Thursday, 31 March 2011

St. Bees to Robinhoods bay in 4 days 15 hours 28 minutes.

Day 1. St. Bees to Grisedale, 42 miles.
Set off from St. Bees at 4. 17am on Wednesday 7th September 2010, and headed for the clifftop path in the dark. Daylight was breaking as I entered Sandwith. Pressing on during a fine morning, I was able to buy some supplies at Cleator. Without any problems I came to the houses at Black How below the climb to Dent Hill. I had camped here in a private orchard during my abandoned C2C in 1983/84.
 Onwards I took it easy climbing Dent Hill, and found the descent into Nannycatch. Upon reaching the road and not paying proper attention, I turned right for Ennerdale bridge, only to realise after about a mile that things didn't look right. Checked the map and realised I should have turned left. Retraced my steps and into EB. Reaching Ennerdale Water I came across the first Coasters.
I walked with the couple for a while, then pressed on. I was going at a cracking pace on fresh legs. At Anglers Crag a group of ladies were having navigational problems and when asked if it was up or down at the scramble section, I just replied follow me, and headed up.
Looking back after a while I still could not see any sign of them.
I began to pass more groups and couples and came to the end of the Water.

On the Forest track I had difficulty catching up to a strong walking couple, but did so eventually. They were on a 12 day crossing and going high level. I left them as they turned off for Red Pike. Shortly afterward I was overtaken by a guy running with a small pack on his back. I later learnt that he too was on a five day schedule but using bunk house and B&B and Sherpa for his main baggage, he was a fireman from Brighton.
Passed two guys and during discussion asked about Loft Beck. I gave them directions best I could. Another guy at Black Sail Hut also asked the same and I pointed him in the right direction after it seemed he thought one of the streams coming down the Tongue from the Gables was Loft beck.
Halfway up the Beck, looking back I saw the two guys I had met earlier on the track heading up the Tongue. I shouted as loud as I could to warn them of their mistake but I was out of earshot.
Turning right at the top, over the Brandreth Fence, two other youngish lads on my far right who had followed the fence but looked unsure were watching. Further on I looked back and saw them coming cross country towards the path that I was on, heading for Honister.
On the way down to Rosthwaite I walked with another Coaster who was also camping. At Seatoller he headed off for Stonethwaite and I carried on and had a meal at the Scafell Hotel.
I didn't stay long and was soon heading up the valley for Lining Crag and Greenup Edge, during which I was accompanied by another couple, the lady of which kindly offered to take my photo.

I left them have a choc drink break at the top and headed down Easdale into Grasmere. I didn't go into its centre, instead I turned off and headed for the Travellers Rest for a bowl of soup.

It was dark when I emerged from there at about 7.30pm. I nearlt got waylaid by a couple from California in a tent alongside the path up to the Tongue leading to Grisedale Tarn. They told me to pitch next to them, but told them, no can do, got to press on. After the steep climb up the tongues left flank, I didn't fancy any spots at the Tarn so carried on past Ruthwaite Lodge and found a small flat spot between boulders, where I pitched for the night at around 10pm.

                                      Day 2. Grisedale to beyond Sunbiggin Tarn, 31 miles.

Had a lie in after doing 42 miles the previous day and wasn't away until about 5.30am. The sun was rising nicely beyond Patterdale.
Into Patterdale I see could lights on in the shop but got a swift rebuke when I asked whether they were open.

Climbing out of Patterdale I passed three heavily laden guys who were struggling with the weight of their packs. Chatted with them as they took a break at the first bench and then left them to it. Across Boredale Hause, past Angle tarn, the Knott came into view.
Then it was the turn of Kidsty Pike. I sent my wife an OK signal on my SPOT Personal Locator device from its summit cairn.

Down to Hawswater and its path alongside, I met a group doing a charity relay in aid of 'Macmillan Cancer'.
Going on through Burnbanks and Shap Abbey.
I arrived in Shap and straight to the Bulls Head for a lunchtime meal. While there, the guy from the charity relay came in and told me that 'Runner Man' had just run past the pub.
Onwards and over the Motorway footbridge.
Now heading for Oddendale, past Robin Hoods grave and turning off to the left before Orton. I was looking forward to a brew at Scarside Farm, but must have passed it as the yard I entered turned out to Friar Bigging Farm instead. Friendly farmer though, had a bit of a chat, then off again. Past Sunbiggin Tarn I eventually found a spot a couple of miles further on. Not an ideal place but in the dark couldn't see anywhere else, so settled down for the night after a 31 mile day.

