Donate now at www.justgiving.com/twirliesontour.
And, if you want to find out more about mountain rescue, go to www.mountain.rescue.org.uk

Thursday, 19 May 2011

One or two highlights in pictures

So... here's some of the pix I would've posted, had the iPad been playing nice.


 A sunny start at St Bees with members of Wasdale MRT. Oh how fresh we look...

Ennerdale Bridge next and team members walk back along the route to meet us

Wanna sit here? It'll cost you! Collection box at the ready at Black Sail Youth Hostel

 The AA... er, Cockermouth MRT, help our friends Michelle and James restart their car. 
Well we ARE the fourth emergency service!

Great sunset, long shadows and steak pudding and chips with Keswick MRT 
at the Scafell Hotel... then their pagers went off...

Comparing apps with Sir Chris at The Grasmere Hotel

Well earned drink...

 Land Rover shot with Langdale Ambleside team members and Sir Chris

Heading for Grisedale and Patterdale – before it started raining!

Patterdale. And it's raining. Cats and flippin' dogs...

Wet and bedraggled – and no sign of the eagle – at Kidsty Pike with Penrith MRT

Mavis and Sylvia make my day at Burnbanks – they waited to catch us passing 
through, having seen us on TV!

 Nearly halfway...

 Twenty four miles in a day and more than ready for curry at Kirkby Stephen

Oops! Where's Shortie?

Another day, another pint... with Swaledale team members

Did I mention the caving?

If I crack my head on this ceiling once more...

No, really... I'm having a great time...
can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be... honest...

Posing with the swiftwater lot, following our leisurely 
– and relatively dry – raft ride down the river Swale, our third day in Swaledale

Long day across the moors to Blakey Ridge and Cleveland team members
'hand us over' to Scarborough and Ryedale!

Grosmont – the land time didn't just forget, 
it through away the clock winder

Hot chocolate, pink fizz, hot chocolate, pink fizz... oh... go on then.... both

Monday, 16 May 2011

What shall we do Sunday? Walk anyone?

Anyway, what more fitting way could there possibly be to end a mountain rescue fundraiser than with a mountain rescue call out? Nothing to do with me, you understand, but it did involve a bit of speedy walking on my part, down some slippery paths and grassy bits, which I might not have managed with quite such ease had it not been for the previous two weeks' practice!!

Flashback to earlier in the week and a conversation with Secret Boyfriend (apologies to anyone not understanding the reference here – subscribe to Mountain Rescue magazine, turn to Diary of an Editor, and all will become clear!) regarding the forthcoming weekend. At the time, I was anticipating the two days' long slog across Yorkshire, and already feeling a little creaky from the accumulative effect of all the previous days.

'If you so much as mention going for walk on Sunday,' I said, 'I might have to punch you...'

'Oh dear,' came the reply.

But then something very strange happened. Despite the aches and pains of the first 175 or so miles, by day thirteen and our last 15 mile stretch, I found a new spring in my step. Demob happy or suddenly super-fit? You tell me. Whatever it was, the thought of waking up the next morning and NOT lacing up my boots seemed quite strange – exactly as Roger (one of our Scarborough team companions for the Saturday slog out of Grosmont and a seasoned Coast to Coaster himself) had predicted.

So Sunday morning dawned and, bizarrely, it was ME suggesting a walk!! And off we set for Loweswater. It's raining. The cloud is down. My kit is still filthy and damp and, by rights, should be twirling its way round the Hotpoint by now but I'm loving it. And not a creaky joint to be heard!

So we're half way round our planned route, packet of Mini Cheddars and Mars bar shared between us, rain dripping off the waterproofs, when off goes the phone. The team phone... uh oh...

And, before I know it, we're walking back at the speed of light to the car so SB can get to the call out. Conversation's out the window, what with me watching my every footstep (lest he has another casualty on his hands), and the radio chattering away. Oh, and me having to breathe.

As it happens, by the time we got to the car, he wasn't needed, so it was back home for soup and toast, but demonstration, if one were needed, of just how mountain rescue impacts on team members' lives. You never quite know when that pager's going to go off, what the incident might be, or how long it might take out of your day. But there's one thing for sure: when it DOES go off – so does HE!

Further thoughts on foot slogging

So would I do it again? Yes. But give me time to recover.

