Snowdon Hourseshoe walk in aid of Psuedomyxoma Peritonei reseach

On 21st August 2010 I along with several freinds will be attempting the Snowdon Horseshoe walk to raise funds for Basingstoke and Northampshire Hospital -Pseudomyxoma Peritonei fund. The hospital is one of only two specialist centres in the country and the money will help buy equipment and fund research into this little known form of Cancer.

Only 1 in every million people will contract this desease and information and statistics are scarce. I was diagnosed with the desease last year and underwent surgery at Basingstoke on the 2nd of Feb 2010. I spent 12hrs on the operating table, a week in Intensive Care and a week on the specialist ward.

This blog will follow the team and their training over the next few months and ultimately report on the walk itself.........

There is also a link to our Just giving site below to allow money to be raised on line. Please give generously!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A Huge Thank You!

Friday 29th October.

Today we took the bulk of the fundraising money from the Snowdon Horseshoe charity walk to Basingstoke to present to the team who looked after me whilst I was undergoing my treatment.
We had an uneventful drive up from Bristol and arrived early enough to sneak in to the restaurant for a coffee and a pain au chocolate! We made our way to C floor and met Francis and Brendan Moran in their office as agreed. A short time later a photographer from the press office arrived with her camera and we made our way to C2 ward to say hello to the staff and have some photo’s taken. For Jessica and Chloe it was the first time they had been onto the ward. They commented on how light and airy the ward is and how friendly the staff were. We said hello to the team and all remarked on how well I looked. Sally, the ward sister didn’t even recognize me until I spoke! Everyone was full of smiles and pleased to see us. They were also amazed by how much money we had raised. So far we have raised the bulk of our target of £5k. We were pleased to hand over £4,762 today and still have the Just Giving page open until November 21st and have at least another £500 pledged still to come. The ward was just as I remembered it and there was an empty bed space in the room I occupied whilst I stayed there.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us and donated money to a very worthy cause. I would also like to give a very special thank you to all the team members who took part and went to the effort of raising the money and take the time to gather it in after the event; it’s not an easy task! So a huge thank you to- Jon Mason, Stephen Mason, Mark Adams, Steve Read, Dave Bates, Andy Jackson and Rhys Wickham. And also to my daughters Jessica and Chloe,to Mum and Dad and to Mum Bates who also raised money on our behalf. I would also like to give a massive pat on the back to Steve "Bumper" Treweeks and Jake who raised a significant amount of money for The Christie Hospital where Steve had his MOAS in 2007.

The money raised for Basingstoke Hospital will help go towards fitting out a new family room on C2 ward. It will be somewhere where patients and family can meet on the ward in a friendly and relaxed environment and save patients having to leave the ward to see their loved ones at a time when they often feel unwell. It will also help with infection control and be somewhere carers can relax at a time when they are under a lot of stress whilst loved ones are in surgery.
Whilst talking with Brendan Moran he showed me his waiting list of patients who require treatment at the hospital and already the schedule extends into the New Year with others still to have dates confirmed. Sadly it appears that PMP is becoming more common, with Mr Moran saying that the frequency had increased to 2-3 people per million per year. All the more reason to keep supporting the team that work so hard to help people like me. The team here work long hours and it isn’t uncommon to see Brendan, Tom and the team on the ward at 07:00 and still there at 23:00 (that certainly was the case on the day of my surgery). I can’t thank them enough.
So with this in mind we will continue to support them as long as we can.......plans are already in place to do more fundraising in various ways next year including a main event in the summer. Let’s see if we can’t beat this year’s total? In the mean time I will open another Just Giving page to run in the background allowing anyone who wishes to donate.

Once again, thank you all so much for your support, people like me need you.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Snowdon Horseshoe - The big day arrives....

In the week leading up to the walk the final arrangements had been made, kit sorted out, car sharing arranged and the final team put together.
The final team consisted of-
Walking for Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital-
David Mason
Stephen Mason
Jon Mason
Mark Adams
Andy Jackson
Dave Bates
Steve Read
Rhys Wickham

Walking for The Christie(Manchester)-
Steve Treweeks
Jake Treweeks (13yrs)

Friday 20th August.
Jon, Mark, Stephen and I all travelled up together. Luckily Mark had the use of a people carrier for the weekend that meant there was far more space for the masses of kit that we all took. The weather in Bristol was overcast but warm, the odd shower creeping through but otherwise OK. Traffic was slow and we ended up having to take a detour due to congestion as people made their way to the "V" festival. We stopped at one point to stretch our legs and have a wander around Sainsbury's to get some shopping for the weekend, lunch and of course a beer or two!
After a short break we soon hit the road again and gradually found ourself entering the rolling Snowdonia countryside. As we got closer to Snowdon the weather changed and we hit heavy rain. My heart sank.
The rain continued to pour as we made our way through Betsey Coed and then took the turning for the Llanberis Pass. The mountain stream at the side of the road was in spate and silver slivers of water tumbled down the steep mountainside to emerge at the bottom as rushing waterfalls. The walk was going to be a nightmare if the weather was like this.

