A Little Bit About Me

10-2014-01-11-08.53.06This is the walking diary of Lonewalker. My real name is Stuart Greig and I’m an IT consultant working for an American software company, in the UK. I walk the hills at weekends and spend at least two weeks of every year completing a long distance path somewhere in the UK. Before I go any further into my walking history, you should be aware of some of my personal history….

When I was a kid

When I think about it, I actually feel quite deprived. I only discovered the joys of the outdoors in my 40’s, many years beyond what most people would agree is my prime. My parents took us on day trips to places I now consider prime walking areas like the Peak District and North Wales, but we never ventured far from the car and although we were all quite trim and fit, it never crossed our minds to walk any further than we needed to.

I joined the cubs for a short period, but like many of the activities undertaken in my formative years, including the trombone and the air cadets, the cubs lasted only a few short weeks before I was bored and dropped out. This meant I never went on any of the camping or hiking expeditions that people of my age did at the time. I’m not sure I would have appreciated them at the time either. Although many of my friends spoke excitedly on a Monday morning in school of walks they had enjoyed across Kinder Scout and Mam Tor the previous weekend. I just thought “daft sods, fancy tramping across hills all weekend when you could be enjoying yourself”.

The Later Years

All this inactivity, however, inevitably led to middle age spread. My sporting activities may have included a good deal of local league football, in which I excelled, but the social side of the game (i.e. post match drinks and post training drinks) more than made up for any benefit the exercise may have been doing me. Mid-week I was to be found playing snooker, another “sport” that was surrounded by a healthy drinking culture. Long before the responsibilities of a mortgage and a job enforced an early night and sober outlook, I would be spending anything up to 16 hours at a time in the snooker hall playing “a pint a game, best of 19”.

College turned an “amateur” drinking habit into an almost full-time professional one. I was not an alcoholic by any means, but I don’t suppose that I went more than 24 hours in those three years at Preston Polytechnic without a drink of some kind or another. The drinking abated significantly once I was married, but was quickly replaced by food as Christine carried out what she felt were her wifely duties by having my tea on the table promptly each evening.

By the time I reached 40, I was about 25 stone and well on the way to diabetes, coronary heart disease and all sorts of other wonderful weigh-related illnesses. My three children were nearly all grown, the youngest was 13, the oldest 18 and I decided that if I ever were to see my grandchildren I better start to do something to turn my life around. The real catalyst for this was a photo my Mum took at my 40th birthday party.

Read on…

 

51 Responses

  1. Steve Rogers says:

    Hi Stuart,
    We tried to repeat your Penhill walk from Carlton/Melmerby yesterday but were defeated by the stone walls after Harland Hill. We tried both sides of the wall that runs along the route (the maps indicates the path on the E side) but it seems that the landowner has removed any gaps or stiles that existed at the time you did the walk in 2011. Furthermore, a fence topping the wall made it impossible to climb over, even if we wished to (which we didn’t). We ended up reversing the route and taking the path past Howden Lodge back to Carlton.
    We enjoyed the walk up to this point, though it was becoming increasingly rough underfoot over Harland Hill. We ended up doing 9.5 miles of which 2.5 was trying to find the way through. Thought you might like to add a note to your Penhill walk page.
    Regards,
    Steve

  2. Adam says:

    Hi Stuart

    Just wanted to say thanks for a brilliant website, I have just moved to gps and find your gpx files great to learn with, I live in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales and am beginning to trust this as opposed to my old paper maps, which I carry as a backup obviously.

    Great Work

    Adam

  3. Frank says:

    Read with interest your User’s Guide to Memory-Map, especially Part 7 re- iPAQ. One point, I cannot find on both of my iPAQs is to turn off the screen. The only option seems to be very much dimmed but on standby, to re-brighten on touch. I can see that to turn the screen off as you suggest would be a great asset. Thanks, Frank

    • lonewalker says:

      Frank, I wish I could remember how I switched the screen off, but it was so long ago that I used this device, my memory fails me. It may have been achieved using third party software as I recall it wasn’t an easy thing to achieve. Sorry I can’t be of more help, but I hope you get it sorted.

  4. Thanks so much for your great help!

    Shirley

  5. Hello,

    My daughter and I would like to know if we can cycle the Herriot Way? I have injuries that do not allow me to walk it. Where would we rent bikes? What would be a reasonable ride in a day?

    Thanks so much.