 Tired? Wet? Moi? Gail and Judy with walking buddy Helen, 
who joined us for the final stretch

Next time, I'll do it for the fun of it, rather than a fundraiser. Not that this hasn't been one whole heap of fun – in fact, it's far exceeded any expectations on many levels – but it's tough. And I don't mean the perpetual requirement to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

No, it's the ever present need to blog, email, Facebook and tweet, (constantly cross-referencing all the above), remember to turn the Buddy Beacon on, remember to turn the Buddy Beacon off again, ensure the iPad's charged up sufficiently, fret about wi-fi connections and mobile phone signals (O2, incidentally, I now discover is generally substantially less effective than Orange or Vodaphone – a common cry across the walk), make contact with people, fulfil press-worthy photo opportunities, check and push for donations, and always be on the go, making new friends, meeting old ones, caving (did I mention the caving? lol!), when really you'd just like to down a glass of wine, eat copious quantities of, well, anything really, before collapsing on your bed in a fresh-air-induced coma!!!!

If I do it again, I'd perhaps take a little longer, so the final stretch across Yorkshire can be broken up a bit more. Two long days in succession (23 miles and 20 miles ) including one over such flat, flat terrain, is hard, hard work.



Field after field after field after field of this stuff!!! Aachoo!


So far we've raised about half our target, but I'm hoping more will come in over the coming weeks as news of our actually crossing the finishing line gets out! Thank you to all who have given so far – some since our final stagger into the sea – and the justgiving page stays live for some time yet, so fingers crossed for more!

But, whether we reach the target or not, it's been an amazing exercise in raising awareness about mountain (and cave!!) rescue, on so many levels. The fact we've crossed so many boundaries, meeting ten teams in total, has sparked a fair bit of press coverage along the way, and made the story interesting enough for the likes of BBC News and BBC Radio Cumbria to pick up. As Mike Parr said, when he introduced me for the second of my live interviews on Radio Cumbria, many people walk the Coast to Coast, but not many of them enlist the support and active involvement of ten mountain rescue teams along the way.

And wow! how the teams engaged with it! It was fantastic to be met, supported, walked with and generally chat to, so many of our colleagues. Not least of all the 'Swaledale Mountain Rescue Adventure Park' across which Swaledale team members demonstrated so wonderfully well the variety of skills involved in the modern mountain rescue team: fell rescue, crag rescue, moorland search, cave rescue, swift water rescue... and I have the bruises to prove it!

Then there were the daily conversations with other walkers along the way – from as far afield as Canada, Australia and deepest Berkshire – about how our mountain rescue service works, it's voluntary nature and the constant need to fundraise just for teams to stay on their feet. We heard about Kirkby Stephen and their urgent need for cash to fund either repairs to their existing vehicles or, better still, a new vehicle. We heard about teams raising cash to build new facilities, or to kit themselves out with specialist swiftwater kit. And the shopping lists don't seem to get any shorter!

A huge thanks to all those team members who met us, walked with us, shared a drink or meal with us, entertained us, made us laugh and the miles disappear under our boots. It's been great to put some new names to faces along the way and make some new friends.

Thanks to Paramo and Whalley Warm and Dry for providing us with kit, to Craig at ViewRanger for the mapping and Sir Chris for his entertaining company between Rosthwaite and Grasmere.

 
Laughing now – only about an hour before the pink fizz!

And thanks, most of all, to my fellow Twirlie, who will probably never pick up the phone to me again, just in case I suggest a walk! She was a little trooper and we've had a brill time together!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Pebbles, pink fizz and Millionaire's Shortbread at Robin Hood's Bay

Well what a finale that was! My earlier speculation, about the probable state of my dress by the time I reached the slipway at Robin Hood's Bay, turned out to be pretty accurate. Having spent most of our two week trek basking in sunshine, with only the occasional shower to test the Paramo (the worst section being Patterdale up to Kidsty Pike where the clag and rain prevented any appreciation of the wonderful views we were assured lay just below), we arrived caked in mud, battered by hailstones, sopping wet to the skin and cold.

The shoes that had successfully avoided peat bogs, clay, slime, mud, fast-flowing water and a variety of animal poo across the entire 194 miles, are now drying out in a corner, and may be so for some time, thanks to a hearty Yorkshire hailstorm which battered us throughout the final hour and a half of coastal path. Topped up by sea water (tradition dictates you get your feet wet on both sides of the country, apparently. Hmmm. I'm not convinced...)

And, as Belinda so delicately put it on Facebook: 'You looked knackered!' Thanks cuzz!

And thanks also for the mega chunk of homemade Millionaire's Shortbread magicked from the bag along with a bottle of pink fizzy stuff!

What a day it was! We set off from Grosmont at quite a lick, in the company of five Scarborough team members: Helen, Roger, Shane, Paul and Russ (our excellent companion and guide from Friday). Strangely, my fellow Twirlie and I had woken with a definite spring in our step (demob happy!) the aches and pains of the last few days' slogging a thing of the past. Although, I must say Gail now appears to be spot-welded to her walking poles! Hope she managed to prise them off to lift the beer last night!

