Thursday, 26 April 2018

Walk Report - 22nd April Yorkshire Three Peaks

Last time we did the Yorkshire Three Peaks, we said afterwards "Thats it. Done to death. Never again"

So, at 03:15 in the middle of last sunday night, having got my kit ready the day before, I dragged myself out of bed, made a brew, and loaded my stuff into my car, to drive to Bobs, and then onwards yet again to Horton-in-Ribblesdale!

The purpose of us taking on this walk again, was to support Bobs nephew, Mason, in raising money for Meningitis Trust. Mason is taking on two major walks for his chosen charity, and this was to be the first. He did the Cinder Path with us and handled himself well. Now for a real test!

Bob had arranged for Mason to stay over the night before, so he was there waiting when I arrived at 04:30. Bobs missus Emma, and his mate Paul, were also taking this walk on. So, myself and Bob as usual had outrageously heavy packs, this time more so, as we needed extra kit to care for the inexperienced walkers, and also to introduce them to and teach them various aspects of mountaincraft.

On arrival at Bobs, I was greeted by a soppy dog and a bacon sandwich. Bob had already collected my waterproof jacket a few days before to re-proof for me, and it was on his radiator in the hallway. A few minutes after 05:00, Paul arrived, and we loaded boots, poles, packs and bodies into his motor. Happy that we had everything, we set off to the Dales. The drive being mostly uneventful, except for the realisation that my jacket was still on Bobs radiator! Luckily, Bob had packed a spare! It was to prove to be essential.

On arrival in Horton, we parked up behind the pub, eased into walking socks and boots, hauled our packs on, and headed to the Pen-y-ghent cafe to sign in, myself popping our £2 parking money into the ashtray that serves as an honesty box. Signing in wasnt really essential, but the three first timers would want their official times and badges.

We set off officially at 07:05. The forecast was for heavy rain in the hours we predicted to be on the low level between Pen-y-ghent and Ribblehead, and then for poor visibility after. The walk up to the scramble on Pen-y-ghent proved no trouble, although the scramble did come as a bit of a shock to Emma. But we were all soon over it and at the summit. Here we stopped for the first of a proposed series of training sessions, covering emergency medical situations and the use of radio and pyrotechnics for distress. In hindsight, this made a bit of a dent in our times that cumulatively we could have done without.

Descending Pen-y-ghent and walking across to Ribblehead was uneventful, other than the forecast rain arrived right on time, although much less intense than expected. The only delays predictably stops to take a piddle. We were showing a predicted completion time of around 10h at this point.

We were all very pleased to see that the tea wagon was in place at Ribblehead, but with a heck of a queue! Here we stopped for a bit of something to eat and a brew, and to change socks. But it seems we did linger somewhat too long, compounding the overall delay that would lead to problems later.

The Ribblehead viaduct was bathed in sunlight as we approached, taking the opportunity for a few photos. We were now heading for the annoying, drawn out slog of Whernside. All was well at this point, a little drizzle though, and the wind was beginning to pick up as we crossed the railway at Blea Moor tunnel.

It was now, as we ascended Whernside, that our fortunes turned. We had hoped for a clear summit, as the views can be spectacular. But the cloudbase was lowering, and the wind strengthening. By the time we reached the plateau, visibility had reduced to around 20ft, the crosswind made each step a diagonal effort, and the drizzle was an icy blast. Our speed dropped.  I removed my specs and put them in my pocket - as bad as my eyes are without them, I could still see better than through the fogged lenses! We stopped on the summit just long enough to be able to say we had been there!

Then to the descent! Descending Whernside is a tricky task in excellent weather, the jagged rocks that pass for some idea of steps are quite punishing. But in such poor visibility and strong wind, and now extremely slippy from the rain, every step demanded extra care and pace slackened off drastically. All of us had a couple of slips, luckily no one sustaining any injuries. As a walk leader, had this been a bigger party or the conditions even slightly worse, I may very well have called for an abandonment of the walk at that point! But our inexperienced to experienced ratio was 1.5:1, and we knew we just needed to get below the cloudbase.

Once down from Whernside, we were back into reasonable weather. No one was in any particular difficulty, just the expected aches, when we reached the cafe barn. Normally here we would grab a brew, change socks and be away. This time, we found a table, sat down and leisurely consumed our growlers and tea. Bob and Paul feeding pork scratchings to the owners dog, myself inflicting 1st degree burns on my own hand by spilling my tea. All seemed to be going well despite everything so far.

But we didnt think of the time we spent! By the time we were off again, we had just three hours remaining to complete the challenge! But, all we had to do was get over Ingleborough!