Then, as we entered Llanberis the roads suddenly dried up and people were walking around in T-shirts. Apparently it had been dry there all day whilst only a mile up the Pass the rain poured. We found the campsite up a small turning off the main road. The lane rose steeply through fields occupied by other campers and we made our way to reception to book in. It was now around 17:00hrs and we had been on the road for 5hrs! We found the flattest ground we could and set up the tents and got ourselves comfy.

Steve T then rang to say that he and Jake were about half to three quarter's of an hour away so we decided to head down to the village for some dinner. By the time we sorted ourselves out and walked down the lane Steve and Jake were just coming up in the car so we stopped for a quick chat and agreed to meet them after dinner back at the campsite. We headed on down into the village and found Pete's Eat's. A well known walkers and climbers cafe that served up good sized portions of grub at cheap rates. And luckily for us served beer!
Whilst we were sat eating Dave B then rang to say that he and Steve R were only about half an hour away. We arranged to meet them at the campsite and help put up the tents and get a brew on and a fire lit. Andy and Rhys were joining us in the morning.
We finished our meals and took a steady walk back to the campsite to find Steve and Dave already there and tent up! Steve and Jake were also now all set up and after a trip to the Chinese returned with their dinner. So we put on a brew and got the fire going. It was a mild night with clear sky's full of stars and the odd cloud skittering through on the brisk wind.
We sat and chatted, discussing the plans for the following morning opting to catch the 08:40 Sherpa bus up to Pen Y Pass where we would meet Andy and Rhys.The rest of the night was spent with the usual banter and ribbing and everyone straining their necks to look at shooting stars racing across the night sky. It was a perfect start, everyone had arrived without issue and was now ready for the long day ahead. The last of us climbed into our sleeping bags about midnight after the last of the logs on the fire had burned away and conscious of the 06:30 start to get breakfast on in time to meet the Sherpa bus.

Saturday 21st August-The day of the walk!

I awoke at 06:00 after a fitful nights sleep. There was a fairly noisy group that had arrived at around 02:30 and the wind had got up a bit at times. I got dresses and emerged out of my tent to find sheep grazing in the field. The sun was not quite up and over the mountains as yet although it was quite light. I trekked off to the toilets to have a wash and clean my teeth. When I got back Mark was also awake and there was rustling noises coming from the other firmly zipped up tents! I quickly got a brew on and we started organizing breakfast.
The sun broke over the mountain opposite to reveal clear skies and a warm day as the bacon and sausages sizzled on the stoves. We started with cereals and tea and then tucked into bacon and sausage sandwiches ensuring we cooked enough for dinner on the mountain too.

Time was ticking and I soon found myself "faffing" around trying to sort my kit out for the day and pack up the breakfast stuff in a most disorganised fashion! Rhys rang to say that they were about half an hour away after a very early start to get to us and should be on time to meet us at 09:00 as arranged. Another sigh of relief! We headed down the lane to the village all kitted up about 08:20. Andy then rang to advise that they had parked further down the pass as Pen Y pass was full.This worked out perfectly as they actually got on the same bus as us as it made its way slowly up the steep and winding pass to the drop off point. The team was complete. On the way up I handed out a couple of small posters I had done advertising our charity walk that could easily be tucked underneath the elastic on the back of the ruck sacks, they looked great and even prompted some people to hand over some cash on the way around the walk so well worth the effort.
We arrived at Pen Y Pass and even here the difference in temperature was noticeable even with the sun shining. We stopped to use the loo's and take some group photo's. A stop to look at the weather forecast and a quick chat with the mountain rangers office soon revealed that Crib Gogh was getting battered with 50mph winds. We were advised not to do it especially as it was our first time up there and the ridge is pretty exposed in places. I was a little disappointed but that was soon dispelled when we got going on the Pyg Track.
The path starts by winding its way through the mountains directly behind the car park and is immediately quite rocky with some large steps.The start of the impressive Crib Goch(923m) looms to the right. The track then bears slightly to the left and you soon find yourself in the bowl of the Snowdon Horseshoe with the waters of Llyn Llydaw beneath you, Y-Lliwedd (898m)dominates the skyline opposite who's steep cliffs plunge down to the lakeside and Snowdon (1085m) itself sits menacingly round to your right its summit draped in cloud.

