There was a significant increase in stress while Dan walked along a road by a river, but this dissipated almost as soon as he turned off the tarmac
onto a grassy area. Dan’ stress level also increased about half way into the shrublands and remained high as he continued through a vast paddock.
"Although the route was a bit uphill I don’t recall the walk being physically stressful. However, I was deeply conflicted about the landscape.
Beautiful as the huge paddock is, and despite my respect for the importance of sheep farming, I was saddened by the absence of mature broadleaf trees
and wildlife. Throughout my travels acrossBritain’s National Parks I often find lonely trees surviving at the untended edges of fields or in the
inaccessible cracks of the landscape. I liken these to the weeds that grow in the cracks of a pavement: wildlife surviving in spite of human intervention.
It makes me wonder what would happen if we just allowed nature to flourish?" "What’s more, as an outsider I have mixed feelings about my role in
imagining an alternative vision for the places I explore, especially as a city dweller visiting the countryside. But that does not stop me from thinking,
imagining, and dreaming - even if it’s a little introspectively stressful as times…"
Dan’s mood improved on the walk towards Kentmere and his excitement increased as he approached. This coincided with a highly
meditative state and a low stress level. "Here the navigation was easy and I had spectacular views looking down the valley. The only thing
that bothered me was the need to avoid an occasional car that passed me on the narrow lanes. I felt my excitement rise as I started to focus on the steep walk
up towards Swallows and the fantastic views over Troutback I would have from the top."
Day 2 began with a relatively high stress level as Dan navigated his way through the urban area of Ambleside. On leaving the town and entering
the hills his stress level tapered off. Engagement was very high throughout Day 2 and Dan maintained a very high meditative state throughout the walk,
although this was lower near urban areas.
"It rained for most of the day and the wind was strong enough to turn my umbrella inside out a number of times. I needed to keep my EEG headgear
dry so I soon became a highly skilled gale-force umbrella wrangler. The walk itself was not stressful, but I did have to concentrate on the ground ahead
to avoid slipping on wet rocks."
Dan’s stress level was generally low apart from a sharp spike by Eltewater where he seemed frustrated after a short detour, and another spike by the Great
and Little Langdale valleys.
"These stress spikes largely corresponded with having to negotiate traffic. I live in the city and vehicles are a normal part of my life. However, after a
significant periodaway from any fast moving chunks of heavy metal controlled by complete strangers, I found being passed by cars far more stressful than passing
the occasional sheep."
Dan started Day 3 with a very low stress level in and around New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Gale force winds and a severe weather warning forced him to postpone
his walk. When he returned a couple of days later, he was much more rested and the weather was much better. Dan’s focus increased sharply just before
entering Little Langdale Valley. He maintained a relatively high stress level and low excitement all through the valley walk until he climbed the mountains at
Bowfell Bluff where his stress decreased and excitement grew.
"A severe weather warning forced me to postpone Day 3 of my walk. When I returned a few days later I was rested and blessed with good weather. I was enjoying
myself but was also feeling fairly apprehensive as I started walking up the valley. The mountains ahead were covered in a blanket of cloud and I was worried about
how poor the visibility might be. However, by Bowfell Bluff the clouds were lifting and, feeling reassured, I began to really enjoy exploring my route."
Just past Angle Tarn the elevation began to increase and Dan experienced a brief period of stress.
At Scafell Pike Dan had a brief spike of stress and low excitement.
"Quite apart from recovering from a steep ascent I had a number of reasons to feel more stressed and less excited than usual at Scafell Pike and Sca Fell.
Firstly, my phone battery was not charging fast enough from my backup power and was rapidly dying. This forced me to change my battery pack. The problem was that
the Emotiv app recording the data from my headset needs an internet connection to start up and switching battery in a cloud at 900+ meters above sea level I lost
the signal. I sat down, ate three oat bars and a clementine, and cursed myself for having not brought an affordable WiFi satellite case. I mentally prepared myself
for a descent back the way I’d come until I got a signal, and then a long climb back upagain. But then a minor miracle occurred: as the wind picked up I got a waft
of intermittent weak signal, just enough to get a connection! Of course, most of this emotional trauma was not recorded because the battery on my smart phone was
dead. As if that was not enough, just a little later I had a tricky scramble up Sca Fell followed by a small and slightly embarrassing tumble that left my arm
a bit bloodied. I know there are good emotional and even cultural reasons to not have connectivity in some places, but it’s useful to have WiFi on mountains and
Dan’s levels of focus and engagement increased sharply when walking the high elevation track by Wast Water, tapering off during the descent towards Nether
Wasdale. Indeed, Dan showed notably increased levels of focus on all the summit ranges.