The walk to Ingleborough was not exactly taxing, but we were all starting to tire and ache. We were going much slower than ideal. Emma found the stone flag steps somewhat tasking, as did I, and she was rather daunted by the prospect of 'the wall'. But, she steeled herself to it, and bit by bit we advanced up the steep face of the mountain.

At the top, we gave them the option of whether to summit or not. Mason decided he had to, otherwise he wouldnt feel that he had completed it. So he and Paul headed on up to the summit. Emma, surprisingly, decided the same! She chased them up. Myself and Bob remained at the path intersection to guide them down. We later heard that Emma had attempted to forge ahead of the lads to summit first - and promptly fell face first in the mud.

Whilst they went to the summit, the cloud began to roll in and visibility fell drastically! By the time they returned to the path, it was nearly impossible to see anything! Time was running out!

On the descent, we yet again passed below the cloudbase and into decent weather. Paul and Mason, aware of the need to press on, pulled ahead, but with the realisation that they were getting too far ahead and had started running, with no idea of the route, Bob set off to escort them, whilst I guided Emma down to Sulber.

Luckily, Sulber Nick was not as waterlogged as it often is, and we were able to make good progress. But as we closed in on the pasture above Horton, it became a make or break moment - if Emma was to meet the challenge time limit, she needed to push on hard. After briefing her on the route, I let her pull ahead of me. I had her in sight much of the way. However, just above the train station, she became confused as to the route, and sensibly stopped to await my arrival, badly jeopardising he timings! I tried to jog to catch her up but badly misplaced my foot jarring my knee, which sapped my ability to go any quicker. I tried to indicate to her to get running!

When I caught up with her, she had just 15min remaining! It didnt look manageable but she set off ahead anyway. I dropped back, since she couldnt go wrong at this point on the route, where I fell in with a couple of chaps, one of whom had badly twisted his knee and was plodding along in a very able and spirited attempt to complete.

When I arrived at the Pen-y-ghent cafe, Bob had the times. He, Mason and Paul had managed to come in with around ten minutes to spare! Somehow, Emma was clocked under the limit by just one minute! I came in at 12h 10m. They has all made it.

All that remained now was to get back home. For those of us in the back of the car, cramp and other pains made for an extremely uncomfortable journey!

Well done to Mason, Paul and Emma for taking on and completing this challenge!

If you are reading this and wish to support Mason in his fundraising efforts, you can click on the button below-

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You can support myself and Bob for our upcoming Ebor Way challenge, by clicking this button -

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Cinder Path - Scarborough to Whitby Rail Trail

Sunday just gone (8th april 2018), and another early start to get in a good long walk. This time, myself and Bob were joined by Paul, Bobs mate, and Mason, his nephew. Expecting them at 07:00 I was up at 6 and sorted ready. I dont know why I bothered, as Bob can never make it on time!

So at about 08:00 we set off in convoy for Whitby. That idea lasted all of 5mins when Bobs satnav decided to take him through Selby town center and numerous small villages to the north, whereas I just went up the bypass and the A19. No radio comms this time, so after parking up in Whitby I put my boots on while I waited for them to turn up.

About 5mins later Bob pulled up, I finished putting my boots on and locking up my motor, and slung my stuff into Bobs car for the journey to the start of the walk.

Arriving in Scarborough, Bob had predictably used the wrong postcode despite me telling him "the one at the top of the list" and took us to the supermarket car park where the Cinder Path officially starts, but where we cant park for long enough. Despite it all, we were parked up, kitted out and ready to go 5mins ahead of our planned 10:00.

The Cinder Path is a 21mile rail trail following the route of the dismantled Scarborough to Whitby line. Having done it before in the reverse direction, myself and Bob pretty much knew where we were going, so after only a minor false start, we were on the trackbed and heading out of Scarborough.

Mason, Bobs nephew, is the young chap who is doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks with us in a week or two, and the Lyke Wake with Bob later. This was to be his first ever proper long walk. He is doing all this for charity, so I will be giving the links to his donation page on my blogs, as well as to mine and Bobs. Please support him!

The weather for the day was overcast but dry, not too warm but not cold. Good walking weather. Parts of the route were a bit muddy, but luckily the first tea rooms at Cloughton, a converted station with waitress service, was only a few miles in, and before we got too mucky. We stopped there for half an hour for a nice brew.

Until reaching Ravenscar, the route is rather secluded inland. At Ravenscar, we again stopped for tea, and a bit of grub from our growlers. This was also a good point for a sock change!