But who put that flippin hill there? So late in the journey. Wainwright certainly knew how to mix his terrain! Quite a steep haul up the road from the B&B... on and on, up and up, then - just as the road levelled out and we thought we could relax: 'It's this way,' says Roger, pointing right. Up another steep incline!! We're good at this now though - head down, assume your pace and just keep going - and it helps to have a bunch of walking companions to chat to, too.

Up over the moors for a bit - tantalising glimpses of sea on the horizon - then down we dropped into pretty woodland walks, not dissimilar to the paths around my home patch. Disaster swiftly averted at one point when I turned in my Bambi on Ice impression, slipping on some wet clay. Legs slithering in all directions, I felt my rucksack grabbed firmly from behind me, steadying me long enough to find a foot hold. Thanks Roger!!

In fact, through this particular stretch, at Falling Foss, runs a little beck (not as full yesterday as I'm sure it can be) which must be negotiated via stepping stones. This, we heard was the scene of a previous rescue for the team, involving an unfortunate Coast to Coaster, now only a few short miles from his final destination, who slipped into the stream, fracturing his femur in the process. Ouch!!!

Clay slides, stepping stones and 'black spot' successfully navigated, it was down to Midge Hall for tea and scones with jam and cream, or fresh made carrot cake, whichever took your fancy. And, despite a full cooked breakfast, somehow, somewhere, there's always room for that! Cue one of many appearances along the way of two mountain rescue vehicles, with Andy, Dave (who I mistakenly named Richard the other evening, on the blog - apologies to him) and Chris, who seem, between them, to have an inordinate number of cameras at the ready!!

It was here, at Midge Hall, we encountered the Pebble Police. 'Now then,' he boomed, standing sternly over our table and blocking out the sun, 'have you all got your pebbles?'

Well, thank God the answer was 'Yes', as only the night before, I'd had to empty out the entire contents of my suitcase and my rucksack in a frantic search for said pebble, convinced I'd lost it somewhere along the way. 'Didn't you zip it into your trouser leg pocket?' asked Gail. Although she couldn't remember which trousers I'd been wearing at the time. Ah yes, the penny dropped! It was in the caving trousers, not worn since our evening down Crackpot.

Back to Mr Pebble Police, faced with two ayes and a bunch of nays: 'Right!' he said. 'You two can go on. The rest of you, BACK to St Bees!!' Gulp!

On now, through the woods to our next stop: the pub, at Hawser! But not before a surprise encounter on the path with our walking pal Helen (honorary Twirlie) and her partner Gary, who'd kept their planned trip to Robin Hood's Bay for our final day's walk very quiet indeed! Great to see them!

From here, in the warmth and shelter of the pub, we witnessed our first spot of hail, harbinger of what was to come. Paramo on, then we're off again. Closer and closer to the sea.

On from our rain-soaked meander round the cliff tops, to the steeply stepped approach to the sea, past pretty mews and terraces, the street narrowing ever more before us. And there, a full tide lapping at the slipway, stood two mountain rescue vehicles, a bunch of familiar faces and a Mountain Rescue England and Wales banner. As the cameras flashed, a cork rang out above our heads, and a bottle of pink fizzy stuff found its way into my very cold hands. Big swig each, straight from the bottle, before Sally produced a couple of genteel glasses from her rucksack. (Oh well. If we must!)

That said, the fizz was lovely, but the cup of hot chocolate, thoughtfully handed to me by Sally, was even more welcome. Once the euphoria of actually achieving our goal began to subside, and we'd stood around chatting for a while with all our pals, the reality of cold wet undies started to sink in! So, pebbles dutifully thrown back in the sea and goodbye hugs all round, it was off to the B&B for a quick shower before hotfooting back across the country to catch up with Secret Boyfriend, recently returned from his own adventure on the hill.

More in a while, just need to gather some more thoughts!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Steam trains, shandy and salt and vinegar crisps

Wow! That was a short day! Feel as though I should be staggering on for a further ten miles at least. But here we are in The Station at Grosmont, half of shandy, (and now laughing heartily because the iPad spell checker amended my mis-typed 'shandy' to 'whiskey'!!) packet of salt and vinegar, reflecting on the fact we have just fifteen miles to walk now. Yessss!!!!

Another good walk, today accompanied by Russ from the Scarborough team. A pleasant ramble across the Yorkshire Moors then down through Glaisdale and on to Grosmont, where the steam train was sitting, like a picture postcard, at the crossing.

Little else to say about today... apart from a heartfelt thanks to those friends and family (they know who they are!) who have responded to my phone calls and texts, as I tramped along this morning, to add their donations to the pot. Much appreciated!!

