Chris Howarth, 22nd August 1953 – 27th October 2016

img_1048 snowshoeing-at-riisintunturi



Anyone who reads my blog will know that Chris has been my dearest friend, my soulmate and companion on a great many journeys. A love lasting for over 30 years. The last 2 and a half years have been unbearably awful, to see someone you love slipping away seemingly gradually but actually very quickly. Chris died peacefully on 27th October. I miss her more than words can say but am also glad that she no longer has to endure the horrors of amyloidosis. We are raising money for the National Amyloidosis Centre which needs money to research this rare disease. Please support the NAC:

The funeral

We played Thunder Road (Hammersmith Odeon 1975 version) as we walked into the crematorium.

Lift Me Up

Ending with Born to Run. The man controlling the music looked a bit taken aback when we all turned round and said “Turn it up! Turn it up! Turn it up!”. He did.

For me, this is now the beginning of life without Chris. She’s everywhere throughout our house from the knick knacks to the photos to Bruce. I still have no idea what shape my life has without her but I’m immensely glad I was on the receiving end of her love and her zest for life.

We didn’t play this song at the funeral. I did try to sing it to Chris not long ago but she said it would make her cry too much: Drive All Night

“but baby they can’t hurt us now
‘Cause you’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got my, my love, girl, you’ve got my love, girl
Through the wind, through the rain, the snow, the wind, the rain
You’ve got, you’ve got my, my love, oh girl you’ve got my love

You’ve got, you’ve got my love, oh girl you’ve got my love
You’ve got, you’ve got my love, oh girl you’ve got my love
Heart and soul, heart and soul, heart and soul, heart”

Andy (Chris’s brother) and I wrote this tribute together, which Andy read out with some great ad libs, we knitted it until we were both happy with the final version.

“When we asked Chris what she wanted at her funeral, she gave us two simple instructions:

  • No religion, but a structure
  • And Bruce

It’s not possible in the time we have together today to do justice to Chris’s enormously full and exciting life; her wide ranging interests and activities and the influence she has had on others over the course of her 63 years.

You will all have your different stories to tell, but what is very clear is that she made a huge impact on a great many people.

It all began on 22nd August 1953 when Chris was born to Jean and Charlie in Dartford and she was to become big sister to Gerry and Andy, and eventually auntie to Alex and Christy.

Chris did alright at school and when she left Sixth Form College she did what a lot of Dartford girls do:

She left;

Got a boyfriend;

A flat in Putney;

And a job on Oxford Street.

She liked the work, Peter Robinson and the first Top Shop. But even then she was looking for the next challenge and moved on to setting up jewellery mini shops in Biba, and then all over the country.

Somehow she then grabbed a chance to go to Paris and work as a nanny to a very trendy couple: She was a model and he was a photographer and Kenzo used to pop in for tea.

(I/Andy visited her for a week in 1977…and managed to miss the jubilee!)

She moved with them to New York and, through them, met a few celebs: including The Four Tops, Arnold Schwarzenegger (and his mum).

But in late 1978 she was back, had started nursing and by Christmas she was in the Anti Nazi League: immortalised in Mark Steel’s account of setting up Dartford ANL as “a nurse from the Women’s’ Group”. This was when Chris started to develop her political self.

Chris did her stretch in the SWP while she was nursing in Dartford and Sidcup, and we all know that’s not all that happened in Sidcup!

This is when she came out and threw herself into lesbian activism. And she has certainly been an active lesbian ever since.

But then Chris was ready for another challenge and moved to Bristol in 1986 to take up midwifery training. And Chris made new friends along the way.

And the politics continued: for example campaigns to Stop Clause 28 / Section 28.

By the way, at this time there was only one cat, Pussy.

After Bristol, Chris and Jak lived in Gower for a year.

Chris practiced midwifery at Morriston hospital and in the late 80s led a successful campaign to “get rid of the stupid midwifery hats”.

It doesn’t get more radical than that!

Changing the world, one step at a time!

But then its time for another challenge:

She moved to Todmorden in 1990, with Jak, Pussy and 3 more cats and did her degree course at University of Central Lancashire in Preston.

Chris continued to practice midwifery but had a small career break to nurse her mum through pancreatic cancer until the end.

But then it’s another new challenge: taking the bold step from NHS practice to take up a job as a midwifery lecturer at the University of Huddersfield: from delivering babies to delivering midwives.