    Shirley

    • lonewalker says:

      Shirley, I really don’t think it would be possible to cycle the Herriot Way route itself as much of it uses Public Rights of Way designated as footpaths, which means that cycles are not permitted on them. However, the area around the walk has many miles of quiet lanes and Bridleways (which are Public Rights of Way on which cycles are allowed) and it wouldn’t be too difficult to find some good rides. You could have a look at this site, which are doing supported cycle holidays along the Tour de France route, which starts in Yorkshire, this year: http://www.brigantesenglishwalks.com/tdf.php

  6. Chris Marriott says:

    Hi Stuart,

    Can I ask your advice, as a very mcug more experience hill walker than I am? As you may recall, like you I live in Cheshire, a place not noted for its mountains :). I reckon my fitness on the flat is pretty reasonable – I can do a 10m walk with the Cheshire Ramblers without breaking into a sweat but, as I say, that’s on the flat. I am horribly overweight, although doing my best to try to do something about 7, weighing it this morning at 16st 9lbs.

    I have a tentative goal of doing the C2C next year, and I want to improve my mountain fitness with that as a goal, so I booked for today a guided walk from Glenridding up Helvellyn and Striding Edge and back down the ridge on the other side, whose name eludes me. To say that this walk didn’t go ideally well would be an understatement :). The walk starts with a pretty relentless 1800′ slog up Birkhouse Moor to the large tarn that lies below Helvellyn proper and Striding Edge. Despite numerous breaks, by the time we’d got up there I was starting to feel nauseous and light-headed, which lunch didn’t improve, and by the time we got to the very steep scramble at the end of Striding Edge I was pretty much away with the fairies, not terribly conscious of what I was doing, and that was a state of affairs which lasted lasted most of the way down, until one of the women in the group offered me an “energy gel” sachet – the kind of thing that runners use. The effect was miraculous – within 10m I was feeling absolutely fine again, and finished the walk without problems. When I got home a few minutes ago I weighed myself, having done so this morning, and found that I’d lost 4 lbs over the course of the day.

    Now that I can look back on it rationally, all the symptoms suggest to me that I just ran out of blood sugar, and was probably suffering from dehydration, too (it was a pretty warm day today).

    I’ve often heard of athletes “hitting the wall”, but this was the first time I’ve experienced it myself, and it was a pretty unpleasant experience. I’m not diabetic (had a blood test, purely by chance, only a few weeks ago).

    Do you think this is likely to be just a symptom of running out of energy trying to haul the best part of 17st up Helvellyn? I’m going to try a rather less ambitious mountain walk next weekend and ply myself with sugary food and drink all day long, to see what difference that makes.

    I do hope this posts isn’t inappropriate. Any advice that you (or anyone else) has would be very welcome. I know you’ve already gone through the whole “get fit and lose some weight” on more than one occasion :).

    Thanks,

    Chris

    • lonewalker says:

      Chris, not sure I can help here to be honest. I’ve never experienced light-headedness in the extreme in which you describe it. I do get it sometimes on steep ascents, but it usually only lasts a couple of seconds or so. It could be down to dehydration, but the rejuvenating effects of the gel pouch suggest you could be right, but again I’ve never used one of them so can’t vouch for them. I often take Jelly Babies on a walk and pop a couple between rest stops, but again, often as not I don’t, so no real evidence there either.

      When it’s hot I wear a Tilley wide-brimmed hat to keep me cool and keep the sun off my face. I also carry a face flannel which I can dip in streams to keep me cool. The combination of these can be very effective.

      Let me know how you get on, and sorry I can’t be much more help.
      Stuart

  7. Chris Marriott says:

    Really enjoy your site, and was wondering if you have any plans to publish your diary for the Southern Uplands Way walk you did last year?

    Chris

    • lonewalker says:

      Chris – that’s just one of the many things I haven’t quite got round to yet! But you can follow the live blog posts in my archive – starting here: http://www.lonewalker.walkingplaces.co.uk/diary/?p=1713

      • Chris Marriott says:

        Thanks, Stuart, that’s much appreciated. Do you have any long-distance walking plans sorted for this year yet? May’s normally your preferred time of year for it, isn’t it?