Right, think that's me up to date now. Blogger and Internet connections permitting I will update you on the final fifteen miles as soon as I can. By all accounts we're joined by at least half a dozen Scarborough team members tomorrow, with a variety of family and friends meeting us along the way. I'm told there might be banners and flags, Victoria sponge and maybe even lashings of ginger beer at the end. Robin Hood's Bay: here we come....

Yesterday's post today as Blogger resumes...

Arrived at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge and, quite frankly, we're knackered! Our walking companion on Wednesday, Tony from Nottingham, recounted a tale of a work colleague (a Territorial Army Fanatic, if that adds anything to the story - you decide) who asked what he was up to on his forthcoming holiday. Now, Tony is walking the Coast to Coast as a tribute to his late wife, and to raise some money for Cancer Research, and he's doing it on his own.

For one recently widowed, in quite dramatic fashion after a long and happy marriage, this (in my humble opinion) is a huge undertaking. Not enough for his work mate, however, who expressed surprise that Tony was completing the route over the course of fourteen days. 'Two weeks?!' he asked. 'What're you doing? Crawling on your hands and knees?' Apparently Mr Testosterone would only need a week. Let me tell you, if that man ever DOES do this in a week (and not on a bicycle) I want to be there to take photos.

It has been a tough two days, with little time to breathe let alone blog. When we reached The BlueBell Inn at Ingleby Cross, Wednesday evening, my fellow Twirlie fell on the bed, and straight off to sleep. No glass of wine. No dinner. No shower. Leaving me to stagger into the bar alone like Billy No Mates. Although, that's not strictly true as it was packed with familiar faces from the last few days!

Richmond to Ingleby Cross was a long, largely boring slog along the flat, through field after field after field after field (over stile after stile after stile after stile) of wheat, barley, rape, wheat, barley, rape... repeat until you lose the will to live or for 23 miles - whichever comes first.

I think the high point was Bolton on Swale, quite early in the walk, where we stopped for a breather in the grounds of the local church. A sign on the lych gate told of the famed Henry Jenkins, buried there we know not when who had, apparently, lived to the ripe old age of 169! We think the stonemason might have sneezed at the wrong moment.

And then there's the honesty boxes. The farmers there must KNOW you're just going to be bored out of your tree. Very early in the day. So, starting just before the church, the route was dotted with small collapsible tables, cool boxes and buckets, stacked with cold drinks, home baked flapjack, packets of crisps, fresh fruit and - best of all, although it didn't tempt us, a chalk-written message on slate: ice cream round the corner in the shed. One wonders whether, had we walked any further, the ante might have been upped: house keys on the hook by the back door, Land Rover on the drive, tank full...

Having set off at 8.30am, we finally staggered into the Bluebell Inn at 6.45pm, and Gail all but lost consciousness! Accommodation there probably the most basic we've seen en route but think I could currently fall asleep on a clothes line, as my granny used to say.

Yesterday, between Ingleby Cross and Blakey Ridge was three miles shorter (yippee!) and much more bearable. Very up and downy - the guide book describes it as a 'rollercoaster' of a day and it's right - and we were in the very good company of Barry, PR officer for the Cleveland team. (The team had, incidentally, invited us to join their exercise the previous evening, out on the crag. The answer was an unequivocal thanks very much but no!!)

In the event, it was a piece of good fortune that Barry had joined us. Gail began to struggle on the downy bits, not a happy bunny at all. Fortunately, by the time this became obvious we were only yards from the planned stop at Lord Stones cafe, adjacent to a road. A quick chat about options and Barry called his wife, Pauline, who kindly picked Gail up and whisked her away for tlc and jacket potatoes, while Barry and I continued on to the most uppy downy bit of the day, which involved clambering up through the Wain Stones and on down through quite a steep, prolonged step section. The option from there was to either meet us at the next road and rejoin the walk, now at a more undulating pace, or to get a lift all the way to the Lion. Well, I don't know what Pauline put in that jacket potato, but Little Twirlie returned with new vim and a smile on her face. Not sure I can forgive her, though, for managing to dodge the big shower of the day which left Barry and I very wet and windblown for almost the entire section without her... 'Has it been raining?' asked a very warm, dry, potato-fed Twirlie as she stepped from the car and we dripped in front of her. Grrr...

Arrived at the Lion at 6.00pm, and boy! were we pleased to see those red rooftops appear on the horizon. Positively ran up the path and into the car park. Straight in the bar, where we were met by Richard, Gari and Pete from Cleveland team and, later, Andy, Georgina and Richard from Scarborough team for beer, wine, steak sandwiches and chips. Yum. Good company and a barrage of snappy one liners from the Gari and Pete Show, then another photo op with the team vehicles - this time one from each team.

Right, bills to pay, boots to lace...