It was here where she got her masters in 2007 and where she worked until she retired in 2013.

The cats continued: Bumbles, Luna, Cagney, Kedi, Kitten McGitten and Blue.

And they are all still in the garden at Todmorden.

Lastly Jim, or Jimbob, and Patcho, distinguishable because “Jim looks like Errol Flynn and Patcho looks like Jimmy Stewart!” (Yeah right, Chris!)

Other animal interests were donkeys, birds, wolves, foxes, reindeer and hares. On her last holiday abroad in Finland she was thrilled to drive huskies and reindeer.

Political interests were a driving force, whether it was marching for rights, marching against war, writing letters to prisoners via Amnesty International, Chris’s heart stretched to practical help and raising and giving money. Her involvements included Nicaragua Solidarity, Cuba, including a trip to Cuba.

Closer to home there was Horton Women’s Holiday Centre and Spiral women’s gatherings held over many years.

Chris loved music from all around the world, not just Bruce, and was an enthusiastic member of Hebden Bridge singing group for several years. But Chris certainly did love Bruce and saw him live 15 times.

And he was a great excuse for travelling around Europe!

Chris didn’t do anything by halves, whether it was Tequila slammers or cocktails, solstice parties, wild swimming, swimming across Windermere to raise money for MIND, zip wires, cycling across Devon, triathlons, hiking up mountains, snow shoeing, husky dog sledding, or Christmas.

The parties always involved lots of lovely food and drink, fire and light.

There were various partners in Chris’s life over the years – Bronwen, Rita, Jak, Janet and some quick flings! (Did I say she was an active lesbian?) Chris loved us, her family, her gay families, her friends, – the letters, the postcards, the cards, the gifts, the phone calls, the emails.  She always knew the right thing to say even during the last few days of her life.

And the knickknacks: she claimed that she didn’t really want lots of knickknacks but we have boxes and boxes of them! Christmas candles anyone?

In the good times Chris was a heart stopping, pants dropping, house rocking, brain shocking, earth quaking, booty shaking, history making, love making, sexifying, electrifying nearly lifelong lover of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

“But there’s things that’ll knock you down you don’t even see coming”

And that was amyloidosis…..

Amyloidosis came just when Chris was looking forward to an active retirement with plans to travel the world, climb more mountains, and swim more. She moved to Borth, and even though she knew she was ill but didn’t know how ill or even what was wrong, she started rowing and getting stuck into Borth life.

The disease progressed very quickly.

Chris barely had time to come to terms with each new indignity before the next one came along. She lost her independence, and became resigned to not planning ahead, and eventually cancelling what would have been her 16th Springsteen gig.

It wasn’t at all the life she had wanted for herself. She spent 2 and half years of crashing endless fatigue and 2 and a half years feeling nauseous. And she very rarely complained. She knew all along that there wasn’t a cure.

It’s a reflection of how well loved Chris was that her friends in Borth and near and far –were so willing to help.  Especially her dear friends Nomes, Catriona, Kate and Bronwen, who were there to look after and care for Chris as she became increasingly disabled by her illness.

In the week before she died, Chris had a haircut. It gave her back a deeper sense of herself and restored some dignity that seemed to be taken away from her in Morriston.

Chris died peacefully in her sleep in Tregaron hospital, a place where she felt, in her words “safe and cared for”.

We included a few Springsteen tracks today, but its difficult to pin down what her favourites were. Chances are if you asked her, it would be the track that was playing.”

Linda (humanist celebrant) said this:

“In the hollow of the evening, as you lay your head to rest
May the evening stars scatter a shining crown upon your breast
In the darkness of the morning as the sky struggles to light
May the rising sun caress and bless your soul for all your life.”

(Bruce Springsteen)

Ways to raise money for amyloidosis research:

My JustGiving page

UCL Amyloidosis Research Fund






Gothenburg and Bruce July 2016

Thurs 21st

Easy travelling to Gatwick airport. Seemed much less hassle than getting to Heathrow by train.

