waiting to swim

Happy new year!

We hope everybody had a great start to their year! We kicked things off with a dip in the chilly north sea (see video below). The new years day dip was held in Sheringham and was to raise money for the RNLI.

We even made it on to the local news!

After that, we headed to Cromer, ready for the new years day firework display and took part in an impromptu 1 mile fun run (in full winter kit!). The waves were huge and part of the fun was dodging the waves that were crashing over the promenade wall!

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A huge wave crashing against the wall
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Fireworks at Cromer

We hope everybody has an adventure filled 2019!

crossing stepping stones

Harrison Stickle

We were visiting some friends who lived up towards the Lake District. They recommended this walk, perhaps without considering how tough (and slow!) it might be for somebody with 3% vision. We set off from Old Dungeon Ghyll with the intention of visiting Stickle Tarn and a few of the Langdale Pikes.

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Scrambling up towards Stickle Tarn. An easier path was available!

Hikes can be a challenge for us. Most of the footpaths in the great outdoors are only wide enough for one, and even on the rare occasion where there is room enough for two, the differences in terrain can make using the width difficult. This means that for the most part, John, who is registered blind, holds on to a backpack while Lauren leads the way describing features or tricky sections along the way. Mentally it can be draining for both of us: For John, using the vision he has to locate where to put his feet and for Lauren, constantly having to describe terrain and be aware of the extra person. But that doesn’t stop us giving things ago. We’re on a mission show the world that blind or disabled people can do stuff.

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The final route we took 

Our route began steadily over relatively easy terrain, joined by a local lost farm dog (who made his way home eventually). We can cover even steps and flat sections quickly, and we did, but wasn’t long before things became a little more interesting. Fortunately, we’re both climbers and the odd scramble here and there doesn’t worry us at all, in fact, it can be easier than uneven or rocky paths. With his hands on the rock, John can make progress with little guidance. Stepping stones however, are quite a different story! Without being able to see, hopping across would probably result in a change of activity from walking to swimming but John has a real talent for doing things statically where it really shouldn’t be possible.  Soon enough, we reached Stickle Tarn.

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Lauren hopping across some stepping stones at Stickle Tarn.

With it being early afternoon, and knowing everything takes us a long time, we probably should have turned back at this point but instead, we had a little review of our route in the hope that we’d still gain some altitude, but hopefully make it down in daylight. This isn’t exactly how it went. We had planned to take a longer, but gentler route ‘around the back’ but against the clock, we opted for a scramble up ‘easy gully’ instead. The gully itself was fine, but once we hit the top, the path was tricky to follow, and it was a case of navigating from Cairn to Cairn. It was also rocky in places and uneven, our progress was slow.

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View from Pavey Ark towards stickle tarn. 

By the time we had reached the top of Harrison Stickle, the cloud had dropped down, the wind had picked up and the light had almost faded. Our route down was almost entirely through steep crags. It took a long time, navigation was a challenge, but we made it back with enough time to have a coffee before the carpark closed.

Bear Grylls Adventure

Back at the end of October, we visited Bear Grylls adventure in Birmingham. It was a seriously busy day jam packed with activities…so much so, we barely had time to film anything. Instead, we went on highropes, did survival mazes, obstacle courses, archery and snorkelling.

We were supposed to go scuba diving, but because of John’s hearing aids, we need a note from the doctor first – watch this space!

The great thing about this place is that on the whole, they were really up for letting John do everything without a second thought or with some extra thought into how to adapt things slightly. The managers looked after Daisy (the guide dog) when we were on activities and apart from scuba diving (which needs a medical for the ears rather than eyes) we did everything.

Looking forward to going back.

Wales

A few weeks back we visited Mid-Wales for a climbing competition (John competing, Lauren sightguiding) and we had some great plans for things to do while we were there. We know it rains a lot in Wales but non-stop for 3 days?! Our plans changed but we still had a lot of fun.

We visited Henrhyd Falls in the hope of going for a swim but well…

After that we hit tripadvisor for some inspiration!

Henrhyd falls. The waterfall plunges around 20m into a deep pool below.
john on a boulder in the peak district

Climbing at Stanage Edge!

A few weeks back we hit the grit up at Stanage and did a few easy climbs. It was great to be joined by Anita for a couple of hours too!

The plan was to get ourselves used to being on Grit again. It’s a completely different ball game to limestone. The holds are small, but grippy and you have to trust your feet a lot. Big run outs towards the tops are the norm but it’s fun!

Here’s the video:

And here are some pics:

Lauren and John at the top of Mam Tor in the peak district
Lauren, John and Anita at the crag
John coiling a rope with the sun setting behind him
Lauren and John looking happy at the end of a days climbing with the sun setting behind them.
daisy the guide dog on a waterbike

Up till now..

We’ve not long launched our social pages but we’ve been up to quite a bit the last few weeks. Here’s all of it in a single blog!

Our first proper little adventure was one leg of a 1000 mile journey around the UK’s waterways on a waterbike to raise awareness of litter and plastic. We rode 10 miles from Birmingham city centre to Majors green and took it in turns to pedal. When John was riding, he had to have directions from Lauren which weren’t always perfect!

The next big thing we did together was take a trip to Symonds Yat. A limestone climbing venue in the Wye Valley. We had a real laugh on this one and had a few epics too (what time does the carpark close?). Best just to watch this one..

Our next little venture out was to the Peak District for a first aid course run by Al over at Gritstone adventures. John needed his for his CWI assessment and Lauren’s was due to expire. We’d spoken on the phone to Al about John being blind and we weren’t totally sure how it would go before we got there but it actually went incredibly well.

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Left: John sat with his cane stuck out of his leg with bandages supporting it. Top right: Lauren and John selfie – John has a bandage on his head. Bottom right: John having a bandage put on his head.

Apart from occasionally kicking the casualty (or body as John sometimes called them!) his first aid skills were top class. Al did a great job of providing some plain text documents with the important information so John’s iPhone could read it fine. Lauren sometimes had to describe things but on the whole we think blind people have the potential to make great first aiders!

Here’s a video from our celebratory trip up Mam Tor!

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Sunset from Mam Tor

The last thing to catch up on was our visit to the Petzl UK Gri Gri tour at Redpoint Birmingham. We had a good chat about belaying and then tried out soft catches. Climbers..head to a tour date if you can!