“The weather is just like my heart. It’s cloudy then it’s clear, tears fall. Then I pretend I’m fine”

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{Eight more pictures under the cut}

For Fathers day I met up with my dad to go walking. I’d actually suggested I come home for the weekend but he suggested we go walking on Sunday instead – he’d pick me up from a station somewhere between where I am, and he is. I was actually relieved by his decision versus disappointed. I wasn’t entirely comfortable going home, and it is expensive. Although I did want to, and still want to see my cat and I am not sure what to do about that.

Anyway, I went to bed late on Saturday so I wasn’t particularly pleased waking at 7am on Sunday. My bus was at 8:56am so I had quite a bit of time to get ready. This was a good thing- I was so sleepy and out of it that it took ages to get ready and in the end I rushed out of the house, pushing for time! I walked very quickly to the bus station and somehow managed to get there on time. The bus came and I sat at the back and listened to music. I’d updated my mp3 player on Saturday which was good, although I still could not quite settle. I got into the city centre earlier than anticipated, walked to the station, collected my tickets and then waited for the train. There had been a staff shortage on Sunday so I had been worried my train would be cancelled. I’d even phoned up the train provider to check it wasn’t, but I still could not help but worry. Thankfully my train was running, although it was busy. Well, I managed to get a seat anyway. The journey was long and boring. Even though I’d put new music on my player, I again found it hard to settle. I couldn’t quite relax, felt agitated and nervous for some reason, too aware of my surroundings, too aware of the time. I kept shifting position, kept looking around me, kept fidgeting with the volume of my music. It began to rain soon enough, which did not bode well for my day either.

I began to wonder why I had bothered to leave the house. That anxious, scared part of me wanted to retreat, wanted to go home and lock the door and forget it. To be alone.

I got into Sheffield around 10- something. I was surprised my dad wanted to meet me there, as its a long drive for him, and I was also curious about where he was taking me. He wasn’t there when I got down to the station entrance and I paced nervously around the station, still unable to wait patiently in one place. I was relieved when he phoned to say he was there. He picked me up and we set off for the peak district. Well, we tried. Sheffield is a large and confusing city, our sat nav took us here and there until my dad got frustrated, turned it off and decided to follow the road signs. In this way we finally managed to stop going in circles and escape the city. Turned out, my dad was taking me to around the Derwent Reservoir. I was a little nervous about this, as I’d been in that area with my walking club, but thankfully my dad decided to take me somewhere different. We arrived and managed to find parking – it was very busy. It had thankfully stopped raining by the time we got there. We set off, walking through the forest and past the Derwent Dam towers. Then through more forest around the Derwent reservoir before taking a path up off towards Little Howden Moor.

We walked along wide pathways in the forest, and eventually we got out to the moor, surrounded by lush green bracken, lots of sheep, and not many people any more. The path climbed up, stayed this way for a little bit, and then down. We stopped to have a bite to eat before carrying on, trudging up another sharp ascent but thankfully keeping this height. The lakeside pathway had been crowded, there had been a certain amount of people in the forest, but the valley we came to was very still and quiet. The bracken was thick, and we walked along a narrow pathway just wide enough to stand with both feet together that snaked along the hillside. Our path jutted out from the side of the hill, with the river of the valley on one side, and a steep, sharp drop down to it. We were a little exposed, the pathway was narrow, uneven and very muddy – and slippery – in parts. I began to feel a bit disoriented, worried that with just one wrong footing I’d tumble down to the river below. I don’t like such sheer, exposed heights. I had to stop often but my dad was patient with me, and allowed it. We walked through the valley, coming to a stop to have a bit more to eat at one of the high points where we could admire the view. Then we carried on walking, eventually climbing right out of the valley. We then walked back along the Derwent edge – passing both Dovestone Tor and the Wheel Stones. My dad insisted we climb the rocks at Dovestone Tor, which was little frightening. My upper body strength is not great so it was with considerable effort that I hefted myself up – although the views were great from up there. (In the photos, the white marker shows where we climbed up to.) The weather became a bit misty, a little damp now. I kept annoying my dad by fussing over whether it was, or was not, raining. I really did not want to get wet. The mist made pictures a little difficult too. However it was nice and cool – a cold breeze blowing to stop it from being too sticky, and the sun was covered so it wasn’t hot either. The path was a well maintained stone pathway along the top so it was pretty easy going for the most part. Although I had hurt my leg at some point earlier last week, and it had started to hurt sometime in the valley, and by the time we were on Derwent edge it had become noticeable enough that my father was asking why I was limping. “I’m not,” I mumbled, even though I really was.