Swaledale Mountain Rescue Adventure Park: fun for all the family

And so to our day at Reeth part two...

Pick up arranged for around 5.00pm. Our digs. Manage a chunk of home made chocolate cake and pot of tea, courtesy of our landlady Susan, when she reappears in the dining room. 'There's a couple of men at the door asking for you.' (Bit of a recurring theme developing here!)

It's the aforementioned Peter Roe (is there anyone in the Dales who DOESN'T know him?) and Tony. We're also waiting for Richard and David to arrive. Polite chit chat. Wee bit of banter. They've got a little something organised for us. Bit of a photo opportunity. I won't have to crawl anywhere, will I?

'Noooo...' says Tony, shaking is head in a very sincere manner.

Cos, the thing IS, I say, I don't really see the attraction of going underground...

'You'll be fine, just a photo opportunity...'

So I don't need a change of clothes then?

'Noooo, (he's REALLY good at this)... you'll be fine as you are.

'Or, maybe just bring a spare pair trousers. For the pub. Oh, and perhaps a pair of socks.'

Soo... I won't get wet then? 'Nooooo...

'Won't be higher than your knees...'

And lo... Half an hour later, I am being zipped into a yellow waterproof one piece, pushing my woolly trousered legs into borrowed wellies, being instructed on the machinations of the head torch strapped to my very battered caving helmet. And off we set down a steep little clamber to a hole in the ground. A very dark hole in the ground.

'Don't worry,' says Pete. 'Just do as I do...' And he's gone. Shit! Now I have to follow him! I cannot BELIEVE I am doing this, as I slither wellies first through a hole in the rock, feet headed deep into goodness knows where.

Okay, that worked. Rest. Breathe. And then he's off again. 'Just turn onto your side, tuck you feet under your body, turn over, and....' His final words lost to the darkness as I digest the improbability of tucking my legs up any way at all right here, let alone turning over to slide bum first into oblivion. Then I realise it's my turn again. And now!

And so it continued, arms and legs in knots I never dreamed possible, hauling myself along on my stomach, slithering through the silt, banging my head on the 'ceiling', and gathering so many bruises I think someone took me out and beat me up while I wasn't looking! And as for only getting wet up to my knees!! Ha!!!! One very soggy left sock, trousers soaked (despite the fetching yellow suit) and hands, face and feet caked in orange cack. Apart from that I was dry as bone.

Oh, and can I just say that for much of the time, while the rest of us stooped and crouched along, yours truly finding the 'ceiling' more times than I can remember, Shorty just strolled through the rocky chambers, head held high. Sometimes, there are advantages to being small!!

Would I go again? probably not. But fun? Oh yes!! A brilliant couple of hours - and completely exhausting!!! And topped off by a very good meal in the company of our new caving chums at the Bridge Inn at Grinton.

Final word on this particular subject to Tony: 'Let me say that for someone entirely new to [caving] you did superbly and coped extremely well.' Well, who'd a thought it?

So... caving box ticked. And then there we were in Richmond, checked into the B&B and another knock at the door. 'Do you have two ladies from mountain rescue here?' comes the voice from the front door. (Yes, I know...) It's Graham. He and Rich have come up with a team vehicle to take us down to the River Swale.

'You may be offered a raft ride,' read the email. Mmmm... sounds suspiciously like 'you might be taken to a cave entrance'. But wetter.

'Honestly, you won't get wet,' says Graham. Not convinced, but we climb into the Land Rover anyway.

On down to the river bank, just below the castle. When the river's high there's an impressive rapids a short way down stream - thankfully not today. We're introduced to Daz and Tim, already in their swiftwater gear and messing about with the inflatable. In fact these two do seem to spend a great deal more time in the water than out of it, taking every opportunity to dive in!

All four chaps now kitted out, and we two in our safety vests, we're sat in the boat and paddled down the river, stopping short of the 'rapids' for, guess what, another photo opportunity. Then back to their Catterick base for tea and very posh biscuits, and on to the pub (well this IS mountain rescue!).

Finally fell into the B&B after yet another action packed day in the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Adventure Park. Alton Towers has nothing on this!!

Return of the happy bunny



Judy hasn't been able to blog (nor have I) as the system has been down for 24 hours or so but the Twirlies have arrived safely at their last overnight (Grosmont) and enjoyed a Thursday evening "handover" between Cleveland SRT and Scarborough and Ryedale MRT at the White Lion in Blakey Ridge (pictured).


Next stop, Robin Hood's Bay on Saturday afternoon.



Thursday, 12 May 2011

So much more than mountains - as they say


Mountain Rescue in England and Wales is not only about fells and hills, moors and mountains, but also about searching (and finding) and working with the emergency services in all kinds of outdoor situations. That means getting involved in some cave rescues and also plenty of flood and swift water rescues - and the Teams invest a lot of time in training for these situations too.