From then on, we had the wonderful views out over Robin Hoods Bay and Boggle Hole as we walked. Well over half way, Mason was showing no ill effects, despite the quantities of dry biscuits he'd eaten, and likewise no one was complaining of any problems other than the odd slight ache or occasional twinge.  At Robin Hoods Bay we stopped for the conveniences, and a few snacks. The route now headed to Whitby, still mostly along the coastline with excellent views. Crossing the A171, we headed a little inland, with the Abbey in view, towards Larpool viaduct.

We were beginning to get a little bit tired and achy by now. Stopping for a few moments so I could have a pee, we were rewarded with the sight of three roe deer watching us! Having crossed the viaduct, the final short stretch brought us to the bridge under which my car was parked.

But, we were not quite finished! There are two official endings - either the abbey, or the fish dock! We opted for the fish dock and walked down the hill. Our reward for completing this walk - fish and chips! A short but somewhat challenging walk back up the hill to the car, and we were finished!

I then drove us back to Scarborough, it was now close to dusk, and we spotted several owls hunting over the moors. By the time we arrived where Bobs car was parked, we had all seized up a bit! All that remained was the separate drives home, as hot bath and a beer.

Planning and Route Studies

The Ebor way is 70 miles long. Most set route guides break this into five stages, to be completed as five separate days walking.

Because we are doing it in just three days, this means we have to have 25 mile long stages. But its not as simple as just working out where the 25 mile points are, as we have to account for the logistics of transport, and in order to not have to add extra mileage to the route, it is preferable to be a little above or below 25 miles in order that the stage end points are on an accessible road.

I am in the process of working these details out today. I have measured and plotted stage 1 (day 1) on Google Earth.  This takes us from the start point at the Market Cross in Helmsley, to All Saints Church in Huntington, York. Out end point, at a measured 25.05 miles, is the cemetery car park, right beside the path!

My next job is to plot the route through the center of York, a task that requires a combination of guide books and OS maps. Theres a few crossings over the river Foss within the city, and a stretch along the city walls. This next plot though will give us the next crucial piece of information we need - the stage 2 end point!

The most complex part of stage 2 is the streets of York, once out of York we pass over the bridge under which our regular Selby to York walk goes!

I now have all three stages plotted and measured. Stage 2 ends on the road to the village of Linton, just outside Wetherby.

Stage 3 has the most dramatic scenery, and also some of the hardest walking, as it goes up onto Ilkley Moor at the Cow and Calf rocks. But, as luck would have it, theres a cafe beside these rocks, so we'll have a nice brew before tackling the last couple of miles! The end of stage 3, and the finish of the walk, is at the old pack horse bridge in Ilkley. Road access here is of course not an issue.

Stage 1 - Helmsley market cross to All Saints Church Huntington. 25 miles. YO32 9RE.
Stage 2 - Huntington to Linton Lane, Linton, Wetherby. 25.4 miles. LS22 4HH.
Stage 3 - Linton to Pack Horse Bridge, Ilkley. 24.25 miles. LS29 9HQ.

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Bobless Bimble

In order to prevent the imminent onset of cabin fever, I had to get out walking today! Bob was supposed to be along too, but was unable to due to being a slack arse. So, early afternoon, I set out to notch up a 10 miler.

The route chosen for today was a circular around North-East Leeds, starting at the village of Barwick-in-Elmet, heading to Scholes, hence via the Garforth Golf Club to Aberford, and then back to Barwick. This is walk No. 4 from a set of AA walking guide cards my sister bought me several years back. I had done this walk before, but had forgotten a few rather crucial details!

The first of these details was - how bloody muddy this route can be! After parking up around the back streets of Barwick, I walked on down to the maypole, where the walk officially started. From there the route went along the main street, and back up the road I was parked on! It then led out into the fields toward Scholes. These fields had been recently ploughed, and were absolutely sodden.

Managing to reach Scholes without getting too muddy, I spent a little while watching a large bird of prey, probably a Buzzard, above the allotments, before crossing the road and straight back out into the fields
Looking back up toward Bog Lane

 Once near the woods on Bog Lane conditions did improve underfoot. It was then I decided to take a few photos, and found time for a much needed pee.

Ancient fences

Just before reaching the golf course, I managed to drop my route card, and had to back track to search for it! Once on the fairway, there were only a handful of golfers about. The track leaves the course to skirt a farm, before reaching the road near the club house. It was along here that I saw what I thought was a Doberman watching me in the distance! - it was only when it moved off onto the golf course I realised it was a deer!

Fore! The bridlepath through Garforth Golf Club
 Once over the road, walking conditions were much improved with metalled road up to Throstle Nest Farm and the Parlington Estate. This lasted until just short of the tunnel.