At the airport I just followed the signs and the Bloc hotel is actually inside the terminal. The room is small with no window. The wet room is also small but all good fittings. The lack of a window means that it’s like a cell albeit a comfy one.
Ate my samosa and salad from M&S and settled in.
Popped down to the Wetherspoons for a bottle of craft lager from Hog’s Back brewery, very good beer but a shame about the Wetherspoons as it’s the only bar in the south terminal. I guess I could have stepped outside and gone to a hotel bar but I was too tired and didn’t.
Cath and I usually start our navigation courses at a Wetherspoons because it’s open, quiet and cheap however we want to boycott them after their Brexit campaign support so we will now be going to the Bear cafe in Todmorden instead to do the first bit with our clients.
Went to M&S again to buy my breakfast and a mini bottle of wine. This made me suddenly overwhelmed and almost sick with sadness as I’d last been in this same M&S doing much the same with Chris before we went on our holiday to Finland. I returned to my room and got a message from Gary from the Romania trip who was in the Wetherspoons (!) so we had a message chat and then I popped down for a chat with him. Nice to see him and his fingers have recovered (see Romania blog post). He works near the airport and was there because he’d worked late and missed a bus. Funny because I’d seen someone earlier who reminded me of Gary and had been thinking also about coincidental meetings.
Sunset over Gatwick
Cell Bloc
Fri 22nd
Up at 7, Bircher muesli in my cell and straight to check in. Didn’t even get patted down at security! Free double espresso from Pret a Manger and a bit of a wait. Chatted to an American medievalist as we both tried not to be assaulted by 2 plump puffins who were “amusing” the kids. She was a nice 3 minute interlude! Amazing what you can learn in a short time.
On the plane I had a window seat next to Simon who did a lot of talking but was nice and funny and clever. So 2 nice, sensible people to amuse me!
Smooth flight, met Simon’s partner and friend who were seated further along. They were nice too!
The luggage took a while to come and mine was almost last off the conveyor belt.
Got some money with my Revolut card, bought a travel ticket for the city not a City Card and got on the bus.
About half an hour to the city. The stop is just a big bus park. A few minutes to orientate myself. I’d worked out I needed a number 3 tram so was pleased to see one straight away. I got on and followed my map, getting off about 6 mins walk from Tidbloms hotel. It’s in a quiet residential area. The hotel is on a hill so although the room was first floor it was actually the ground floor at the back. This meant that with the windows open (very hot here) it felt a bit exposed. Also a dark gloomy room.
Set out to the official alcohol shop to buy some beer for while I’m here. Not too expensive. 3 cans for £3.50.
Then supermarket for bottles of water. Back to hotel thinking about asking for a new room. Hungry so got a tram to go to the Haga area. It passed the Elite Plaza hotel and Steven van Zandt was outside with a few fans. I got off at the next stop but just missed him by 30 secs. Talked to a couple of Finnish women. Bruce is travelling back from Dublin where he’s been with daughter Jessica and a horse competition (she is top horse person) in his own jet, not Ryanair! I got back on the tram to Jarntorget which was a bit rough (old winos) so moved on to Haga which is an old, quiet nice area. Found a lovely restaurant, En Deli Haga and sat outside with a selection of salads. Less than £10 but the beer was £7. Walked to a better tram stop to return to Tidbloms hotel.
I asked for a different room so now on 3rd floor at front. It’s a better room, lighter, some road noise. Although the rooms are non smoking there is a lot of smoking going on on next door’s balcony but at least I can leave the windows open and mostly the wind wafts it away.
If it helps!
If it helps!
Sat 23rd
Excellent breakfast. Strong coffee, fresh orange juice, home made granolas and mueslis with pouring yoghurt and berry compote. Cold cuts, cheeses, hard boiled eggs with mayo and dill, lots of different breads, salads, hot food. I didn’t have the egg or the hot food.
Out on tram to Botanical Gardens, these are lovely. The city has lots of trees and suffers from litter as do most cities but the gardens were fine as is the area my hotel is in, mostly residential. On the way I stopped at Stevie’s hotel but no sign of him or anyone else.
Through the gardens via the scenic viewpoint route. Met English couple who have FOS (front of stage) tickets so they don’t have to queue all day in roasting sun for the pit. Bet they cost a packet. Then into nature reserve which is the forest and lakes and heathland in the city. Extraordinarily quiet, not loads of people. Walked around for a couple of hours then back to Botanical Gardens for an open cheese sandwich on rye with salad on top and an espresso. Excellent. Then an ice cream before heading back to prep for Bruce.
Tram to the Ullevi stadium a few stops away. The ticket I bought on Greasy Lake from Josef Mahmood got me into the lounge. This is a posh restaurant where you pay more for strong drinks because the ordinary folk are only allowed to have 3% beer. Despite this one man had managed to drink so much he couldn’t stand and he dropped one of his £7 beers all over the poor man in front of me. I’ve met some very nice Bruce fans but I often seem to end up at the gig with one or two total knobs nearby. Pissed up git was with man with enormously long arms which spoilt the view when he was clapping. He was well over 6′ tall so his arms stretched out that far too.
Before the gig I had a veggie wrap but it wasn’t very nice.
When you go in the lounge you get a wristband to show you can have strong liquor but you’re not allowed out again (can’t imagine why this could be a problem seeing as you clearly have the wristband) however I sweet talked several staff in my vain search for a 23rd July t shirt. Went on the pitch and out of stadium and got let back in!
Bruce started with Meet me in the city then did the whole of The River and then another hour and a half of solid R&R, not many ballads. No Patti. It was perhaps a good thing it wasn’t too emotional a show. I’m quite capable of doing that without Bruce. It’s still very odd doing something like this without Chris who is with me in my heart all the time. It’s just not the same, my love.
My favourites were:
She’s the one, my video on YouTube