To say that Judy and Gail are getting a cross section of MRT work is to put it mildly. Very much mountains across the Lake District, moorland into Yorkshire and then the underground and rivers side of things too.


And Swaledale team sum this up - Twirlies met some of them in Muker on Sunday night for a walk, in Reeth on Monday night for a cave trip and then on Tuesday night in Richmond for a bit of a river cruise (?) too.



Don't forget - this walk is also about raising funds for the national mountain rescue association - it's a completely volunteer service. Follow the link to Twirlies on Tour at JustGiving - and add your support.






Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Moo-dy ladies with udder things on their minds




Anyone reading Judy's most recent post might want to see the terrifying creatures that stood in the way of the Twirlies and their route ... cute but determined!

All creatures great and small...

Yesterday: Where do I start?

Generally, as the day goes on, snippets of conversation or odd encounters, people we meet and sights we see, will spark a creative neuron and I'm off, in my head, writing the blog as I walk. Trouble is, by the time I reach 'civilisation' (and an internet connection), and done all the usual stuff like showering, drinking tea, finding somewhere for dinner, navigating cave systems... it's late at night and all those gems have long since flown the brain!

Things like our Doctor Dolittle moment. There are many paths between Muker and Reeth. You can opt to climb higher, towards the ridge, the mining track and stupendous views across Swaledale. Or you can choose any number of rambles alongside the river, left bank or right, hugging the water, or passing through fields. Or there's always the road, which meanders along the valley, never too far from the river. We chose the lower route, variously ambling alongside the water's edge, through swathes of wild garlic peppered with bluebells, dodging tree roots and fallen branches, on and on across lush green pastures. Lots of sheep. Lots of lambs (ahhhhh!) and a fair few cows. And usually they run away when they see you coming. But not today.

At this low level, you pass through field after field, linked by the slenderest of gaps through dry stone walls, (our guide book has it that they're built for whippet-thin farmers, although we didn't see many of those), each with a tiny spring-loaded gate which positively fights back as you try to pull it open. Try pulling against the prevailing wind and you've lost the battle before it's begun.

Anyway, as we approached one particular gateway, it became clear the path was closely guarded. By several cows. And they were all looking our way. Er, no, actually, they were MOVING our way. Cue a rather rapid dredging up from somewhere deep in memory of my own advice on reaching cows in a field ('Call out mountain rescue?', second edition, only £9.99 from editor@mountain.rescue.org.uk lol!!)

1: Let dog off lead - he'll sort himself out and run faster than either you or the cows if being chased! (That one's easy. No dog.)
2: Identify the nearest exit. (Yep! I've identified it. It's the one immediately behind the cows. Those cows that are closing in on us.)
3: Don't panic! (Shiiiiiiiit!)
4: CLAP YOUR HANDS! (Not panicking, honest!)

Well, d'you know? It worked. Clapped a couple of times, the cows parted, leaving the footpath clear towards the gate, which we headed for RATHER quickly. Just as well because they were pretty bright those cows, realising pretty damn soon that they were, in fact, bigger than us. And back in they came, just as the second of Gail's little legs squoze through the gap. And there they stayed for quite some time (our bovine friends that is, not Gail's little legs!) huddled together on the other side of the gate - and if Sally is reading this, we might even get a pic added. Just here!

And while we're on 'cows', there was this morning's gem from Gail, as we discussed, walking through yet another field, this time with lots of cows, and their babies, whether some of these cows might actually be bulls. 'Mmmm,' she says. 'Some of 'em have udders, and udders don't.'

Sorry. You had to be there really. It was funny at the time.

Then there was the Tourist Information Office incident. In we popped at Reeth, just to check where our accommodation was. 'Straight down the hill, out of the village, first house on the right. So we walked down the hill, left the village, in fact walked on through Fremington and out the other side. No sign of of our B&B. Until we reached the last house on the left. We figure she must drive into work that way.

Anyway, tea and cake now well and truly demolished at Richmond, so just nipping up to our B&B to check in. Part two of yesterday coming soon, to a computer near you...

Multi-tasking with the Swaledale team

After walking with Swaledale team members on Sunday (see previous post), Judy and Gail were taken caving by Peter Roe (and Myrtle) of the cave rescue section on Monday evening.

The Twirlies are slightly nervous of what to expect on Tuesday night when they arrive in Richmond. They're due to meet up with the Swift Water Rescue section ... still in Swaledale.

Full details of this team and the huge area that it covers are on the team's website.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Meeting up with Swaledale team members in Muker



With thanks to Mike King and members of the Swaledale team for the group photograph on the steps of The Farmers' Arms at Muker - Old Peculiers indeed ....


