Justin – So you’re planning on undertaking quite a hike then Ron?
Ron – Absolutely. The Southern Upland Way stretches over 212 miles of gruelling Scotland.
J – That’s a long walk Ron, and it’s supposed to be quite challenging isn’t it – what kind of training have you been doing to prepare for it?
R – Mostly, I have been eating curry, and placing emphasis on second breakfasts. And I just had a crack at the West Highland Way. That’s around 95 miles and is described as quite an easy hike. Though I didn’t quite finish it.
J – Yes, that’s right, you had a few problems on that one – why don’t you tell the listener about them?
R – Yes, well I’d packed a few too many luxury items in my backpack – it was well over the prescribed 14 kilos, more like 20 kilos in fact. We had to slow our pace right down, and my companion had to catch a flight back before our projected finish.
J – Luxury items? I thought this camping and hiking was a spartan existence – what kind of luxuries did you take?
R – Coins. Have you ever noticed how heavy coins are? And shampoo. A portable stove. And a book. And my companion’s hair-dryer.
J – Hair-dryer?
R – It’s not as bad as it sounds. Trust me, it’s much better to have a happy Italian with a small hair-dryer, that one deprived of grooming products.
J – Okay. Let’s move on to the next hike then. Just to recap, you’ve got no real experience of walking, you’ve not trained, and the walk is classified as extremely demanding, and you’ve been binge eating.
R – Hey, second breakfasts are not binge-eating. It’s just getting value out of the breakfast in ‘bed and breakfast’ when you’re companion doesn’t want a full fried breakfast. Besides, this trek is going to be different. I had a few ideas.
J – Oh, do tell.
R – Well, when you’re walking up and down hills, weight is your enemy…
J – Those second breakfasts are going to slow you down then?
R – Weight on your back is your enemy. Hills are your enemy. Sun is your enemy. The rain has it out for you. Rocks try to twist your ankles. It’s man versus the environment. So I’m thinking that man normally changes his environment, but that’s pretty hard to do in two weeks over 200 miles right? So I think to myself, how have the scots adapted?
J – And?
R – Buckfast tonic wine. I figured I could cover ground very effectively with a bottle of that. All night if necessary. So I could take less stuff. Less clothes, less tent, less shampoo.
J – Sounds very much like becoming a tramp on a mission.
R – That’s exactly what my Italian companion said.
J – So you want to become a tramp?
R – Well, I’d always wanted to sleep on the streets of London for a few weeks, but then I found out that Anita Roddick had already done that.
J – So you don’t like to imitate?
R – No, I just wanted to be absolutely sure that I didn’t end up fighting for cardboard with Anita Roddick. Have you seen her nails?
J – No I haven’t.
R – Anyway, this walk is about denial of pleasure, save for a bottle of Buckfast. I’m sending my tent home and have bought a Bivi bag.
J – Bivi bag? Isn’t that some sort of hi-tech breathable binliner that you sleep in all snug and warm?
R – Yes, that’s the theory. Admittedly not very tramp. But it should save on campsite fees, as I’ll be able to sleep in ditches and underneath sheep.
J – So how long do you think you’ll be doing this for? I see from the website that 14 – 20 days is typical for an experienced walker.
R – Well, I’m aiming for about a week. It’s very hard to carry more than a week’s supply of Buckfast.
J – Well Ron, that’s all we’ve got time for, so I’ll just wish you luck. Quickly though for the folks at home, when are you off?
R – Probably Wednesday.