The track is lined with rocks and climbs steadily towards Snowdon. It was pretty busy already with people making their way both up and back down the track. We immediately reached for our camera's and snapped away at the view's. The sun was shining with the occasional cloud moving through and not too hot. Perfect walking weather.
We walked for an hour and a half or so and then found a quiet grassy ledge to stop for a brew and a bite to eat. It was off the main path and commanded magnificent views of Y Lliwedd on the opposite side of the Horseshoe. Its steep craggy sides silhouetted against the sky line.

We soon found ourselves on the path again, as we climbed higher over streams cascading down from the Crib Gogh summit the temperature dropped and we were soon entering the cloud base. Visibility reduced and the air took on a cold,damp feel. Further up the track we stopped to look at a post on the edge of the track that had coins pushed into it from its base to its top. Penny's, five and ten pence piece's, Euro's and all other manner of currency wedged into the wood.

The track wound higher and higher towards Snowdons summit and we soon found ourselves at the start of the "zig,zags" a winding steep section of the path that leads to the col between Crib Gogh and Snowdon itself. The top was in sight now but the path was very steep. Suddenly there was the whoosh of steam as the steam train made its way to the Snowdon summit cafe straining to push the passenger laden carriages,puffing its way up the mountain just out of sight. We stopped again for a brief rest and munched on Jelly Babies.
We made the final push to the top of the track and immediately felt the effects of the cold wind blowing across the ridge line. The track beared around to the left and climbed further. Finally and with great relief we soon found ourselves at the foot of the busy summit cairn,perched on the top of a 20ft high outcrop of rock. We made our way to the top and jostled for space around the cairn. Perched precariously on the top we posed for photo's proudly holding the posters I had made.

We didn't hang around long and soon made our way into the warmth of the crowded summit cafe. Here we stopped for 3/4hr or so for a break and a hot drink. We decided not to do lunch here and instead find a quiet spot further along the loop out of the cloud base where we could all sit in comfort. A quick look at the O/S map and compass pointed us in the direction of the next path.No one in the group had walked this section and it was completely new.
We took a right out of the door of the cafe and followed a steep path down for 100m or so before swinging left down a steep scree slope.Here the path became very steep and less defined. We picked our way down the steep slope through the mist and cloud,placing each foot carefully. Suddenly about half way down the cloud parted and we were treated to cracking views of the way ahead and the jagged ridge of Y Lliwedd. Everyone stopped and reached for their camera's. Next there was a yelp as Dave spotted his rucksack tumbling down the steep scree slope beneath us! "My bag!". The bag kept rolling getting closer and closer to the cliffs that dropped away below. Luckily the bag was undone and was dumping its contents as it rolled. This had the effect of slowing the bag down until it finally stopped just short of the drop off. Some very careful traversing on Dave and Steve's part soon retrieved the bag and its contents and they returned safely to the path much to my relief. From this point Dave was nick named "mountain man!".
We continued to pick our way carefully down the path, Dave hanging onto his bag tightly. Finally we reached the col between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd.Here we found a quiet corner and tucked into the sausage and bacon sandwiches and cups of tea from the flasks.

A nearby rock perched on others provided the perfect spot for yet more photo's. We looked on at Y Lliwedd ahead of us. The path peeled off the main route and disappeared between the rocks as it rose steeply up towards the pointed summit, steep cliffs falling hundreds of feet away to the left. This would test the nerve of those of us that suffer with vertigo!
We took the left hand fork in the path and started the steep climb up to the summit of Y Lliwedd. An easier path wound its way around to the less steep right hand side of the peak disappearing and then reappearing between the huge slabs of rock. The path snaked its way around the mountain and we soon found ourselves facing two options, an easier climb around to the right or a short exposed climb up a rock face on the left with the cliffs plunging away beneath us to the grey, cold waters far below us. It wasn't technically difficult but tested your nerves a bit as there was little room for error. It was exciting and challenging, this was what it was all about!

A short section of further climbing and we were soon on the summit ridge with fantastic views all around us. For the first time the cloud had parted from Snowdon's summit and we could see the tiny, ant like silhouettes of people on its summit. It was breathtaking. We picked our way along the ridge. Taking things carefully and avoiding the huge holes that appeared on our left from time to time. The path slowly began to descend from the final peak in the Horseshoe and made its way down towards the lake and that busy Miners path far below.
By this time some of the guys had gotten further ahead threatening a stop for a swim in Llyn Llydaw's icy waters! Dave, Steve, Jake and I had stopped for a breather at Jake's request as his bag was rubbing his back. I could see the guys were now at the lake side quite some way below us and there was definitely the glint of sunlight on flesh!"Are you guys really going for it?" I called over the radio.
"Sure are" Andy replied.
"Steve,Rhys and Jon and Stephen"
"Are they going swimming?" suddenly piped up Jake from the rock he was perched on.
"Yep" I replied.
And quicker than you'd believe Jake shouldered his pack and shot off down the path!
"Well I guess his back isn't that sore!" I joked to Steve.
We watched as he streaked his way down the mountain to meet with the others at the lake side.Suddenly the radio crackled again.
"Hello it's Jake"
"Hello Jake" I replied.
"Can you ask Dad if I can go swimming" he asked?
" I was waiting for this" replied Steve. "Yeah,OK!"
"Your Dad says yes" I relayed the message and he was soon stripping off to join the others in the water.
We arrived not long after to find Steve,Stephen,Jon and Rhys swimming in the water with other walkers spectating from the path with chins on their chests!