We also saw lots of Grouse, and even baby grouse, which was quite nice – it became a bit of a game for me to peer closely at the bracken to see if they were there.

We descended down to pass through more bracken, then through fields of wildflowers, then back to the lakeside. We passed the submerged hamlet of Derwent along the way – which was a little creepy to think of. One picture showed the top of the church poking out of the reservoir. The walk back was pretty long, and a little dreary, it was drizzling proper, and the scenery did not change much. My leg was aching fiercely, the pain long spread from my upper thigh right down through me knee and my foot, although I was enduring as best as I could. It was a bit of a relief to get back to the car. “It’s nice just to sit, isn’t it,” my father remarked. This is why I like walking with my father compared to the hiking club – we can go slowly, stop often, and at the end I don’t have to feel embarassed about being tired out.

We drove back into Sheffield. In our mud splattered casual clothes we ended up at McDonalds for supper. I was ravenous so even that was enough. My father dropped my off at the station and the journey back managed to be even longer than the journey there – a train and two buses and I was just tired and sore.

It was a good day, although at first I was a bit tired, and not in the mood, eventually I eased into it, and began to enjoy it.

Somehow though I felt a bit nervous around my dad – which is crazy, but I am even overly concerned about what my own parents think of me. Whenever I say something, even to my dad, I wonder what he thinks. I wonder if he’s just patiently putting up with me. I can ramble on a little bit, especially around my parents, I wonder if my dad finds it tiring. I had a great day, but it was tinged with worry that he wasn’t. I started off the day tired, because I had not slept enough, but ended it a very different sort of tired.

“This is your heart, can you feel it?”

Ilam HallWalking towards Bunster Hill
Ontop of Bunster Hill with Thorpe Cloud in the distance
Walking in the direction of Thorpe Cloud

{Nine more pictures under the cut}

I went walking with my dad yesterday. He only phoned me up on Sunday evening to tell me about it. This meant that I had little time to prepare for a very early start. I’d barely slept at all Friday night, and Saturday night likewise, so I’d spent most of Sunday asleep. I felt like I had just fallen asleep by the time my alarm went off at 5:45am on Monday morning. It took me a moment to realise the sound I was hearing was my alarm – I was confused by it, I was confused by the time on my alarm clock. Really? Am I supposed to be awake now? But I dragged myself out of bed anyway, went to shower and get ready. Managed to be late leaving the house anyway, and had to rush to the bus stop. My bus was at 6:50am. By 6:40am I was 15 minutes walk away from the bus station. I ran, walked, ran again. 6:50am on the dot I was there, breathing heavily, feeling slightly feint from the exertion when I hadn’t eaten and hardly slept, but the bus was not. 6:55am, bus still not there. I phoned my dad, panicked. Just as I hung up on my dad the bus came, what a relief. I boarded and arrived into town soon enough. I’d been planning on breakfast at Subway, but it was closed, so I went to Sainsbury’s local, where there were no dairy free options so I was forced to break my diet – I bought pastries, and then I felt guilty so I bought some fruit too. I got to the station and sorted out my tickets then got on the train. Just over an hour later – sometime after 9am- I arrived at Stoke-on-Trent station. I’ve always, always passed through this station to other places, so it was quite weird getting off the train here. My dad met me in the car park and we drove to the Peak District. Today my dad had planned a route in the Dovedale Valley. I’d been around this area before with my walking society, but a different area, and on a day with far worse weather than yesterday.

