Sunday, 17 October 2010

It was all going famously…

Those amongst our congregation who visit other places in the blogosphere will have no doubt learned the reasons why this organ has been unusually quiet of late: I took part in a very uneven contest with a barbed wire fence on the Peebles to Moffatt re-match stroll some three weeks ago, resulting in visits to two major hospitals in the north of England and another in the flatlands of East Angular. Even now, I am still bandaged up and typing is pretty awkward.

Those with long memories (I suppose that won’t include you, of advancing age) will recall that four of us were repelled by the Southern Uplands back in April of this year, facing knee and sometimes waist deep snow in pretty poor conditions. So, the Pieman organised a rematch; this time with an appropriately large assault party of nine intrepid souls. He obviously thought that the expedition would be more successful this time around, with the addition of far ‘Arder Members.

Peebles to Moffatt Rematch PartyThe Bolstered Rematch Party

This time around we actually left the pub in Peebles at a reasonable hour and, joined by his Holiness the Incredibly Irreverend Dave, we set off in search of a place to flip up the tents, somewhere close to the target.

Amazingly, we actually found a pretty good place to stay quite close to the  target. Others have told the story jolly well, so I won’t bang on about it. Here are a few pictures though from the second day:

Quite Hilly, reallySurprisingly quite hilly, really…

On a toppy bitOn a toppy bit…

WildernessA little bit of Wilderness…

The second day’s walking was toughish but the weather was kind to us and we made the Megget Stone to camp, quite tired. We managed a little party fuelled by the Pieman’s genius of having left a cache of supplies. Splendid Chap.

The third day was quite hard work (well, in truth all walking in hilly places is quite hard work for a chap who lives on the edge of the Fens…) but this time in lots of clouds. We lunched at the appropriately named Rotten Bottom, a slough of a joint that ensured wet tootsies for the remainder of the day.

The next two pictures are from the third day. The first is just after we had dropped out of the clouds for the first time quite near the end of the day – glimpsing our destination, Moffatt down below us.  But be warned, the following picture is not for the faint-hearted – it’s a picture of my left ring finger taken in the Casualty Department in Carlisle Hospital.

Eighteen stitches under general anaesthetic at Newcastle RVI left me a trifle sore, but amazingly the prognosis is quite good – there was no significant damage to the tendons or nerves. The stitches are now out but I am still swathed in bandage.

So what is there to be learned from this tangle with a barbed wire fence?

For years I have always carried a pretty comprehensive First Aid kit and have only used it in anger on other walkers. For the first time in forty years of carrying the thing at last I have used it on myself! I had everything I needed to sort it out – melonin dressing, crepe bandage and lots and lots of tear-able sticky plaster on a roll to hold it all together. There were also steri-strips, but in this case they would not have been up to the job; I could see the bones in my finger.

Interestingly, it was not incredibly painful – but it was a bit “stingy”. Shirl did a magnificent job putting it all together so all the loose hanging bits of flesh stayed together and hardly any needed to be cut away by the hand surgeon at Newcastle. He was very complimentary about Shirl’s skill in keeping it all together and in such a fine state.

I have seen loads and loads of walkers’ first aid kits over the years that would have been woefully inadequate in this instance.

I would urge everyone reading this right now to have a cold hard look at their kits and ask themselves if it worth the risk just to lighten their load by a few paltry ounces. Trust me. It isn’t worth it.

Oh – and take wire cutters with you as well…

Moffatt in sight!Moffatt, just prior to the barbed wire…

Coming second in a fight with Barbed Wire

Not nice… Rebuild those First Aid Kits, Right Now!


  1. Been reading your blog for a while now (Wanda Warmlite being my favourite character!) and heard/read about your accident in some other blogs already.

    The barbed wire seems to have done a nasty job - they are evil, as especially when they are rusty, they are close to impossible to spot in the grass if they have been left lying somewhere. And I agree with you on the First Aid kit, that's not where I want to go ultralight!

