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  • Back in the saddle…

    …so to speak. Actually this was another of those walks that I had planned to do, abandoned once and then a couple of days beforehand thought ‘well why not?’

    This was an urban walk – and then some, as it was a walk home from work, but taking a slightly more meandering route than December’s version…subsequently it clocked in at 10.74 miles. That was 1.4 miles greater than the last time that I walked home from work.

    Although not the world’s most visually interesting walk, my intention was to take in the distant views out to Winter Hill, Pendle Hill, Longridge and Parlick. The weather had other ideas! For let me tell you dear reader, it rained…constantly. I think there may have been one fifteen-minute spell were the heaven’s temporarily shut up shop. Forgiving the pun, this actually did put a dampener on my anticipated views, although I did see winter hill every-so-often.

    A little torment that the walk featured was that I would pass by no less than seven drinking establishments- thank heavens for the rain’ as a sunnier day might well have had me call in at each pub and if this were to be the case I might only have made it to pub number three (more likely – two!).

    Spot the Yew Tree...no, neither could I!
    Spot the Yew Tree…no, neither could I!
    Blue and White bells

    I’d left work – in a slight rain at 12:00 but it was to be half an hour later before I got my phone out to snap the first landmark of The Yew Tree Inn at (interestingly enough)Yew Tree Road just outside Ormskirk. I’ve only ever been in the place once and it left no lasting memories, good or bad so I take it the food must have been ‘meh’! Certainly not tempting enough to entice me in – even from the rain. I walked on and instead of turning left onto Heskin Lane and ultimately joining the race-track that is the A570, moved on to Narrow Moss Lane, pausing only to take a photo of these delightful little Bluebells and what look like white Bluebells, I’ve become a lot more observant of things like this since…my last walk home from work. The road at this point was quiet but not threateningly so (yes, I do know how that sounds!).

    Cool name for a pub – the kicking donkey
    The road sign for Heaton's Bridge Road.
    The road sign for Heaton’s Bridge Road.

    Soon enough I was passing by my second pub of the day, the wonderfully named “Kicking Donkey”. I’ve never been inside this pub, to be honest I don’t think I’ve passed it more than one hundred times in the last fifteen years. To say it’s remote is something of an understatement, I’m not even sure that they take card payments for services! It was by this time that I’d more or less run out of thoughts…this is not new! At times like this my fantastic memory kicks in and I can recall a couple of dozen songs to think along – I don’t sing out loud, it’s all internal and shows (to me) that I am now totally relaxed. Gillan’s ‘Born To Kill’ was one of the first songs. There really was not a lot at which I could look with regards to the scenery!

    Horses, horses everywhere
    Horses, horses everywhere
    Horses, horses everywhere
    Horses, horses everywhere

    My next major landmark – on a walk with precious few of them, was the junction of Heaton’s Bridge Road. Clearly this was a physical change in direction for me as I now began to head west from the previous north and of course the rain’s direction was not quite so ‘in my face’, a blessing. Each time I catch the 375 bus I vow to myself that I will look out at the spectacular scenery over to Winter Hill and the Forest of Bowland…never do I actually remember to do this. Walking on this route I thought would avail to me far greater opportunities to gaze over at the far-off fells, but the clouds put paid to that prospect! With the distant views gone the more immediate ones took a step up in impact, I needed a view!

    The Heaton's Bridge
    The Heaton’s Bridge

    After what seemed to be only half-a-mile I was within reach of yet another pub – The Heaton’s Bridge, again another establishment that I have not yet seen fit to visit. We have passed this on a number of occasions and on a sunny Sunday afternoon this place regularly appears to be teaming with with clients, today, perhaps not surprisingly, it was really quite dead! After passing by this pub I was within just a few yards away from where I will turn off on my next walk…yes another so I must be enjoying them. This was at Drummersdale Lane (or ‘The Moss’ as it is referred to by the locals). The charm of the environment is its total lack of…charm, there’s nothingness in superabundance and paradoxically this makes it a huge draw for me – another walker seen on route whilst walking on the Moss is so rare an event as likely to be labelled a collector’s item!

    Of course there is a Monkey Puzzle here!
    Of course there is a Monkey Puzzle here!

