Day 4

Today a very hard decision has had to be made. From where I currently am I have around 40 miles left. With the delays caused by the roasting weather, the damage to my feet, and my now quite bad shoulder from my fall yesterday I am moving slower.

I am still going to finish the whole route, however I am going to have to add a day making it over 6 days.

As much as I wanted to do it in the challenge time of 5 days, to try and do this would put me at serious risk of injuring myself.

I hope everyone that has donated will understand that this is unavoidable, and give me the extra half day with love! X

Evening ~ Day 3

There was a misting of very light for a while late morning, and approaching lunch time I slipped on a large tree root that formed a step in the track, I came down really hard on my shoulder jarring it, so lunchtime came early, as did the midgies!

The afternoon was interesting, some of the historical points and so on getting increasingly drizzly with rain but nothing a waterproof jacket couldn’t solve!

Camp was made a bit earlier than planned to let my shoulder rest a bit, halfway through pitching my tent chaos broke:

It’s really noisy here! I’m hiding underneath my tarpaulin, which attaches to my tent. It is absolutely belting it down with hail stones – I’m not even kidding. Even I was not expecting hail stones at this time of year, even for Scotland. Actual hail stones. I did not come equipped for this – so, I am going to hunker down, keep dry – or try and get dry in the first place – and get some tea and coffee on, because I’m hungry, and I’m thirsty, and I’m cold! As much as it has been a gorgeous, gorgeous day today, the hail stones are now running underneath this tarpaulin…

After the hail storm, the midgies stayed for dinner time, sadly I was their dinner and shortly after eating
I have up and hid in my insect netted tent! Time to call that a day!

Evening ~ Day 2

Well today was a rocky start… As I was leaving the forest I had camped in, I saw a curly stick in the track and went to turn it with my walking pole only to realise it was a small dark snake. Anyone that knows me will know how I would feel about this. The one animal I am afraid of is snakes, and so the track was effectively closed for 10 minutes while I stayed back and let it cross.

Lucky I have a stoma bag, or I might have needed new boxer shorts! I covered the last mile or so through the forest in double quick time!

I then came to a pint where you bear right to go up a track winding up a huge hill, or left and down a mild slope to the bank of the Loch. I had decided last night I would take the low road to the bank, I forgot however to alter my route on the map. So up the hill I went after realising a mile and a half too late!

The rest of the day was hard work, very hot again and getting a bit more hilly. It was a nice day though, and the last part of the day walking alongside the Loch was beautiful.

Helped a young couple at a cross roads who had forgotten their way, top tip, even if it’s a short walk you’re taking, bring a map or it can turn into a much longer walk than planned!

Once I had made camp and dipped my legs into the Loch I checked my stoma and was surprised how well it was all holding up. I don’t often hike in that kind of heat, but even the Trio flange extenders were holding on! The sensura mia pouch system I use is really thin and flexible, and sticks well, but I think it will need changed soon.

Tomorrow is forecast to be a cooler day, which will be nice. Hopefully it’ll be dry still, but there is some rain forecast in the afternoon, better keep my waterproofs handy! I start heading into the Highlands tomorrow.

Evening ~ Day 1

Well today was hot. I mean, I was expecting hot, but this was HOT hot!

The main issue was fluids, I carry a 1.5 litre water pouch with a handy drinking tube, this allows drinking little and often without even pausing. Having to stop twice to refill takes quite a while with my mini water filter pump.

It can be tricky balancing need for water with weight. A litre of water weights a kilo, and in a pack of 20kg or so, every bit you can save is worth it and I find 1.5 litres and my water filter gets me from stream to stream.

We ostomates don’t absorb nutrients particularly well, and too much water can actually make the issue worse where we are not getting the electrolytes. The other problem is that lots of water gives us really watery output in our bag, not very comfortable when out walking.

I carried some electrolyte tablets, you can also get it as powder, 4 of those drinks a day alongside water helped a lot. You can get various gelling agents that you use in your bag, I tried a couple and didn’t get on with them, but I got samples of Trio Ostomy pearls, and they work a treat, makes it a lot more comfortable.

Anyway, I got what I needed, and I have an extra fold up water carrier for overnight too, it has a tap and hangs so it’s a really useful bit of kit, and it rolls up to very small and weighs next to nothing.

I set off carrying 5 days worth of food. Nothing fancy, boil in the bag hiking meals, dry noodles, a tin of ham and another of tuna and some dry pasta packets. I will be burning about 6000 calories a day, each evening camping meal is almost 3000, and snacks and noodles/pasta make up the rest for lunch.

Important things for both hiking and folk with a stoma, nutrition and hydration are the top two for both. Often what is easy to carry and cook is not great for a stoma, but fresh is wildly impractical for 5 days!

So I drink water and eat as best I can, the camping meals I have are really tasty, although by the time evening meals comes around, I’m so hungry I would eat it anyway! Plus, should anything happen to my stove, they can be eaten cold.

So, having cooked myself to medium well today, I’m going to get an early night, and an early start to get some miles in before it gets too hot, then take a long lunch, and more miles in the afternoon.

I had been worried about how my stoma appliance would fare with the heat, and the extra problem of the hip strap on my rucksack sits right above my bag.

As it turned out it did really well. I use a 2 piece bag system so that I can get rid of gas easily, and I use some silicon flange extenders from Trio Ostomy Care. I find the silicon doesn’t peel away so easily from sweating. I also found that they stopped and rubbing from the hip strap on the flange.

So fed and watered, it’s bed time! And no midgies which feels like a miracle!

Morning ~ Day 1

Well last night I slept in the car close to the start point of the route in Milngavie (pronounced Mill-guy) ready to go this morning.

I have realised I am missing 2 key items, suncream and anti midgie spray, I’ll get them close to the start then!

Having had a decent nights sleep, I feel ready for the trek ahead, though some nerves about it too!

I would like to take a moment to thank The Phoenix works for their support. They are renewable energy and electric vehicle charge point specialists I used to work with, they really are the best at their game too!

So the next update will be as I am taking my first steps, watch this space!

The start

So… Yesterday did not go as planned, owing to car trouble I was delayed by a day, not ideal but it is only a day!
The upside is a whole extra day for donations!

I’m now about halfway up to Scotland now and will be there tonight ready to get walking tomorrow morning. Now that I’m on my way, everything ready, the focus is on the challenge ahead and I’m really looking forward to it!

What, When, Why?

A bit about me.

In 2015, I received my diagnosis of a rare bowel condition which, without surgery, had a 100% chance of becoming cancer. My late diagnosis meant that they feared that unless I had surgery within a year I may not be around much longer. 8 months and many camera test and scans later I was in the operating theatre having my ileostomy placed.

I was very lucky to have friends and family who supported and, sometimes, carried me through a difficult and scary time before and after the operation. Not everyone is so lucky though, and this is where the Ileostomy and Internal Pouch Association come in.

The IA arrange visits and support for people struggling with this change. Support on everything from the stoma itself, to the effect on relationships, mental health, finances, and more.

In June, I embarked on a 5-day trek to raise funds and awareness for the charity. I crossed a huge variety of scenery along the way, from countryside parks to loch-shores, and from open moorlands to steep mountains. This was a solo, self-sufficient trek, carrying everything I needed, from food and shelter to emergency kit, clothing, and of course my stoma supplies!

I hoped to prove that having a stoma doesn’t limit us, or stop us from doing anything that someone without a stoma could do.