Taken on Saturday evening, just over half way through the C2C.






Sunday, 8 May 2011

Has anybody seen our Twirlies?

Seems our reputation is now going before us. Started with a 'Here's the girls!' everywhere we went and, I have to say, it's a very flattering welcome - pubs, tea shops, Black Sail Youth Hostel... you name it, out rings the chorus. Our Canadian friends ask of each passing walker, 'Have you seen the girls?' concerned if we haven't overtaken them (as we inevitably do) by lunchtime! Then there were Mavis and Sylvia and our 'as seen on TV' moment.

And then came today... En route to the Nine Standards (deepest, darkest, boggiest Yorkshire now), the four chaps we'd first spotted in Patterdale, also doing the West to East route for the first time, greeted us with 'So which rescue team is it tonight girls?' Seems they just happen to be passing at precisely the moment we're posing in front of yet another team vehicle, alongside another set of hunky mountain rescue men. Every evening.

And so to Muker where we had to cross a wooden bridge over the River Swale, followed by a couple of fields, before reaching the village where we'd been due to meet members of Swaledale team a good hour earlier. Just over the bridge I glanced up towards the gate ahead and there was the distinctive navy and red Mountain Rescue logo, on a navy polo shirt. Clearly this was the forward party. So I smiled. As I reached the gate, David (currently the most popular name in mountain rescue) said, 'Are you who I think you are?'

Well, seems I was who he thought I was because he then escorted us into the village. But not before he'd radioed his colleagues of his find. 'The party of three we've been tracking down the River Swale appears to be our two, over.' Swaledale team members from across the county called of their search. Confused the hell out of them you see, because we'd picked up a 'hanger-on' and a dog en route in the form of team mate Mike and Scree. (which made Gail's day!) But all's well that ends well and we headed for the pub for a shandy and... er, another photo in front of a team vehicle with a load of hunky mountain rescue men. It's a tough job...

And, in case you think I've said all there was to say about this 'preceding reputation' thing, chatting later to our lovely landlady, Joyce, she revealed there'd been two lots of mountain rescue team members knocking on her door through the afternoon, asking if we'd arrived yet. Cue much amusement when we did finally arrive and not too much of an anti-climax I hope.

And speaking of Joyce (and I DID tell her I'd be blogging this), there was some concern expressed that she get away from doing the breakfasts in sufficient time to strip the beds and be off out by 10.30. We gather she and her husband help out at the local pub on a Monday. So much so that we even offered (well Gail did) to strip the beds for her after sleeping in them... No she said, that's fine, but if you could just hover, you know, rather than mess the sheets up... Hovering over the bed now as I type.

Back to the the bog: bog? What bog? lol. Skipped across those tussocks, to the bog born.

Okay, okay... it's been very dry recently, and the sun was shining, and it didn't rain, well not much... and we're used to bogs in Lancashire... and yes, I really wouldn't have fancied navigating across that in poor visibility... and yes, it was a BIT boggy, and some of the peat hags were as big as Volkswagen Beetles...

Anyway, onwards to Reeth tomorrow. A very short hop. We're due to meet the cave contingent of Swaledale in the afternoon, a man called Pete, whose reputation has very much gone before him. Even Joyce knows him. The plan, they say, is to take us down a cave... not sure, at this stage, whether the plan is to let us out again. Tune in this time tomorrow to find out. And if everything goes horribly quiet, just dial 999' ask for 'Police' then 'Mountain rescue' and tell them you've lost your Twirlies. That should do the trick.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

New author successfully posts pix!

Well, as they say in Lancashire, there's more than one way to skin a cat! After several evenings struggling to upload pix from the iPad (which it seems you can't do unless you have a web-based resource like Picasa. Which I don't. And, quite frankly, after all the fruitless faffing around I've done so far to get this blog up and on-running, I'm not sure I can be bothered!) I have appointed Sally as an author. Or, to put it less grandly, I sent her an email asking her to update the pic bits on my behalf.

Because I CAN email images from the iPad, just not upload them to the blog. So I email them to Sally. She uploads them to the blog. I go out for curry and a glass of something chilled. And, when I get back, Hey Presto! There are my pix, on the blog!! So thanks Sally! And great to have a wander with you this morning.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Knackered! I think that about sums up today. The guide book insists that it was a 31.7 km stretch between Shap and Kirkby Stephen but the Viewranger begged to differ, recording 42.4 km. Now, even allowing for a little deviation with the iPad (ergo the GPS) being tucked in my rucksack, that's a heck of a discrepancy. So we reckon we've walked a good 24 miles. No wonder we're a tad tired!

