After such a long stop at Honister, I worried how I might feel as we set off again into the rain and mist. It's easy to say "job done" at Honister, but there's still over 10 miles and 2,500ft to go! In the context of the whole day, it's nothing. Having already been going 20 hours, it's no easy trot!
But I needn't have worried. Once I got back into a rhythm going up Dale Head, I was fine. The pace was good, the rain was starting to ease off and I could sense the end drawing near. Dale Head was done up on schedule, the trot along to Hindscarth was wonderful and done well under schedule.
From there, Morgan wanted to take the safe option in poor visibility and so we headed up the fence line on the main path. As we neared the top of the climb, it really hit home that this was the last ascent of the day and the legs found new strength. Soon we were on the top of number 42, Robinson and Dave A took a great photo of me, one that I will always treasure. It summed up the day perfectly, with me smiling through the rain and gloom!
The last tough bit is to get yourself down off Robinson. I've read so many horror stories of people who can hardly walk at this stage and have staggered down. I felt so lucky to be feeling so much better than that. Yes, the legs were tired now, but I still managed a trot. As we neared the rock steps, a headtorch appeared. It was Ian Roberts, who'd popped up to guide us on trods through the heather rather than down the rock! Fantastic! It is humbling and wonderful that people are prepared to do this kind of thing for you. Thanks so much Ian.
As we traversed below the rock steps, the clouds started to part and we got wonderful views down. Finally, after all these hours, the weather was brightening and it was a pleasure to see our surroundings again. We got to the "col" and Ian showed the route down. Soon enough we were heading along the track and approaching the tarmac.
As we trotted along the road, the legs started to complain for the first time...I don't like tarmac! But we kept a decent pace, although we appeared to have lost Morgan somewhere behind us. In no time at all, I could see the lights at Little Town and there's everyone waiting for us. Ian was suggesting he take me off-road for the last few miles, and with the tarmac burning my feet, this sounded like a great idea.
No need for a change of shoes then. Just time to pick up Kirsten to run in with me and we were off, walking up the initial steep hill. Then we were off across the fields, on an improving evening, the rain down to a slight drizzle. It was wonderful to have Kirsten running next to me. SO much of this success was down to her. And she was clearly enjoying it, rushing ahead to open gates for me and Ian.
At one point, we headed across a field...to where a herd of cows barred the way through to the next gate! Now I'm a wee bit nervous about running through cows..and Kirsten's terrified of them! But nowt was going to stop us now, and we both plucked up the courage, running right through the middle of them.
I was enjoying the off-road route...but unfortunately, as we got to the road, we took a wrong turn and missed the off-road continuation :-/ This added some extra distance on, and meant we had to head back uphill to take the road from here to Portinscale. After a long day, I was a wee bit grumpy about this...sorry Ian and Kirsten! It was the first time all day that my head had dropped.
Soon enough though, we headed into Portinscale and the lights of Keswick looked very close. Over the suspension bridge, across the fields and a few tears came into my eyes as the prospect of finishing neared.
Ian moved aside and asked Kirsten to see me home. It was perfect, side by side heading up through the streets of Keswick, Kirsten supporting me as she has done through every twist and turn of the last year.
The Moot Hall came into view, I saw everyone waiting for me and, from somwhere, I managed to spring up the street at a good pace, to touch the doors in 23.20 and complete a wonderful day out.
It was all a bit of a blur...lots of congratulations and hugs, some photos, I was buzzing. No way did I want to sit down, my legs were twitching, raring to go. Kirsten produced a bottle of champagne, which she had to open for me! Plastic cups of champagne all round, and mine went down a treat! I was aware that I was sporting a huge grin on my face, one that was unlikely to disappear for a long, long time. Kirsten disappeared, the reappeared with chips! Perfect! And another glass of champagne was downed very quickly to wash them down....at which point, the alcohol and the tiredness from the day suddenly hit home and I was unable to keep my eyes open!
Kirsten managed to bundle me into the car and get me back up to the campsite, undress me enough to remove the wet clothing, and get me into my sleeping bag. I slept for a while, but it was a restless sleep. My head was filled with excitement from the day, my legs had not got the message that their work was done and they were alert and twitching.
What a wonderful day, one of the best of my life. I enjoyed just about every minute. I felt and still feel privileged, humbled, grateful and so, so lucky to have had the fantastic support I received from my supporters on the fells. The best bunch of folk I know, people I'm really proud to call my friends. The BG really IS about having a special day out on the fells and enjoying the company of like-minded people. Thank you so much to each and every one of you....fancy doing it again next year, in Wales perhaps? :-)
The roadside support was top class as well. Huge thanks to my sister for taking on the long journey to Wasdale and setting up support there, and thanks to Gill for support at Threlkeld and Dunmail. And not forgetting all the wonderful support I received at those road stops from people who were also helping me on the fells. It is such a boost to come down off a leg and see friendly, familiar faces.
And, most importantly, a huge, HUGE thanks to Kirsten. I could not have come close to doing this without her. Such great support on the day, both physical and moral support. The food was laid out perfectly, my every need was met without fuss. And not just me, she also made sure my supporters were fed and watered properly, which is so important when they're doing more than one leg. I think I'm going to hire her out to future BGers!
But what has been even more important is the support she's given me through all the training...when my head's dropped she's been there to pick me up and believe in me, when life's got in the way she's done her very best to smooth away my troubles. Nothing has been too much trouble for her and she's dealt with everything without complaint and always with a smile. And through it all, she's had such total belief in me, and that has given me new-found confidence.
Originally, the plan had been for her to join me on leg 4 and 5, and I know how disappointed she was that a knee injury prevented her from doing so. But having her run with me from Newlands was perfect, sharing those really special moments as you head back towards Keswick and completion. It was fitting that it was just her and me trotting up the street towards the Moot Hall,with 68 miles and 28,000ft behind me - she was the strength behind every step I took.
39th Calderdale Hike 37mi. 01/04/2017.
10 months ago