    I passed the ‘odd house’ next. I refer to this as ‘odd’ because it often has objects within its confines that one just don’t expect to see; such as a Llama, a wind-turbine and even something so banal as an Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle) tree, yes I know other people have these but with this house one kind of expects this tree to be here.


  • The ‘Ha, I never fell over on this walk’, walk

    Easter was here so of course Chris was working it! I had planned on doing a Pendle or Amble walk on Good Friday but the weather conspired to make me stay at home and be harassed by the cat…and my PC! Likewise Saturday was off the agenda as well and on Sunday we had a family get-together to attend. This left just Monday but I do like walking on Bank Holiday Mondays.

    So, having called in at McDonalds for breakfast with Chris and then dropping her off, I went home, got ready and left the house to head to Rivington, Pendle could be saved for the next bank holiday.

    Eventually, I left the car parked at Rivington Barn at 10:48 and headed straight down the lovely wide, hardly ever utilised driveway which leads to the heart of Rivington – okay it is not a big heart, shall we just say the part which features the village ‘Green’ and tea room! The plan was to do part of the Anglezarke Amble in reverse. This meant starting at the end – the end of the Amble that is, on Sheep House Lane. From here I tip-toed around the mud, dropped down a staircase and ambled along side the Dean Brook and into the Yarrow Valley. The Yarrow Valley is considerably bigger than the River Yarrow itself, so to pinpoint me I should indicate that I was walking past the western edge of the Yarrow Reservoir. Many dog walkers were out today and I caught sight of one family whose ‘Labrador’ looked to be on the big and frisky side. It was only when I caught up to the group that I discovered that the dog was far less commonly found than a mere Labrador. The dog was in fact a Leonberger. And it was big softie – thankfully. I spent a few minutes talking to the family and discussing my belief that the ‘thing’ which attacks me (and anyone else who passes it) on Catherine Edge is a Caucasian Shepherd (a bloody angry one at that!).

    The water Chute / run-off from the Yarrow Reservoir.
    The water Chute / run-off from the Yarrow Reservoir.

    Having bid my farewell to the family and its gorgeous dog, I took a left when facing more or less half way along the embankment of the Yarrow reservoir and into territory that I had never previously ambled in – in this direction. So I was extremely happy to identify the water chute from the Yarrow. This is generally an uplifting sight when doing the route the other way around as it indicates there is less than a mile to go. Today it served to indicate that I had not (yet) got lost. I descended the slope, turned right and crossed Knowsley Lane. The Anglezarke Reservoir sprawled out majestically on my left hand side whilst the odd cyclist passed on my right. I wasn’t on this section of road for long as soon enough I took a left in order to skirt around the Anglezarke Reservoir some more instead of bearing with the road. From here onwards the terrain became more rural and more sylvanian as I passed through various sections of the woods which cover a large section of this area. Again, another ‘Amble’ landmark – ‘the cowpat path’ filled me with memories of my first time of traversing this route in february of 2016.

    It was around this time when I came to notice a walker behind me who was beginning to catch up to me – but not in a creepy / stalking sense. Within a few moments, as I was deciding whether to go left or right, another couple of dozen walkers caught up with us both. I enquired as to the destination of the left hand path and the lady whom I had asked advised me that it would lead to White Coppice – a result!

    Part of the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association.
    Part of the East Lancs Long Distance Walkers Association.

    The lady was one of a number of walkers out that day from the East Lancs L.D.W.A. We spent some moments walking very briskly and chatting away about the walks that this group organises. I was a member of the West Lancs group…but with regret I had let my membership expire. The group’s walking speed was militarial – I’d hazard a guess that we were doing at least 4 m.p.h. through the woods on route to White Coppice. I did notice that the banter of the group was very relaxed, somewhat mildly ribbing each other, and genuinely high spirited. As there were also a number of dog walkers with the group this did lead to some more pedestrian style and gate traversals – memories of 2012’s Pendle Witch Walk came flooding back in glorious technicolour. All the same, we made speedy process to White Coppice where I bid my farewells boasting ‘I’m off up Great Hill now…’ this seemed to impress nobody!

