Fed, watered and clothes changed, I was ready to go. Although I felt like I'd "done it" by leaving Wasdale with so much time to spare, the fact is it's a long way back, and there's a huge climb up Yewbarrow to contend with immediately.
The legs were a bit stiff after a 15 minute stop, and we walked along the road, Yiannis and Morgan carrying on over another leg and Dave A joining us. Emma had a few choice words for me, and then I noticed her giving some kind of instructions to Dave...I found out later what they were!
The cloud was right down now, and it wouldn't be long before we entered it. The rain was incessant, and climbing through the bracken on the lower slopes ensured we were wet through quite quickly. This was the point at which the supporting I'd done through May and June really helped me. I'd watched Mark Jackson and Simon Daws struggle up this climb at, what felt like at the time, a really slow pace...and yet emerge onto the top of Yewbarrow pretty much on schedule.
And so, as I toiled up following Yiannis, I knew that despite feeling a wee bit tired and thinking I was going slowly, I was actually fine. And so it proved, Yewbarrow topped in 49 minutes. It was a bit chilly up there though, and the wind really caught us for the first time, driving the rain into our faces. We speculated that it would be behind us as we tackled the tops later on the leg....but it never proved to be!
From Yewbarrow, the climb back up to Red Pike is, I think, more the key to this leg. You think you've done the hard work getting up Yewbarrow but Red Pike is actually another 50 minutes away. Again, I felt sluggish, but hit the top of Red Pike in 49 minutes, no pausing on the edge of the drop in blustery conditions!
From then on, the leg was quite hard work, constant rain being driven into us by a fresh wind, little visibility and slippy rocks. But, with absolute belief that this was my day, nowt was going to throw me off course. Yiannis and Morgan were doing a magnificent job, striding out ahead to show the way. Dave A was following Emma's advice to the letter...always alongside me, offering food and drink, keeping a bit of chat going to brighten up the gloom. For someone who'd never been on a BG before, he sure learns fast...absolutely perfect support.
The climb out to Steeple was fun, with Yiannis stopping below the summit and saying "shout me when you get there". A chance for a moment to be alone, and take it all in...I was going to complete my BG!
Pillar was climbed quickly, although I slipped on rock at one point and landed, doubled up, with the rock just resting against my ribs. It took a couple of seconds lying there to get myself together, during which I heard alarm in Morgan's voice as he turned to see me prostrate amongst the rocks!
The descent to Black Sail pass was a bit slow because of the slippy rocks, the climb up Joss's Gully was interesting, as we used the grass on the left. Note to self: if you don't like heights, DON'T look down the drop just to your left! :-)
Soon enough we were down to Beck Head, with the rain relentless and all of us having gone quiet in the miserable conditions. The upside of this was that I couldn't see the imposing face of Gable rising ahead of me! So, I just had to get my head down and follow Yiannis and Morgan up an excellent line, Dave sticking right by me and keeping me going. It's a tough climb, and you feel like it goes on forever. But the reality is it's soon over.
Karl had said to me on Friday night "get to Gable by 8pm and you can be back in under 24 hours". As I touched the top, I looked at my watch...it wasn't even 7pm! I couldn't have imagined it going this well when I was talking to Karl on the campsite.
In the conditions, we decided to go down via the path...it wasn't an afternoon for trying to be clever. Again, Yiannis and Morgan took a great line which saw us down below Green Gable quickly enough, and from here the terrain changes back to grassy fells and you're able to run again. Which is what we did, trotting across to Brandreth then Grey Knotts, Yiannis navigating perfectly although visibility was really poor.
And soon enough, we were heading off Grey Knotts on the grassy trod down to Honister. The legs were tired, no doubt about it, but I still managed a run down. As soon as I saw the cars in the car park below, I got an extra spring in my step and it was wonderful to arrive to clapping and cheers and the surprised looks at a few...it wasn't even 8pm!
"Camp" had been set up under the roof, to shelter us from the rain. I got some food down, and had a moment with Kirsten, telling her that I was now feeling tired. She helped me to get changed...and I noticed my patience was now wearing a bit thin, my "favourite" fleecy running top was nowhere to be seen, and I was a wee bit of a spoilt child, saying THAT was the one I wanted! :-)
There seemed to be so much activity and so many smiling faces, I was enjoying myself a bit too much here, chatting to everyone, taking it all in, having a big bowl of stew to warm myself up. I seem to remember someone saying we needed to wait while Morgan (who, let's face it, had already done 2 tough legs and needed some looking after himself) changed into dry clothes. Somehow, I ended up staying at Honister for 21 minutes, which wasn't in the plan!! But I guess it was a sign of how well the day had gone. I'd had visions of not being able to stop here, of having to go straight through if I was to stand any chance. And now here I was, taking my time, enjoying myself!
A kiss from Kirsten, lots of cheers and Morgan, Dave and myself headed up Dale Head....the last leg!
39th Calderdale Hike 37mi. 01/04/2017.
5 months ago