We started out from Ilam Hall, walking towards Bunster hill. We ascended Bunster Hill, passing many lambs with their mothers watching us warily. In the distance a farmer was herding up his sheep, whilst his sheep dog sat on the back of his tractor and watched. All these sheep were making a right racket, but otherwise it was peaceful. The weather was clear and warm, I’d brought my fleece, hat and gloves and wrapped up in many layers, but soon I was down to my tshirt. The ascent was a long slog, as all ascents are, but as we got higher a nice cool breeze picked up which was very welcome. The views were also beautiful – with the fields, and Ilam in the distance. As we walked along Bunster hill the view opened up so we could also see Thorpe Cloud on the other side of the hill we were on and Dovedale valley with the River Dove nestled in between. The shapes of other walkers were everywhere – Thorpe Cloud and the path alongside the River Dove were teeming with walkers, all of which we could see from above. We sat down to eat a snack – more pastries – then carried on.

We’d been planning to go back on ourselves to take a certain route down to Dovedale valley, instead we carried on to the end of Bunster hill in the direction of Thorpe Cloud. Once there we were faced with a tricky descent down to the valley – it was steep, and the ground was dry with many loose stones. My father held my hand most of the way down, supporting me every time I stumbled, whereas when he stumbled I tensed and had a moment of panic because he would only pull me down if he fell. We picked our way down successfully and then joined the crowds walking along the river. At a certain point on the path you have to cross the river along a set of stepping stones before the path resumes – here is where our path, and the path from Thorpe Cloud meet. There were so many people that there was actually a queue to use the stepping stones. They should build two different stepping stones for the different directions of traffic, my father joked. and another smaller one for the dogs, I followed. Eventually it was our turn and I held my fathers hand in both of my own, as the way the water swirled around the rocks was disorientating and I didn’t want to fall in – the water looked clear but in reality it is possibly diseased due to the presence of the sheep. Once across we carried along the river basically – up to lovers leap and down, then following the river past Ilam rock and all the way to Milldale, and further on towards Wolfscote Dale. By the time we reached Fishpond Bank, just before Wolfscote Dale or within it I’m not certain, the crowds had died down – most had parked off at lovers leap, or Milldale. The Fishpond Bank valley was very quiet. A man in the distance, fishing. A couple lounging by the river bank. Otherwise just us. The green fields were scattered with bright wild flowers. It was less polished there than the path leading up to Milldale, too.

We hardly talked as we walked all this way, and I felt myself falling into a strange, but very welcome relaxed state, my mind unfocused, my thoughts meandering but never settling, not ruminating over bad things. We stopped to eat lunch at Fishpond Bank before we carried on our walk along the river. Eventually we realised we would have to turn back as it was already 2:00pm, even though we both were interested in carrying on and seeing how the scenery would change as we continued to follow the river.

We backtracked to Ilam rock – at which point we changed directions, crossing the river and then taking a steep ascent on another path to Ilam – the path we were actually going to descend on, originally. We took this ascent very slowly- as it was relentlessly steep, and we were both tired. I had to stop quite often, to catch my breath. I felt hot and very thirsty for some reason, my mouth dry. The surroundings were pretty though – forest and more wildflowers, bluebells in early bloom and others. We walked back to Bunster hill and then descended on the same path we had ascended – passing the sheep again. Out of nowhere one of the lambs started to follow me – trotting after me whilst making plaintive sounds. “Why is it doing this?” I cried to my dad, as I picked up the pace, trying to get away from this tiny little creature now running after me. Thankfully its mother picked up on what was going on and called it back. “You nearly took home something extra” my father remarked. Anyway, we made it back to Ilam, where I persuaded my father to buy us a cold snack – ice cream for him, an ice lolly for me. It was a welcome treat. The whole day had turned out to be perfectly clear and very sunny, with a cool breeze on the hills. A good day for walking, actually. I was glad that it had not rained in particular.

We then went back to the car and my dad drove me to Uttoxeter station this time, only to find we’d missed the train we’d wanted by one minute. “At least we didn’t pull up as the train was pulling away,” I said. We went to a local retail park to a store and had a look at the plants, then ate supper at KFC. “All I’ve eaten today is pastries and this, really,” I said, a little dismayed “I guess walking 12 miles makes up for it?” We went back to the station and I got on the train. I felt a little wistful to be leaving my dad behind – a part of me wanted to go home, strangely. Actually, I really wanted to see my cat.

It was cold by then, and I was thoroughly tired out. Once back, I got the bus, and then another bus because the 30 minute walk back from the bus station seemed too much, and then finally I was back at my house.

