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FALL SEVEN TIMES - STAND UP EIGHT

Pennine Way 2021. Another year another Covid lockdown. It’s late January 2021 and hopes of international touring for my ‘It’s not a race to the end‘ trip are dwindling for a second year. A small glimmer of hope remains for later this year, summer at the earliest, late summer more hopeful and even autumn perhaps before I can set off for distant lands. Reading that back and I wonder if international touring is even on the cards for 2021. Yet I am the type of person that needs something to work towards in one’s personal life. With hopes of travel fading, I am in need of something to fill the gap and work towards for spring 2021. I’m hedging my bets that by May 2021, some U.K travel may be achievable, although I’m sure wishful thinking is present to some extent. I’m can’t quite remember the moment that a second attempt of the Pennine Way occurred to me but it was something that I had always said that I would be doing after my first unsuccessful attempt that ended at Hawes in 2020.

Pennine-way

WHAT HAPPENED ON ATTEMPT 1?

I’ve already completed a full summary write up of my 2020 Pennine Way thru-hike here. Basically, we encountered two named storms in the first 3 days and I was wearing waterproof socks in shoes tightened too tight. Ultimately, my foot developed a tendon injury that could only be relieved by walking without my insole. This eventually led to some large and nasty blisters. Next, my tendon issue I had created blisters trying to avoid, came back. Finally, walking with my injured foot in a funny fashion, created a new pain deep in the front ankle. Too many issues for one foot and I decided to call it a day at Hawes on day 7. That is in the past now, I’m armed with experience and ready to go again.

"Up from the ashes, grow the roses of success"

PENNINE WAY 2021 NEW PLAN

There will be a number of new changes for my 2021 attempt. Firstly, there’s a few pieces of equipment I’m either adding or leaving at home. More on that below. Second, I will be taking a few extra days to complete The Way. Last year I had something like 16 days, this proved to be a really tight schedule for myself and Dave. Mainly because it affords no let up in case of bad weather or if you need a break. The added mental pressure of having a tight deadline can also take away from the experience. This is why, in 2021, I will be have 20 days to complete the trail. Hopefully I can complete it in less to save a day or two holidays from work.

Last year I hiked day 1-5 with my colleague and friend Dave. He will not be joining me this year due to his own plans. It would be great to meet up with him for a day or two somewhere on the trail. I should imagine it will be a great boost and hopefully he can bring me some dry socks haha.

Pennine Way 2021

ABANDONED GEAR

I’ve been quite a ‘gear nerd’ for some time so generally my kit is quite dialed in. That being said, I have still made a number of changes for this year. First lets talk about the gear that will not be joining me on my 2021 walk:

  • Waterproof socks. Last year I thought they were the bee’s knees but after suspecting them to have played a part in my downfall my opinion has changed. Firstly, for the same weight I can have two pairs of normal walking socks. Secondly, once they are wet, they don’t really dry on trail. This year I am training in the winter, getting my feet used to being wet and I’m finding it okay so the waterproof socks will be staying at home.
  • Terra Nova Starlite 2. My trusty tent. I have nothing bad to say about this tent and have used it extensively. Coming in at 1.4kg it’s still a little heavy for thru-hikes in my opinion. I like to move fast and being light is a big part of that. It will be staying at home.
  • Pita Breads. I don’t know why I thought I would take these to eat on trail last year. They are awful when not toasted and take about an hour to chew through a single one! I might consider taking some tortilla wraps though, filled with tomato sauce, herbs and cheese they make a nice pizza wrap.

NEW GEAR

Generally I was pretty happy with my gear but I’ve decided to splash out and buy a few new pieces or atleast think about a few upgrades:

  • Trekker Tent Stealth 1: This is less than a third of the weight of my previous tent yet remains the similar shape I like, featuring the porch area at the front. It was quite expensive but this will be my go-to thru-hike tent for the foreseeable future. I want to hike to Rome and complete the PCT one day so this tent will be ideal.
  • New Quilt? : Last  year I wanted the Thermarest Vesper 0c yet it was out of stock everywhere due to covid supply issues. I had to settle with the heavier Chorus quilt. The Chorus performed fine but I am still looking for a better quilt, be it lighter or the same weight but warmer. It’s probably not on my immediate list though.

WHATS NEXT

I’ve got about four and a bit months before I set off, and who knows, it could even be delayed depending on the Covid situation. Over the next few months I’ll be building my strength and fitness back up, I really haven’t done  a great deal since coming off the Pennine Way last year. Now I have another goal to work towards, I can focus on doing what it takes to achieve that. I have a few articles I plan on writing for this Pennine Way 2021 series so keep an eye out for those over the next few weeks. I’m planning the following: A full gear list article and a look back at what I learned from my 7 days on the trail last year.

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