The Dirty Dozen

It’s happening.  I have it in writing, via Royal Mail, par avion.  All twelve of us will be walking next June.  And what’s more?  It’s “one of the world’s favourite [sic] walks!”

Now that we’re confirmed, I hope other walkers will begin introducing themselves here!  Perhaps I can nudge my adventuresome mother, whose handwriting incidentally it appears they’ve forged on the envelope, to take a swing at blogging?


Hi Pebbles, this is Dorothy.  I am SO happy that I could be part of this adventure! I am Ben(j)’s mother, and since I was very much there when he came into the world, I figured it was fitting that I should come along when he heads Over The Hill.

I’m starting to prepare, the passport is on the way, I bought Merrell hiking boots/sneakers (do I really need more than one pair?), special socks and sock liners (big sale at EMS right now), and a pair of convertible pants.  Sounds like the whole shebang to me.

I could use some advice on the boots.  Not only re: one or two pairs, but also how much to use them so that they are familiar and comfortable but still have enough miles left in them.

I’m very much looking forward to meeting all of you.  See you in about 273 days!

The Brits!

Hi There. Peter and Jane Mellett here. We got involved with this trek via Laura, who I think is a friend of Benj’s mother. Laura and I go back 30 years!

We are fairly regular walkers – that and swimming. So we already have the boots fairly well worn in. We have done hill walking for a week at a time, but the challenge for us will be to keep up the pace over 16 days. Just hope the feet and joints can stand it. I have a 20 mile walk scheduled to do at the end of the month – just hope I don’t end up like Laura! That is absolutely my limit for a day, and it is all up and down too, so good practice for Yorkshire. I believe the longest stretch we have to do is 17miles, but that one is also a slog.

Pete and I were also walking up in the North York Moors recently with a mate who is a Ranger there. He may well join us for the last bit of the walk if he can co-ordinate things. The scenery there was quite stunning – glorious heather moors – though full of grouse and pheasants for the main cash crop up there, alas. However, it is not a wilderness – nothing in the UK really is. We are a very small island. So you folk from the States should do this standing on your heads.

And finally – my mum came from near Scarborough and played on the moors as a child. It was always my hope to go to Robin Hoods Bay for my honeymoon. Unfortunately it had a habit of falling into the sea, so I settled for going to Nigeria to work instead! I think there is a logic in that.

One thing we need to say now is the fact that Laura offered us this trip to distract us and give us something to look forward to. Our son Paul died rather horribly this year and we shall be walking with you all on the anniversary of that period. It will be good to have the hills and the winds to blow it all away.

Looking forward to meeting you all.

When the rubber meets the road

I wonder how often that title phrase is used literally? Probably as often as the word “literally” is used literally. Anyway, cue the choir of angels, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

L.L. Bean stocks a variety of brands: their own brand, alongside Keen, Merrell, Oboz, Salomon, Teva, and others. My three criteria going in were mid-height, waterproof, and comfortable. I was partial to the Salomons, but they didn’t have clown shoe sizes (12+) in stock. So I asked to try on the Merrells, which is the brand Ma decided on for her Wainwright footwear, as well as the Oboz, which are apparently the latest fancy award-winning boots.

I happened to be wearing my Wrightsock double-layer crew hiking socks while traveling up the coast that day. Perfect! I got my foot half into a Merrell before aborting, asking if perhaps they had a half-size bigger? “Sir, that’s the size 8 you pulled off the display rack.” Carry on, then. The size 12 boots were decidedly roomier than the 8, but still a snug fit.

The Oboz were stiff. I climbed up and down the stairs and circumnavigated the store. They were like wearing alpine ski boots. I don’t care how many awards they won, the Oboz would need about 192 miles of breaking in. Meanwhile the Merrells, especially by comparison, felt like putting on a pair of slippers. I was comforted in the knowledge that Merrell doesn’t make size 12.5, so the snug size 12 Merrell Moab Mid GORE-TEX won the day.

I hope to road test these boots over the coming weekend in California. Stay tuned!