     

    A dead tree caught my attention at White Coppice
    A dead tree caught my attention at White Coppice

    The route from just passed Stronstrey Bank, to the rise of Great Hill was actually surprisingly busy. It appears that this is the preferred route of ascension for Great Hill, I think I counted twenty or so other walkers. This rise used to be a fearful one for me…the spectacle that was Steel Fell last December has since toughened me up and I now no longer feel quite as fearful of this grade three climb. That being said, it still gives ones’ calf muscles a good old tune-up. I was trying not to go flying up the hill as this can upset other walkers and well it tires me out quicker and by this time I had only walked something like five of my intended twelve miles. Of course it’s always nice to pass people who are obviously much younger and fitter than oneself and if they just happened to be two young women in their twenties and wearing completely inappropriate footwear – Wellies – for Great Hill???

     

    then this only added to the pleasure.

    Great Hill looking deceptively closer than what it really was.
    Great Hill looking deceptively closer than what it really was.
    Round Loaf across the valley.
    Round Loaf across the valley.

    In time I joined up with a lovely couple from Bromley Cross in Bolton. Our paths had crossed a couple of times at the start of the climb and on the first rise, now I decided to have a good old natter and they were great company, it was especially nice reminiscing about my times in Bolton. As the couple were not in any particular hurry – I can never say the same when I have to get back for Chris, I decided to put my foot down at something like a half mile’s distance from the ruins of Drinkwaters. Funnily enough, three more walkers were draped over these ruins which changed my mind about having a rest here. Great Hill was now looming just around an exceptionally large corner!

     

     

     

    Great Hill's cross shelter
    Great Hill’s cross shelter

    Now I decided it was time to make a strident bid for the summit. It was twelve fifty

    The lovely couple from Bromley Cross.
    The lovely couple from Bromley Cross.cross shelter.

    five and I wondered if I could make it to the top of Great Hill for one o’clock. The answer was a resounding “no!” Once more, I had fallen for the trap of thinking I was closer to Great Hill than what I really was – all the same I did get there by five past one so all credit to me I believe. By this time I had walked almost six miles, over various types of terrain and up a fairly steep incline. To say that I was impressed with my performance was understating things: I had a celebratory flask of coffee at the summit As I was about to leave, the other seated walkers were somewhat insular, continuing to talk amongst themselves as opposed to engaging me, my lovely couple from Bromley Cross summited the slope. Of course we then took each other’s photos and I gave them my web site address (wonder if they’ve visited!).

    The time to leave the summit had approached, once more I bid my farewells and set off due south in the direction of the looming giant of Winter Hill and its associated ironwork (the many masts). I knew this to be an easy route – as long as the visibility held up (it did) and I frequently reached for my pocketed camera in case last year’s deer should happen to spring across Anglezarke Moor in front of me (it didn’t!). The slabs laid across the moor some years ago have definitely settled in place now. It was possible to observe where the moorland has started to reclaim the space they have invaded as the cottongrass and ubiquitous water vy for dominance over the grey stone outsider presence. Nature seldom simply accepts what man has willed upon it and I do doubt whether these facilitating stepping stones which snake across the moor, will still be so useful (even accessible) in another fifty years?

    It can beckon all it wants, I'm not doing Winter Hill today!
    It can beckon all it wants, I’m not doing Winter Hill today!
    The end of the facilitating path across Anglezarke Moor.
    The end of the facilitating path across Anglezarke Moor.

    It did seem to take just as long to reach the bottom of Great Hill than it did for me to reach the highest point of my route at the top of Spitlers Edge. I had dropped down by a mere twenty metres or so, but to my legs it seemed like much more when I was climbing up Redmonds Edge followed by the gentlest of all ascensions of Anglezarke Moor’s highest ground. From here there would be a very pleasant drop down to Higher Anshaws – parallel to Will Narr, as the paved route has now been extended to just short of Rivington Road. It has to be said, this was easy walking. I had already decided that I would not be bagging Winter Hill again today, no matter how tempting the prospect might be. I had another climb to tackle today and this would certainly test my fitness.

     

     

    Hard to discern from a 2D perspective, the path swiftly shoots up to Catter Nab.
    Hard to discern from a 2D perspective, the path swiftly shoots up to Catter Nab.
    Wooden bridges serve as pointers to the path.
    Wooden bridges serve as pointers to the path.