It was a nice day – I was glad to get away for a bit. There’s something refreshing about taking a long, long walk. I can also see why Dovedale is one of the most popular sites in the Peak District. The walk is very friendly for all walkers – with nice paths, nice resting stops, even a little shop and toilets at Milldale. But you have all the beautiful scenery of the peak district alongside it – the river, the forests scattered with wildflowers, the caves and interesting rock formations, the impressive hills with some challenging enough ascents for those wanting a bit more from their walk. Very pleasant.

“I stood frozen on that stage, looking for the courage to to strike back”

beginning the walk
Lud's Church
Forest
pathway with Shutlingsloe in the distance
Peak

{Eight more pictures under the cut}

On Saturday I was at home, so my Father and I decided to go walking together. We left the house early and drove into the Peak District. The weather was a bit chilly but clear and still, although the gray clouds hanging over the peaks ahead promised much more dismal weather conditions coming up. We arrived, bundled up and set off walking towards The Roaches. We started walking through some forest towards Lud’s Church. This is not an actual church but rather a sort of cave – steep rock walls tower up above you on either side, covered in moss and with trees drooping over the edges. Its very impressive. I think the name comes from the fact that people did use it as a place for religious meetings. We walked the whole way through it then climbed out of it into more forest. By this point I’d stripped down the number of layers I was wearing and was questioning why I’d even brought a coat. The walk was also fairly easy, the ascent to the ridge gentle. But as we came out the forest the path became steeper and the wind picked up. We climbed on and then it began to rain lightly. By the time we got to the start of the Roaches the wind was strong and it was pouring with rain. We started up to the Roaches, stopping briefly to put on our raincoats, bundling up again against the severe wind and the pouring rain. I trudged onwards, my father behind me. The path was fairly steep, although nice and paved, and the weather miserable, although the sun was still shining and the view was very pretty. We got to the top of the Roaches and the rain stopped and the sun shone brighter, but the wind was still strong. We walked along the top of the edge, admiring the bizarre rock formations and the pretty view of the fields below. Eventually we found a sheltered place to sit and eat lunch. Soon, it began to snow. No, I am not making that one up. Actual snow flakes began to fall, even as it was sort of raining still, so they melted as soon as they hit the ground. It was also freezing cold.

We carried on, in the snow/rain and the wind, and ended up going right to the end of the roaches, past Doxey Pool. The views continued to be spectacular, and the drop from the edge was sheer rock -my dad kept walking to the edge and peering over whilst I lingered behind and nervously pleaded with him to step back and not get blown off. Now we had to get down somehow. This involved clambering, half scrambling down the rocks. It began to snow properly, flurries of the stuff falling down and bouncing off the rock faces to settle in the cracks between the rocks, where we needed to step. Halfway down my father twisted his ankle which was a oh shit no moment if there ever was one. I swore out loud and asked “are you ok?” already beginning to panic. I can easily get worked up when things feel like they are out of my control in a bad way – its all part of the anxious mental state. Thankfully after a moments rest my father was OK. Although my father is very stoic and secretive even he wouldn’t have been able to hide if he was in serious pain and he seemed fine so I did my best to curtail my panic. We carried on down. The snow subsided, but the rain continued, as did the wind. It was really cold. “Are you OK?” I kept asking my dad, nervously looking back at him. Still slightly anxious. Thankfully every time he replied positive, and every time he was not struggling. We made it to the bottom. Hen Cloud was ahead of us, looking terribly steep and exposed. My father was keen to climb it but I was hesitant “In this wind?” it looked like we’d be blown right off it – I did, in one of my walks with the university rambling society, experience a walk that involved scrabbling up a hillside with the wind pushing at you, so you’d end up stumbling, and eventually crawling along the top at points, before sliding down on your butt as you descended. It was tough. My father was adamant though and a part of me did see the logic in the we’ve come all this way. We carried on towards Hen Cloud and up. Amazingly, the rain stopped, the wind died and the sun came back as we climbed up. At the top we met a nice man who was part of the network of volunteers who climb up Hen Cloud every single day for two months to watch over the edge where the Peregrine falcons are hatching to make sure no one disturbs them. Amazing isn’t it? Imagine climbing up there, and then standing there for hours, in this weather. My father and him had a nice chat as I stood slightly behind my father, listening, smiling and nodding where appropriate, but saying nothing. We said goodbye to the nice man and carried onwards to the peak of Hen Cloud, which provided some nice views. Then it was back down Hen Cloud to start the journey back to the car park.

