Category Archives: Walking

The problem with West London…

Don’t get me wrong, I think West London is a great place to live, it’s just a bit too flat to be useful for training to climb a mountain…

I have had a few lovely walks along the River Thames near my house, the most recent being a 15km round trip to Barnes a few weeks ago.

Photo 25-07-2015 11 03 46While it was a lovely walk it didn’t really feel like proper training as it was too easy and flat! I walked almost as far as our Ben Nevis round trip, but in about a quarter of the time.

When possible, I’ve been trying to get in some hikes in some slightly more hilly areas in Surrey, either Box Hill or Devil’s Punchbowl. We went to Devil’s Punchbowl a week later for a hike – although Jason has had enough hiking with me so he stayed at the cafe while I walked :)

Photo 02-08-2015 15 49 01

My phone ran out of battery near the end so didn’t track the whole walk, but it was about 14km with about 300m elevation gain. Unfortunately I got shin splints during the walk (I think from the downhill at the beginning) and they were really painful for nearly a week after but fine now. I’ve only ever had shin splints from running before and I hope this was a one off!

Apart from walking, I’m being a little cautious with my exercise regime due to a dodgy knee, that’s been dodgy for a long time but that I’ve been extra wary of since climbing (or more accurately, since descending) Ben Nevis. So no running, netball or anything high impact for a while :(


Climbing Ben Nevis

A few weeks after climbing Snowdon seemed like a good time to tackle the next of the three peaks: Ben Nevis.

I made a vlog of the trip which I think tells the story better than I could write it:

You can see in the video it was very busy, even busier than Snowdon, as there seemed to be some kind of team challenge going on. While this was a bit annoying on the lower sections, I was actually quite relieved that there was a steady stream of people coming back down the mountain as we neared the top – one more way of checking we were still heading in the right direction through the snow with minimal visibility!


It was a bit of a shame that we didn’t get the reward of a nice view (or any view at all) but it was a nice hike all the same, and the weather and lack of visibility made it seem even more challenging – and meant we even got a chance to use the compass we took :)

Here’s the proof from the Map My Hike app I used to track the walk.
Elevation was just over 1,300 metres (4,265 ft)



Now we just need to find a way to fit in Scafell Pile to complete the three peaks…

McKechnies do Snowdon!


As there are not very many mountains around West London, proper Kilimanjaro training requires travelling a bit further afield. And as I did say I was going to try and climb the three peaks, it was only a matter of time before a trip to Snowdon happened. So with a bunch of the McKechnie clan plus some friends, we rented an amazing house called Plas Colwyn in Beddgelert as a base to climb Snowdon. Most of us could only stay for the weekend but those with a bit more time (i.e. the retired ones) stayed on for the whole week.

After a hearty dinner on Friday night and a rather lengthy discussion about how many cars we needed to take to Llanberis (to ensure that the groups walking, getting the train or half and half could all get back at the end of the day) we set off at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning and found our way to the start of the Llanberis Path.

All weather forecasts had pointed towards very cold, windy and even snowy conditions at the summit, so we were all wrapped up in plenty of layers which were quickly shed as soon as we started walking under blue skies. But after a pitstop for sandwiches (thanks to Lindsay and Elaine) we could see the clouds coming in over the summit and all the layers were quickly piled back on.


To test out my new rucksack and make my training a little harder, I weighed down my bag with two bottles of champagne for a little summit refreshment :) Despite the cold wind at the summit, we managed to put away one bottle to lighten the load slightly for the way down!


I was quite surprised at how busy the path was – I had climbed Snowdon once before but that was (gulp!) 20 years ago and I remember the route being almost empty. Though I was 8 so my memory may not be the most reliable. But now it seems, during half term at least, that climbing Snowdon is a very popular Saturday activity!

As well as my Dad’s photos above, James and Lindsay did a great job between them of documenting the trip – James made two go pro films and Lindsay made a great vlog of the weekend:

James’s films:

Lindsay’s vlog:

A Drone’s View of Snowdon

This weekend I roped in a whole load of family and extended family members to climb Snowdon as part of my Kilimanjaro training.

Here’s a little preview of the trip in the form of a super cool film my brother James made with a couple of go pros and his favourite toy, the drone…

It does give the impression we had a whole film crew with us and I wish he could follow me up Kilimanjaro to document that too!

I’ll be back with a more detailed account and some photos ASAP!

April Training Update

After a couple of weeks of not wanting to go anywhere near my running shoes after the half marathon, I got back into a bit of running thanks to a new favourite 5K sunset running route along Brent River (uphill all the way, downhill all the way home – my favourite type). It’s amazing the difference longer evenings make to my willingness to run or really do anything after work.

The spring weather (which seems to have promptly disappeared) has also helped me with trying to convince Jason that hiking is a fun way to spend a Saturday, and we had a nice little trip to Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey a couple of weeks ago. It’s a super pretty place to walk and enough hilly sections that it’s better training than my local West London walks along the river.