    On the corresponding walk last year I noticed a path that had not previously engaged my curiosity. It seemed to start in a hollow area of land just next to Rivington Road and climbed up quite rapidly to Catter Nab near the beginning of the path to Noon slack. Despite visiting the area another few times, I had managed to stave off the traversal of this path…until today. Since the very start of today’s walk I had known that I would be attempting this new diversion and now was the time to set feet on what proved to be the hardest section of this round.

    Even the descent was difficult as all around was a somewhat sheer drop and ubiquitous mud to send me sliding to a watery end. I had no alternative than to take my time, pausing frequently to catch my racing breath. The very obvious path vanished from in front of me and reappeared at the other side of a minor brook. The crossing of this watercourse was not difficult and before long I was on another path altogether and heading along to the newly planted area of saplings destined to cloak the hillside in a deciduous shroud. Yet another path ran off at a right angle on my left and I duly followed it up into a sylvanian ascent the likes of which my tortured calves are still not thanking me for! This was hard going. Not only was the slope steep but it was decidedly slippery in parts. I was following three dismounted mountain bikers up the incline, one of which, at the top of the climb dubiously informed me – ‘there’s no right of way here mate, you’ll have f’t climb over’t fence’. Once I’d despatched with my walking pole and bag, the fence proved to be no obstacle and thankfully I was now on the path which I had hoped would be here…Catter Nab to Dovecote.

    The Yarrow and High Bullough reservoirs come into view.
    The Yarrow and High Bullough reservoirs come into view.
    Pigeon Tower and for some reason my feet decide to make me turn right here.
    Pigeon Tower and for some reason my feet decide to make me turn right here.

    For the record, as far as paths that are comfortable to walk on – forget this one, it’s horrid! Not only does this path turn into a stream every so often, it is undulating on a microscopic scale, no two adjacent stones are on the same horizontal level. This is not a path after which your feet will thank you. From here i continued my weary way down towards the Pigeon Tower and then for some reason, which escapes me, I turned right and headed towards what I already knew was an even worse, even more bumpy path which I have come to name “Boulder Road”. This section of the route is largely rocks and recycled tarmac as well as various other surfaces. It’s direct, I can remember directly falling here on a number of instances. But, as it is a short section, somewhere, in the now emerging sunshine, was a treat for me. Last year, when I walked a similar route I was tormented by the prospect of a refreshing and well-earned ice-cream, for which I did not have enough time to queue-up and buy.

     

     

    And the ice cream that I was 'owed' from last year
    And the ice cream that I was ‘owed’ from last year
    The holy grail, the ice cream van!
    The holy grail, the ice cream van!

    This year, I did! Even though the queue was small, it still took the best side of ten minutes to get served. Perhaps, being at an altitude of around four hundred feet above sea level was muddying the minds of the waiting patrons. I’m not a psychologist, I do not know, but for whatever the reason the delay was a factor for as long as I did not have my ice cream…then it paled into insignificance. This year I did have time to queue-up, this year I hadn’t got stressed out by the mighty throng ambling their insanely slow way up Rivington Pike and this year I hadn’t had the living daylights frightened out of me by that insane dog on Catherine Edge or had a minor mud bath at Greenhill Farm…this year I’d earned that damn ice cream!

    Total mileage = 11.75

    Ascent / descent around 1,500 – 1,800′

    Terrain – so many!

    Song of the walk – again the fantastic ‘I need to forget’ by the wonderful Joanna Koziel and Chris Nahorny.

    I’ll be back next year!!!

    Five star walk.

     

     


  • A Wythburn Round

    Owing to the festivities of Friday night – a work’s Christmas ‘do’, I felt a little fragile on Saturday and decided to opt out of the planned walk with Karl up to the summit of bull hill. Instead I opted in to Karl and Sue’s walk on Sunday which would feature “walking a round over Steel Fell near Grasmere” … sounds almost innocuous doesn’t it? Read on.

    As I drove from Southport to Darwen via Bolton at 06:30 I couldn’t help but notice there was a lot of mist around. This was evident in Croston and then again in Bolton. I had reservations. All the same, it appeared to have lifted by the time I got to Darwen but then two hours later as we set off from Steel End car park, next to Thirlmere (what isn’t next to Thirlmere?), it became all too apparent that the mist was here again. Not that I mind mist-meandering, because  let’s be honest, we do go off course when the grey stuff descends upon us. Why only last year I completed (again with Sue and Karl, and Lynne) the Fairfield Horseshoe in mist (the first five fells were!), so it’s not as if I am unaccustomed to traipsing around in the grey nothingness.