Entering the Parlington Estate
I think that the path here must have been the route of an old railway. The tunnel isnt very long, but its slight curve means you cant see right through, and it is exceptionally wet! It is possible to walk to the side and go over and around, but...

Approaching the tunnel

Inside the tunnel
 After the tunnel the remainder of the Parlington Estate path was a bit muddy in places but not too bad. A reasonably pleasant section of the route, and the sun came out. This meant I had to take my jacket off, and as I wasnt carrying a bag it proved a pig, as wrapping it around me meant it just sagged under its own weight.

Ancient quarry beside path
 From here the route went into Aberford, where I caught up with the two old biddies who had been in front of me for about two miles! Usually I overtake everyone else, but these two were moving at a heck of a pace! I had hoped to find a shop in Aberford, as by now I was rather peckish, but that wasnt to be. The route took me then on towards Becca Hall

Becca Hall
 where I made a slight navigation error and missed my turn, needing to backtrack a couple hundred yards. The route here was across a rather wet field full of sheep and lambs. Shortly after this sections, close to Becca House Farm, I again stopped to observe a bird of prey, this time really close overhead

 It was after passing the farm that I remembered the last time I did this route, and that the fields I was about to cross had been several hundred yards of shin deep slimy mud...

Actually, quite dry!
Having been a little unsure which way to go as I passed through the farm yard, I glanced inquisitively  towards a farmer who was fork-trucking spuds about, who clearly understood and waved me in the correct direction. The fields I had to cross turned out to be really quite dry! I now only had a couple of miles to go.

And then I got to the next field...

Ah, spoke too soon!
 Another couple of hundred yards to go to reach the road. And the mud more than got its own back on me.  I cleaned my boots in a little stream by a stile,but by the time i'd reached the road they were muddy again.

A short section of road here before the route instructs to go left when the road turns sharp right at a gatehouse. This I did, and about a half mile later, began to realise that this wasnt the right path!

Nice bridlepath. Shame its not the right way!
Just like the last time, i'd turned too soon, and since this bridlepath veered away from Barwick, it was easier to backtrack than to add the extra two or three miles!
I was by this time starting to get rather sluggish. Nothing really hurt, but I began to realise that I should have brought a snack! Barwick was a mile or so from this point, so I sauntered along. On arriving in Barwick, I decided to pop to the shop for a drink and snack (an overpriced and over peppered pork pie and a bottle of pepsi max), and take them to the churchyard (another bit of back-tracking), before going back to the car.

All in all, not a bad walk. Lessons - take a day sack to stuff jacket into and carry the water bottle, and have a snack in there as well.

11.64miles. 4h 34min. 1273cal.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

2018 Charity Walk Confirmed - Ebor Way

Myself and Bob will yet again be pushing our legs to their limit for charity this year. A week or so after summer solstice, we will set out to complete the 72 miles of the Ebor Way, in just three days.

Starting at Helmsley on the Cleveland Way to the north, we will pass through York and finish at Ilkley in the west, at the convergence with the Dales Way.

We will be walking in light order. Returning home after each section to wash, eat and sleep, before resuming from the exact spot we left off.

As we alternate who's charity is supported yearly, this year falls again to me, so we will again be raising money for MAG and their vital lifesaving work clearing landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War, around the world.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Lyke Wake Walk - The Third

In the beginning, the universe was created...

...this has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.  Then, some five billion years ago in the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy, an accretion cloud around a small unregarded yellow sun coughed up a lump of rock that went on to form into an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose tectonic motions led to the formation of large mountainous regions. One such region eventually over a few millennia drifted north where rolling ice sheets and glaciers ground down the peaks and carved deep valleys, leaving a desolate upland moor some 42 miles end to end, that the planets ape descendant life forms still think walking over in under twenty four hours is a pretty neat idea.

It was on the 16th of June, around two thousand years since one bloke got himself strung up for saying how great it would be to be nice to people occasionally, and exactly a year and one day since they had last done the same thing, that two of the planets ape descended carbon based bipedal life forms, admittedly probably not quite as far down the evolutionary tree as would be ideal, joined a small group of other such like minded, but considerably younger or physically better crafted specimens, on the outskirts of a distant urban backwater, to head for the inhospitable terrain of the planets island uplands, to once again prove to themselves that walking the breadth of the so called 'North Yorkshire Moors', isnt as neat an idea as previously thought.

This is their story.