Neither my father nor I were particular keen on ascending to the roaches again, so we skirted around it on a rough track which lead to a dirt road, that we followed onto a twisting country lane which we followed all the way back to the car park – a little monotonous, and the rain kept coming and going as it pleased, but pleasant enough. We saw a full rainbow too – the entire semi circle I mean. I think that was my first time. That was cool.

We got to the car and shed our wet outer layers then started the drive back. My dad stopped at McDonald’s and bought me fries, which was a nice end to the day – I was ravenous after walking 9 miles. It was a very nice day overall and I was thankful my father chose a relatively easy walk – although the weather could have been better!

“You don’t want to hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies.”

Ladybower Reservoir
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Ladybower 3

{Six more pictures under the cut}

The opening sentence is always the hardest part of an entry to write. I can think to myself I want to write and I can know what I want to write about, but its hard to sit down and actually start. I find that with everything- essays that need writing, problem sheets that need doing. It’s always the starting of it that is the hardest.

Well, it’s already November. Two months until exam season, and when did that happen exactly? University is plodding along as ever. Half my modules are going OK, I just need to keep at it and make sure to practice questions a lot before the exams, but the other half are not good at all. Power Systems I like, but do not understand in the slightest. Electrical machines I know is necessary for my career path, but I do not understand in the slightest. Fields, waves and antennas I hate, and find boring, and do not understand in the slightest. I still have time for fields and power systems to hopefully sink in enough that I could scrape through the exam, but I have a coursework due in less than two weeks for Electrical Machines that I haven’t even started yet. I literally cannot do it. At all. The lecturer is good, the notes are good, the problem sheet is linked to the coursework and has thorough, clear solutions. But I just cannot understand it. At all. It’s worrying. Apart from that, my group project is also, well still, stressing me out. I am clashing with my group. Before every meeting I tell myself to hold back. There is a difference between sharing your opinion, and being an obnoxious twat. I’m leaning dangerously towards the latter but I am so frustrated and I find myself unable to keep myself from letting it show. They are just so disorganized, and so laid back about this project. And its like guys, seriously. This is the majority of our marks for this year. Can you please take this seriously? I’m being too harsh, I know, its probably that our learning styles are clashing, but that doesn’t make any the less frustrating. We had a meeting today we were supposed to be going through our project proposal presentation for tomorrow and no one had made any cue cards or even knew what they were saying and it just felt like such a waste of time. I’m really worried about how the presentation will go tomorrow, even though I have a feeling my group are going to surprise me (I am hopeful of that, I guess it could be said) I don’t really get on with any of these people either. I find myself rambling, saying things I shouldn’t, because I feel so nervous around them. Desperately over compensating for the fact I don’t know how to act around them, or what I am really doing. I was so lucky to have such nice groups last year, that I suppose its only right I end up with a difficult group who make me feel uncomfortable and frustrated this year. Apart from that, I am still being far too lazy with my Japanese, and I have another extra curricular module that I haven’t even started work on. Meanwhile I keep wasting time reading fic and browsing the web, because I am tired and frustrated and faced with all these things I don’t know how to do my first instinct is to bury my head in the sand and pretend that it does not exist, that it is not November, that time is not slipping, sliding out of my hands, unable to grasp onto it.