    The first quarter of a mile was deceptively easy, too easy. A gentle stroll along a tarmac road…we should have known better and in fact Karl did, the swine! All too soon the terrain transformed into the Devil’s playground as the grass became shorter and thus more slippery and the gradient seemed to be imbued with a wicked grin, an inaudible mocking sneer that one senses on the very periphery of one’s subconscious. This was no longer a walk, it was a trial, a battle against gravity and I was losing, badly!

    I gave up many times on that first ridiculous slant! Then, after a brief stop at an abandoned quad-bike, which practically screamed the word “PORTENT” at me,…the terrain went from forty-five degrees to more like thirty, hell had arrived in the lakes and its resident demon was after me. I watched Sue and Karl become engulfed in the fog – after they had shrunk to the size of garden peas! For some time I was on my own, to be honest, that was the best thing for me, I could vent, childishly vent that this walk was {multiple expletives deleted} / quite challenging. Within an eternity, just about, I happened to stumble my way up to my waiting co-walkers.

    All smiles and thumbs up Karl mocked “Bit of a steep section that isn’t it!”. I refrained from swearing, much! For a time we then traversed a much nicer gradient, but now came the second wave of walking nastiness – the boot swallowing underfoot water. We were quite definitely within a marsh. Nothing on any of the walks I had done this year could have prepared me for this wave (pun intended) of slosh from practically every footstep. I thought Longworth Moor was bad, pah! Child’s play compared to this lurking green lagoon!

    We reached a summit, or did we? The fells of the central lake district have one thing in common, multiple rises, knolls and outcrops. In the absence of a triangulation pillar – although these are seldom really at the highest point, one never can be truly sure of where the apex of the hill really is – unless one has the desire to roam around the apparent top of the fell with a g.p.s. device taking numerous readings…most of us don’t want to do this. A little time passed and we undulated with the terrain, up and down whilst sloshing around…all good clean misery! By way of chance we happened upon yet another summit and decided to take lunch there.

    It was nice to sit down and take a breather, but all too soon the demon who was controlling the weather took note of our buoyant disposition and cranked the temperature down a tad…just enough to make (for me at least) shivering the order of the day. I had to stand up and move around or else give in to the cold. Often I heard distant people noises. Having now completed the walk I can imagine that what I heard were the faraway expressions of woe of others who had just lost a knee’s-length to the wretched marsh. This is a horrid terrain! I had the feeling that we were halfway into the walk…I was to learn much later that we were not.

    We met two gentlemen who had come up from Grasmere to do a similar ’round’ to ours. After a few moments of chatting they bid their respective farewells but within another few minutes we were upon them again sat atop Calf Crag. This was my second Wainwright of the day and in all honesty what made this summit more worthy for inclusion in his pocket guides; than Ladyside Pike and Sale How; to the late great Alfred Wainwright, eludes me.

    Next we picked up the Coast to Coast path…and without realising it, at some point put it back down again as we entered another bog / marsh / wet cauldron from the mouth of Hades! For over an hour we seemed to circumnavigate the fog and mist and wet. Sue and Karl were of the collective thought ‘we might as well do Ullscarf now’. I’d heard of this summit before but had forgotten that it is in fact a mountain and to put it in to perspective – it’s ten feet higher than Ingleborough! Thankfully the climb up to the summit from our aspect was far more forgiving than any approach to the Yorkshire icon and soon we were within eyesight of it.

    On our way up to the top of Ullscarf we were treated to views of nearing fells which seemed to emerge from the murk, announce their presence and then promptly bugger off back into the mist once more! Sue and Karl suddenly became engrossed in the pursuit of Broken Spectres – I thought this was a James Bond villain! Apparently (pun also intended!) this is a phenomena whereby “the magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun causes a halo of light to be cast around the shadow of the subject”. I maintain that they both hadn’t been drinking enough water and had the auras associated with migraines, possibly owing to dehydration. I lied and insisted that I too could see what weirdness they were hallucinating…my colourblind eyes do not afford me such luminary luxury, unless I have a migraine! We played a short game of guess the fell…amazingly when one’s feet are wringing wet through this isn’t half as much fun as one might think!

