I have had a more detailed examination by a physio resulting in a suggested origin for my problems and a treatment strategy.
Apparently I have slightly fallen arches in both feet. I also have arthritis in both big toes that has significantly stiffened the basal joint; I have been aware of this for about 10 years but was unaware of the consequences. The physio thinks that this joint stiffening will have exacerbated the change in my gait due to the fallen arches. In particular my foot will rotate inwards excessively as I walk and this rotation will be transmitted through the ankle to the knee. They think that this is the cause of strain on the inside ligament in the knees. After 650 miles these have become inflamed and painful. I am having insoles fitted that should stabilise the foot and hopefully ease the pain.
How quickly the ligaments will heal is uncertain but there may yet be the possibility of my completing some further section of the walk before returning to work on 11 June. That would be great, I would love to do some of Scotland.
Next step is to see the effect of the insoles and further manipulation of the knees. That is next Monday.
Two photos of me at the very beginning, Land’s End, 1.30 pm 9 March (seems a world
away now but these photos bring it vividly back to me now):
Day 2, Penzance to Hayle and on towards Gwithian. I travelled across Trenowin Downs and saw much use of stone for walls and stiles:
I also had my first glimpse of Cornwall’s north coast:
Day 3, Hayle to St. Agnes.
This was the first day on the coastal footpath proper but first I had a few miles along a lane towards Portreath. The first part passed an extensive wetland area and I saw these snails presumably seeking somewhere a little drier at the top of this wooden post!
After Portreath there were good views of the coast, albeit with some mist, and then, approaching St. Agnes, there was much evidence of past mining. I knew that tin mining had been important in Cornwall since prehistoric times but did not realise that copper mining was even more important to the Cornish economy. I don’t know what was mined along this particular stretch of coast.
Another visit to see a physio tomorrow but I know from walking down to Hexham and back this afternoon that it is going to be some time yet before I can resume. While I can potter around the garden (and get tea ready for Sue when she returns from work) walking any distance remains painful such that it is clear that I cannot yet continue. It is very very frustrating, most of all because I cannot even begin to plan what section of the rest of the walk to do in the time remaining. At least I am no longer woken at night through discomfort and, when I ultimately resume, I will so enjoy it and savour every moment remaining.
In the meantime I will post further photos of the trip so far.
I have been resting here in Hexham from Thursday of last week, 7 days. I have seen a physio and am due to see them again tomorrow. Initially I felt my knees were significantly improving but from Monday I think there has been little improvement. I consequently do not yet have any feel for when I might resume my walk. Several times I have walked the 15 min down to Hexham and back but it is painful and I continue to wake at night if my legs are not properly supported and there is any tension on my knees. There is no possibility yet of my walking any distance.
I have spent the time cleaning and repairing kit and looking at my route to see if I might shorten it in order that I may yet complete it to return to work on 11 June. I have decided to forgo continuing along the Pennine Way and then on through the Southern Uplands from Jedburgh and have constructed a route from Alston to Gretna Green and then parallel to the M74 along quite roads. I’d prefer footpaths but roads will be easier walking (and therefore quicker and less demanding on my legs) and I will use B&Bs at least up to Glasgow. This will mean a much lighter pack. The new route will save me 2 ½ days. This may yet prove crucial!
I have been struck by the number of people reading my blog; it clearly has proved to be of much interest. I have enjoyed writing it and it was heartening to see comments when I had a strong enough signal on my mobile to access the WordPress website. It really did give me a sense of others sharing the journey with me as I went along. I have also been struck by how international the readership has been with the blog being viewed from 14 countries in addition to the UK. There must be at least one avid “reader” in Poland as I get regular hits from there. Very intriguing, it would be nice to know what prompts this wider interest.
Will provide info. when I have something to report-hopefully encouraging.
Written while at Hexham and describing Day 47: Clove Lodge to Langdon Beck (Teesdale).
Having carried a bag of muesli for 2 d I decided to “self cater” rather than have breakfast from the proprietor.
Lovely morning, passed a ewe licking a new born lamb, still wet and the afterbirth lay nearby.
Unfortunately this was a day for crossing two valleys before a final descent to Middleton in Teesdale. My knees were painful from the outset and the final drop to Middleton was slow and careful. Some lovely countryside on the way though. Walked through “Hannah Hauxley’s meadows” and then up and over to Grasshome Reservoir. Passing through a coppice of silver birch I realised that it was the first woodland I had passed through in well over 100 miles. Nice bridge to cross the end of the reservoir:
Up and over another hill. On entering one field all the ewes and lambs came charging over to me, obviously expecting a handful of food supplement such as I had regularly seen farmers distributing. As I continued to walk on, with no handouts, I am sure the chorus changed to “boo”.