The two above mentioned thick browed members of the species Homo sapiens sapiens are generally known, for administrative purposes at the request of the Glasgow Pay Office, as Bob Hooks [late of the 5th Rifles; 7th Royal Horse Artillery; and  6/8th Queens Ganja Rifles], and on Her Majesties Service for the benefit of the Military Correction Center Colchester, as Martin Barfield [8th Btn Light Infantry; Kings Own Yorkshire Yeomanry (light Infantry); 256 sqn RAF Quick Reaction NAAFI (reserve); and the 27th Foot in Mouth (east Doncaster branch) (ret.)], and we find them at 23:00 on a friday night slowly manouvering into a holding pattern close to the Kendray Hospital, Barnsley. With an expected 45min to wait, all eyes, a total of eight, are on the traffic lights at the road junction above. This would be their third crossing of the Lyke Wake Walk, the second over the East to West route, and their first supported.

Into this scene arrives a small motor vehicle, whose passenger side door swings open. After some moments, Bob steps out to investigate, and we get to meet the first of our fellow victims, Chris.  We divulge our kit out onto the street, and await the arrival of a minibus. During the intervening moments, we start getting to know each other and our motives.

At about 23:45, although I dont believe we checked, the minibus arrives, predictably some way up the road on the other side. We drag our kit over and meet Brian, the brains behind the fiendish torture plan, who ensures we are ticked off his list for the Prudential's loss adjusters. We embark on the vehicle, and find the first challenge of the walk is to actually get on the bus, which despite not yet having many people on, is already crammed full of supplies, aisles blocked with boxes, end on tressle tables, and the welcome nostalgic sight of a Burco boiler. We squeeze ourselves into whatever nooks we can find.

From Barnsley we now traveled to Osmotherly, where whilst awaiting the last few self loading freight to arrive, several of us partook of a parlour game known as 'find somewhere to have a pee'. I believe I won this round by going in the graveyard behind the chippy, several others finding themselves receiving a rather cold and odd reception in a local hostilery. With the last of the pickups arrived, including Gerry, one of the well standing members of the Lyke Wake Club, we again crammed ourselves back on the bus, for the journey to Ravenscar, the time being passed in amiable chat, interspersed with fruitless attempts to work out where we were.

Arrival at Ravenscar was close to first light. Dawn was slowly creeping over the cold of the North Sea, while a bright half moon added to the illumination of the landscape. Packs were hauled onto backs, headtorches on, and last minute decisions over sweatshirts and gaiters were made. Boots were tightened, and a final brief given regarding the distance, timings etc of the first stage. We were all eager for the off, and with the weather shaping up to be fine, the ground underfoot good, we launched into the first leg of the Lyke Wake Walk.

Sunrise over Ravenscar

Now, I should probably mention at this stage a brief overview of the group. Our group this time consisted of around seventeen people, of which a quarter were guides, a quarter forming a youth contingent who looked like they had their meals delivered to them in the gym, and much of the remainder formed from older but time served marathon and fell runners. Leaving myself and Bob as the ancient tub of lard posse. A predominantly male group, only two young ladies, who ultimately would arrive at the end looking as fresh as if they had had a days shopping expedition.

Very soon, myself and Bob began to appreciate that we are not built for speed, as the group took on the first leg with a murderous pace! We just aimed to try and keep from being the tail end charlies. Myself and Bob are much more your slow moving pack horse types. But, with stout boots, little weight and a pair of trekking poles each, we pounded our way down towards the A171 and Jugger Howe. At that time in the morning, a little after 03:00, the road was quiet. Predictably, there was a bit of stringing out to the group, as those of us not quite a fleet of foot slowed a little. But the ravine of Jugger Howe Beck predictably brought the lead group back within range of the rear party. Although I didnt appreciate it at the time, as I write this I am now suffering the bites of the damn midges.

Out of the dip and up onto Fylingdales Moor, and the steady climb to Lilla Cross. With the oddly attractive sight of the RAF's PAVE-PAWS adaptive UHF phased array RADAR in view, lit by the early morning light as the sun began to rise behind us, Bob stopped for a pee, and became an interesting foreground object in a sunrise photo. The usually rather moist passage over Eller Beck was not as damp as previously, and the group split several times as each guide presented their own preferred route to Eller Beck bridge, and the first checkpoint.

Golden Reflections

I decided that my feet were fine at this point and so didnt bother changing socks, but took the time to recover from the blistering pace. A mug of tea, cup of scalding hot tomato soup and a buttered roll for breakfast. With the weather now very clearly set fair, a mad scramble reorganisation of the pack to ditch any unnecessary weight was in order. But here, the situation was about to take a dire, and ultimately disappointing turn for Bob.