Jake however was paralysed with the cold at only knee deep.
"I'm getting out" he shivered.
"Oh no your not" called Jon " No man points for only going in knee deep" he laughed.
Jake gave in to the pier pressure and launched himself into the water!
We hung around for a bit whilst the guys got themselves out and dried before picking up the now well worn and busy miners path. The track was easy,the end in sight and we all chatted about the events of the day. Finally the Pen Y Pass car park came into view and there was the Sherpa bus sat waiting for us.Perfect timing!

We all crammed into the top deck of the bus and chatted and looked at some of the photo's on the camera's as we made our way back down the pass. Andy, Rhys and Mark got off at the stop for Andy's car and Mark showed them the way to the camp site. The rest of us got off the bus and made our way up the steep lane to our tents. Legs aching and weary but content in an excellent day out.
When we arrived at the camp Andy's tent was up and the stoves were soon fired up and kettles boiling. The beer was cracked open and we sat back and rested in the sun supping on a well earned beer. Gradually we headed off to the showers and got changed ready for the night ahead.
Steve T's family also arrived that afternoon and we met them back at the campsite. It was great to finally meet Tracey and the rest of the family.
Once all were ready we headed back down to Pete's Eats for dinner and a pint or two. We all crammed around a couple of tables and tucked in.
When finished we made our way back to the command grabbed a couple of bags of wood for the fire. It was soon burning well and we all sat around having a beer. Dave announced that he had a bottle of champagne for us to celebrate with and it was passed to me to do the honours. We had no glasses and had to pass the bottle around but it was great!

The night was more overcast and cooler, we were glad of the extra fire wood to keep us warm. Gradually the team dwindled as people made their way to their sleeping bags, Rhys curled up in front of the fire weary but warm! Around midnight we all decided to go to bed.

Sunday 22nd Aug

We arose to yet another nice day. Steadily we all got up and put the kettle on. We washed and had some breakfast and got dressed. The next task was to pack up camp. All the bags were packed and the tents folded and stashed away. The gear was crammed into the cars and finally everything was packed away and ready for the journey home.
First we headed to Pete's Eats for the final time to treat ourselves to a full English breakfast. The walk to the village was a painful affair for most of us as the aching muscles we called upon to work once again. On the way back Jon flatly refused to climb the steep hill back to the campsite instead asking Mark and I to pick him up at the bottom of the lane!
We said our goodbye's to Steve and his family and climbed back into the cars ready for the long journey home.
A couple of hours later I had a text from Steve commenting on what a great weekend it was and with a picture attached of Jake fast asleep in the car! I smiled to myself and wondered if he was dreaming of climbing mountains and swimming in the clear waters of a mountain lake. Part of me hoped that we had ignited a spark somewhere inside of him and given him a taste of the outdoors that he would carry with him in the future and not get stuck in the rut that other kids do with their Playstation's, X boxes and Nintendo DS's. We'd achieved a great weekends walk,had fun and raised a substantial amount of money for both Basingstoke and Manchester hospitals PMP fund. But hopefully also given Jake a great adventure with the boys!

You can do a Google Earth Flyby of the route we took by clicking here-

Snowdon Horseshoe

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Two days to go

So its nearly time for the big event! Most of us are travelling up to Llanberis tomorrow so we can get our tents pitched and get settled. Mark, Jon and I are leaving late morning so we can check out the facilities and local area and get a brew on and help the others get their tents up when they arrive.

So tonight will most of us will be digging out our kit and stuffing ruck sack's and so on. The weather forecast for tomorrow isnt fantastic, some patchy rain is forecast but winds are light. The forecast for Sat is brighter but still with some showers about....

Fundraising has reached the £3k mark and there is still more pledges and sponsorforms to be collated.

In an effort to give the walk some more publicity and boost fundraising I have also managed to get an article in the Bristol Eveing Post and can be found by clicking the link below..

Dave's article

So time to rest up a bit now, re charge the batteries and pack the should be a great weekend!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

One week to go.....

