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Thread: Looking For Walking Buddies

  1. #1
    Widdler
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    Hi everyone. I'm 34 and live in Bolton in Lancashire. I've been a keen walker for about ten years now and am comfortable on various terrains from low-level valley walks to the peaks of the Lake District and Wales. As a rule, I'm very flexible about where I walk, enjoying simply the fresh air, the exercise and, of course, meeting new people. I take my physical fitness seriously and can do anything from a six-mile stroll to a 12-14 mile hike. The reason I joined this forum is that I cannot see and am looking for walking buddies - people I can get out and enjoy walking with. If you've never guided a blind person before, don't worry! I can easily explain to you how to do it and most people who've tried guiding me tell me how very much easier it is than they had imagined. If you are interested in doing a walk with me, please send me a message. I'll be posting comments from people who've guided me in this thread, so that you can read about how they found the experience.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards,

    John

  2. #2
    Ultra King NickNick's Avatar
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    Hello john,

    Welcome to the forum.

    I'm in Morocco but if you're ever down this way, let me know.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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    Welcome on board, John. If you can get yourself down to the Brecon Beacons I'll happily take you out to experience our lovely mini-mountains down here!

    Just out of interest - do you have a guide dog? It's just I'm particularly fond of dogs

  4. #4
    Ultra King Milly.'s Avatar
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    Hi John,

    if you can get yourself to the railway station in Buxton, Derbyshireone Saturday or Sunday, I'm happy to take you out for a day somewhere in the White Peak.

  5. #5
    Ultra King NickNick's Avatar
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    "Just out of interest - do you have a guide dog? It's just I'm particularly fond of dogs "

    Come on Kate, at least give John the illusion that you'll be nice to him too!

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Metric Kate's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Widdler
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    hi everyone and thanks for all the positive replies so far. I said I'd post some comments about walks I've done recently with people who've responded to my request for walking buddies which I've posted on various walking-related forums. Well, here's an account of a walk I did on Sunday 19 April with a woman known on certain forums as Snowdon_Lady or SL for short. SL is an extremely dedicated walker, but had neither met nor guided a blind person before. She took to it extremely quickly, however, and appeared to really enjoy it once we'd sorted out a few teething problems such as me walking too fast! Her account of the walk and how she found guiding me is below. We will be doing the Miners' Track route up Snowdon on may 17 which I'm really looking forward to! I accept it'll be harder and I'll need more instruction, but I always love a challenge and have every confidence in SL's ability as a sighted guide. I aim to do the route in style and in a decent time, whatever the conditions! SL's account follows and has been split over two postings:

    An early start to allow John and I enough time to get the walk done before I had to take him back to the station......little did I know at this stage how fast we would get around the walk! Let me explain John has been blind since birth, this was the first time we had walked together and I had no idea about guiding him or any blind person for that matter!

    I must admit I was a bit nervous about the guiding and John and I had been joking about whether he had his bubblewrap packed as his rucksack was so heavy when I collected him from the station!

    We parked at the carpark near Llyn Padarn in Llanberis and walked through the town to go up a minor road towards the YHA. At this point John had a light grip on my arm and I just told him when we got to a kerb or a similar so he could take the appropriate action. We took a minor road off to the right at an old chapel and followed this for some time; whilst going up the road and track John started walking independently of me and I was just saying left or right and telling him about the terrain so things like uneven surface, broken ground with rocks, steps etc. This worked for both of us and John was so fast he got in front of me a few times and I had to tell him to slow down!
    When we headed off the track there was a narrow bit so I took the end of John's walking pole and he had the other end, it was only a short bit but we found that John was pushing me so we had to adapt how this would work when we needed to do this again. Then it was up the ridge towards the top of Moel Eilio, where we met our first A frame stile, which he was over very quickly. We reached the top and I took in the views and described what I could see to John.

    SL's account continues in my next posting.

  8. #8
    Widdler
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    SL's account of our walk on Sunday 19 April continued from my previous post:

    Then headed down and up to Foel Gron again John walking independently and the same to Foel Goch. On the way off of Foel Goch there was a massive boulder and I had vision of John crashing into it, so I just asked him to stop and walk to me and then go forward a couple of paces and then away from me then left again.......a bit like a computer game with a live character! We then headed down the the path that lead down to Llanberis and I was amazed at how early it was still, so we decided to head up on to Moel Cynghorion.

    We stopped at the top of Moel Cynghorion for a snack and listened to the train struggling up Snowdon (not all the way to the top!) and listened to it going down again a totally different sound....it was interesting as we had our backs to it and we could both tell whether the train was going up or down!

    Back down off of Moel Cynhorion and then on to a narrow path where we did the walking pole trick again, this time it was better as we had sorted out what went wrong before and I was walking at normal pace with John following behind me at a pole length so he did not kick me. I would say step up, drainage channel etc as I got to them and most of the time John got over safely as well......there was only one where he went flying, but managed not to fall over. As soon as the path got wider we were back to John walking at my side. Once we ended Llanberis John took my arm again and we headed to the ice cream shop for a well earnt ice cream! (

    We had a fantastic day out, walked 11miles with 1070m ascent in about 5hours a brilliant achievement.

    So was it what I expected? No it was better and due to John it was a lot easier and John walked more independently than I had ever thought was possible

    Next Challenge ? Snowdon, which will be harder I accept that, but you have to give it a go!