    I was a bit freaked to notice that the afternoon was getting on. The light that we did have (not so bloody much) would soon be fading and a dreaded the prospect of being stuck out on this sodden moor at dusk or even darker. I must admit to giving in to my doubts and worries at this point. I thought we were lost, we had a g.p.s. with us but it seemed to be saying left, right, left like some insane Regimental Sargent Major. Helvellyn and her cronies across the valley were joyfully laughing at us. But if that range across the void was not Helvellyn then who was it? I seriously did not care which mountain range was gaping at us! I wanted off the moor, now! We ascended and descended, I fell over, then fell over some more! I lost a leg, then I lost the other one. I was black and blue and wet and miserable. I do find it difficult to believe that some people find this enjoyable.

    Ultimately, thanks to Sue’s magnificent navigating and Karl’s almost infectious sense of optimism, we arrived back in a sloping field from where we could clearly perceive Thirlmere on our left and Steel Fell on our right. We’d almost made it back. We descended a third of the way down the field, then Sue theorized that there might not be an easy exit to the road. So, we ascended to the head of the field once more only to be reassured by Sue that there was a right of way after all – this would later manifest itself as a blooming big gate! Before we reached it I had time to fall over twice more and to turn the sky blue with a barrage of expletives!

    Finally, a little after four o’clock we reached Sue’s awaiting car, we were safe…if not altogether dry!

    Summary.

    I hate wet field walking!

    I may well be in the minority from the perspective of ‘seasoned walkers’ but in regard of humans in general I have numbers on my side when I question, “What’s wrong with real paths? Y’know the type that Fix the Fells and the National Trust spend pounds sterling on repairing every year.” Why do we have to get so dogmatic in our belief that grass is best when it comes to trudging up and sliding down the Lake District paths? In summer this walk…would have been just as bad. That water comes from rain and as everybody knows the Lake District is the rainiest part of England. Thus it would take a really dry summer before I came back to this particular environment. In future I vow to stick to real ‘on the ground’ paths. One’s that have evolved or been constructed and don’t just vanish from before our very eyes. Pendle has them in spates! Ultimately I have to say that I was glad of the exercise, it’s all been a bit easy whilst Chris has been recuperating. In addition it is always great to be out and about with Karl and Sue. One thing is for sure, next February, when next I traverse the God awful Longworth Moor whilst walking the Anglezarke Amble, I won’t feel quite so bad about a mile-wide stretch of marshland now that I’ve walked this route!

    Walk distance: 8.5 miles

    Ascent: 2,000′

    Time: six and a bit hours

    Song(s) of the walk: Chandelier by both Sia and Mollie Bylett (Cover) 

     


  • Winterdan

    Over this last year I have shown a bit of an interest in “going that bit further” doing something for the sake of testing myself and seeing just what I can put up with. On the walking front this has meant reaching such summits as Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Scafell Pike and next year I hope to add Scafell, Helvellyn via Striding Edge and all the ‘horseshoe walks’ that I can muster…plus March’s Right Pig Walk over Whernside and Ingleborough taking in Simon Fell and Park Fell is set to be a real tester at 13 miles…or 17 if you measure in Yorkshire mileage!

    Anyway, that’s all well and good but what about when I can’t get out and about walking? Y’know when I have to go to work etc? My job can be challenging enough with the clients repeatedly forgetting their passwords…or worse still telling each other their passwords…and relax! Although strictly speaking I am not that religious…I am a Zen Quaker – “find your own God and he probably doesn’t need you to build him a church!” I have been interested in the Ramadan commitment since working with someone a number of years ago whom used to do the whole nill by mouth from sunrise to sunset…I used to feel so sorry for her..but strangely drawn to the practice of fasting on a daily basis.

    This year I was all set to actually try this out for myself…but the first weekend of Ramadan was set to collide with my walk up Skiddaw which I had been planning on doing for about four years. Skiddaw without water (especially on the day when I did it; with the temperature at nearby Keswick recorded at 26° Celsius) whilst not exactly suicidal, would have been a really stupid practice and to be honest…impossible. I postponed my attempt at Ramadan until next year…Then Tornado Taz turned up!

