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Tuesday, 1 January 2008

English Nuttalls Background & Progress

There are 253 Nuttalls in England and they are what can, by English standards, be described as mountains. Named after John and Ann Nuttall who have visited and documented all of these peaks in their book “The Mountains of England and Wales: Vol 2 England”

The definition of an English Mountain is:-
"Any summit of 2000ft (610m) or more which rises above its surroundings on all sides by at least 50ft (15m)"

Simon Fell, near Ribblehead, was the first Nuttall I visited back in October 2008 without any idea of the various hill types, or any idea about fell walking and only Geography O-level experience of map reading.
In fact I only visited this because it was on the way to Ingleborough which I first saw earlier that year when I walked the Dales Way with my mate Dave Boother and wondered what the view would be like from the top.
This one off visit to an arbitrary hill, which I did not actually reach on this visit because of bad weather ended up with me, by the end of 2010 visiting 153 Nuttalls with an overall objective of visiting the remaining 100 as quickly as possible. 
Having taken hundreds of photos and written copious notes I decided, also in 2010, to document these walks as a photo diary of my personal challenge and objective to visit every 2000ft summit in England as a personal blog.
I have used an inspirational website http://www.hill-bagging.co.uk/ to log each of my visits and learnt the definition and quantities of other hill types to anorak proportions.

Back in 2010 I set what I thought was a reasonable target, with my wife’s permission, to complete the remaining 100 Nuttalls by the end of 2011. I actually completed a further 64 during that year, so to set a revised target to complete the remaining 36, again with my wife's permission - always with my wife's permission, by the end of 2012 would be a piece of cake.
The problem is that although there are fewer left to complete they tend to be more isolated. The days when I can complete 10 new peaks in a single day's walk are long gone. Even so by the end of May 2012 a further 24 had been ticked off.
Family holidays and projects at home tend to stop me walking in the Summer.This was not considered a problem; as a quick trip to Dartmoor in September to visit the only 2 English Nuttalls south of Snowdon. Followed by one final trip to the Lake District to pick off the final top in the North Pennines and the remaining 9 Lake District tops was planned for November.

Unfortunately in August 2012 I suffered a minor bleed in the brain which was subsequently diagnosed as a grade 1 Sub-arachnoid Haemorrhage (SAH). With the grading being 1-5 (where 5 is the most serious) I have to consider myself as being lucky; (a) because I was not out fell walking (b) the prognosis is a full recovery within 3 - 6 months. Even so it has put paid to any idea of high level winter fell walking or indeed any walking that requires a day sack with survival gear for the foreseeable future.
After just 6 weeks the pace of recovery has been remarkable; I have recovered from most of the symptoms of the SAH (apart from tiring easily), started light workouts in the gym and managed to walk 8 miles in flat old Suffolk in just under 3 hours. 
I felt I was well on target for making the full recovery promised within the lower of the 3-6 month range given. However progress seems to have come to a halt and the only thing that seems to have changed is me trying to do more as I feel I am becoming more capable.
The main problem seems to be the severe sciatica (which is possibly nothing to do with the SAH) that came on in the first 24 hours of being admitted to hospital has remained. Treatment from the physiotherapist and osteopath has improved things but restrictions imposed by the referred pain in my left leg and gluteus remain. I have been given exercises but these seem menial compared to what I have done in the past.
On reflection I guess the one thing that has changed is “me” and my approach to recovery. I remember when I was flat out on the bed with a massive headache and unable to move I was satisfied with any sign of improvement. The sciatica limited me as well but it was my mindset of just lying there and letting my body heal at its own pace without any interference by me apart from the inner determination I had that I would recover. Gradually it occurred to me, for the first time in my life, that sometimes LESS CAN BE MORE.
However as I become more able I seem to be reverting to type and forgetting that important lesson, to the point where I am becoming frustrated with what I consider to be slow progress.

Instead I must return to the approach that worked and use the slower pace imposed on me more positively. Instead of concentrating on walking long distances and increasing that distance each time I go out, I will aim to walk 3-4 miles at least every other day combined with being a little more fastidious with the exercises given by the physiotherapist.
Maybe then after a further 4 – 6 weeks my sciatic pain will have gone, my SAH recovery will be complete and my base fitness will have improved to allow me to use the second 3 months following my SAH to return to fitness level I enjoyed previously.
In addition as a foil to me not fell walking I will catch up with my blogging activity. I have already edited and labelled many of the photos I have taken from earlier walks. I will continue with this and also hunt out my notes taken whilst walking to include some descriptions as well.
Take that as an advanced warning of more of my facebook peak bagging page updates. When you get bored with them, just remember they are an important element of my rehabilitation. More importantly is a contribution to my education of learning when MORE BECOMES LESS.

Because I began to properly document these walks so long after starting this task I was (and still am) some way behind, I concentrate on the most recent walks and catch up with earlier ones as I get the chance. THIS IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS. 
The intended audience is for friends and family but is for anyone to enjoy that is so inclined. If you happen to be tempted to visit even one of the peaks - be careful, it can become an obsession. More importantly do not take these hills for granted. In clear dry weather they are beautiful but conditions can change in a matter of minutes into winter type conditions even in the summer. Don't be put off, just properly plan and read up on precautions and skills required. Most importantly, plan all of your walks, including early exit points, and don’t be too ambitious until you have gained some experience.
Although I have visited most of these tops alone, because of my recent medical experience I will not be setting of for the remaining 12 alone. Any way my wife has said I can't! That was a given anyway for Pillar Rock, as it is the only Nuttall in England where you have to be roped up. Since I have no climbing experience, though I have gained a fair bit of experience scrambling and bouldering, I will recruit a local outbound service to help me. The remaining 11 will be in good weather conditions, though who knows when that will be given the Summer of 2012, accompanied hopefully by my wife and maybe some friends when I complete my last Nuttall which is likely to be either Loadpot or Wether Hill simply because they are in the final 11, they are in the Lake District and the ascent is straight forward. That way I can be joined by friends and have a picnic in the sunshine on the last summit.

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If you have visited any of the peaks, places or areas mentioned on this page/post and have photo albums, routes, blog or web page please put the URL here.
I will then include link on this page.
The aim is to provide alternative routes for all visitors (be they new or regular visitors) giving information about places of interest or features to look out for whilst out on the hill.
Like-wise if you have a similar facility on your page I would appreciate a link to this page.