                                    Day 3. Beyond Sunbiggin Tarn to Richmond. 41 miles.

It rained during the night, but i was up and away for about 5am. Went wrong again in the dark and ended up wandering through wet fields and over walls. After losing time I came across a disused railway trail and lo and behold a signboard showing my next target - Smardale Bridge. I followed the trail and came to the bridge.

I continued on and soon came into Kirkby Stephen where shops were just opening and I was able to purchase more supplies.

The next target was Nine Standards Rigg. It was full waterproofs and Gaitors now as I headed towards it accompanied by two nurses also doing the C2C. They had jumped back in today after taking three days out after only their first one, as one had developed a bad ball of foot blister. They had retreated to ones parents house in Keswick until it settled a bit. I headed on and got to the summit cairns before following and eventually catching up with another Coaster who was staying overnight near to Keld.
I had a lovely bowl of soup in Keld Lodge (Halfway) before setting off for the high level route into Swinner Gill and past the Mine workings. It is a strange place indeed, like walking through history. Surrender Bridge appeared in haze.
Through Cringley Bottom and along before dropping down into Reeth.

I couldn't get anything to eat or supplies in Reeth so carried on, there was only about an hour of daylight left. Through Marrick by the time I had reached Ellers it was dark. Upon reaching the track at Hollins Farm I turned right and walked along until I came to the entrance of the farm. This was to prove a mistake but detail was difficult to make out on my 50,000 Harvey strip map, especially as I had left my reading glasses on a stone wall in the Lakes section after stopping to adjust my shoes laces.
Here I had problems locating a passage through the wall and wandered about for seemingly ages before deciding to climb over and headed in what I thought was the right direction. During the following couple of hours I lost sense of direction in the maze of fields and backtracked to the farm for the umteenth time. Knowing that I had to come across the road to Richmond if I headed North, I set my compass and eventually came across it.
Approaching Marske I took the first sign for Richmond, turning right along Cat Bank, this too was a big mistake and after walking along for about three miles came over a bridge to a junction indicating a left turn and a further six miles for Richmond. Walking along the road as fast as I could, ball of foot blisters had rapidly developed on both feet and as I entered Richmond in the rain at ten minutes past midnight, they were seriously bad.
I couldn't just erect my tent anywhere here, so on seeing revellers out on the town on this Friday night I asked a pub bouncer if he knew of any accommodation. He directed me to a guy at the bar. I thought he would just throw me out in my wet dripping state. His name was Steve and he couldn't have been more helpful. After phoning round and even walking me to a B&B around the corner, he managed to find a place that would take me so late on, for £88... However he thought that was ripping me off and ended up letting me use his empty flat above the pub. he charged me £30 and even set the bath running.

