As someone who has done a fair bit of planning in my time, the first thing to bear in mind is that Plans Always Go Wrong. However, if you start out without a plan, things stand a much greater chance of going horribly wrong.
Lord Elpus counts himself a fortunate man. He has Miss Whiplash to beast him around the footpath networks of Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Mud holds no terror for Miss W, and Poor Phil gains his phenomenal fitness gritting his teeth against snow, hail and icy blasts straight from Siberia. This punishing regime starts as soon as he returns from the Challenge in May. It is a year-long struggle.
Like most years, my plan for a general level of readiness for the TGO Challenge is straightforward, and I might say, more gentle. Starting in the New Year, I walk on average three miles a day until the start of the Challenge in May. Three miles a day doesn't sound like a lot, but if you miss a few days you have to catch up the missing miles, and then you realise that it's not quite so easy.
Of course, you don't want to walk on roads, because down in the south east of England the roads are very busy and wherever you live they are hard on your feet. But more importantly walking on level surfaces won't prepare the soft tissues in your feet, ankles, knees and hips for a walk over the rough ground found in Scotland.
|ONE FOR DAVE: HEDGE LAYING|
A recent discovery is a nature reserve at the northern edge of my patch. The entrance sign says permits are required and the gate to the reserve is locked, assuring you that you are not welcome.
|THE MYSTERIOUS NATURE RESERVE|
However, right next to the reserve is the wonderful Chawridge Wood, an abandoned coppiced wood.
|PRIMROSES IN CHAWRIDGE WOOD|
The footpath network hereabouts is well signed and generally in good order, with a few glaring blackspots where stiles are overrun with very spiny bushes, seemingly deliberately planted by one particular landowner.
|FAVOURITE TREES, ABOVE ST MICHAEL'S|
|*THE* FAVOURITE TREE, ABOVE ST MICHAEL'S|
Can you spot the deliberate mistake in the next picture?
|SPOT THE MISTAKE, ASHRIDGE LANE|
After a slow start, I've finally dragged my carcase back up to and now passing the planned mileage. I have almost fifty miles in the bank, which is probably as well, as the weather forecast for next week looks poor.
And finally a spreadsheet and graph. Because I love both. I know you do too.
|THE PLAN SO FAR|
And now, from two years before England won the World Cup, here's one for OM.