What’s the Plan? Man? (Late April 2012)

Map and Compass

Uh oh… This looks serious…

My apologies for these retrospective entries, but I figured that to start this blog without documenting my initial entry into this hobby would be very remiss! But don’t worry, eventually we will get up to the present day and see what I’m currently up to! Anyways, I digress, back to this blog entry….

The previous Ashton Court walk was a major turning point for me. Normally, my lifestyle can best be described as ‘introverted-geek-that-doesn’t-get-out-much’. However, the day after the Ashton Court walk I was pondering why I was feeling I had such a good day out – and more importantly why I was feeling that I wanted to do it again.

It was weird.

Geeks on the whole, shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight more than two minutes in every twenty, and up until now I had been doing a pretty good job of doing this. And more to the point, I actually enjoyed doing this. Yet, seemingly, possibly rather worryingly, it seemed that I had actually enjoyed my day out.

I theorised that maybe it was because of the change of scenery? Maybe the whole ‘being outdoors thing’?

But after a lot of reflection the following day, I realised that I had unwittingly spent most of the walk with an ear to ear grin – it was like my quiescent level of happiness had just climbed up a few notches!

During my reflections I also realised some odd behaviour on my part with regard to a PC computer game that I was playing at the time. The game was called Skyrim, a game that has a huge and beautiful virtual world. When I thought back to my game-play, I realised that unlike almost every other person I knew, I walked everywhere in that game, with nary a sign of fast-travel being used! Why? Why would I spend the best part of half an hour walking through a virtual world? When I could just click a button and instantly travel to my destination?

It then clicked (my mind – not the button 🙂 ).

It was the scenery.

Although virtual, there was something about it that gave me great pleasure just striding through it. I figured that there might be a connection between this and my elevated happiness at Ashton Court.

Either way I was now hooked.

It was then that I decided I was going to get serious about it and that I would need a challenge to focus my mind and my efforts.

After a bit of thought I decided – quite out of the blue – that by late August, possibly early September of this year (2012) I would embark on an epic 4-5 day solo walk across Dartmoor – one of the Uk’s largest areas of wilderness.

The thought of doing it seemed quite daunting. There was a ton of skills that I would need to pick up and a lot of equipment I would have to buy, plus there were many unanswered technical questions, like what would I eat?, what would I drink? Then there was the issue of my fitness. I was effectively a couch potato, stand-fast the few walks I had done – what hope would I have of trekking across Dartmoor over a number of days?

Even on a fiscal angle it was going to be tough. I had around 5 paydays between now and then during which I would need to acquire all the kit that I would need to survive on Dartmoor!

No pressure!

It looked like this was going to require planning…

The first thing I did – with the help of the internet – was to put together a top level equipment list of the items that I would need. This was a very generic list where it only listed item types, like stove for example, rather than actual products.

Once I was done, it was quite sobering to see how much kit I didn’t have.

The ‘jump-in-feet-first’ part of me wanted to buy the tent first, but then I thought, what’s the point? I wouldn’t have the kit to carry it nor would I have the kit to go in it! So instead I prioritised the items by whether or not they could be used straight away on purchase – bearing in mind earlier planned purchases in the list. When I was done I had 5 lists detailing exactly what I would need to buy for the next 5 months – one list for each month.

The plan was to research the item types for the following up-and-coming month to work out which specific product to get to address the required item type. The idea being that when the month came around I could start putting the orders in straight away without delay!

The first items on the list for month 1 were an OS 1:25000th map of my local area around Bristol Uk, a magnetic compass, a GPS and a book on how to use them all!

These seemed like the priority items. With them I could learn map and compass navigation in the local area using the ordered map, compass and book. The GPS was purchased primarily to record my trips, but its other purpose was to bail me out, should I get my navigation wrong!

Once I ordered the kit I started planning my first serious day walk – a 22km walk in my local area – but that’s for another blog entry 🙂



About RobP

Got into backpacking in the spring of 2012. I started as a couch potato then made my way through walker, hiker and now backpacker! As you can see from below I have far too many hobbies! :)
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