"I was still in cloud while walking above Wast Water, but by now it had started to break up providing me with some spectacular views. As I walked,
the clouds intermittently framed the landscape, looking north onto Wast Water with its awesome greys, and to the west an expanse of farmland with the sea
Dan’s stress level briefly increased to a moderate level while passing through Parkgate Farm, but this improved once he reached Irton. Interestingly this
coincided with a high meditative state.
"On my map the footpath I was following travels right through the centre of Parkgate Farm – and so did I. However, the farmer had understandably diverted
the footpath around his property and we had an initially uncomfortable conversation about my route. On the plus side, I did get to meet his very friendly
and noisy donkeys."
During the last leg of the walk from Irton Church through to the end, Dan’s stress and focus levels peaked again.
"By the time I reached Irton Church I was quite tired and, frankly, looking forward to a pint. My map showed a footbridge over the River Irt but, unfortunately,
it was inexplicably missing in real life. This forced me to adjust my plans and although it only added a few minutes to my journey, it annoyed me a bit. I was really
pleased to reach the pub and have a rest, a beer, and a curry, but by then I’d taken my headset off!"
The data clearly shows that Dan’s overall state of mind was significantly more relaxed, more meditative, more positive, and less stressed in the Lake District
compared to his walk across Edinburgh. He clearly seemed happier walking through the wilderness and was better able to let his mind wander. In fact, Dan was able
to relax and enjoy himself for significant sections of his three-day trek, with the most mentally taxing times occurring when a demanding track coincided with
expansive scenery, such as when walking along the ridge line near Scafell Pike.
Trip lowlight: Final leg After the ridgetop walk by the Wast Water lake, Daniel’s brain state was relaxed and calm. As he continued on, there was a slight
peak in stress and engagement as he maneuvered his way around a ridge that he could not cross.
As soon as Irton Church was in sight, some significant changes were seen in his brain states. It was from this point that his focus and excitement levels
increased, and remained high until the very end. In the final minutes, he remained calm and in a positive mood, but his stress levels spiked as he anticipated
the finishing line.
Trip highlight Day 3: Old Pony Track up Rosset Ghyll, Bowfell Bluff, Angle Tarn, Esk Hause and Scafell Pike This part of the journey commenced
in the valley near Upper Langdale. Daniel followed a steep pony trail up a rocky incline to reach Bowfell Bluff, passed by Angle Tarn (featured in the movie Skyfall?),
climbed to a ridge through Esk Haisepass and culminated in a ridge walk to Scafell Pike and beyond
In the valley, Daniel was clearly excited to be entering the wilderness area after clearing farmland around upper Langdale. He maintained moderately
high excitement levels until commencing the climb, where he became more excited. His stress levels remained very low throughout the valley, but peaked at the top
of the valley before commencing the main climb. The climb itself was quite stress free. He was clearly feeling very positive throughout the valley walk and had
many very positive moments at the top of the valley and throughout the climb. His engagement levels were quite low along the valley walk but elevated significantly
during the climb as he became immersed in the activity of climbing the bluff. As usual during his long walks he was in a very relaxed and meditative mood, which
increased as he approached and then completed the climb. He had commenced the valley walk in a focused frame of mind, but very soon was able to allow his mind
to wander along the valley floor and during the climb, with some areas of the climb requiring more tightly focused attention.
Traversing from Bowfell Bluff, past Angle Tarn and through Esk Hause pass he was moderately calm after the climb but had moments of increasing excitement approaching
the Tarn. He was quite calm as he walked around the Tarn but his excitement level peaked sharply as he climbed towards the pass. He remained moderately excited through
the pass and onto the ridge across to Scafell Pike, where he was very excited on many occasions, most likely at seeing the views on either side and to be walking the
ridge. His stress levels were very low following the climb and traversing past the Tarn, however he clearly had a burst of higher stress after leaving the Tarn,
coinciding with the period of increased excitement. His stress level dropped quickly through Esk Hause pass and he had only one other period of increased stress
as he started to walk down past Scafell Pike. As usual his mood was very positive throughout this segment, however he experienced two periods of very highly
positive emotion as he departed Angle Tarn and around the summit of Scafell Pike. His engagement levels were also higher than down in the valley, peaking immediately
after leaving Angle Tarn and at several times traversing Esk Hause pass and the ridge line to Scafell Peak. His relaxed, meditative state was heightened throughout
this segment, significantly higher than down in the valley. He was generally able to let his attention wander while passing the lake and climbing to Esk Hause pass,
however he was clearly much more focussed as he walked through the pass and along the ridge line to Scafell Pike.