So its exactly one week to go until the main event itself. This time next week we will be on the mountain and hopefully a good way around the horseshoe by now. Hopefully the weather will be better than it is today.
In the time since my last post lots has gone on. I have made a return to running and managed a 3 mile,flat,steady run twice a week. I was conscious that I needed to try and improve my fitness levels but not get injured so have deliberately tried to take it steady.
In an effort to try and raise the profile of PMP Steve has done very well and managed to get a great piece in the local paper. The article discusses Steve's PMP story and promotes our fund raising walk.You can read the article by following the link below-

Steve's article

Fundraising continues to go well with over £2k now pledged. There is still time to make donations by clicking on the just giving link above.....

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday 18th July- An eventful day in the Brecon Beacons

As usual I'd just like to thank everyone for their generosity since my last post and in parcticular both David Hathaway Transport (Bristol) and Geodis Calberson both for their generous donations.
Its been quite an exciting few weeks with us getting some coveragefor the event on the Steve Prescott Foundation website. In addition my employer Nisbets Plc will be holding a dress down day on Friday 30th July and donating the funds raised to our walk!

Jon arrived early (07:15) and we made our way over to pick up Andy. The weather was overcast but mild and we made good progress to our rendezvous point with Steve;Asda at Merther Tydfil for breakfast. We arrived to find only a few cars in the car park and the store quite obviously closed. Steve had suggested this might be the case this early on a Sunday morning earlier in the week. However I was sure the website had said that it would be open.....not the case. So after meeting up a quick change of plan found us at good old McDonald's tucking in! It was really good to finally meet Steve a fellow PMPer. We did all the introductions and had a good old chat.
The weather here was very different from that at home,grey and drizzly. We finished our breakfast and after a quick de-tour to pick up some sandwiches etc soon found ourselves heading for the hills.
The nearer we got to the car park the wetter it seemed to get,typical! We arrived at the large car park to find it pretty much empty apart from the odd military vehicle and the butty van. We kitted up, donning wet gear and sorting out walking poles. We crossed the bridge at the start of the path leading up to the summit of Corn Du.Its a steady up hill climb for about a mile or so and the summit of the peak was obscured by low cloud. As we climbed higher the wind grew steadily. We passed a few walkers on their way back down the hill and exchanged greetings. Other than that the only other people on the track were the SAS doing their selection training, tabbing with full kit,burgens and SA80's!
As we hit the top of the Corn Du ridge the wind really hit us hard, the final scramble up to the cairn fully exposed us to the wind and the mountain forecast of 40-50mile per hour gusts was spot on. The conditions were awful, zero visibility,horizontal rain and a relentless wind...."this could be fun" I thought.
We didn't hang around long and started the descent off of Corn Du and along the ridge towards Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales. How different the conditions were from the last time I was up here exactly one month to the day before my MOAS-2nd Jan. Then the clouds cleared to give a beautiful snow clad view of the hill in bright blue skies.

The cloud wasn't going to part today, that was for sure. We battled along the ridge and climbed up on to Pen-Y-Fan. We met a group of very under prepared kids coming the other way asking for directions. Its crazy, these are typical of the kind of people who end up getting rescued by the mountain rescue team.
We swung a right and followed the ridge down the steep and rocky track down into the bowl between Pen Y Fan and Cribyn. Here we crossed the stepping stones at the tarn which last time we were here was buried under a thick blanket of snow and until now I didn't know existed.
Next came the short but very steep climb up Cribyn. Here the wind really battered us and we felt very exposed. The legs were starting to feel the steep climbs and I found the walking poles useful not only to help on the climbs but to steady myself when being hit by the gusts of wind. We pushed on a little further to the point where we were due to hang another right and walk the ridge line down toward the lakes. It was at this point (approx 3 1/2 miles out) that Andy told us he was having problems with his knees. He was fresh back from biking in Canada and was still suffering a little I think! He's far fitter than I am and this was unusual. The conditions had continued to deteriorate and after a quick heads up we decided that if Andy wanted to turn back then we all would as things were pretty bad up there and the next section was head on to the wind. Despite having our waterproofs on we were all soaked through and there wasn't going to be anywhere along the rout where we could get out of the wind for a quick brew. So the decision was collectively made to turn back. Sometimes its braver to admit you've had enough than to crack on and struggle later on. This would still mean that we would finish up having done around a seven mile walk over pretty tough terrain and in appalling conditions.
We re traced our tracks down over Cribyn just as we turned around both Steve and I were nearly knocked off our feet by an almighty gust as if to confirm our decision was the right one. Steve and I whooped with a nervous laughter.
As we climbed back up Pen Y Fan Jon started to struggle a bit. He's the first to admit that he is probably the least fit of all of us and hats off to him for doing this walk. I just dug in, looking intently at the path in front of me through rain soaked and steamed glasses, finding a good rhythm and steadily making progress. I was quietly please with my progress as this was the first real tough walk I'd done since the MOAS.
We cut across the path just below the ridge line of Corn Du taking a small short cut and started to head down off the hill. The SAS were still coming up the hill,some in groups other on their own. Andy fed them Worthers Originals as they came past!
We were glad to get back to the car park and Steve and I opted to get changed in the dry of the public toilets. All were glad to get into dry clothes, everything was soaked through and I mean everything. The only things that did stay dry were what was in the dry sacks inside the sodden rucksacks.
As it was still fairly early (15:00) we decided that a quick bite to eat at the pub was a good idea. We headed toward Brecon and as we descended the pass the weather started to clear and the sun came out.
We settled down in the pub with a well earned pint and a plateful of food. I couldn't finish my meal I was stuffed. In fact I was overstuffed, not good after so much exertion. I started to feel hot, so off came my fleece. Still hot I started to feel strange. Oh no I'm going to pass out! I recognised the symptoms and managed to let the lads know. The next thing I was coming around on the floor with all three of them sat around me plus a lady I didn't recognise. "Trace is gonna just love this when I tell her" I thought". It didn't take me long to recover and apparently I was only out for seconds. The moment I led down and my blood pressure levelled out I was fine. I soon sat back up, luckily the pub was all but empty! Andy swapped my pint for some water and I started to feel OK again.
I knew exactly what had happened. After the exertion of the day my body had pumped all the blood to my muscles to supply them with the oxygen they needed whilst working so hard. When I ate such a big meal the body then directed all the blood to the stomach to help with digestion thus lowering my blood pressure and causing a faint. Throw in the fact that I'd come down from a cold hill to a warm pub, a pint (that dilates the blood vessels) and the fact that I'm not at full fitness and hey presto that's what you get.
We paid for our meal and thanked them for their help "I'm off I said, the beers far too strong in here!"