    We are all too aware that there has been a natural disaster in the form of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines on Friday (8 November), causing catastrophic damage. It is reportedly the strongest storm ever to make landfall, hitting an area where thousands of people are already homeless after an earthquake in mid-October. The plight of these unfortunate people has so affected a colleague of mine Dr Tasleem Shakur (and twenty five of his students) to such an extent that he has decided to engage in a little Winter Ramadan, nill by mouth from dawn ’till dusk for charity.

    Here is the JustGiving website address for you dear reader to sponsor them

    My involvement? Well Taz was aware that I was aiming to try Ramadan this year so he told me of his charitable act and asked (hmmm!) if I would join them in their fasting…I honestly could not think of a good enough reason to say “NO”!. So I’m on-board! I must stress that I am not doing this for charity. You cannot sponsor me.  I am doing this in support of Taz and his students and at any time I could jump ship and eat or drink something. My plan is to do this for seven days finishing at dusk on the 26th of November (that’s a Tuesday folks!). But, if I am doing well I may well stay with it until dusk on Thursday.

    Day 1
    For me this started this morning. I had my last drink at 07:15 on the bus to work and my last food was a sugar-free polo at 07:00 also on the bus.

    How do I feel? Well there’s no point in liying about it, I’ve felt better! I have a slight but persistent headache on the left hand temple side and can feel myself getting irritable a bit quicker than normal. A colleague has just brought to me an huge box of biscuits as an act of gratitude for sorting out her laptop – isn’t life great some times??? I have no qualms about quitting, it isn’t a face-saving exercise etc…I do just want to see how far I can go. However, given my more distant past history of cluster headaches etc then if this gets much worse (and I mean a lot worse) then I’ll just go zero calories – water, water and more water. For now, so far so good 🙂

    Day 2
    How’s it going? I had a bit of a gorge last evening when I got in from work – probably shouldn’t do that, well we all make mistakes! This morning I had one of Tesco’s pretty gigantic Spanish style omelets – the Chorizo from which first gave me heartburn then a heavy gut, this seems to have melted into my system now…Only to be replaced with the grumpy side-effects of Hypoglycemia, I am somewhat anxious and more than a bit irritable…At this rate weekend is going to be a real blast!!!

    Day 3
    What’s up? Today was surprisingly easier than I could have dared to hope. I really filled up for breakfast consuming 3/4 of the other Tesco Spanish style Omelete and a chicken breast that I had sneekily cooked the night before. Subsequently all was quiet on the gastric front. However from out of nowhere I had developed a backache that I just knew would get better once I had taken a couple of painkillers which I had to hand. One problem…NILL BY MOUTH!  At four twenty five in the afternoon I went to the shop on campus in order to buy a packet of sugar free polos for post fast and in order to ask Faz at what time sunset was due to be. Imagine my delight when I was informed that it had been FIFTEEN MINUTES earlier! Awesome I could drink again which I did say out loud and which prompted him to ask if I was fasting to which I confirmed and was further delighted to receive a free Wonka bar…This day was just getting better. I returned to the office and my colleague Ian (whom had been expertly doctoring an I-Phone all day) couldn’t make me a cup of coffee quick enough! My first cup of coffee for ten hours was wonderful, the painkillers consumed defeated the backache and all was well with my world!

    Day 4
    The long slog! I envisioned today being tough and in all honesty it proved me right so far. Having had my last food at 07:10 and finishing my last coffee at 07:20 and with nobody around to make sure I don’t cheat (you’re only cheating yourself…) I have had to self-regulate…and I am very good at it too! Although I am really hungry now and would almost kill for a drink, I am managing, I appear to have what I would call good passive determination – I am good at not doing things. Of course it would be good if I was like my friend Karl who is excellent at doing things (Leaden Boot Challenge etc) or Jenny my boss (Yorkshire Three Peaks) and I do wonder if once you become aware of your strengths in one aspect one can then channel them in order to become better in other aspects, can I become as good a ‘doer’ as I am a ‘not doer’? We’ll see!

