Rhossili

This morning, we went up Rhossili Down. I’ve been meaning to go back there for a while, but one thing or another has meant that I’ve been tempted to go elsewhere. This morning, nice and early, we set off with the intention of walking along the ridge above the beach. It was a windy morning but not cold, and only a thin layer of cloud to the north west spoiled the day.

I’d forgotten how steep the initial climb was (or maybe I’m just a bit more unfit than I realised) so by the time we’d got to the bit where the hang gliders launch (about half way) I was out for breath. The view from there was spectacular across the village on on to Worm’s Head, so I didn’t mind stopping for a minute or so. Rufus was happy for the opportunity to explore his surroundings. We got to the trig point and the wind was blowing quite hard. But it still wasn’t cold and it wasn’t as strong as we’d experienced in the past.

The heather was in full bloom. Mostly a uniform mauve colour, there were some patches of darker purple and some of yellow. And in the wind, the scent wasn’t overpowering. We had the ridge to ourselves and no deadlines to worry about. We took it easy. I was snapping away and Rufus was sniffing away.

Slowly we made our past the Bronze Age cairns to the remains of the old radar station, which kept watch against enemy raids during WW2. From the highest point there, there were fantastic views along the beach and down to the campsite at Llangennith. It was packed and although I like camping, the density of tents wasn’t something I’d be happy with.

We left the main path to head down to the Neolithic burial chambers, known as Sweyn’s Howes. There wasn’t a clear path, so we set off across the heather. After a few minutes, I checked on Rufus to find him hopping gingerly and hesitantly behind me. I hadn’t noticed that in amongst the heather were little thorny plants. They were obviously getting between Rufus’ pads and he was finding the going hard and uncomfortable. So we turned around and I picked him up to carry him to a clearer part of the hillside. He’s a heavy boy, and there was much huffing and puffing from both of us. Thankfully, I didn’t have to lift him far!

We carried on back along the ridge, passing horses and curious foals who were unconcerned by our passage. We were on much smoother ground and too quickly, we reached the path heading down to the car park. I could see three people watching and trying top photograph something and as I looked, I saw a Hen Harrier stationary in the sky. It was being mobbed by other, smaller birds but didn’t seem to be too concerned by the attention it was receiving. I watched and tried to photograph it for about 5 minutes and it only occasionally flapped its wings to move position. Most of the time, the wind blowing in from the sea was enough to allow it to remain hovering over one spot.

We got back to the car refreshed and ready for second breakfast.

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&%$@@!%$ (&^%$@^*

Hark, another swear word. What’s going on?

I have mentioned my recurring knee issue in previous blogs.  I’ve been doing my very best to rest it between training strolls and apart from the swelling on the front below the kneecap, it’s been pain free and only mildly uncomfortable. But last night, I was on the exercise bike in the gym and with little warning I suddenly had that horrible feeling, as if my knee was about to lock. Accompanying it was pain – not excruciating, but enough to sound alarm bells.

I stopped cycling, of course, but the pain continued and did so for the rest of the night, despite ice packs and ibuprofen gel. And this morning it was still hurting enough to leave me worried. Ibuprofen helped, as did a tight bandage. But it was clear that there was something more than a week’s rest could fix.

I have 44 days of training left. The training plan calls for two 6hr hikes this weekend, including ascent and descent with back pack. In the following three weeks, I need to do another three 8 hour hikes plus increasing amounts of cardio-vascular training in the gym. By my estimate, I have a two week window to rest the knee and hope it gets better. Even then, there is no guarantee it won’t go again either during the final training or on the mountain itself. On my last trek 6 people had to be evacuated down the trail, two by helicopter. A couple of those were as a result of pre-existing conditions. It nearly cost all of us our chance of getting toe Everest Base Camp. I’m not going to do that.

I went straight to the doctor who confirmed what I already knew, that two weeks wasn’t nearly long enough to sort the problem out. I’m having an X-Ray done too, as there may be more to it than simply Housemaid’s Knee. As long as it has a name with multiple syllables that sounds vaguely heroic, I don’t care.

So, reluctantly, I have decided to postpone the Kilimanjaro trek. Postpone, not give up. I’ll be back next year.

My knee

You know this knee now. The purply red bits are the culprits. Grrr!

I feel gutted and frustrated. Part of the preparation was psychological. I still remember climbing Kala Patthar in Nepal – and that was ‘only’  5,545m. Kili adds another 450m on to that. I can’t risk my knee giving out at that late stage. More importantly, when the adrenaline runs out and we’re heading down, that is when the damage will happen and I’m planning on using my legs after Kili.

Watch this space. I’m guessing the next post will be about the experiences of trying to claim off my travel insurance.