The journey home took us back up the pass and we soon entered the cloud and rain again, the silhouettes of the SAS still tabbing across the hill in the mist. The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful thankfully.
Tracey wanted me to visit the doctor the following day just to be sure. I'm glad I did. He confirmed my correct diagnosis and said it was nothing to worry about, and said I could go running too. Cracking!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

New Boots!

Fundraising continues to go really well and whilst I havent caught up with all the team members to get an update as to how they are doing so far I am aware that we are just over the £1300 mark.
We have been very lucky and recieved some sizable donations from corperate sponsors- Fedex UK (Bristol), Price Transport(Sheffield) and John T Evans haulage (Bristol) so a big thanks to all of them!

Fundraising still continues in ernest with friends, family and collegues also giving generously...thank you very much all of you. However we still have pleanty of time and a few more irons in the fire to keep the money rolling in.Watch this space....

Training has slowed somewhat over that last three weeks. It coincides with my return to work full time and obviously I have to take things a little slower whilst I get back into the swing of things. Spare time is also an issue now as I have less free time to get any training done.
However my recovery continues to go well and I have now been given the go ahead to start some general exercise but must go steady to begin with. So I have dusted off the exercise bike and have started using this as its a good cardio workout and low impact. I also hope to start swimming with the girls soon as I know they have missed this whilst I was ill.
The slowly,slowly approach is important. Overdoing things or pushing too hard too quickly presents me with the very real danger of hernia's developing along the line of the scar from the MOAS so I have to be careful.
However, preparations for the walk are coming along nicely. I finally bought some proper walking boots recently. A pair of Han Wag Altai gti's, sound very swish dont they? Basically they are a 3-4 season German made boot that is very tough and ideal for scrambling on the slopes of Crib Gogh with a tough Vibram sole and a thick rubber "Rand" to protect against the rocks. All coupled with lightweight technology so they shouldnt be too heavy on the day. I just need to break them in now!
With that in mind I have also arranged a challenging training walk for the team on the 18th July. We are doing a 10mile circut in the Brecon Beacons taking in Corn ddu, Pen Y Fan and Cribbin along the way. Its ascent is about 900ft lower than Snowdon (overall ascent 2178ft) and over easier ground but I have added a couple of extra miles to try and compensate for this.It will be a good opportunity for the team to meet eachother and for everyone to get a feel for the walk. It will also present a great opportunity for us to start organising who in the team will be able to do the Crib Gogh Traverse (weather permitting) and who will be happy to continue up the Pyg track which also has its tough sections near the top.A full account of this trip will appear later with lots of photo's.
Time has also been spent finding out who in the team requires what gear? Not everyone has tents and there will be a requirement for some people to share.Ensuring everyone has the right kit is also essential as the underprepared will struggle and not enjoy the experience which is obviously a key part of the day.
The campsite has confirmed our booking and kindly agreed to section off part of the site just for us so we can all camp in one spot.

