DATE                                         09.10.05

DISTANCE                                4.2 MILES

WEATHER                                COLD, GREY BUT DRY


For the first time in what seemed ages I felt that I needed to push myself just that little bit harder, not so much on the distance but on the type of terrain just to see how I got on , I had been out practising and had a couple of things playing around in my mind , fortunately I could “do” both things on the same walk , the first thing that had been bugging me was a very uneven rocky steep (ish)  stony path in the woods at Simonside , I had by this time been up and down it a few times but I wanted to get from the bottom to the top without using my hiking poles for assistance , might not sound much to most people but for me it was a big thing , but without getting too big headed I knew that I could do it if I just took my time and was carful where I put my feet , naturally this time of the year there would be some water running down it making it nice and slippery ………….but hey that’s part of the fun right and my second appointed task was I dearly wanted to be able to get up the stone cairns on top of Simonside crags ( 429 meters) and again at Dove crag (395 meters) which meant a short but very steep climb up the side of Simonside , again I wasn’t planning g to use my poles here but saying that its that steep in places it’s a case of grabbing hold of the rocks to pull yourself up but again it never entered my head that I wouldn’t be able to do it . I should go on and say I really don’t know what would have happened if I couldn’t have done it……. I think that it would have mentally destroyed me at this stage but again that thought never entered my head till after the event.

Stump wise every thing was getting on fine I had finally started to show signs that my stump was starting to stabilise which was a good thing because it meant I was getting that much closer where I could be measured up and fitted (or recast as its known) for my new leg, my “normal” leg was behaving itself but saying that I still had to spend some time rubbing the muscles when ever I got the chance just to be on the safe side.

For normal day to day stuff I wasn’t bothering with my normal, cream, foam and plaster routine and the skin on my leg seemed to be alright, but I always carried the stuff around with me “just in case” I have found out the hard way once the skin tears or starts to rub it can take weeks to heal up so better safe than sorry. However I would be putting a small patch right under my bum cheek that seems to bear the blunt of any abuse from the socket for todays walk.

With my long suffering better half Yvonne tagging along we quickly shovelled  breakfast down our necks , threw our kit into the car and set off , at this point in time I hadn’t told Yvonne what I was planning to do I was keeping it as a sort of surprise , like wise when we started to “climb” up towards the cairn on top of Simonside I wanted to be in front , mainly for two reasons , I figured if I fell she would catch me ( joke)  but the real reason was if she lead the way it meant that my head would be level with her bum as we climbed up the hill and if she farted it would most likely “knock me out”  so it was much safer if I lead the way , I am certain that there are health and safety rules about this sort of thing even out in the wilds  but I didn’t bring her farting up as I didn’t want to upset or embarrass her after all lets keep her problem a secret shall we J

On arriving gear was sorted and off we went , it was easy walking along forestry tracks until we come to the turning to start heading up out of the woods , this was the section that I was planning on doing without the use of my poles , it was tricky but I found it more of a case of concentrating  and thinking several step ahead and for want of a better word  “getting the right sort of line “ which meant that I would be crossing over from side to side , there was a couple of time where I misjudged where I place my foot and slipped but not enough to send me crashing down , I have found that if I talk to myself (I’m going mad I know) about what I am doing  I seem to concentrate much better , anyway after a long but slow steady uphill climb I made it to the top , where there was much celebrating going on in my head , I would have jumped around throwing my arms up in the air but I was really struggling to regain my breath and was on the point of collapsing , time for a sit down and cake break I think !. if the truth was know it was a case of sit down or fall down , it was hard work going up there and despite my best efforts I rushed the last 100 odd meters where as I should have slowed down and took my time …..But hey I was on a roll and wanted to get to the top before my luck changed.

After the cake break and my breathing returned to normal it was time to get moving again, I think that I even surprise Yvonne when I suggested that we head up to the crags, which meant the short but steep climb , but seeing as I had the car keys in my rucksack she had no choice but to follow me , but first I did a stump check , I hadn’t had any bother but there was a lot of twisting and pushing going to be happing so I wanted to know that “things and stuff” where ok , I noticed that I had a dry spot so a quick wipe of the anti chaff cream was wiped over the area and I was ready to go , I often wonder what other people would think if they saw me (a total stranger) stopping dropping his trousers putting a dollop of cream on his finger then shoving my hand down the back of my underpants and wiggling my finger around my bum area , smiling as I did it , then wiggling my bot as I settled down into the socket again  before I put my trousers back on, so far I had been lucky and no one had said anything but then no one had really seen me as most of the places I have been have been empty but even at this stage if it’s a case of me dropping my trousers and sorting myself out and upsetting some one they would lose every time , they don’t have to look where as I need to get stuff sorted out .

Back to the walk , we stopped at the bottom of the steep climb , I tighten my rucksack and off I went , it looked a lot steeper and harder than what it was , make no mistake it was hard work and my lungs where seriously struggling and I did get things wrong several times in regards to how or where I positioned my arty leg , but like most things if I stopped and though about the route it all seemed to click into place and I climbed up a lot quicker than what I though was possible , there is a definite style or system that enables me to climb up using my good leg to push or power up leaving my arty leg to sort of lock and hold the position and of course I used my hands to help pull me up which helped no end , all in all I really enjoyed the experience , to most people who come up this path it’s  nothing but a short climb but for me today it was a huge thing and the fact that I found it easer than what I expected made it even better and when I finally got to the top I burst over the top with a stupid grin on my face , Yvonne quick followed and it was time to find a sheltered spot for lunch , during lunch I did a quick stump check and was pleased to find that all was well , then it was off , the next section took us along a very well used mud / stone path to dove crag and from there it was time to head back down , writing as an above knee amputee going downhill is really hard , possibly the hardest thing we have to do , throw in the wet slippery mud , uneven surface , rocks and lose stone made for an interesting hour or so , I could have used my hiking poles which would have made things so much easer , but again I thought that it would be cheating ( someone give me a slap) but I enjoyed it even when I went arse over head when I tripped over a hidden root , then it was onto a forest track for a while , I could have stayed on the track all the way back to the car but ………………..there was a very muddy path that went down in between the trees back to the car park , and as I had such a good day I decided to try this route , it was a nightmare , wet slippery , tree roots causing tripping hazards all the way down , really steep in places but I could use my hand to grab hold of the trees as I passed so I could slow my speed down , I didn’t consider this cheating for some reason and got quite adventures in building up my downhill speed between trees .

It didn’t take long to get to the base and then a slow walk back to the car , a quick check of my stump and all was well so I felt extremely pleased in how things turned out today about 4.2 miles

A few photos:

Me starting up the stony path


A bit further up, note how I am flinging my arms about to keep balance (should have used hiking poles)


Stopping and having a think or was I getting my breath back


Some of the huge sandstones that are scattered around this area


Leaving the trees looking up to the crags our next target


Same again


Looking back down the grassy (overgrown) path with the Cheviot Hills in the distance


Some people coming down, this is where we go up


Part way up looking back down


Yvonne at the top

Some escaped nutter feeling very pleased with himself


On our way down from dove crag, Yvonne treating me to a very rare smile


A couple of (rather dark) photos looking back up


Heading down the wooded path


A bit further down


Day after thoughts, a really good day yesterday and I was well chuffed with myself, no damage to my stump and my good leg didn’t kick off and start to play up so that must be getting better.  But the best news was I didn’t get that totally knackered feeling that I had been experiencing so will mark this up as a big success