    Happy healing to your hand. So glad to hear the barbed wire didn't do any permanent damage (the scars will just add to your wilderness credibility! :D ).

  2. Jees Alan, Hadn't picked up on this. Looks nasty. In retrospect shouldn't have read this post on my "before second breakfast tender stomach" but glad to hear you're on the road to recovery. Have to confess my first aid kit contains a couple of asprin and some band aids. Must rethink!

  3. Good to have you back Alan. I was told the hand problem occurred when you tried to open Shirl's purse. This isn't true then. (lol. well for me anyway).
    Hope the nurse is looking after you well. Especially opening the red medicine bottles.

  4. Glad to hear you are on the mend.

    That's a good point about first aid kits. Mine's reasonably extensive, but might struggle to cope with a "Barbed Wire Incident". I will ensure that it is adequately stocked in future!

  5. Ouch, reminds me of when I stuck a chisel in my hand on Hew Years day 2007. Still surpised how little it bled and hurt - even the doctor was surprised when he finally looked.

  6. Blerrgh Thats 'orrible. I'm glad I wasn't there. I've reduced my first aid kit to blister plasters and bum-soothing cream. I may have to rethink.

    word is "trusneez" well, you have to, innit?

  7. I had been thinking my first aid kit was a shade over the top (I've get the kitchen sink in there too, so I can give a wound a good sleuce) but actually, perhaps I'll just hang on to it.
    Glad to hear you're on the mend, I can think of less dramatic ways to liven up your blog.
    word = porkm

  8. Holy keech! Thats an impressive wound. I hadn't heard about it on the grapevine either. I'm glad the damage isn't as bad as could've been..i.e. tendons and nerves and I hope it heals up quickly and cleanly too.

    Being mainly a solo walker my "Repair me and my kit" kit has always been pretty well stocked along with enough gear to survive an unplanned night out in relative comfort.

    Best regards

  9. We were in the Czech Republic watching women's basketball (really), so I was late catching up with your recent dramatic medico-digital events. You were fortunate to be walking both well equipped and walking with partners who were competent. If I'd been there, I would have passed out while attempting to hand you my single band-aid. I'm glad you had such expert care from first aid straight through to surgery.

    Very best wishes for a quick and total recovery.

  10. Could have been worse.

  11. Cads and bounders. They're everywhere - in this case, laying traps to catch unwary expeditions as they righteously claim the land for Walking.

    Right then....

    Time to start taking some First Aid Technology with me, when I set forth across the hills in the sunset.

  12. Good to see you are able to poke the keyboard again Al!!!

    Based on Dr. Ogden's advice, my first Aid kit is quite extensive so hopefully I'll be ready for other 'orrible happenings (if they should happen!)?!

    His Holiness

  13. Hi there Maria - Nice to see you amongst our congregation - Nice looking blog too, which I am now following! :-)

    Dave: The dressing came off at Addenbrooks Hospital today - it still looks like a shattered rift valley system but I am told it should all eventually work... Sorry about your breakfast!

    Alan: Hi - Currently working my way through Tesco's excellent selection of incredibly well-priced beers...

    Robin: Wotcha, my ol' fruit! Perhaps the best solution is just to take wire-cutters...

    Bob: Is that you, my ol' mucker?

    Pieman: The most important component of any walker's First Aid kit is the bum cream.

    Louise: Porkm, eh? And how is the weighty rear? ;-)

    Sandy: Hi - I have now developed a passing imitation of "Thatcher's Claw" so need to exercise it by stretching it around beer glasses.

    Mark: "We were in the Czech Republic watching women's basketball..." Sounds a whole heap better than plugging away through the bogs and barbed wire of the Southern Uplands!

    Abu: How on earth do you manage a beer glass?

    James: Cads & Bounders indeed! I have yet to fathom out the reason why on earth the particular fence I was climbing over was constructed with a barbed wire top strand! It was in the middle of sod-all with just sheep and forestry to separate. I shall dig deeper into this one at a later date...

