So, technology. A key dimension of my walk.
I need an instrument to help navigate (GPS plus OS maps) and something so I can blog. I don’t know how many people will read the blog but it’s the least I owe the people who have sponsored me. Whether they read it is entirely up to them but they have the choice. Most B&Bs offer WiFi, usually free, so it’s going to be easier to keep in touch than it could have been. For navigation there appears to be a range of things. I wouldn’t say I’m a Luddite but I’ve never been a leader in the take up of technology – I only started to use a mobile phone regularly about four years ago and still have what I call a “drug dealer’s phone”, a cheap pay as you go model that does little more than phone and text. So Matt will be helping and advising me in between his PlayStation sessions and, probably, to find an excuse to delay doing his homework.
Reading others’ accounts of long distance walking does throw up logistical issues on navigation. Pretty much everyone until recently carted around decent numbers of paper maps, having some sent to them, sending the previous batch home. But, hey, this is the 21st century, surely navigation should be easier than that. There are some quite tricky parts of the route – particularly in the first fortnight – when some detailed paper maps will be necessary but even the major walking magazines trumpet certain gadgets as extremely practical. Whatever you use, there is no easy way to get from Land’s End to around Bridgwater – there aren’t lots of miles of footpaths, apart from the SW Coast Path, and there will be some reliance on country lanes. The main roads may be workable in other parts of the country, but having Google Earthed and Street Viewed much of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, pretty much every main road has long stretches of that feared combination of busy traffic and narrow grass verge (if you’re lucky). Neither the A30 nor the A39 look like a bowl of cherries on a misty morning. But I think if I can get to Bridgwater, it’ll be the start of March, slightly warmer weather and lighter evenings with the worst of the hills beaten, at least until Northern England, I should be so much more confident. That first two weeks will be when I need the greatest support, in whatever form that takes – those will certainly be tough days.
A nice feature appeared on the intranet at work today and I received a couple of lovely emails and plenty of encouragement. There were quite a number of people who hadn’t previously heard I was doing this and one person stopped me in the corridor and gave me £20. I’m almost up to £1,500 and seemingly more to come.