I’ve been going through health things lately. (This could veer towards TMI, so skip this paragraph if you want.) I suffer from heavy, painful periods and resulting anaemia and I got sick of it around the beginning of this year. I subsequently went on the pill and it turned me moody and made me fat, so I went off it and went on some other non hormonal pills, which didn’t work. So I am now facing going back on the pill and I just don’t want to. I am really not sure what to do – I want less heavy periods, but at the end of the day I’m facing going on the pill (mood swings, fatness, having to remember to take them) or getting the mirena coil (painful, painful, painful). Being a woman sucks. In other news I had a very awkward doctors appointment on Wednesday where, amongst other things, I was all “I have aneamia!” and he was all “No, no you really do not” and I just stared at him, shocked, because, and I accidentally said this out loud “But I feel like I do, so what’s going on?” He did not answer my question and I am still confused. I’ve been anaemic, or low iron but not quite anaemic for about 5 years now. I always imagined when my iron levels returned to healthy, normal levels that I would feel it. That I’d know. That I’d automatically be less tired, that I would no longer get out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs, that my periods would sort themselves out. I would know. But I am not anaemic and I still feel the same as ever. I am exhausted, all the time, I get out of breath, so easily. Which, after an unfortunate amount of time spent pondering this leads me to have to make some uncomfortable conclusions – I must be clearly doing something right if my iron levels are up without the aid of iron pills, but I must not be taking as good care of myself as I delude myself into. Lets admit to some things, right now. I do not sleep well. I wake up at funny hours multiple times during the night, I have bad, disturbing dreams that I struggle to wake up from. My diet could use some work. I have been on a mission to be less fussy, trying new vegetables, learning to love chickpeas and kidney beans and quinoa and cous cous but I still eat too many sugary snacks, I still binge eat terribly. I need to stop this. I am probably very unfit. I walk every day to uni and back, and I have been going hillwalking semi regularly, but that is only recently. I spent last year and the summer reasonably lazily, and I’ve never been particularly active, so I should probably accept that that is why I get so out of breath when I attempt activeness- my body just isn’t used to it right? That’s all I could come up with. Unless its all in my head, and that’s the most uncomfortable of all. Do I make myself ill for…what reasons would I do that? Attention? I don’t think I am that sort of person, but maybe I don’t know myself as well as I think, or there are things I don’t actually want to admit to myself. I find this all such a pain in the end. I don’t feel right, and now I feel crazy. Thinking about it all just makes me want to reach for the cookies because really, no matter what I do, it never seems to work (well, clearly the no dairy, more veg and less rice, more quinoa is working sorta, so there is that!) I just hate this and I really don’t know what to make of it all. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that I have normal, healthy iron levels. That everything is OK. It doesn’t feel like it. Also: I still do have the very real issue of my fucked up menstrual cycle to deal with. ugh.

And yes, did I mention the hillwalking? I went out with the society again and I took an easier walk and it was wonderful. We went from the Ladybower Reservoir up to the Derwent Edge and along there. Absolutely gorgeous and paced nice and slow so I could cope much better than the first time. I then spent two weeks not going, until this weekend where I went out despite the storm. We went out around the Kinder Scout area. There were strong winds, like a hand pushing you, and needle-like rain. Yes, I finally understood those cliché descriptions. It was terrifying walking up hills with reasonably exposed edges when the wind was pushing into you, a physical force, threatening to push you right down (I admit I stumbled several times as the wind caught me just so) And then the rain, oh the constant rain. I was so wet. Everything I was wearing was soaked through to my innermost layer. All my belongs in my bag were soaked. My pants and shoes turned brand new colors as the dirty water seeped into them. It was cold, windy, wet and downright miserable and I am going back again this weekend. Because the scenery was beautiful, the air was fresh, albeit maybe a bit too fresh last week, and although I don’t always enjoy the process, I do enjoy the overall getting out of the house and doing something. Just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, not sinking into a peat bog, not slipping on a wet rock or down a muddy hill, not being pushed over by the wind, it drives everything else out. It’s a good break. And there’s less pressure than in sports- there’s no rules, no fancy dress code (just be warm, don’t wear jeans and wear walking boots. easy!), no judgements. It’s still awkward, and embarrassing, because I am unfit (not anaemic, oh no, I have to face up to it now- the breathlessness, the pain in my chest, the nausea that overcomes me when I exert myself it all from a lifetime of inactivity, most likely) and I lag behind sometimes, and it’s awkward and embarrassing socially because I tend to say the first thing that enters my mind, and its never witty, because I space out and miss what people are asking me. But the big advantage of the bad weather is no one wants to talk, we traipse along, single file, in silence, trudging through the bad weather, wet and cold together. It’s quite nice. I don’t know how long the weather is going to hold out – but I’m going to try get out there until the ice settles in.

