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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Onwards and over the Motorway footbridge.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In my room I painfully removed my walking shoes and examined my battered feet.
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.
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.