        All the best,

        Chris (a fellow Cheshire walker)

        • lonewalker says:

          Indeed, May is my preferred time of the year and had been planning a diagonal C2C walk, but we’ve been working on a big project at work, so can’t really take 2 weeks off this year. Hopefully be back next year with a long one, but this year is the year of the “adventure weekend” 🙂

  8. Pieter van Niekerk says:

    Dear Stuart
    I’ve done the Dales way last year and just love it – easy and beautiful.
    I am planning a Camino Portugués for May this year. As it is expensive to get from South Africa to Europe, I am considering a second hike.
    I bought the Pennine Way (De La Billiere, Carter & Scott) guide and it seems to be a good choice. However two questions:
    1. Is it feasible to do it alone during May/June
    2. According to the guide the cattle along the way can be vicious from time to time (people being send to hospital or killed). Is it really a danger?
    Kind regards
    Pieter

    • lonewalker says:

      Pieter

      May/June is probably the best time of year to walk the Pennine Way, you get the best chance of good weather and the trail will be fairly quiet as the long school summer holidays are still a good way off.

      In terms of walking alone, if you walked the Dales Way alone, the Pennine Way shouldn’t be any more of a problem. I find that if you tend to walk alone, then a long walk is also best done alone, it’s people who walk in groups usually who will have a problem with the solitude and the self-reliance you need for the Pennine Way. So, I would guess no problems for you there. You will meet people every evening probably anyway, even some who may be walking the same path.

      Cows are seen most days and the path runs through cow fields on most days too. Perhaps one walker, across the whole of the UK, is killed every couple of years by cows and maybe three or four are injured each year. You are more likely to be run over by a bus than you are of being trampled by cows (there is not a bus problem on the Pennine Way I hasten to add!)

      Enjoy the walk and happy to answer any more questions you may have.

  9. Hi, Stuart, I’d like to ask for your opinion on this…I walked the WHW with the Ramblers organization and loved it…I do love my creature comforts after a good day’s walk…and I’m planning to join them again for the Wainwright’s Walk across England (hope I have that spelling correct). I had intended to do this this summer, but now my plans have been pushed back until, most likely, next summer. I’m wondering about your weather…I see that their May trip is filled up for this summer, while their August trip has openings, which makes me think that the weather in May must be preferable. Would you agree? Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

    • lonewalker says:

      Weather in the UK is a complete lottery for pretty much anytime of the year, but May is typically one of the better months. In August, when you get good days they are going to be much warmer than the good days in May, but if you walk in either month you are at the hands of the weather gods (and the Gulf Stream).

      I usually walk in May as the paths are quieter, in August all the schools are out for summer holidays and people tend to have family holidays in that month. There are more people in the countryside and villages along the C2C route. I personally like it quiet, so avoid the late summer months for long walks.

      Hope that helps.

  10. Nick says:

    Just read your blog about the coast to coast. Having done the Pennine Way this year hope to do the Cto C. Your blog interesting reading and makes me seriously thinking about starting in Robin Hood’s Bay.

    • lonewalker says:

      If you enjoyed the solitude you probably had on the Pennine Way, then going west to east on the C2C will be a bit of a shock! Unless you leave early each morning, you will be surrounded by other walkers all day. At least going to east to west you get the company in the evening, but mostly quiet path during the day. If you’re wildcamping the C2C you could choose your locations to give you that early head-start. I enjoyed your PW blogs, hope you’ll be doing the same for the C2C 🙂

      • hillgorilla says:

        Solitude was how I would describe the Pennine Way, especially the further north I went. It was a bit of a shock when I tracked across from Tan Hill to Nine Standards to meet what felt like crowds on the top. It made me chuckle how some asked about bogs, and how bad they were. Glad that you enjoyed my PW blogs, yes aim to do the same for the C2C. I aim to wild camp as much as I can, as it means that I can just walk and walk until I feel like it, and can then get up early and catch aspects of the areas that you get at those times – such as wildlife and sunrise…

  11. Kath says:

    Dear Stuart, I am a solo walker aged 63. I’ve been hillwalking since the age of 8. With a break ( I only did short walks whilst my husband fished ! ) for about 10 years. After his death I resumed my love of hillwalking and took a trip to Switzerland to do high level walking and had a caravan near the Forest of Bowland for three years so got to really know that area. My plans for this year include another trip to Switzerland,, to walk parts of Hadrian’s wall ,to walk from Kentmere to Hawsewater and very soon Nicky Nook and Grizedale. My friends are aghast at my solo walking and as a former junior leader for the SYHA and having helped in Cairngorm Rescue exercises in the 70’s i know that it’s not recommended , but I love to plan and choose my routes, stop when I choose, look and listen for wildlife, use my initiative and map-reading skills etc. However I am not keen on crossing fields of cattle !! I don’t walk as briskly as I used to and tend to plan my walks in hours – rather than miles ! I envy you your youth ! ( compared to me ) Well done on starting late and good luck with this latest venture.

