a personal decision, I'll admit I did consider it and under those circumstances it would have been Air Ambulance or at least 4x4 rescue because I too far from a road for an ordinary ambulance. Had I not known the exact location of the campsite and felt I was going down even faster than I was, then I would have considered calling for help. Dead heroes are not required....

The dehydrated meals from Dehydrated Freeze Dried Meals - Summit To Eat - Camping & Adventure Food I found good value about £5.50 each. Filling, tasty, well to me anyway, but I think a bacon sarnie is the height of Cordon Bleu... and if the weight of water required is added to the dry weight, they are still lighter than Rat Packs)

Warning Nudity...:lol:
The old injury which started to play up was this dislocated shoulder joint sustained years ago. Strangely it never stopped me passing any physical fitness tests, operational requirements or restricted my flexibility after the initial healing.
View attachment 13847

That old injury was reactivated and caused considerable pain especially when I went down in a heap with the Bergan after the foot problem.
All in all an interesting trip. Lessons learned and strangely a boost to my self confidence as at one stage it was the old "Pass of fail" syndrome, but the old bloke passed...and it's nice to be back almost in one piece...:rofl: :rofl:
Thanks for the brilliant write up mate
 

saxonaxe

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#6
Thanks Bop. Apart from the sore foot I'm very well. I spent a month carefully doing 'paper recce's on maps, working out distances, consumption of rations and water etc: then Mother Nature turned the temperature fully up and a 3/4 inch split in my foot wrecked the whole plan...:rofl: :rofl:

You're welcome Joe, glad you enjoyed it. :thumbsup:
 

Ystranc

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#7
Old injuries catch up with us all and dehydration respects no one no matter how fit they are, you're lucky that you haven't suffered permanent damage. Good luck with your recovery and thank you for your honest account of how this kind of thing can happen, even when you know what you're doing.
 
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#8
I spent a month carefully doing 'paper recce's on maps, working out distances, consumption of rations and water etc: then Mother Nature turned the temperature fully up
dehydration respects no one no matter how fit they are, you're lucky that you haven't suffered permanent damage. Good luck with your recovery and thank you for your honest account of how this kind of thing can happen, even when you know what you're doing.
@saxonaxe do you think carrying a water filter / lifestraw would have helped, I know it's not a nice thought but the puddles you passed could have helped maybe ?

@Ystranc :thumbsup:
 

saxonaxe

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#9
Just about to crash out when I saw this Bop. :D

I did carry a 'Drink Safe' water filter, it's the small squeeze bag type and is excellent kit, it forms part of my usual kit. I camped the first night in the reserve, walked the second day when I took the puddle photos and camped the second night in the wood where I heard the military gunfire. I got an early start the next day (trying to beat the heat) and had been walking for nearly a couple of hours when my foot went at about 09.30hrs.
One of my plans was to back track all the way back to the puddles but by the dried puddles where I was at that time I was pretty certain that the puddles in the photo would have dried up during the day. I have some more photos which really sum up the area, non dairy farming country so no water troughs. Even the gully beside the track was just black mud.
No water here...:(


P1040888.JPG


Above is a poor photo taken from the bus later but typical, flat fields with standing crops and little chance of finding water, so I couldn't risk stomping around the fields in 80F+ in the hope of finding any, especially when I had a known water supply point to head for. It was just getting there that taxed the 'ol boy...a bit...:rofl:

Thinking about it I did see in other places huge mobile water tanker trailers and reels of water pipe on trailers. A borrowed image....
water reel.jpg

So I imagine the drill is to tow the water tank out to the field, connect it up to the mobile pipe and it saves keeping water ditches clear, running permanent water pipes or rapidly dehydrating old geezers from cutting the farmer's plastic pipes when desperate for a drink...:rofl:
 

1 shot willie

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#10
Hi Sax.

Really enjoyed your honest and excellent write-up and pictures thanks for sharing mate.:thumbsup:
I think everything has been said above.
A large majority of younger men would not have had the strength of character nor the grit to accomplish what you have just done.
Age is just a number....but old injuries and unexpected events take their toll on everyone.

73!!!!.........respect to you mate :bow::bow::bow:

You veteran ROYALS just can't lay down can you ;):D:D
 

saxonaxe

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#11
:D Thanks Willie, I'm sure other forum members would have coped just as well.

" Age is just a number.... "
" with age I'll let you make allowances, but not soddin' excuses." I once heard someone being advised . Personally I think that's not a bad guideline really, without being too silly machco. :)

I'm always one to look on the bright side, so I can now wimp out of going to the gym for a while, at least until my foot heals up. Any excuse.....:rofl: :rofl:.
 
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#15
Hi Sax

Great honest write up , it’s good to reflect on both success and failure (not quite the word I was looking for) and learn for the next time . It sounds to me that the defining issue was the weather and you were otherwise well prepared . As you will know from your service “ no plan survives the first contact “. You adapted and had good sense to retreat when prudent .

I’m preparing myself for a longer distance walk , the gritstone trail and/or the lake wake walk and input from this site and your reflections is helping me prepare my kit and build my plan so thank you for your post trip advice.

Well done and onward ........
 

saxonaxe

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#16
divebuddy

Bopdude said:
@saxonaxe do you think carrying a water filter / lifestraw would have helped, I know it's not a nice thought but the puddles you passed could have helped maybe ?

P1040838.JPG


My filter, always carried, is in the bright green bag second row, right end, below the stainless bottle.
The puddles in the photograph were taken on day 2, my injury occurred on day 3. In the heat with an injury I wasn't going to back track for miles in the hope that the puddles had not dried up..because the puddles close to where I was injured were now just damp patches. I assumed the other puddles would have dried up too.
Personally, if I know where water is I'll always make towards it, not back track track hoping that
I might find water still remained where it had 20 hours before. Not puddles and certainly, not in those temperatures anyway.
It's just a personal decision I appreciate, but goes against training and instinct for me.