The crowd were crazy even before the band came on. Bruce didn’t do any requests, no Sunny Day with kid thank god, but got several people up for Dancing in the Dark. Finished with Twist and Shout, no quiet solo last song for us. Bruce clearly nowhere near retirement! It was VERY LOUD. They were selling ear plugs and rain ponchos!

After buying a shirt I walked back to the hotel about half an hour away. At first a little unsure about doing this on my own but kept usual eyes in back of head and kept to lit streets. Lots of people around. Late to bed!

Nature reserve
Nature reserve
Nature reserve
Nature reserve
Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
From Botanical Gardens
From Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens
Hotel stairs
Hotel stairs
Nature reserve
Nature reserve
Nature reserve
Nature reserve


Bruce and Stevie
Bruce and Stevie




One side said "Welcome Home" and my side said "Bruce and E Street". The people in front of me are holding up the papers to make the sign.
One side said “Welcome Home” and my side said “Bruce and E Street”. The people in front of me are holding up the papers to make the sign.
Panorama Ullevi
Fireflies phones



Nature reserve
Nature reserve
Goteborg by night
Goteborg by night


Sun 24th

Got up just in time for a shower and breakfast.

Out on tram for about half an hour to Saltholmen for the ferry to Vrango. Straight into big queue for boat but no trouble getting on. Direct boat no stops. Lovely sea breeze. Just under an hour. Island is small and has surprising number of houses. No cars allowed so people are on foot, on bikes with trailers in front or behind, electric golf carts and 2 stroke bikes with trailers behind or in front.

There are 2 cafes, one is entirely fish and the other ok but not brilliant. I walked a circuit of the island through a naturist area which was lovely and not a naked person in sight! Bought an ice cream from a man selling them from his garden.  Used a compost loo, not as nice as the Finnish one we went to. Found a bit of sea all to myself so had a paddle.

The land on the island and in the nature reserve in the town is largely glacial. Lots of big humpy bits (roche moutonees).

Back to village and harbour. Saw the fishermen’s sheds I nearly stayed in (until I realised I might not get back there after Bruce). Went to cafe, had not very good blueberry cheesecake.

Back on stopping ferry. Trams. Very very hot. Hotel.  shower. Walked to nearby pub Olstugan Tullen. Had vegan chick pea patty with roasted parsnips and carrots and salad. And soya mayo. Big glass of lager!

Hotel. Ice. Beer. Fan.

There are lots of bikes, they look quite heavy, step through and old fashioned. Some have kids in front of them in a sort of motorbike sidecar thing except in front.

There are a lot of very tiny dogs I guess chihuahuas. They have a fenced off poo park to go in and no poo on the streets and the dog area is clean too.

Man buns. Oh no! A lot of beards. And some face tattoos, they make the man buns look good.

Slow boat
Fast boat
The Stena boat kept popping out from behind little islands
Big boat! The Stena boat kept popping out from behind little islands
A life on the ocean wave


House on Vrango
House on Vrango
Boat for Chris
Boat for Chris


Not a naturist to be found!
Not a naturist to be found!




