DATE                                12.04.05

DISTANCE                       6.5 MILES

WEATHER                       BRIGHT & SUNNY




Due to the fact that once again my stump decided to start playing up or should that be playing down I hadn’t been able to get out walking much, I had been putting extra stump sock’s  on to fill in the extra space around the socket but I was still pistoling up and down in the socket and no matter how tight I did the Tess belt up I simply slipped out the socket so going out walking was a big no , and this of course  really put me in a good mood ……………however the day before I had been to the limb centre at the Freeman Hospital , where they took my leg away and relined with leather and stuck a bigger pad where my bum cheek rested on it , and after a bit of explaining the also stuck a padded patch on the front of the socket where I put a lot of pressure on it . When I tried it on it seemed different and things didn’t seem right, my leg guy John quickly saw what was wrong and proceeded to adjust the alignment of the leg by carefully adjusting various Allen screws, after a bit of walking up and down the corridor things seemed much better, I naturally noted what John had done and though that I could always improve upon things when “things and stuff” didn’t feel right which lead to me always having the correct size Allen keys on me (more stuff to carry around)

In the mean time there is only one way that I know of to get use to a different leg and that’s get out someplace and test it out, I still wasn’t l right in the head so I decided to go out on my own, I don’t really know what was wrong with me but I felt that I NEEDED to prove to myself that I could manage and hated when anyone looked or offered to help ……………..I know it was all in my mind but at the time it seemed so real and there is something about being out in the hills that somehow seem to calm me , I would often find myself staring up at the higher fells think one day I will get up there and as strange as it might seem I knew that given time and some practise I would , I never doubted it for one second which was really strange at the time because on a bad day it would take me the best part of twenty minutes to even walk to the bottom of the road , and then there was the time I came to step off the curb and for some unknown reason couldn’t and it took me every bit of will power to simply step down ……………nothing to it but at the time a major  problem ………….like I have often stated I wasn’t really functioning on all levels .

Anyhow the forced non walking time had given all the sore, weak spots on my stump time to heal up properly and so my arty limb should be ok for a while (note the word should be) but I was going to take no chances, I covered all my “weak spots” with the foam dressing then covered them with the tegaderm plaster and slapped a coating of the new anti chaff on places where I had suffered before. I should go on and mention that I was having a bit of trouble with some of the scare tissue ….you know where they cut my leg off and sowed it back together, to combat this splitting and dryness I had been using Hydromol ointment.

Hydromol ointment :- good stuff ?

This seemed to solve the problem and kept the skin from drying out and cracking open, at the time I didn’t have a clue how long I would need to use it but it did the job so its just something that I would have to live with. I found out more by trial and error that if I smeared a small wipe over the scare tissue first thing in the morning it would last all day so it wasn’t much of a problem , in fact I still slap on a coating every now and then and this is ten years down the line.

So I was ready, I threw the kit into the car and drove up to the old school house car park at Barrowburn in the Beautiful Coquet Valley, there is something about this area, beautiful, unspoilt, timeless and (for me) a sense of welcome from the hills and valleys themselves almost calling out “come walk amongst   us we will take care of you and heal you”  and you know something they did , I have walked this area for years and years since this first walk in rain , snow , fog , gales , and sunny days and I always feel safe and welcome and always come back in a much better moods , this area feeds my soul and I’m a better person for it . In fact even today my first visit I instantly knew that this would be good for me and I would be returning again and again, getting better and going further with every trip.

A nice winters day walk (taken some years later )

There is also one other huge draw for me to this area and that is the farm house tea room , always welcoming excellent food and drink and a chance to chat up with any news or meet up with fellow walkers in fact I would say that this is a perfect way to finish any walk link:-

Anyway my route today was going to be a circular route (see the map for details) it was hard going in places with so many trip hazards uphill bits downhill bits but it was soooooooooo rewarding, my new system with the leg seemed to work well and for the first time in ages I started to feel alive and simply loved the problems that I encountered and started on the long process of not only walking in the wilds but of doing so with confidence and enjoying every single step , there must be a point in every amputees recovery where you suddenly think “ I can do this …………..and things and stuff “ aren’t as bad as they where when you got out of bed in the morning …..Yes the hills worked there magic on me today and when I finished the walk and walked into the tea room at Barrowburn I was a very tired person but also a much better person …………it was the start of me getting my head right and stop all that silly nonsense of being sorry for myself .

A very good day something we all should have.

A few photos:-

Looking up the coquet valley


Looking along Lounges Knowe, my route takes me down to the burn before the climb up


Nearly at the top looking back down, pity about the wood smoke


Now at the top looking at the easy path towards the forest (yes I had loads of rest stops getting here)


Now entering a section of Kidland forest my route takes me up middle hill


On leaving the forest I am greeted by these views


Still heading up


Looking back to where I left the forest


A bit further up the hill looking back the views just get better and better


Looking along the valley towards the small farm at Uswayford

Looking down at a small unnamed waterfall


Time to head down, easy walking and its grass so a nice soft landing if I fall


Young lambs


Now on a stone track looking across on my route so far today


The long and winding road


A good place to stop and have a rest ………I must admit that I am tired but still excited by what I have done so far


Yes a lovley spot.


Further along the track looking back


The farm at Rowhope and now I have the choice of walking along a metallic surface if I want to


Day after thoughts: - got home later that night, very tired but very happy my leg was a bit sore but nothing compared to how it has been so I think at this stage I am winning slowly , but what a day I had I really enjoyed it , my good leg was shaking really bad towards the end of the walk but only when I stopped walking or tried to stand or hold my position with it , my shoulder hurt a bit as well as I used the hiking poles and put a bit too much pressure or weight on them towards the end of the walk but I can honestly say that I will be back again