Though if this blog were your guide you might conclude it's the only thing I do, I really have been walking a lot lately. When the weather co-operates, I'm often up at sick o'clock on a Sunday to trample the docile footways of Erewash, when every non-crazy person in the neighbourhood is quite rightly fast asleep. And when life permits, I like to catch a bus into the Peak District or head to the Lakes for moderate exertions followed in the evenings by fish and chips or a piping plate of pub grub. But over the last few months I've been wondering: what's a more ambitious challenge than these spontaneous three or four-hour walks? What achievement can I unlock — at low cost and without needing time off work?
How about my local 105-mile long distance footpath?
My new project: the Robin Hood Way.
The path starts at the gatehouse of Nottingham Castle and runs to the village of Edwinstowe in north Nottinghamshire. Since this is a journey of less than 20 miles by road, directness was not one of the goals of the creators of this route. Along its meandering course it takes in many of Nottinghamshire's green spaces and historic points of interest, such as Wollaton Park, the town of Southwell, Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest.
Of course I'm not walking this in one go. Instead I've devised a plan of attack involving splitting the route into legs that — crucially — all start and end at points accessible via public transport from Nottingham. On paper, this looks like a long distance footpath that's particularly suited to walking in stages with the aid of local buses. In practice? I'll find out.
The local OS Explorer maps feature the Robin Hood Way, and these will be my guide. There's a book called The Robin Hood Walks which serves as the official guide to the route, but it's apparently well overdue for an update; a revised edition is being published 'soon', but until then I'm making do without it. There will no doubt be places where I get lost, or where the 'official' route is not easy to find, but I'm not averse to taking the occasional detour. I'm approaching this walk as an opportunity to walk in interesting places, not to be fussy about seeing every yard of a path; I'm not going to intentionally deviate, but if I find I came to the right spot by the wrong path, I probably won't backtrack.
I'll be carrying a GPS and camera, and I'll make a blog post — including my GPS tracklog — for each leg, starting with leg 1 (Nottingham Castle-Trowell) which will go up sometime this week. Photos will, if I can figure out a workflow, be georeferenced and posted to Flickr. Though I'm doing this more as a personal diary than anything else, I'm going to try to make the posts as informative as possible for people who might want to try this project themselves.
Next post will be the first leg's writeup, then I promise to write something not about walking. Honestly, I'm still a big, desk-bound, lotro-playing, apple-fanboying geek. I don't know what's happened to me — must be all this fresh air and sunlight.