  9. #9
    Widdler
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    Witton Country Park - Beamers Trail walk 26th April 2009

    On Sunday 26 April, I met up with Heather to do a six-mile section of the Witton Beamers Trail near Blackburn. Heather had never met or guided a blind person before and we knew virtually nothing about each other, as we had only exchanged a few e-mails before meeting. Heather turned out to be a natural sighted guide, however, and appeared to really enjoy it! I hope to meet her again some time soon to do a walk over possibly more challenging terrain. Heather's account of our walk follows and is split over several postings:

    I went for a walk with John on Sunday 26th April. I wasn?t sure quite what to expect to be honest so I picked a low level route from Witton Country Park in Blackburn, (we did the Beamers trail which is part of the Witton Weavers Way, approx 6 miles in length). The route was through woods, across fields and over many stiles as you will read in the route description below.

    Before meeting John I was a little nervous, I wasn?t sure how good a guide I would be as I?d never done anything like this before. We set off on the walk John explained he would hold lightly onto my arm and to just walk at a pace comfortable to me. I settled into it straight away. When we approached a stile I told him what type of stile it was, I went over first and John followed, he required no assistance at all. There were steps on one section of the walk, just before we got to them I told John there were steps, he used his walking pole in front of him to find where the step were and we continued on.

    Heather's account continues in my next posting:

  10. #10
    Widdler
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    Heather's account continued from previous posting:

    For the majority of the walk we were side by side with John holding my arm lightly. In places where it was too narrow to do this and on one short road section I took one end of Johns walking pole and he had the other end and walked behind me. There was one part of the walk where the river had eroded the path so we had to climb down and back up the other side. I had a quick look decide the best route and explained to John what we would do. I went first with John holding the pole then when I turned left through a gap, I told John to keep walking ahead until he was at the point where he could turn to be behind me again. Climbing up the other side was no problem as there was a grass bank on the left hand side we could put a hand on to help get up, John continued to hold the walking pole once I got to the top I turned and verbally guided him up the last bit.

    As John really didn?t require much ?guiding? on the walk and we could walk side by side most of the time it gave us an opportunity to talk and get to know each other which was great as we?d only exchanged a few emails previously. I walk on my own most of the time so it was really nice to have some company. We both seemed to have lots to talk about. I wished I?d picked a longer route now so we could have chatted more but there?s always next time!

    In terms of guiding John I found that it was a lot easier than I had imagined it would be. I would be very confident to walk with John on similar walks and walks on more challenging terrain.

    I have to say that I had a really enjoyable day, the weather was great, the company and conversation were great and I will definitely be arranging to meet up with John for another walk soon.



    Heather's description of our route is in my next posting:

  11. #11
    Widdler
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    Heather's route description of our walk on Sunday 26 April - continued from my previous posting:

    From the main car park of Witton Country Park follow the main drive towards the wooden sports pavilion. Turn right and follow the road behind the pavilion until you reach a small car park. Turn immediately left along the fence and a path soon emerges that leads into Big Cover Wood. Cross the footbridge on the left over the brook and follow the path up through the wood, with open fields on your left. Go through the kissing gate out of the wood and follow the path across two fields, passing Higher Gardens Plantation on your right. Climb the stile through the wall and onto Under Billinge Lane. Turn left and immediately right through a gateway and follow a path that climbs left into Billinge Wood. Continue straight at the first junction and on emerging from the wood climb the stile on the left hand corner of the car park. Cross the field making for the ?hump? and continue along the path. On going through a fence into a field, go over the brow of the hill and drop down the field, keeping to the fence on the left. Climb the stile at the bottom of the field.

    Turn left along the lane and almost immediately right, just in front of the telegraph pole, turn right down the path into the wood. 50 yards into the wood there take an indistinct right fork and climb the stile into the field, heading for the gate straight ahead. Go through the gate and continue ahead, keeping close to the trees on your right. Climb the stile at the gate and continue along the track, emerging onto the road which links Billinge End with the village of Pleasington.

    Turn right along this road and continue until you reach a sharp bend with a track going off to your left. Follow the track along past Close Farm. Continue down the field straight ahead, following the line of the hedge on your right. Head for the gully that appears ahead and slightly to your left. Climb the stile on the right hand side of the gully. Continue ahead, taking the path that crosses the gully, bearing right. Follow the wide track on the far side of the gully. On emerging into the open field take the track that appears on the edge of the tree-lined valley on your right. Follow the track down as it broadens out alongside the River Darwen. As the path meets the river it veers to the left, heading for Lower Park Farm. Climb the stile at the corner of the buildings, going past the farm and through the gate.

    On reaching the river turn left down the track, following the river on your right Leave the track to go through a gate on your right and follow the river as it bends right. (This is where the path had eroded away and we had to climb down and back up again). Continue along the river to the bridge.

    Turn left along the track. On your right is Pleasington Golf Club. Go through the stile in the wall on your right and follow the wall to the left to reach the next stile. Climb the stile into the open field and follow the fence up and out of the valley. Over the next stile and onto the track that will lead you into Pleasington Village.

    Go straight across the road, continuing down the track with Pleasington Priory on your left. Continue down the sandy path to emerge at Pleasington playing fields. Turn right along the road to Butlers Bridge. Once over the bridge turn left along the river footpath and return to the starting point.

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