    • lonewalker says:

      Hi Kath, thanks for sharing your experiences, and well done to you for continuing to walk alone, it really is the best way to enjoy the world. I love my family and miss them when I’m away, but my time alone with my own company is very precious to me. I tried walking a long path with a friend a couple years ago and felt cramped and restricted. I’m hoping I’ve got another 15 years or so in my knees to continue to explore this wonderful country if ours.

      With respect to cows, I think it comes down to confidence and imposition of your will over theirs 🙂

      Enjoy your walks and thanks for taking the time to comment

  12. Pieter van Niekerk says:

    Hi Stuart
    What is your budget for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
    Kind regards
    Pieter

    • lonewalker says:

      Pieter, I tend to expect to pay about £15 for evening meal, with a couple of drinks, this would normally be a pub meal, but I also love chip shops, I very rarely use a proper restaurant, even if there is one in the town. I don’t tend to have a large lunch – after a full cooked breakfast I can survive on a chocolate bar or perhaps some fruit.

  13. Pieter van Niekerk says:

    My timetable is totally flexible – one of the few advantages to be retired. My first day is currently set on 25 March 2014, my 66 birthday. However, it is obvious to me that your hiking speed exceeds mine, i.e. somewhere along the route you will overtake me. I am, however looking forward to share a few pints with you.
    How far is your planning i.r.o. the South West Coast Path?

    • lonewalker says:

      Pieter, I’ll be using the SWCP to get from Penzance to Lizard Point. Land’s End to Penzance is direct across country and from Lizard I’m heading north, then pretty much right up the middle of Cornwall.

  14. Pieter van Niekerk says:

    I am in the very early stages of planning my LEJOG to start April 2014. Your informative website provides valuable input. Thank you!

    I have done a few long distance walks in the past among other the WHW (x2) the Coast to Coast and Tour of Mont Blanc (x2). Also a few in South Africa. The LEJOG is, however, a dream of many years and I want to do it before I am too old (65 already!)

    Have you decided on a starting date?

    In conclusion, please excuse my English. Afrikaans is my first language and since my retirement it seems as if my command of the English tongue retired as well

    Kind regards
    Pieter

    • lonewalker says:

      Pieter – your English is excellent! My first day walking LEJOG is currently set at 30th March 2014 and the idea is to finish on my 50th birthday, 28th June.
      I can’t believe it’s less than a year to go! The planning has been great fun, but I really just want to start walking it now.
      You will have to email your contact details, closer to the time and we’ll try and meet up if our timetables come close.
      Have a great trip 🙂

  15. james mchale says:

    Hi stuart thank for all the information about the great glen and the west highland way , We followed your foot steps on the great glen and also stayed at forest lodge and yes the man with the cap ,What a great web site many thank jim mchale

    • lonewalker says:

      Jim, glad you found the journal useful – WHW and GGW are still up there with the best walks I’ve done.

  16. Russell says:

    Hi Stuart, I am contacting you from HomeAway.co.uk, we would like to work with you on a project to do with the Lake District. Please let me know if you are interested in working with us.
    Kind regards, Russell

  17. Thank you for the visit into your world. Your site is fun to view. The photos are gorgeous. The landscape is so open. I live in New England where the trees often block out the good views unless you climb very high! I am interested in long walks. It appears that you live in the perfect place for that. Best of luck. Jayne

  18. Andy B says:

    Great site.One of the best.Good to see that you turned your life style around keep it up.

  19. Maren Latter says:

    Stuart, these are amazing pictures from your last hiking day in the yorkshire dales – fantastic . Wish I could join you there. What privileged you are to have such a wonderfull landscape nearby. We had a 11 hours journey from germany to reach the herriot way. But it was worth every minute.
    We do often follow the walks on your side and your amazing plans. We get a lot of joy out of this and take it as a motivation. So the coast to coast is booked for 2013 :-))

  20. Bernie says:

    Hi Lonewalker.
    Your site is very informative and inspiring.
    I’m off to do the Pennine Way in September and I wanted to ask what GPS you use?
    I’ve never used one, but thought I might invest.
    Thanks in advance.
    Bernie

    • lonewalker says:

      Bernie

      I currently use my phone for GPS navigation.
      I have recently written an article that describes how this works;
      http://lonewalker.net/using-a-smartphone-on-the-hills/

      If you’d rather carry a more traditional GPS then I don’t think you can go far wrong with a Garmin.
      The only requirement I think you really need is the ability for it to display an OS Grid reference, rather than a Lat/Long reference.