Some Moorland... Somewhere

Now, both myself and Bob are not as young as we were, and suffer from a number of ailments that we generally prescribe to our home towns gene pool being more akin to a slipper baths. These generally take the form of ruined knees, which is the main cause of us being rather sedate travelers on foot. But Bob also has a common but little known heart condition. Ordinarily of course, we walk as a pair, tailoring our route and pace to suite, and both of use aware of how to deal with any issues. However this time, the sudden stop from quite intense exercise, and a rapid intake of sugars, triggered an attack, which needed somewhat more intervention than hoped. I was swigging down hot soup when Bob called me over, and the look on his face was all I needed to know what the situation was.

Getting Warmer

At this point, it was back to being just me and Bob - if he asked me to bin it, it was binned. It became clear that Bob wouldnt be sorted before the step off on the second leg, but would hopefully rejoin at the 2nd checkpoint. It was decided that Bob would sit out the next stage, but I would press on. The group set off again, forging on down to cross the North York Moors Railway, and on to the long march over Simon Howe and down through Wheeldale Beck. It was here that last year we ran into an irate resident in the dark. Luckily he didnt seem to be around this time, but on crossing the beck a group of walkers who were on the verge of being reported overdue were spotted, slightly off course and probably feeling somewhat lost. One of our guides detached to go and assist them and get them back on route, as we all slogged up to the roman road and the bloody awful rocky path of Wheeldale Moor.

This was one of the longest sections, and rough going, simply a slog. After passing the Blue Man'i'the 'moss, the second checkpoint came into distant view. But to reach it, first one of the boggy sections had to be crossed. I was thankful for the good weather, as it was really not too bad. I had however, as expected, dropped to near the end of the spread of walkers. And, on stopping to take a leak, lost considerable ground, to come in last. At the checkpoint, more tea, a change of socks, and more kit lightening. Plus beans and sausages. I also got to catch up with Bob.

Food, Glorious Food!
Bob had thankfully managed to get his condition under control, and had done so in just a handful of minutes, unfortunately, with no comms (only one working radio between us and I had that) he couldnt tell me, otherwise I would have drifted along until he caught up. So instead he rejoined us at this point. In all fairness to Bob, having missed a section and now not eligible to count the walk as successful, he would have been well within his rights to sack it off and come back another day, but instead he decided to rejoin and fight it out with us.

The next section was relatively short, but we knew from previous experience what to expect - the bog! Once again the lack of poor weather for a while was marvelous, with many areas quite dry and springy, or at the very least not saturated. Not that it mattered, as most of us managed to find a section to go at least knee deep into! One poor chap, walking in shorts, went near waist deep with both legs! But with the bog conquered, we hit the mind and foot numbing tedium of the metaled road, winding its slow but uphill course to Fat Betty and the car parking where the minibus was waiting for the third checkpoint.

The Mob, plus some kids from Scarborough College

3rd checkpoint. More tea! Buffet lunch and chocolate. Contemplated changing to trainers, knowing that the next section involved the long drag up the railway inclines, but decided against it, as previous experience of the crossing over from Flat Howe suggested likely wet feet! And we were right. But once on the railway, the full force of the now blazing sun beat down on the bedraggled mob. The youngsters and the marathon men forged ahead, soon out of sight. For a good while, the weary trio of myself, Bob and Chris, now taking on a startling resemblance to a freshly cooked lobster thermidor, plodded slowly along, passed by and passing by a family on bikes several times as they stopped for picnics. It was somewhere along here that I started with my nose running from a single nostril! Bloworth Crossing came and went, and we eased over Round Hill summit, which I pointed out to Bob, as we still need to 'bag' that one on the radios! Passing over here we recollected last year where we stopped at the bench just before the descent to Clay Bank, and where we had a 'shout out' on a local radio station. Our only thought now as we bumped painfully down the stone steps was to not be the last of the group to complete the section!

Onwards, ever onwards!

Starting to take its toll. Chris the Lobster far left

4th checkpoint. Lots of fluids, more tea. Change into trainers now and fresh socks. Hot stew. One thing we noted was that it was all simple fare, but exactly what we needed. It was now mid afternoon and swelteringly hot. A cooling breeze across us much of the time, but there were calm moments where we just baked. At this point, there were two route options. The more traditional route up and over the summits, which would involve a starting climb up stone steps - the exact steps which almost took me out of the game last year. Or, the more refined low level path, which passed through woodlands. The vote was called, and returned unanimous - the woods! The now somewhat less rowdy mob moved off. The trees brought much admired shade, but where the canopy thinned the sun burst through like a furnace. But, this was a short and relatively level section. Quite easy going in many ways. However, as nice as trainers are for many things, they are not good for small sharp pebbles, of which this path is liberally scattered. Although myself and Bob were very much the tail end of the group now, and beginning the first skirmishes of the battle for the end, we managed to keep up a reasonable pace for us. Gerry dropped back as 'sweep' to ensure we didnt drop off the trail, and we passed the time in chat. An apparent incident ahead had Gerry nip off to give assistance, but it turned out to be an altercation between parties of dog walkers, not an accident as feared. On reaching Lord Stones Cafe, we both regretted not having any cash - an icecream or chilled can of pop would have been very welcome at that stage!