Slowly into Middleton, lunch and then a walk up along the banks of the R. Tees to Langdon Beck YH.
It is a lovely walk with the river changing character as you passed upstream from the modest floodplain of Midfleton past Low Force and High Force to the mountain stream of Forest in Teesdale and Langdon Beck:
Unfortunately too many stiles with sore legs made for slow progress.
Nice YH. This time decided to forgo the evening meal that could be bought. I had carried a dehydrated curry meal from Hay on We and was determined not to carry it to Hexham.
Day 48 Langdon Beck to Alston:
Poor forecast, rain and wind gusting to 60 mph turned out to be a cold dry morning, albeit “fresh”. Some nice views climbing up out of Teesdale to go over the pass at 2000 feet before the long drop down to Alston. Horizontal rain for the whole afternoon so I was very glad to arrive for a pot of tea at 4.15.
Sue had been able to get away from work earlier than expected so I got picked up around 5 and back in my own home for 6. Strange to look at so many familiar things as if seeing them for the first time.
Sat. 28 April:
Had always intended to have a rest here and with sore knees, realised it might need to be longer. Saw physio today who suggested overuse rather than injury. I am likely to be resting up here in Hexham for a week but hope to then resume with enough time to finish.
Further blogs will report progress and I will take the opportunity to add photos from my camera (as opposed to the camera on my phone) to earlier blogs.
Written on Day 46:
Keld to Clove Lodge, Baldersdale.
Lovely day, sunshine to begin with then grey and cool but DRY!
Delightful walk from the camping barn at Park House along the road to Tan Hill Inn. Lots of small fields, each with a barn.
Amazingly the inn was open at 10.15 so two mugs of tea before slogging across the very boggy moor.
Tan Hill Inn.
Frustratingly I could see the A66 but it took 3 h to get to it. It was a long painful walk.
Before crossing the A66 you cross the R. Greta on “God’s Bridge” a natural limestone slab that the river runs under:
Black clouds in various directions but I seemed to continually move out of their way.
My greeting for Clove Lodge camping barn was lovely-a piece of cake and biscuits on the table, kettle switched on and milk in the fridge. As it was chilly a fire was lit for me. I was made to feel very welcome, just what I needed as I was tired and both my knees were sore.
I had the 2-course evening meal; a generous helping of chilli con carne, cheese, bread and fresh fruit.
Excellent value and the two proprietors could not have been more helpful.
Describing Day 43: Malham YH to Horton in Ribblesdale.
Patches of blue sky! The first I had seen for days, and not raining. Walked with Ben who I met yesterday. Started with an ascent of Malham Cove which just gets bigger and bigger as you approach it.
Limestone pavement at the top of the cove.
Fine walking on springy turf up Fountains Fell. Apart from 45 min of hail it was dry all the way. Dropped own the other side. Both of us had been up Pen-y-Ghent several times and so had no compunction about missing it out. So straight down to Horton.
Day 44: Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes.
Early start after finding the campsite noisy throughout the night with people come for the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
Again walking with Ben.
Lovely walking over limestone grassland over Cam Fell and down to Hawes. Rain and hail in the afternoon made for a long tiring descent to Hawes. Fortunately arrived there and into a teashop 5 min before torrential rain.
Stayed at the YH. Great to have a drying room.
Day 45: Hawes to Keld.
Back to solo walking, Ben was returning home to complete his walk to Alston in Sept. He has been lovely companion. I’m grateful to have had his company this last few days.
Sun, rain, sun. Most importantly dry for the 3 h climb to the summit of Great Shunner Fell. My highest point so far.
Met a group of walkers coming the other day. Dawn and her partner donated £3.
Long descent to Thwaite where I had tea and coffee and fruit cake+Wensleydale cheese at the hotel. Excellent value with a brill system for walkers to put plastic bags over their muddy boots.
I took the road to Keld as it seemed to offer good views and I was getting tired.
Classic Yorkshire Dales haymeadows with a barn in each field.
Staying at the Park House Bunkhouse just past Keld. Lovely location next to the infant R. Swale
view from the bunkhouse door.
Very comfortable. Just what I needed as both knees sore and stiff.
Hot shower arnicha cream on the
knees and a pot of tea were very therapeutic.