Long Time, No Blog

Well I have been really rubbish at keeping the blog up to date. It has been a bit manic at work and I haven’t found time to do very much else during the day. It pays the bills though.

In fact we have done lots and lots of walking. After the agonies of the C2C, I now have a new pair of Raichle boots which are the comfiest bits of rubber and leather imaginable. I have also been to see a Podiatrist, who spent literally minutes looking at my feet and has given me (Yes! Given! NHS is a brilliant thing) some insoles that are way, way better than the ones I have spent the better part of £150 on over the years.

Overlooking Auxerre
We have also been to France. About 6 miles south of Auxerre in Burgundy country is a converted Dove Cote attached to a genuine wine making estate. Look them up –
Domaine Borgnat. You can see the dove cote to one side of the courtyard on their web page background.
We often buy a few boxes of wine while away touring around France (no surprise there then I hear you say!!). When we get back to the UK we drink it and realize that without the context of the local food and ambiance, it tastes like shi… sorry mum …terrible. Their wine still tastes really, really nice.
And we’ve run out. Damn – good excuse to go back again according to Steffi.

This was a brilliant place for walking. We covered well over a hundred miles in the fortnight, barely using the same bit of footpath twice. The villages are quite stunning. Many of them have a bar in them for a quick Perrier (hahahaha), though few do food! We always used to rely on a small bar in the middle of nowhere to knock up a Croque Monsieur/Madame, but not any more. If you don’t mind crisps for lunch you are okay. Otherwise, do what we do and pack a bottle of wine, decanted into a couple of lightweight water bottles, a pile of cheese, pate and a baguette. Perfect.
You must try a drink called Desperados though. The first time you try it, it tastes a little like shandy, but then you find yourself slurring your words and you quickly realize it is nearly 6% alcohol – very refreshing though.

There are lots and lots of big, little and small birds of prey (BBOP, LBOP and SBOP) around. If you have read previous blog entries you will know that my knowledge of birds barely stretches to spotting the difference between a pigeon and, well, anything else so recognizing the difference between a BBOP and an LBOP is pretty good for me.

As we wandered around the vineyards we could smell the pong of wild boar. We didn’t see any this year; last year we were in the Languedoc region and saw a few snuffling away to themselves – along with a whole bunch of butch blokes in fluorescent tabards taking pot shots at them.

Christmas came and went in a blink. With New Year though, we went camping near Canterbury. Now that was a tad chilly. It got down to minus 6. So, it was time to go shopping. Given such an excellent excuse for buying a new sleeping bag and extra thick Thermarest, I can now go down to -20, admittedly I would have to wear all my clothes. And probably still have a bit of a shiver going on. But I was wonderfully comfortable. In case you are wondering, Steffi already has a comfy, over-the-top-of-the-range sleeping bag, so she was fine.

So what’s next? Well a few years ago, a chap called John Dixon came up with a challenge walk in the Trough of Bowland; he called it The Bowland-Pendle Challenge Trail. Not to be confused with the Bowland Challenge, organised by the Bowland Pennine MRT, this one is supposed to be 46 miles done in 24 hours. Steffi’s ill at the moment, but knowing that it is irrelevant whether she gets better or not (anyone who knows Steff will understand); we thought we would break it up into a 4 day walk. This turns out to be nearer 60 miles, because of the inconvenient places they build B&Bs and hotels these days.
Day 1 is the longest day at 18 miles. It starts in Langho, goes over Pendle Hill, through Worston, Downham and Sawley; ending up in Bolton-By-Bowland our first night.
Day 2 is a little over 16 miles and takes us up through Slaidburn heading west over the moors (we might even be able to spot some chess playing grouse again or branch out into Mornington Pheasant) we go over Dunsop Fell up to Whitendale and down by the River Dunsop to Dunsop Bridge.
Day 3 is a nice and relaxing day at 12 miles. We first go back up onto the moors and travel south over Sykes, Holme House, Wolf and Saddle Fells for the final overnight in Chipping.
Day 4 is the shortest at only 11 miles. The highlight of the day should be the view from the top of Longridge fell, before getting back to the car in Langho.

If all goes well, look forward to a full report on where we stayed and how we got on when we return.

- Steve.


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