  21. Richard says:

    Hi

    Just wondering if you would like to cooperate on a few walks. Our website is looking for walks with gpx files and a description of the walk. Once these are on our website they are also available to our users on an iPhone App so that they can take the walk with them. They can follow the directions and see their progress against the route on the map. It all works well. Even if you are out of phone signal the GPS works of course and the directions and photos are downloaded.

    We are adding walks all the time but would love to add more. We offer a small reward for walks added and are always happy to help with any technical issues if the GPX file needs to be edited (we have a GPX file editor on the website). Our App also tracks walks. Our website address is

    Would be great to hear your thoughts

    Regards

    Richard

  22. Ralph Phipps says:

    Hello to you,
    I am seeking your help!
    I belong to a group called the Costa Blanca walkers who are expats based in Spain who organise twice weekly walks of varying grades.
    We are in the process of starting up a NEW website to display our walks with full “instructions”, a map and a gps file which we are going to make freely available to all comers.
    Having discovered your site we are wondering if you would be willing to let us have your code, which would give us a good head start in developing our website. Of course we’d be happy to give you a credit (and a link if you wanted it).

    If you are amenable to this and can send me your direct e-mail and/or telephone number then I’d be happy to get in touch to discuss it in more detail.
    Thanks and keep up the good work,

    Ralph Phipps ( who has just passed 50 years of walking, scrambling and climbing in the mountains!!)

  23. jimmy walton says:

    I just spent a half hour reading some of your write ups..I’m impressed with your endeavors and I may even have learned a few things about gear…
    Everyone I read is concerned with weight of pack and there seems to be a whole industry building up around it…I’ve been walking at weekends for many a year and weight is not an issue on a days walk…
    On a long walk what would you be happy to carry in Kg…
    Kind regards jimmy walton

    • lonewalker says:

      Jimmy
      I have a rather mixed view on weight-saving for backpacking – I’m happy to cut half the handle off my toothbrush to save 5g, but I refuse to do without some of the little luxuries like a pillow and a dry set of clothes for the tent at night. I’ve cut the weight of the big three (tent, pack and sleeping bag) as much as I can without spending hundreds of quid and I’m about happy with my pack weight.
      On a two or three night trip, with a litre of water, but without food, the pack weighs about 10-11Kg. Compare this to the 20Kg I lost in weight this winter and it pales into insignificance, but doesn’t make it any easier to carry 🙂
      There’s a fine balance between weight carried and camp-comfort; if I drop any more pack weight my camp-comfort will suffer. I think I’m at the right balance for me. We all need to find our own point though.
      I have a kit spreadsheet, which I’m happy to share, if you’re a bit sad like I am 🙂

  24. On 25th February 2012 on your Howgills, you met me. Sorry to inform you that their is a cairn on Hazelgill knott (only three stones). I live in Sedbergh so next time you come over give me a shout.
    Cheers
    Wally

    • lonewalker says:

      Wally, rather peeved to know I missed the “cairn” on Hazelgill, looks like I’ll have to go back and have a look for it. I’m planning on doing Hooksey on Saturday so maybe I’ll divert across and have another look.
      I guess we must have met at Bowderdale Head, as I was coming down?

  25. Hi Stuart,

    Would you be interested reviewing an item from GO Outdoors?

    I thought you might be interested in the offer due to the nature of your website. I am currently running a campaign for http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk and I am sending out a range of products in return for a review. You can choose any item within the categories listed as long as it is under £50 and is available for delivery.

    It is entirely up to you what is included in the review we just ask that you include a link to the website so that readers are aware of where the products can be found.

    Berghaus coats
    Merrell boots
    North Face Jackets
    Thermals
    Hi Tech walking boots
    Berghaus fleeces
    Ski Jackets
    Baselayers

    Normally a product can be with you within 4 working days.
    I look forward to hearing from you and please do circulate this information to any fellow bloggers that you think might be interested in doing the same.

    Thanks for your time,
    regards

    Artur

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