So here are the stats for April, not including general walking to the station and around and about:

Kilometres run: 24km
Kilometres walked: 20km
Other workouts: 3

Coming soon: a weekend in Snowdonia and a trip to Ben Nevis – feel like I need to up those kilometres!!

February Training Update: Breaking in the Boots

So February has come and gone in a blur of work, illness and one amazing holiday in Iceland. I’m slightly behind my training schedule for the Silverstone Half Marathon due to all of these things but I’ve done a few runs this week so hoping I can at least finish the Half Marathon even if it takes a few hours!!


I did get a chance to fit in a Box Hill walk with my Dad at the start of February, and we picked a lovely day for it with crisp air and winter sunshine. Our route was a modified version of a loop we did for 2014’s annual  Christmas Walk, a total of 7km and 275m gain. Pleased to report comfortable feet all the way after a couple of boot relacings.

I also dragged Jason on a more local walk in the closest thing to countryside near West London, Colne Valley Park. While not very hilly, there are lots of different walking routes and it was muddy enough to stop my boots looking new anymore!


January Training Update

Get ready for some excuses…

I figured the first month of 2015 would be a good time to start logging the training I’m doing for Kilimanjaro and for the half marathon in March. With only a couple of months to get to a state where I can run 21km, it’s time to get running! I started off well with a 10K run round Dorney Lake, but it kind of went downhill from there with a mysterious dodgy knee following the 10K, a busy couple of weeks at work that seemed to reduce my enthusiasm and energy for working out, and then I got hit by a bout of flu and suddenly it’s February! I’m fully aware that these are all just excuses and I should just “man up” etc etc so I’m sharing the stats anyway to shame myself into doing better next month:

Kilometres run: 19km
Kilometres walked*: 6km
No. of other workouts: 3

So I think it’s time to write off January and start anew with February. I’ve planned out all the runs I need to do this month and started today with 5km that only left me slightly wheezy, though I’m hoping that’s just the remnants of the flu and not a reflection on my fitness.

With eight months to go until I’m halfway up the mountain, I feel I still have plenty of time for Kilimanjaro training, it’s the thought of a half marathon in exactly 6 weeks that is giving me slight palpitations at the moment.

* Kilometres walked only includes times I’ve gone out “for a walk”, which in this case was once. I have, in fact, walked more than 6km this month if you include general everyday walking…

End of Year Update

Quick update on what I’ve been up to:

I joined a gym. I made a half marathon training plan. I signed up for a 10km run on 3rd Jan. Christmas happened, which distracted me from my training plan. I went on two walks over the Christmas period, one more of a ramble through woods and the other a frosty 5 mile loop of Box Hill (this year’s location for the annual Christmas Walk).


I’ve been trying to run a few times a week and it’s getting slightly easier and more enjoyable with every run, even on a treadmill which I used to hate. I’ve switched from listening to music to listening to podcasts and discovered is makes time pass so much more quickly! I’ve also been trying out the Strava app instead of Nike Running but don’t completely trust Strava as it seems to think I run a lot faster than Nike does…

My mission for January is to purchase hiking boots, something I’m a bit nervous about as the comfort of my feet over the next year will depend on them…  And once my feet are in some good boots I can start planning some training walks!

From next week I will try and post weekly training updates, mainly to guilt-trip myself into making sure I don’t miss any workouts!

Run Before I Can Walk: Training Plan

As mountains go, Kilimanjaro is not a “technical” climb, it mainly just involves a lot of walking (a LOT of walking). Tens of thousands of people climb Kilimanjaro each year, and people of all ages and fitness levels have reached the summit – reliable sources on the internet and in real life have said that you do not need to be ultra-fit to succeed and it is actually best not to over-train.

However, there will be plenty of other obstacles to contend with during the trip, mainly altitude acclimatisation, and I don‘t want a lack of fitness to even cross my mind while I concentrate on things like breathing and walking and staying warm.

Also, while I do make the effort to walk whenever I can, I rarely walk very long distances or up hills, so this is going to take my legs and lungs a bit of getting used to. As well as plenty of local training walks, I am planning the following walks / mini challenges throughout next year:

3 Peaks Challenge (Snowdon, Skafell Pike and Ben Nevis)
Alpine hiking (if I really have to, I think I could put up with a trip to the Swiss Alps ;o)

On top of that, I have somehow been talked into running the Adidas Half Marathon next March. This is an altogether different and rather horrifying challenge, made exciting only by the fact that the run is on the Silverstone race track. The furthest I have ever run is 10km in April 2013 (Parkinson’s UK Run Highclere event) and this is just over double that… I’m already pretty terrified but for now I’m taking it one run at a time and hoping I start to enjoy it soon!

So it looks like I will be spending the winter running, running and more running (with a few walks thrown in), before switching to walking, walking and more walking in the springtime.

For now, it’s off to the gym!