I do wish I could afford a fleece, some waterproof pants, a waterproof bag though. Alas, I could only afford to buy a hat for this upcoming weekend. Please, please let it be less wet and less windy. Not wet and a little windy would be ideal.

(No pictures from this weekend, due to horrible weather making it impossible, so have a handful from the walk before- around the Ladybower reservoir.)

“Keeping my heart warm as today, rainy days never stays”

Beginning of Castleton Walk
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castleton_03
castleton_03

{Five more pictures under the cut}

I woke up bright and early at 7am on Sunday. I got ready and left the house at 8am, then ended up sitting and waited outside TESCO (supermarket) for my sister to come to get my keys from me. She was in the city this weekend, and wanted to see me after my walk. The plan was to go to the walk, then get back around 6.30pm and have an hour with my sister before she had to go home. Things did not quite go to plan for this day, in many ways.

So, by 9am I was at the pick-up point for the walk with the university “rambling and hill walking” society. There were a handful of other people of the society there and we sorta chatted – the standard name, course, year, isn’t the weather nice? sort of conversation. We got on the bus and then it was a slow trawl to pick everyone up. The bus started at my pick-up half empty – but by the last pick-up point it was packed. A woman came to sit beside me, who was a long time member of the society. She was friendly, we chatted somewhat about this and that, and I got some information about the club from her, but eventually we lapsed into silence. The bus journey was fairly short – it’s amazing how quick you can go from the city to the countryside. After around a hour I was dropped off with the rest of my group. I had chosen Walk 4. There were 5 walks being held- with 5 being the hardest. Feeling relaxed and fairly confident, I had chosen 4. Something about it appealed to me. But really, I was an idiot to choose it.

The walk started off OK – going through fields and woodlands, then it became steeper and steeper and eventually we were trudging up a hill. A very, very steep hill. My breath caught in my chest and it felt like I could never quite release it, my legs felt tight and hot. I was panting loudly, out of breath. Everyone else was of course, quite OK. It was fairly embarrassing but I managed to push myself and keep up, even if everyone else had to hear me rasping breathlessly. (How. Embarrassing) the views at top were stunning though – and I took a million pictures before the leader called for us to start again.

The walk evened out again – lush forest and fields, even a long stretch of downhill, but there was another surprise just ahead – another hill to come. It was coming on to 2pm and we had not had lunch and I thought that if I just had lunch it would be OK. I made the mistake of mentioning this and there was an awkward moment where everyone stopped for me and offered me chocolate – thankfully I managed to convince them I was fine and to carry on until the planned lunch point. Thankfully they had decided to have lunch fairly soon. I really did want to take a proper break then – but I felt too embarrassed. It was PE all over again, where you’re lagging behind coming in last, letting the team down. We stepped off the road we were on and back onto rough path, climbing up through forest. I really was struggling to breathe, and my legs felt like lead. I pushed on and was grateful when we stopped for lunch. Two sandwiches, some chocolate biscuits, some grapes and some wine gums and I still felt exhausted, and vaguely ill. But there was still another hill to climb. By this point I was starting to lag, to get moody from my tiredness. The climb got steeper and steeper and every step was agony. I was clutching my camera strap and biting my lip in an effort to endure. I was really lagging behind now. Thankfully there was another girl just in front, also lagging, but she wasn’t feeling well. I was just unfit. I do not know how I made it to the top, but once there I sat down immediately, putting my head between my knees and trying to get my breath back.