Nearing Lordstones Cafe

A view towards civilization (well, Gisborough)

Me no likey

The 5th and final checkpoint was a little beyond where expected. More tea, topped up water, the last of the Lucozade retrieved from our reserve pack and distributed. Between us, me and Bob would consume some six liters of 'zade, plus around three liters of water, and probably a liter of tea. Yet I would still finish with my throat like a Bedouin flip-flop. My left nostril now rubbed sore from attempts to deal with it running, each time just rubbing the accumulated grit and grime over my face. The left side of my neck was incinerated. My left arm griddled. One final push remained. But, it was a long one - six miles, and started with a stone stepped climb with little breeze, to the summit of Gold Hill. For a while, we managed to keep pace, but by now we were flagging. But at least our feet were good. I had just the beginnings of a small blister on my right heel, almost certainly due to the fewer than normal sock changes i'd decided on. Bobs feet were a bit more battered. As we dropped down through the woods to the houses at Huthwaite Green, Gerry showed us a way to avoid the wide woodland steps, which could well cause the end of a walk for an unwary traveler of those parts. Knowing that we had the ford of Scugdale beck ahead of us, followed by the final appalling climb, I made myself a promise to freshen up in the beck, which I surely did, splashing the fantastic cool waters over my face and neck. By now, there were no other walkers from our party in sight. We pressed on up the meadow and into the woods, at least now safe from the sun. Only one horrible section remained - the woodland steps up to Coalmire. Not exactly a great altitude change, these long drawn out timbered steps come at just the wrong place on the end of such a long walk.   By now, my body had reached its metabolic limit. There were no energy reserves left. I forced dextrose tablets down my gullet and tackled each small group of four or five steps at a time, before a pause for breath.  But then we were clear of them, and out onto the road to the car park.

Bob attempting to be manly

The final little section, along the road to the second car park, and the marker stone. We regrouped and completed this as a trio. As we came level with the rest of the group a cheer went up. I acknowledge this with a wave of a pole, and attempted a slow dash up to the stone. We had made it. Despite our troubles, fitness level, and age. And we had our official time - 16h 19m. After all that, we were still within half an hour completing as the rest of the group. Admittedly though, because of us, they did get longer rest periods! A few photos, which certainly show the state we were in, and we slipped down to the minibus, where we accepted a round of handshakes and congratulations, and a slightly warm but very welcome glass of bubbly!

Permission to Die, Sir?

The End. Tea and Medals

Badges and condolence cards were handed out. Bob being somewhat surprised to receive them, due his missing a leg. Packs off and thrown into the bus, the ordeal complete. We clambered awkwardly back in, and eased into nooks and crannies among sweaty, filthy boots and stinking bodies. A short drive down into Osmotherly to drop off Gerry and some others who had joined there, and then onwards for the run back down to Barnsley. During the early part of the return drive, I took some time to extract everything from Bobs big reserve pack, sort out whos kit was whos, and redistribute into the appropriate packs. I then started the campaign to remove my socks for a fresh pair, deciding to spend the majority of the journey barefoot! Bob was sat behind me, seemingly marshaling the Grenadier Guards Massed Bands tuning up, though in reality a loose Burco boiler lid. A gentle odour of stale fish beginning to permeate the bus. I cant vouch for Bob or anyone else, but with the chat subdued compared to the journey the day before, I tried to get a little kip.

I cant think let alone take a good photo

Dead Men (finished) Walking

Back in Barnsley, we debussed, hauled our packs out the back of the bus, and were relieved to find Bobs car not only still parked in the same place, but still complete. We said our farewells to the other walkers, and to Brian. We crossed to the car with Chris, whos ride was waiting parked behind us. I spied a four pack of large Stellas on the passenger seat! Im sure he enjoyed those! Myself and Bob eased into the car, and on the route back to Doncaster found that the previously noted scent of gamey haddock was emanating from us!

