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Winter is coming

The tarp has been a great way to camp (see my earlier post about the tarp) – it’s so small, light, discreet, and gives a wonderful sense of being really in the outdoors.

However it has some limits and this trip is not supposed to be a macho endurance test to show how tough I am – days on end of rain and frequently heavy winds are more than a tarp can really be asked to handle. I’ve adapted my tarp setup to be as enclosed as possible and I’ve kept warm and dry in some pretty windy and rainy nights but I don’t want too many more times like this (this isn’t the worst of it):

The time has come to upgrade to something more substantial: a tent

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The West Highland Way

The West Highland Way is a 96 mile route from Milngavie (on the outskirts of Glasgow) north to Fort William. It’s primarily a walking route but bikes are permitted – you have to decide whether it will be passable though.

The terrain varies and some would be passable on a full-on road bike, whereas some would be only barely passable with the toughest full suspension mountain bike and no luggage. As I have a tough but very heavily loaded bike I was cautious – only if the track had TWO dotted parallel lines (i.e. a “road” of sorts) then I’d give it a go. I also did small sections of single track and lifted the bike over a few styles which is not fun.

There is also many opportunities to meet people along the way and I found at my penultimate stop I recognised 10-12 people in the bar and had spoken to 5 or 6 them. On a related note, in that bar one guy actually recognised me as I had cycled past him about a month ago near Newcastle! (we didn’t even have a conversation the first time round).

Overall it has been simply stunning with some breathtaking views and a very “spiritual” experience…

section across Black Mount (thats what it says across my map anyway)

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Wild swimming

As the year is getting on now I might not have many more opportunities for wild swimming. It might be a good time to reflect on the lovely times I’ve had so far. Wild swimming has become quite popular to talk about (there is a book about it) – although I get the impression people don’t get around to doing it that much.

I have the book about it but haven’t actually swum in any of the places it’s mentioned – it did undoubtedly inspire me though. Here’s a set of pictures to inspire you – there are SO many lovely places to swim…

Note: there is a fair bit of my flesh on show in these photos, so do/don’t look depending on how you feel about that!

my first swim – in a small stream off a footpath

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This nearly cost me a lot of money

caused by total failure to notice large vertical section of the route in front of me. had I fallen to the right instead I don’t think I my laptop or phone would have survived.

Flim-Flam 2011 – a 100+ mile full moon bike ride to Flambough head

Whilst in Hebden Bridge I was invited on a night bike ride by Keith from Nutclough Housing Co-op. It is a northern version of the Dunwich Dynamo which I used to do in London. It doesn’t quite attract the same numbers yet though – 5 versus 1000s.

Flamborough Flim Flam 3 from Flim Flam on Vimeo.

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Forests and communities

Just a quick post to let you know I’m ok :)

Had a beautiful morning cycling through forests (Sherwood), a quick swim in a lake, and just had “the biggest breakfast you serve” with a latte for £3.45.

a lovely part of Sustrans Route 6 through Sherwood Forest

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Coffee o’clock

I love having a cup of coffee and was going to take a cafetierre but was fortunately persuaded to take the much more sensible single cup filter type device (with paper filters). Workhouse coffee in Reading can take credit for that – it’s my favourite and possibly the best coffee shop in the world.

a coffee break in the lovely Crown Lakes Country Park near Peterborough

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Restricted byway

Oh thats what they mean by “restricted”

the style stile I lugged all my gear over, not fun!

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Mobile office

I have got quite a lot of gear on me (as pointed out by John East in a comment on my last post) – it enables me to have my mobile office :)

sat with my laptop doing a spot of blogging and working after having had a nice bacon baguette and coffee breakfast

Actually on the road

After months of painful research and preparation (it wouldn’t have taken months if I wasn’t also doing fulltime+ working hours) I have actually managed to leave. At one point I had hoped to already have left by the 10th June (the day my brother died in 2007) but I am glad to be out now.

me with my loaded bike

my first ride on my fully laden bike

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