Entrance to cemetery on Vrango
Entrance to cemetery on Vrango
Donkey bikes!!
Donkey bikes!!

Mon 25th

Got up late only just in time for breakfast. I’m going to try making my own granola as so much nicer.

Packed up and checked out. Tram to central station and managed to heft my suitcase into a locker above my head height so not easy as now seems to be twice as heavy and full although what with I can’t think. Not really bought anything.

Went on ye olde fashioned Liseberg tram for a round trip (free on my travel card). Took half an hour. Rammed all the way to Liseberg funfair then just me all the way back.

Another tram to Haga area where I wandered. A bit more open and busy than Fri evening. Nice shops, nice cafes. Stopped for a while at one. Resisted the famous cinnamon roll because it’s massive, the size of a dinner plate. People next to me shared 2 between 5 but didn’t eat them all. Smelled amazing though. There was a big dalecarlian horse.

Back on my last tram to central station. I loved the trams! The travel pass is very good value, I went everywhere including the return trip on the boat for under £15 on the 3 day pass. Collected bags and chatted to man who has seen Bruce 167 times. How is that possible in time to take, in money? He is self employed. His partner has only seen Bruce 3 times because they’ve been together 2 years and she only goes to nice places!

Bus to airport. Check in and security all fine. Small amount of shopping. Long queue for passports. Wait to get on bus. 15 min wait on bus not moving. Drive to plane 10 more minutes not moving. Onto plane more time waiting. Smooth flight. Bobbie the bear films. Plane in holding pattern prior to landing.

All easy at Gatwick. Checked into room with window. No extra cost and all because I said I didn’t like the lack of window when they asked for my feedback. M&S for supper wine and breakfast.

On ye olde tram
On ye olde tram
Ye olde tram
Ye olde tram
Something very similar to these in Nice
Something very similar to these in Nice
On ye olde tram
On ye olde tram
Window view!
Window view!
Bloc hotel with window
Bloc hotel with window
Big dala horse
Big dala horse
Even when it didn't have a line through, I still found this the most baffling sign
Even when it didn’t have a line through, I still found this the most baffling sign

Tues 26th

Granola yoghurt and berry compote. Nowhere near as nice as Tidbloms Hotel’s. Going to try making my own granola.

Problem with fire at place controlling electrics for all trains from and to airport. Got onto first one. Crowded so standing and v uncomfortable. More people got on at Croyden so even worse hell. I hate being in contact with people and they probably do too. One woman was closer than my optician or dentist and accidentally touched my face as she got off. Totally hideous and I’m fit and healthy, would be awful if not. I feel a complaint coming on.

Had a cheese and tomato croissant with my espresso from Patisserie Valerie at King’s Cross to recover. Could do better but the coffee was fine.

Rest of journey all to plan. Home again, jiggety jig.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.






Bruce rocks the Etihad Manchester 25th May 2016

I miss my Bruce buddy. Dearest Chris, you were there in my heart and as Bruce said at the end: “The E Street Band loves you”.

This was my 16th show, which sounds a lot but compared with some of the fans is just a piddle in the ocean. I can’t imagine how much I would have to earn to attend all the shows on the tour or how that works out with the time to take to do that.

I got to Manchester just after 4p.m. and parked in the Velodrome car park for a tenner. A few minutes walk to the stadium and good for getting out later. Funniest comment I overheard was “I had no idea he was this popular!” Ah well, the stadium only holds 50,000 people….

The gates opened at about 4.30. My bag was searched but not very thoroughly and so I managed to smuggle in my camera in my pocket and a big bottle of water, neither of which are permitted but seeing as everyone carries recording devices in their pockets it’s a bit pointless to say that. I was grateful for the water as it’s very expensive in the stadium, £3 for a small bottle.

It was cold and wet. I got myself a slice of pizza for £5, looked like it had been mutilated really but food not allowed in, just about edible. Small bottle of Heineken for £5. And then another one. Outrageous they are allowed to get away with it but captive audience. Last time Chris, Carol and I were at Etihad, it also pissed down but we had a deluxe picnic in the car in the car park. I should perhaps have done that but the early start for the show didn’t help.

Got into my thankfully covered seat in good location. Got chatting to guy next to me. He was nice and kind. He went off as he didn’t actually have a seat, was keeping dry, to be replaced by morose chap.