                              Days 4 & 5. Richmond to Robinhoods Bay, 76 miles.
I tended my feet and went to sleep. Waking late at 6am, I saw further to my feet before tentatively going downstairs and out the front door. It looked like a nice day was to be had.
However I could barely put any weight on my feet the blisters were so sore. After hobbling about for a bit, I decided to sit down and have a think. It dawned on me quickly that with 76 miles still to go, getting up late, and my feet unlikely to improve - it was over, I had given it my very best shot, but it hadn't worked.
I asked a passing lady where I could get a train. "Darlington" she answered, but the buses weren't running yet. What about a taxi, I asked. She told me she was going by the taxi rank but I would have to hurry as she was late for work. Shuffling alongside her, by the time we reached the rank, I had sort of got used to the pain. Now I had a dilemma as to what I should do. I decided to carry on and was soon leaving the confines of Richmond.
Passing Catterick Bridge after a broad bend in the river I made a fortunate error and instead of turning right down a track, carried on along the road, bringing me to a roundabout with a handy service station, where I was able to load up on supplies and drink. I got back on route by turning right here and walking the 600 metres to the path at Bolton on Swale. Some people say they find the Vale of Mowbry boring, but in the sunshine I really enjoyed it and arrived at Danby Wiske a little after Midday.
The White Swan was open so I got myself a pint of Shandy and a piece of cake. By the time I sat outside at the table a dozen or so Coaster had arrived. Everyone was on a high and we were soon swapping experiences. They thought I was a bit crazy being on a five day attempt and asked how long I had been let out for. One also asked how I managed to find my way in the dark, I replied that getting back on track after quickly realising one was off it, was the important thing, however it didn't help that I had left my reading glasses on a wall in the Lakes. With that and a nudge from behind another Coaster asked if I could see detail with a pair of glasses he had just handed me. I told him, I could, and he replied "They are my spare, but they are yours now".  I thanked for his generosity.
It was tempting to stay longer but I had to be on my way. I had already realised that for this effort to end in success, the only chance I had was to carry on walking through the night until I reached journeys end.
Not long after carrying on I was overtaken by 'Running Man'. I shouted to him and he stopped and walked with me for a while, before continuing on his run once more.
Having survived the crossing of the A19 without difficulty I arrived at Ingleby Cross and it's Blue Bell pub, where I was relying on getting fed. It was closed due to a family funeral and would open at 4.30pm, it was now 4pm. I sat down to wait. No sign of opening at 4.30, then a couple of the guys who were at the White Swan arrived. They were camping there for the night. Again so tempting to join them, but knew I couldn't. 4.45pm, I told them I would have to be on my way. "What about food" one them asked. I answered that I have a couple of Cereal Bars left and they would have to do. With that one of them dived into his sac and handed me a large energy bar. "That will keep you going" he said. I thanked him and with that I left.
Just before entering the woods I came across a local gala fell race and walked up to the fence with a couple of supporters. I found the sign turning me sharp left towards Beacon Hill.
Now followed an undulating course dropping down to Huthwaite green then back up to Carlton Moor, now well into the darkness of the night. Down into Carlton Bank I came across the Lords Stones cafe, which I was surprised to find still open. In I went and settled down to another bowl of soup and a pint of Guinness. I got talking to a guy doing the Clevelend Way.
I became confused with the numerous paths and ended up back at the Carleton Bank track. Eventually I found the correct way and pressed on. Climbing up it was becoming quite cool and tiredness was fast approaching. After the three peaks as I decided to call them, finishing with the Wain Stones, I descended to Claybank Top, before ascending towards Rosedale Railway.

Semi conscious with fatigue, tripping and stumbling in the dark, I knew I had to find somewhere to pitch even if only for an hour to rid myself of this heavy tiredness in my head. I came upon a flatish area where a pit had been excavated, now filled with water. I further flattened the spoil with my shoes and pitched my tent. In the sleeping bag, full waterproofs and jacket, the lot. I set my loud alarm for and hour and a halves time. I was out like a light and woke immediately my alarm went off. Knowing I daren't put my head back down, I got out quickly packed away and was off once more. A mile later I was at Blowith Crossing.
Continuing on along the line of the old Rosedale Railway I could see the Lion Inn in the distance and arrived there at around 7.30am. I was soon to be disappointed after they refuse me breakfast because I hadn't booked the previous evening. I did however manage to fill my water bottles from the outside tap.
A lovely walk even on very sore feet through Glaisdale, Egton Bridge and into Grosmont, where I had yet another bowl of soup and a pot of tea in the cafe there, sat out in the sunshine.
As I approached Littlebeck, my camera battery was almost out of power, so I put it in my pocket to warm it and hope it would last out.
Past the Hermitage and Falling Foss, I erred yet again by taking a track to the left too soon and ended up cutting back along an awkward path to get back on course.
Soon I was across the moor and entered Hawsker.
Then I was overlooking the sea and following the coastal path down to Robin Hoods Bay.
Down the steep road to the Bay Hotel and feet in the seawash, 4 days 15 hours and 28 minutes after setting off from St. Bees.
After a meal and a pint in the Hotel, I gingerly managed my way back up the hill to my B&B that I had managed to book whilst approaching Littlebeck some hours earlier.
In my room I painfully removed my walking shoes and examined my battered feet.
Showered, feet seen to, in bed and away with the fairies once again.
At breakfast the following morning I got talking to a couple who took pity on me hobbling around. They offered me a lift to york Railway Station, which I of course accepted.
I called in at my local A&E on the way home, where they put dressings on my swollen, blistered  feet.
I had succeeded in the challenge, but the state and pain of my feet prevented me from feeling any euphoria, all I knew was that I had followed the Wainwright route as it is today to the letter, had walked all the way with out any running and that my legs were never really tested. If only I hadn't got those ball of foot blisters.
Anyway, unable to really put my feet down from the elevated position for a week, the doctors practise nurse saw me every other day to change my dressings.
After 10 days I was able to return to work, and think about, how next time, I can avoid the blisters!
Dave. (Slogger).