Greg has given me the keys to his blog so I can post my ramblings while waiting between checkpoints, both on training walks and during the mighty TrailTrekker challenge itself. Here are my notes from yesterday’s walk.
Picked up the walkers at 0600. Arrived in Horton in Ribblesdale at 0745. Very good car park with (paperless but otherwise excellent) loos. Weather chilly with spotty rain. Walkers departed at 0800 after leaving names and start time at the cafe in Horton. Most optimistic estimated time of arrival at first checkpoint is 1030.
My side mission today while the Unstoppable Force (walkers) are walking, is to scope out places to pull the Immovable Object (camper van) off the road so the support crew can sleep, especially during the night-time sections. Drove a loop through Halton Gill, Kettlewell, Buckden (site of TrailTrekker checkpoint 3), Langstrothdale Chase, Gayle, Hawes (where I bought petrol), and back to Horton. Awesome hill past Wether Fell down towards Gayle; wish I had a sports car! Langstrothdale has long stretches of unfenced road – plenty of places to pull up the camper for a few hours’ sleep. Also lots of places on the road between Halton Gill and Hawkswick, but this is beyond checkpoint 3 so we’d be wasting time driving.
Arrived at first checkpoint at High Birkwith at 1025. Weather absolutely filthy – heavy driving rain and quite cold. Parked where the Pennine Way and Ribble Way cross – lots of walkers crossing the road in front of me, and several other cars parked. A group kitted up for caving had arrived just before me and I watched them trudge off into the clouds to start their subterranean adventure.
Waiting for the walkers.
No word from the walkers at 1100. 2-way is on and I have a phone signal. Wish I’d thought to bring a flask – they’ll be wet and cold and a hot drink would have been a morale-booster. May be able to buy one in Settle or Kirby Lonsdale and fill it for the next checkpoint.
1120 – still no word. Weather horrible. Several groups of 4 walkers have gone by; I doubt that’s a coincidence – I expect other teams will be using this as a training walk. Things I’m seeing going past that I think my team will wish they had: waterproof rucksack covers; gaiters; peaked hoods on waterproof coats; one-piece waterproof overalls. A group at the other end of the parking area is clearly doing a checkpoint sort of thing, though perhaps not TrailTrekker training as there are at least 9 walkers. They have hot drinks; the more time goes by the more I wish I’d done the same for my team. Too hung up on having the camper van for the real event to think of simply bringing a flask for training. I was planning to buy hot pies for the second or third checkpoint, but we’ll have to get the timing much better for that to work; though I suppose a lukewarm or cold pie is still a pie!
It’s awfully wet out there.
1130 – unintelligible radio message – they must be close! Time to struggle into my waterproofs.
Team arrived at 11.35 – sodden, shivering, miserable and in unanimous agreement that they should bail out having completed only the first peak, Pen-y-Ghent. The decision was made as they passed a landmark appropriately named Dismal Hill. We Repaired to the Pen-y-Ghent Cafe for cooked breakfasts and pints of tea – a magnificent establishment staffed by friendly and cheerful people who missed their vocation as ministering angels … or maybe they didn’t! At least one other TrailTrekker team had the same idea – we exchanged pleasantries with two members of the Unbelievable Trekkers.
The wreckage after inhaling tea and all-day breakfasts at the Pen-y-ghent Cafe.
While we were in the cafe the weather improved, but the team’s kit was soaked through – catastrophic failure of all four sets of waterproofs – and it would have been foolish to continue, so we drove back to York.
We’re training for Oxfam’s TrailTrekker challenge. Please consider donating at our sponsorship page: http://www.justgiving.com/trailtrekker2013