    His Holiness! The Doc is indeed spot-on. I have now to replenish my now depleted kit with stuff I have learned about at the various infirmaries dotted around the kingdom. There's some excellent stuff out there these days that I was unaware of.

  14. Have read of your adventures on other blogs so pleased that you are now able to get back to your keyboard.

    Good advice re first aid kits - must have another look at mine.

    Word = vanning - perhaps that's how you should be travelling in future???

  15. The 'little bit of wilderness' is a VOR station btw - aircraft for the navigation of.

    Just a little technical info there.


  16. Bloody hell Alan! That is one nasty accident ... makes me think twice about some of the higher barbed wire fences that I've swung a leg over and the damage it could do to certain softer areas *cough*. I already viewed barbed wire with suspicion, I shall now be viewing it with downright hostility!

    Simon (of the rather defunct Wandering Photographer blog)

    PS - happy bloggy birthday!

  17. PhilW, Phil & Simon: Thanks for your comments. It's nice when people pop in to say "hello".

  18. Ouch Alan! I hope your finger gets better soon!

    Bruffen, aspirin, sterri strips, Zinc Oxide tape, plasters, gauze, duck tape, needle & fishing wire and a double edged razor blade. Mmmmm, maybe a bit light, even with the last three being dual purpose/extreme injury items.

  19. Looks bad but sounds ok. Likely it will heal up pretty nicely.

    I have busted my finger in knife related accident in the military. I managed to cut two tendons from the palm side and one nerve. The bone was clearly visible but seemed unharmed... Lots of sanitizer (?), roll of sterile bandage around the finger (and another finger inside for support) and to the hospital (about 6 hoursa after the incident) to be stiched up. For some strage reason they did not perform any surgery right away but five days later. They managed to patch the tendons and finger together but the nerve damage is somewhat permanent. Oh, and eight weeks of physical theraphy to get the finger working properly.

    That didn't hurt too much either but I think it was because of the shock. I think that if hiking in wilderness I could have put the finger in package in similar way with my first aid kit and walked to someplace with cellphone coverage and call an evacuation. Or walk to road if nearby.

    First aid kit is important and sharp objects are dangerous.

  20. Keith - Hi - Sounds like your minimal kit would have worked okay for me, but I also worry about falls onto rocks - being banged about on rocks can leave all sorts of injuries and so I tend to carry stuff for those eventualities. Maybe I ma just being over-cautious.

    Anon: Hi.It sounds like you had a pretty bad time of it. I was quite surprised too that they didn't operate on my hand for two and a half days - Flesh can't 'go off' too quickly, which I hadn't realised. As well as that, the first aid I received at the time of the injury really was first class.

  21. Too bad you didn't lose it, children are well impressed by this sort of thing.

    My grandad lost his pinkie down the pit and used to amuse us by pretending it was inserted up his nose to the hilt and was tickling his brain. :)

    Looks like a sore one though, fairly sure I would have passed out... :/

  22. Hi Fraser - a bit drastic, that... I fond another couple of stitches underneath some cruddy stiff dead skins, so whipped them out - making twenty in all! It will look a bit horrid for quite a while I think... just enough to unsettle any possible grandchildren....

  23. True, a bit drastic, a pinkie is somewhat more expendable. They'll have to settle for a mean scar ;)

    Really don't envy you having this happen up a hill, at home would be bad enough...

  24. I found another bright blue stitch amongst the scraggly bits yesterday, so yanked that out too..... Twenty one and still counting!

  25. Today i read some old blog about travel. I read your blog and give thanks to god, for come back you and your team.

    1. Hello, dear Razor Wire manufacturer!
      A nice bit of spam, if ever there was!
      You will be pleased to know that nowadays I always carry the appropriate tools to cut through your nasty, evil products!
      Just sayin'...


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