And so, with the evening finally beginning to turn cool, our intrepid hikers arrived back at Bobs, in time to be roundly laughed at for the state we were in. Plans were decided for the evenings relaxation, mostly involving baths and beer. Decisions made on how to gain Bobs third qualified crossing in the near future. I myself have my three valid crossings, and await now only the Inquisition. At some time in the next few weeks, others partaking of the Lyke Wake Walk, may see an odd sight - a small blue car with a large radio mast attached, at various places where the path crosses roads. This will be me, and I may or may not be frying bacon at any stage. When this vision is seen, then eager walkers may happen upon the apparition of a lone heap of rags, somewhat resembling an early human of the Neanderthal strain, tramping the route. This will be Bob. We will be in constant radio contact as he completes his third and qualified crossing.

Next march, we will face the Inquisition. We will attain Master of Misery. And we will truly appreciate the name!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Lions Summer Walk - GB0LSW

A bare week after we completed the 2nd, reverse, crossing of the Lyke Wake, myself and Bob found ourselves again poised on a start line. This time, we had support - water, bananas, high viz vests and a number each! We were outside the new 'Cast' theatre in Doncaster town center, about to start on the Lions Summer Walk, a 12 mile route to end at TS Gambia, the Sea Cadets center in the town of Thorne.

For this, we had arranged our second 'mobile' amateur radio special event license, with the callsign GB0LSW. Bob would operate on 145MHz FM, using a handheld, whilst I, mentalist that I am, would run HF with the PRC-320 on my back!

Well, armed with some water and bananas, we finally got set off, one what should have been a really quite easy walk for us. That said, I was lugging a 10kg field radio!

The first problem presented itself within about 3 minutes of starting - the route, instead of going around past the old Odeon (Gaumont) cinema site and Christ Church onto Thorne Road, as i'd expected, went instead through Priory Walk which is a covered walkway! All well and good when your no taller than your hat, but a bit awkward when theres a 2.4m whip antenna sticking up above your head! The solution was to have Bob hold the antenna down as we went under what used to be the Park Lane nightclub.

From there we passed Christ Church onto Thorne Road towards Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Soon the folly of a HF mobile station became aparent. I really had not realised that there were so many trees along the route, and low branched trees at that! We had to alter our course slightly to prevent snagging the antenna.

Anyway, we started calling on the radios. As a result, we slackened our pace and were soon overtaken by almost everyone else!

The first support stop was at the Wheatley Hotel. From there, we headed around Sandal Park and over into Clay Lane, before heading into Edenthorpe. At this stage, Bob was managing a few contacts on 2m, whilst I was getting precisely nowhere on HF!

But the going was easy, especially compared with our jaunt on the North York Moors the week before! We passed through Edenthorpe, by our old school, and up to the roundabout and the A18 to Dunsville. Somewhere along here, Bob made contact with the special event station at the Doncaster Aircraft museum. Despite then arranging a sked for me on 18MHz, we were barely able to make the contact.

We passed into Dunsville, an interesting section where Bob had the annoyance of a pirate station to contend with!This idiot kept trying to say he was nearby and was coming to give Bob a kicking! I'd have loved to have seen it happen! But his signal strength made it clear he was not anywhere close and getting further away!

The second rest stop loomed, this was at Hatfields club, and we were being marshaled by uniformed Sea Cadets and Instructors. By this time we were in need to sanitary facilities, so we took the opportunity to drop the radios and have a rest. Ice cold fruit cordial was available which was very refreshing. At this point I was offered the spare battery that I had had Julie and Sam take on ahead, but decided to forgo it, instead depositing it in Bobs pack whilst he was in the lav,

From here there were just a few miles to go. As we made our way towards the marina area, Bob found an England flag on the ground that had fallen off of someones war. It was soon flying from the tip of my antenna!

The route then took us over the motorway via  a service bridge, before back down to join the fast and unpaved road to Thorne. This section was rather tedious, simply because it was long and straight. It was also not the nicest of roads to walk along, and little to see once your past the prison!. We tried a few band changes, and Bob had a go operating the HF for a while, but with still no luck, and an unexpected RF burn for Bob!

But then, we were on the outskirts of Thorne. And soon, we were at the landing on the canal, with just a road crossing to go to the end! There we were met by the mayor, and awarded our medals!

We were not quite the last to finish, but not far off. Having dismantled the antennas, and stowed the kit, we enjoyed a much deserved pint or two!

We always seem to end up in a mess!
The radio aspect was disappointing though. One idea for next year, is to see if we can set up the station at the end point (presumably the TS Gambia again?) and then myself and Bob will complete the walk in advance of everyone else starting it, so we can then run the station during the actual walk from more efficient equipment and antennas.