Eventually I realised I was just starting to hyperventilate and got out my water to take a long, steadying drink. I felt ridiculous. I had climbed two mountains! I should be able to do this! But in truth when I climbed those mountains with my father we paced ourselves far slower and with far more stops. That uphill bit, we would have stopped at least once – sat down, watered ourselves, probably snacked. These people were hardcore, experienced walkers. They started at the bottom of the hill and went up the hill, no stops, no problems. I was exhausted. Thankfully the walk evened out nicely. We were going along the great ridge, and to either side were breathtaking views of the countryside. The day was bright and sunny which brought out all the colors. It was wonderful. I was lagging now, but not caring. I was tired, and I wanted to take pictures. I lingered behind everyone else, always keeping them in sight, bursting into fast speed to catch up so I could go over the stiles and gates as them at the same time, but otherwise embracing my exhaustion. I had tried so hard to keep up in the first half of the walk, not pacing myself at all like usual, and had ended up so tired. We did not carry on all the way along the ridge, but dropped down, through more farmland and eventually landing up at the town of Castleton. We sat down at a pub to wait for the other groups to come. I texted my sister- who was at home, waiting for me. I was eager to see her, to talk to her about my day. Unfortunately, it was not to be. One of the groups came in late so the bus departed late, which turned my plans into a huge mess. I ended up getting off at the university, then running to catch another bus, to get to my part of the city, then I had to run from the bus stop to get to my house. I got back to my house at around half seven, and my sister had to leave at quarter to eight. She was stressed, worried about missing the train, as it was the last train of the day. I was tired and stressed from the rush of trying to get back in time, and for her too. We chatted a bit but she was off soon enough. I was very disappointed, and I almost regretted going for the hike – because I could have had the day with my sister, instead. I wanted to see my sister.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the hike. The day was lovely, the views were stunning, the people were friendly and accommodating (really, socially it was quite nice – there was not too much pressure to keep talking, as we were walking, and afterwards on the bus everyone was tired and caught up in thoughts of getting home, and not wanting to talk too much, even sleeping. I met some interesting people – a lot of them engineers, mathematicians and physicists, and a lot of international students. Even a girl who had lived in South Africa a little bit. All very interesting, very nice.) However I over estimated myself. Those hills really killed me. And I felt embarrassed- talking about my experience climbing mountains, then puffing and panting and lagging behind climbing up a hill. The more I think about it, the more I cringe. Strangely though, I find myself wanting to do a walk 4 again. I want to push myself. Yet, I don’t want to embarrass myself again. I have signed up for the walk next week nonetheless, and I will see what happens. We choose our walk difficulty on the day, so I will see how I feel then. Hopefully not so reckless as this week. But even if its an easy walk, I want to cram in as many walks as I can whilst the weather holds.

Today I woke up surprisingly not stiff, another early start, for it’s an hours walk to my house to university. The price to pay for living in a quiet suburb by myself is that it is very far from everything. The walk to university is not bad- just flat tarmac through suburbs all the way. I got to my lecture at 9am exactly, and felt tired, but not too bad, and still not too painful. My first lecture was on Power Networks and it was fascinating. It’s so great to be really digging into Electrical Engineering this year – instead of sitting through stuff I am not interested in. For the whole two hours of the lecture I was listening, paying attention, making notes, interested. I got a bit lost during the second half, but I will do a little bit of revision on the background material, the basics, before the next lecture. After that lecture I had Electrical Machines. Along the way a guy I was sort of acquainted with in first year approached me. I was shocked that anyone remembered me and happily chatted to him and his friend, who I had worked with on a project in first year, and so was glad he remembered me. It was quite nice you know? One thing I am noticing is that people keep asking me how Malaysia was and I think there is the expectation that I am going to start gushing about how great it was. It’s difficult, as it wasn’t that great. So in the end I am honest, I say that academically it wasn’t amazing, but getting to travel was brilliant. It feels a little awkward. Anyway, I sat with them for that lecture. It was weird, I felt a bit out of place. I’m so used to being alone. The lecture itself was also fairly interesting – though I have a feeling I may find this module difficult. Its all relevant to what I want to do one day though, so I shall try my best.

Really, I had a nice first day back. Just two intro lectures, no major social blunders. And I love that I’m living alone now – so I have time by myself. I can cope socially but only for a certain amount of time and I need time alone otherwise I get too anxious, I get moody and not nice to be around. I noticed it on the hike as well – once the hike was over I was keen to get back. I’d had lovely conversations all day, a few awkward moments, but nothing I said was as embarrassing as I get and I think I did OK, but after a whole day of it I was done, I needed to be by myself, quiet. In this way I think living alone will be good for me – I feel a bit calmer, less anxious, being able to come home and be by myself. I really am a bit of a loner.

Tomorrow I have three lectures, with an awkward hours break between the morning and afternoon. I have no idea what I am doing to do during that break. I’m trying not to worry about it. I want to stay in a good frame of mind this year.