    Day 5
    ¿Tienes hambre? ¡Si un poco! Sorry for the temporary Spanish diversion but I have to vary things to a degree in order to keep this relatively interesting. Sunday turned out to be just as easy or as difficult as Saturday was. There was one exception, on Saturday Chris drove herself to and from work, on Sunday I drove her to and from work and had to wait another five minutes for her boss to stop gabbing on and open the (insert expletive here) doors in order to let them out! I don’t like waiting for people and waiting for people when one is hungry is just not nice!

    Day 6
    Argh a Monday Many people don’t like Monday…I tend to flit in-between treating it as any other day and loathing resentment. Today it’s just another day. I had really bad stomach ache on the walk to the bus stop this morning and I think that this might be down to the consumption of some cruciferous (Broccoli and Cauliflower) vegetables that I believe were out of date – they did come out of the packet in a bitty fashion. The stomach ache has now more or less passed – thankfully sans embarrassment, all that remains now is the eternal thirst. Roll on Five O’clock or whatever time of day sunset is today!

    Day 7
    Come Va? Yesterday I saw that the fasting is beginning to take its’ toll on Taz. As a seasoned faster this is a little disheartening to the rest of us (well me anyway) and today I am feeling a bit similar. I felt fine at breakfast, which this morning was remainder chicken breast and noodles, and even better when walking to the bus stop – that’s more of a walk then I take credit for really as it is roughly a mile away from home! Anyway on the bus I started to feel a bit drained. Then when I got to work we are still in the throws of the great student password change so all hell was gently oozing out. By the time of the first lull I was feeling decidedly queezy every time that I stood up. As a regular sufferer (do people suffer from) Labyrinthitis I am no stranger to feeling dizzy and it is nothing to worry about. I do feel that I will be able to continue fasting from sunrise to 16:30 each day until Friday but am now in a bit of a rush to get it all over with as I do miss my mid morning, lunchtime and mid afternoon cuppas! All the same the one that I now let myself have at 16:30 is nothing short of scrumptious (I always hoped to be able to type that word one day!).

    Day 8
    Ist es weit? Hmmm German? The observant amongst you will hardly fail to recall that previously I declared my intention to stay on this Sunrise (well 07:00) to Sunset (well 16:30) fasting for just the one week – starting on Wednesday 20th November and finishing at Sunset (!) on Tuesday 26th – that would have been seven days. However and Taz and the twenty-five Geography students are continuing on until Friday of this week…so will I. I do have to declare that this is not a reluctant continuation, I have been bitten by the fasting bug (well something had to get bitten!) and will be doing Summerdan next year. Summerdan? I hear you retort. Well I can’t really refer to what I am doing as Ramadan for a few reasons: 1. I am not a Muslim 2 I am not going to be doing it in the Islamic month of Ramadan as this starts on June the 29th 2014 when I shall be on holiday. Instead I shall aim to start my daily fasting on Monday May 5th and finish on Sunday June the first. And if today is anything to go off…I’ll be a right grumpy old git!

    Day 9
    The end in sight. Tomorrow signifies the end of this bout of fasting and I can say that I am in two minds about the whole thing. On the one hand I have enjoyed the challenge, I believe I have met the challenge and would love to try again for longer. However, longer can be dual-applied in this scenario as the daily fast in summer will be from about 4:00 a.m. until 21:30. In addition to this my poultry ten days pales into insignificance compared to Ramadan which as we all know lasts for twenty eight days. That’s a lot of hurt and self denial but on the other hand once more…anything that is worth doing takes a lot of effort…As I said, I am in a dilemna!

    Day 10. ¡Ha terminado! And that was that. The tenth day went by fairly quickly – though I hasten to add that being stuck in a room with other colleagues scoffing and handing out chocolates did strengthen my resolve, a lot! Yes I will do this again. I will do ten days whenever the need arises for charity and I am going to do a pre-emptive Summerdan next year in May. Why May – we are supposedly going on holiday in June / July and to be fasting whilst on holiday is (for me) all kinds of wrong! For my 28 day version next year there will be a welcome addition of …water!


    Thanks for sticking with me folks…Back to the walking soon

     

    Taz wants to get to £1000 for this worthy cause. If you haven’t donated already please spare a thought and some pounds/dollars/euros for those less fortunate than us whom twice in a few weeks have been struck hard by nature’s fury. To donate to this desperate cause visit the JustGiving website here: http://www.justgiving.com/Jonathan-O-Flaherty