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

Beginning of Castleton Walk

{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.