I went to Tuscany at the end of March this year, a friend has a
mill up in the mountains, some ten kilometers away from the nearest
habitation and we were due to do some work on it in exchange for a
The week went well, We got a lot of work done and enjoyed the area,
the food and I started going running along some of the tracks around
The day before I was due to return home i went for a final run,
jogging a few miles along the side of the valley, climbing over the odd
rockfall and trying not to look down at the drop where the trail
narrowed. After some time I decided that it was time to return home; it
would be dark in an hour or so and I wanted to get back before the
temperature dropped too much.
I decided to make my way up to the top of the spur I was on and
check out the view. Having done this I made my way back down,
unfortunately losing the trail in the process. I had the option to
retrace my steps but decided to plunge onwards and scramble down. As I
decended the mountainside began to get steeper and steeper and
eventually I reached the point of no return.
Taking my inspiration from Bear Grylls I made the decision to
commit and began the last twenty feet of my descent to the trail. The
going was tough and swiftly I was fully climbing over slick rocks. My
last thought as one of my feet slipped was 'shit that was close' as one
of my feet slipped from the rocks. The second followed and I turned a
graceful ninety degrees as I plummeted down, my fall broken by a tree
Less gracefully I staggered to my feet and made about two steps
before the shock wore off and my left leg crumpled below me. Evaluating
my position I came to the conclusion that I was in trouble. I was
wearing a sleeveless running top and shorts and lying in snow, I had
not told anyone I was going for a run, it was going to get dark soon, I
was at least a mile and a half from home on a track which no one used
and I clearly wasn't going to be using my left leg for anything other
than dragging a trail in the leaf litter anytime soon.
I remember thinking 'marvellous, I'm probably going to be eaten by a
wild boar'. I began to drag myself, using my remaining functional
limbs, along the trail. My misery was regularly compounded by sitting
on chestnuts shed by the surrounding trees and I began to feel
seriously sorry for myself.
After about forty-five minutes I had moved approximately one hundred
yards and began, rather desperately, to shout for help. Fortunately,
making up for the ongoing problem with the chestnuts one of my friends
was returning from the village on the other side of the valley after a
quest for nicotine and heard me. Upon his return to the mill he
1 He had been followed by a dog from the village.
2 He had heard me shouting that I had fallen from the other side of the valley.
Despite his rather questionable sense of priorities, I remain
indebted to him and his addiction to nicotine, He and another of my
friends, preceded by the dog set out to find me and did, just as the sun
was beginning to set. The trip down the mountain and to hospital was
made in four main steps:
1 Leaning on one or other of my friends and using a stick to limp
along. This turned out to be unsatisfactory due to the speed factor.
2 The second mode of transport was by firemans lift. I can't say
that I enjoyed this, I was in a lot of pain and certain that one or the
other of them were seconds away from pitching me off the mountain and
into the river.
3 A definite improvement to the firemans lift was my loading into a
motorised wheelbarrow when the trail widened somewhat. While
definitely uncomfortable over the bumpy ground I began to think that
perhaps I would survive the afternoon.
4 Finally, and after demanding beer I was loaded into the back of a four by four and eventually to hospital.
The medics in Italy however failed to spot the
acetabular fracture to my pelvis and after giving me
paracetamol and keeping me overnight pronounced me fit to travel
home. The journey home was unpleasant to say the least and fortunately
the doctors in Bristol eventually picked up my break after a day and a
half of x-rays.
I count myself fortunate, I could easily have died up there, from the fall or later complications or from exposure.
Things I have learned.
1 Do not go running in the mountains underdressed.
2 Tell people where you are going.
3 Tell people you are going at all.
4 I am not a ninja.
5 Commiting is sometimes a bad idea.
6 The food in Italian hospitals is much superior to British ones.
7 I would rather drag myself along a hospital floor to the toilet than be helped by a nurse to shit.
8 There is no point being brave in hospital if you want morphine.