Some other good news is that a fellow PMP sufferer will be joining us with a team and raising money for the Christie Hospital in Manchester who are the other specialist hospital in the UK. Steve has raised funds for the hospital a number of times before and it will be great to meet a fellow PMPer. So this single event will now raise funds for both Pseudomyxoma Peritonei specialist centre's in the UK!

I love it when a plan comes together........!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

An update on training.......

But first things first, an update on fundraising. So far we are up to £924!! A great start and still plenty of time to go!

The Bitton Loop Wednesday 19th May.

We gathered at Bitton station for a walk that would take us around two and a half hours. We met at 7pm with dark coulds looming on the horizon after a hot few days. Jon,Scott, Dad and I set off promptly along the cycle path towards Bath in an effort to beat the rain. The route would take us off of the cycle path where it crosses the river Avon at Swineford and we would follow the river bank along to Swineford village itself crossing over the Bitton to Bath road at the Swan pub. From here we would climb the hill at the back of the pub taking an ancient bridleway to the village of North Stoke at the top. Just before the village we take a sharp left following a narrow track in a stream bed back down into the vally crossing the main stream at the bottom and then climbing up the other side. We then follow the country lanes back towards Upton Cheyney and once at the village take the Pilgrims path that runs off at the side of the Upton Inn. The path then takes you accross feilds into Golden valley and the back of Bitton viliiage. Frome here you pick up the main Bitton to Bath road for the last quater of a mile back to Bitton station. The walk is around 5 miles in total.
It wasnt long before the rain began to fall and our waterproof jackets had to go on. Luckily for us the heavens opened just as we came to the Swan Inn and of course we had to take shelter in there and sample the local cider!

"Here's to Snowdon"
We watched the rain for a while and then decided it had gone off enough for us to head out again. We pushed on quite quickly consious that the light would go early tonight due to the grey and overcast skies. Finally the rain went off as we headed toward Upton Cheyney. As we headed down the Pilgrims path toward Golden Valley we saw Deer in the feild infront of us.
We made it back to the car just in time as the light was going rapidly! A great walk if a little damp!

You can see the route we took here-Bitton Loop

The Sculpture Trail, Forest of Dean -30th May.
This was more of a family day out rather than a true training walk but every mile helps! We were lucky that the weather was fantastic and we started with a picnic at the busy start at Beechenhurst. The route takes you on a five mile flat loop through well worn paths in the forest. Along the way there are sculptures to stop and look at. We took a steady walk, stopping for photos and messing arouns with the kids. We spent all afternoon there finally leaving around 17:30. It was a lovely day.

You can see the route we took here- Sculpture Trail

Landsdown Loop Thursday 3rd June.

Jon, Scott and I decided at the last minute that we would do this walk again. For Jon it was the first time on this walk so all new to him. The weather was much better than when Scott and I did it and we had a warm and sunny evening. At freezing hill we were treated to a fantastic view of a hot air ballon flying very closely at a slightly lower level than us in the valley and we stopped for photos. Further around the route we crossed Prospect style and walked on to Kelston Tump. On the way back we stopped to admire the view on a buetiful evening. It was pretty clear and we could see the Westbury white horse some 25km away!
Time was running away from us so we tabbed the last section getting back to the car at 21:45. A great evenings walk with fantastic views all the way round.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Getting fit......

For me the biggest challenge is now getting fit again. Its only four months since the MOAS and only four weeks since my last operation. I havent run since January and have only 12 weeks to get fit enough to do the walk. Quite a challenge!

So I have started as I mean to carry on and have already done a couple of short,flat walks.

The Cotswold way.

Scott and I walked part of the Cotswold way a week or so ago. It was a good starting point for me. At just over 4 miles and pretty flat it was ideal. Scott picked me up and we arrive at our start point a little over 10 minutes later. We pulled in at the layby at the top of Landsdown near to the Bevell Grenville monument and got kitted up. Whilst it was a short walk we had decided to shoulder our packs as a bit of added resistance and to "road test" some of the kit. I also used my walking poles to see how I got on with them as I know I'll need them on Snowdon and I have heard its worth getting used to walking with them as its not quite as easy as it seems.

So we set off along the escarpment and soon had fine views back over towards Keynsham and Dundry. We soon arrived at the point where a battle took place in the 1600's and a information board details the events. We the picked up the Landsdown golf course and cut through to the escarpment again following the contour of the hills as they bend around towards Bath.

At about the halfway point we found a nice hollow to sit in out of the wind and get a brew on. Again in the interest of testing kit out came the stoves and we made tea the wild way!

Getting a brew on!

Walking on a little further we soon arrived at Prospect style. This point offers fine views of Bath and on a good day Westbury White Horse is visible. There is also a path at this point to Kelston Tump. A lone hill with a clump of trees at the top visible on the horizon from many parts of the Bristol area. We stopped here to admire the view breifly and take some photo's before heading off once more.

