By: Blonde Two

You may remember dear Blondees and Blondettes that, around this time last year, I had some news from the doctor.  He had told me that I had early (obviously very, very early) onset arthritis in my knees.  Needless to say that I was a wee bit upset about the “Knee News”.  The silver lining though was that he said it was still ok for me to walk out on Dartmoor providing I minimised the weight of my rucksack and used both my walking poles.  I can remember clearly what he said, “Your days of walking with a 20lb pack are over.”

This sounded like a plan so I set off home to take a few things out of my rucksack (most of them have since gone back in again).  I presumed for most of last year that I had made it much lighter but when I finally weighed it, it was almost exactly 20lbs.  I tried too, to use my walking poles more.  They are great and help considerably with tussock balancing (my balance is shocking, whereas Blonde One is a mountain goat), bog testing and uphill pulling (that sounds wrong).  The thing they do best though is taking some weight off your kness (up to 20%) descents.  For example, if I was a 12.5 stone man (who knows, I could be), I would save 2.5 stone of stress per step.  On a 500m descent, this would save 10 metric tonnes of stress on my lower joints.

This all sounds great and I am really well coordinated at moving with my poles.  The big problem is when I stop – I become all Blonde, confused and tangled.  The scenario is something like this:  Pole one is stuck out behind me as I get the map from my rucksack strap (you can’t carry a map and two poles, I have tried).  I need to get the compass out of my rucksack belt pocket so pole two points out sideways.  I try to take a bearing and remember that I am using a very floppy map and need to lean on something.  I find a convenient stone and head towards it clutching map and compass and dragging poles one and two behind and to the side of me.  This is fine if it is just me and Blonde One, she knows to look out for Blonde-made trip hazards but with a group of kids, it is a nightmare.  Even without poles, there is always one in the way.  It is at this point that I usually give up and put one of the poles away.

The truth of this matter is, that I don’t really have a choice any more.  If I still want to be tromping across Dartmoor in years to come and ever want to have a chance of finally reaching Sittaford Tor, I need to stop messing around with poles and use both of them – properly.  So I have made a pact with myself not to walk without them this year.  All I need now, in true Blonde style, is a system to make it all work properly!