Bruce arrived just after 7p.m. The set list:

Patti wasn’t in the band. Bruce brought the band members, Nils, Stevie, Soozie, Jake out onto the prongs that go into the audience which was great. Show was about 3 and a bit hours.

I managed to get out and to my car without too much hassle and was home before midnight.

Highlights for me:

  • The Ties that Bind
  • Out on the Street
  • The River


  • Working on the Highway (Bruce bum wiggle, love it!)


  • Bobby Jean
  • This Hard Land (solo acoustic)


















Ceredigion Coast Path day 3. New Quay to Aberaeron. No mud! 

I’m doing this walk to raise money for research into amyloidosis. My JustGiving page.

Got going at 7.30 and arrived in Aberaeron at 11.30. A stone hit my windscreen but not in my field of vision so hope it will get through the MOT next year. There was a lot of football going on so the car park was full but I got in the next one. This one didn’t want my coins and all this took so long I had to get the bus an hour later.

It turned out I could have parked at The Feathers Royal Hotel but hey ho will remember that idea for next time. I went to La Cuccina which is old Italian cafe. Quite old fashioned. I had an espresso and a large bakewell tart.

I got on the bus, 20 mins later arrived in New Quay and set off on the CCP again.

The first stretch goes along the shingle beach. A scary notice said the beach was impassable at high tide. It looked high but not that high and I could see people on the beach so decided to do it. I had no phone signal in New Quay so couldn’t check my tides app.

It was hard work on the shingle for about a kilometre and I was glad to get off it. The tide came up a little but not enough to cut anyone off plus you could always run up a dune.

The path left the sea for a bit and I popped into St. Ina’s church which was plain but wonderfully positioned.

Back on the path I bimbled along to Aberaeron.

I saw a lot of people at first all with dogs and then no one at all until I reached the town. I was able to keep up a good speed because the path was bone dry. It took me just over 3 and a quarter hours to reach Aberaeron about 6.5 miles.

It started warm and sunny then went cloudy. I had too many things for cold weather (we had over an inch of snow yesterday) and winter boots to deal with mud. The forecast yesterday had been for cold and wet. Hard to get it right.

The Feathers is fine and nice and quiet. I’ve had pate followed by chicken and chips for dinner with Peroni. Bit stuffed so waiting for it to go down before I head out to the nightlife of downtown Aberaeron.

Ye Olde Taxi Cab
Just get to the end before the tide is high
St. Ina’s and bluebells

Aberaeron harbour
Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.


What I carried on the Ceredigion Coast Path


  • Lightweight Scarpa boots
  • Fresh socks for each day
  • Fresh pants for each day!!
  • Short sleeve merino shirt
  • Long sleeve merino shirt
  • Fleece jacket
  • Very lightweight Mountain Equipment insulating jacket
  • Thick walking trousers
  • Very lightweight trousers (for wearing in my accommodations)
  • Sandals (for wearing in my accommodations)
  • Two pairs of winter gloves [not used]
  • Two buffs [only used one]
  • Waterproof hat
  • Woolly hat
  • Lightweight Rab waterproof jacket
  • Lightweight Rab waterproof trousers


  • Osprey 30 litre Tempest rucksack
  • Map
  • Compass
  • First Aid kit including emergency kit e.g. headlamp, knife [took way too much stuff here]
  • Backup emergency phone
  • 1 litre water bottle
  • 0.5 litre water bottle
  • 2 Trek bars
  • 2 fruity bars
  • iPhone including maps, charger and back up charger case
  • Camera and waterproof bag
  • Emergency loo events bag [not used!]
  • Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturiser, sun cream, arnica salve (worked wonders on my feet)
  • Contact lenses and small mirror
  • 2 pkts tissues
  • 2 lightweight Fizan walking poles
  • Little Ted

The Osprey Tempest prides itself on its walking pole stowage system which on the couple of times I’d used it prior to this trip worked fine. I decided to use just one pole through the mud and stowed the second one. I’d tightened it as much as it would go. And then of course, it disappeared. I had no idea when or where, probably one of the many times I fell over on Day 1. So I had a failed rucksack and a lost pole. All very irritating. I’m now waiting to see what Cotswold Outdoor are going to do for me. Osprey themselves seem to have a very good customer service section. Will report back.

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.