Looking out to Kelston Tump from Prospect style

Following the path we soon met the Landsdown golf course and cut acroos here to a path leading through woodland and finally back to the road a short way from the car.

It was a great starting point for me and I thouroughly enjoyed being out and Scott is always great company so I had a good day. The knees ached a little and reminded me to just take things easy to begin with and then ramp it up as I get fitter.

You can follow the route we took on the link below-

Lansdown walk

Organising the walk.....

So the challenge choice had been made. It was now time to assemble the team. There were some obvious choices, the lads I normally cave with and the team that did Pen Y Ffan. But I knew that my Dad would want to do it plus other members of the family too. So I have found that in the last few weeks that more and more people have said that they want to join.

This left me in a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand we want to raise as much money as possible but in on the other hand I had to make sure all who came were physically fit enough to do the trip, have the equipment to sensibly camp out for two nights and also tackle a tough walk. More people would also mean more for me to manage as organiser.

As the group got bigger it became apparent that it would be possible now to split into two teams. Those who wanted could go do the challenging (both physically and mentally) Crib Goch traverse if the weather would allow and those not wanting to do that could continue up the long,steep and winding Pyg track. We should be able to keep in touch using radio's quite easily to allow us to meet at a pre arranged point where the two paths converge. This way people of different fitness levels could all be catered for if necessary.

The Crib Goch Traverse

So I sent out e-mails to those people I had in mind and spoke to the others who showed interest. I finally ended up with a list of names of about a dozen people. A nice surprise was that a member of the Christies PMP forum -Steve (or "Bumper" as he is known on the forum) also asked if he could join us? I agreed it would be good to meet a fellow PMP sufferer and I knew Steve had previously done Snowdon. Steve is raising funds for the other UK specialist centre the Christies Hospital in Manchester. So it meant that we would be covering both hospitals with the one event and that PMP patients nationwide will benefit from the proceeds. A fantastic plan was slowly coming together.

I trawled the web for a campsite and have found a nice site, fairly basic but with all the facilities we need. Its a working farm only 5 minutes walk from Llanberis and would add to the weekend in the wilds atmosphere. I only hope the weather is good.

So we are pretty much set to go. The team almost finalised, the blog live, sponsor forms issued and the Just Giving site set up. Sponsorship is already coming in on the web and pledges being taken on the sponsor forms. I have only really spoken to one of the team members so far but I know he has over £100 raised already in hardley a week!

Dig deep folks its a great cause.......

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Snowdon Horseshoe.......

I'd made my mind up back in February whilst led in bed on C2 ward in the Basingstoke and Northampshire hospital that I wanted to raise money to help research into Pseudomyxoma Peritonei(PMP) and help provide equipment for the specialist ward.
I was recovering from the MOAS (Mother Of All Surgeries) after spending 12hrs on the operating table and a week in intensive care and was now doing well in the specialist ward and there was talk of me going home. I wanted to give something back.
PMP is a very rare form of Cancer that forms in the abdomen and only one in every million people will contract this disease. There is very little known about the disease and statistics are scarce. This means that diagnosis is often difficult and often sufferers have a number of operations before being correctly diagnosed. It can also mean that support is limited and it can be a time when you feel alone and scared of what the future holds.

So I wanted to raise some money, but the question was what could I do? It had to be a challenge, not something that was a pushover but at the same time it had to be something achievable especially as my body had taken such a battering over the last year. Caving is my usual passion but its very tough and demanding physically, a descent and ascent of Titan in the Peak district had to be cancelled due to my appendix bursting last year and would make the perfect challenge but at the moment is just too demanding.....maybe next year!
At the beginning of the year, a week or so before I went in to have my MOAS we walked Pen-Y-Ffan on the Breacon Becons in about a foot of snow and freezing conditions. This was a big change from the caving that me and my friends were used to but we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe a walk would be better.....?
I'd seen Snowdon on the T.V on countryfile or something like that where the presenter walked the Watkins path-part of the Snowdon Horseshoe. It looked great. So I started doing some research to find out about the route.

The route itself is about 7 1/2 miles or so long with a couple of options, so not too far in terms of distance. The route starts at a car park and then makes its way up the Pyg Track where there is an option for the fit and brave to split off of the weather is good and do the Crib Goch traverse. Otherwise its straight up the Pyg track. From here you make your way up to Snowdons busy peak before picking up the Watkin path for a bit. Next comes Y-Llewedd and finally the descent back to the car park via the miners track. The walk is very steep though and on the Crib Goch traverse in places its scrambling/climbing before carefully making our way accross the knife edge traverse. It sounded like just the right kind of challenge......the choice was made!