David and Chris from Kirkby Stephen team (and walkingworld.com) met us just before Sunbiggin Tarn then walked back with us to their parked car, where we could at least shelter with our lunch as the heavens had now opened again. Full waterproofs on as we were introduced to other team members David and David (so now we're walking with three David's) and their wives and of we set for the onwards slog to Kirkby. Five minutes in, predictably, the heavens closed again and off came the waterproofs again.

Then on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on we trudged across vast tracts of... er, green bits. And then more green bits. With a few sheep. And the odd cow. There's not really THAT much more I can say about today: lots of green bits, with sheep and a few cows. And then we were there. Oh, and we were joined by Arthur Littlefair and Vivienne at some stage (I can't remember quite how many miles in).

Short lift (I think we earned that!) to Kirkby's base for a quick pic in front of their vehicle (well, I AM looking for a full set now) and then back to the B&B to freshen up and then very quickly back out to The Mango Tree for an excellent evening with our walking companions. Great meal, great company, so thanks to them for organising that and keeping us (almost) sane throughout this very long day.

It's been great to meet our mountain rescue colleagues along the way and chat as we walk, and today was no exception. We're also getting quite a reception now from our fellow Coast to Coasters, as we leapfrog each other along the route and share experiences. This not least from our Canadian friends, who today met me with an envelope containing their own collection towards our efforts. Fantastic!

Unfortunately, Gail has felt the pinch today, struggling on through tight muscles and probable blisters. Whilst we have wondered about contingency plans in case tomorrow is really one walk too far, my fellow Twirlie shows no sign of giving up, little trooper that she is. Tomorrow is a short hop (only 11 miles!!) and we expect to be meeting members of the Swaledale team at around 3.30 in Muker.

In fact, by all accounts this Swaledale section should prove to be an interesting amble - but I'll tell you more about that once it's happened. Now, my friends, I really have to sleep...

Photographs so far - a sample
















Judy's struggling to add photographs to the blog en route and I'm struggling to add pictures to her posts (sorry to any techies out there who can't believe that something so simple etc etc ...).


So I'm trying a new post that includes a few images from the Lake District leg of the C2C - starting with St Bees (on the beach with Wasdale MRT) then one of Cockermouth MRT members (at Ennerdale Bridge with dogs too) and one with Sir Chris Bonington (at Grasmere).



Shame that the gorgeous sunshine from these images is now a memory but hope that the blue skies return as the Twirlies head for Yorkshire.

Press Officer joins walk ... for about a mile or so

The Twirlies were due to pass Orton up on the limestone scar during Saturday morning so the Seed family timed their dog walk to meet them on the scar, walk to Scar Side (for a quick cup of tea/lemonade/coffee at Dave and Elaine's) and then walk around Street Lane before the Twirlies headed off towards Sunbiggin Tarn and their rendezvous with Kirkby Stephen MRT.

Gail and Judy seem in fine spirits and plenty of their fellow walkers have been really supportive of the fundraising side as well - thanks, Canadians - you know who you are!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Sylvia and Mavis make my day!

Well, the rain didn't stop, did it? So off we set from The White Lion (thanks Ali for a great evening meal and superb breakfast) kitted up in the waterproof overtrousers and Paramo - the first time we've actually used the latter in anger, other than sunny photo opportunities. And, no surprise to Paramo fans, it did the job admirably.

Must admit I'm still at the 'not sure I trust this do what it says it will' stage, especially with this lightweight Velez Adventure Smock (so lightweight it makes the 'normal' Paramo seem positively heavy. So I was wearing two thin layers underneath and, boy, was I warm! Perfectly dry underneath and, as soon as we walked down out of the rain, and the sun came out, it dried out very quickly.

Anyway... That's enough about our sponsors lol!

Despite the rain, another fantastic day's walk. 15 miles today but taking in the highest point of the Coast to Coast, Kidsty Pike. It says in the guide book that this particular point looks far more impressive from afar than it does once you reach it, and that about sums it up. It was a pretty steady climb out of Patterdale - the key to success, we're learning fast, is to slow down to a steady plod, and just keep going. Do it in fits and starts and you're stuffed!

Some concern that we might miss the sharp left turn from High Street up towards the Pike, but no problem at all. On we plodded and, just before reaching the Pike, looming out of the mist came three mountain rescue jackets - now I know how it feels! Big wave to Ian, Ian and Glen who joined us then for the last few feet to the top and an anti-climactic photo at the summit cairn. Sadly, no views today. We were told of the eagle often seen soaring beneath the Pike at Riggingdale. Left to our imaginations today.

The five of us then continued down towards Haweswater, where the clouds lifted and the sun reappeared. Hope it stays that way (although the lightning hitting the hills this evening was somewhat worrying!). Lunch stop overlooking the reservoir then slogging on along the water's edge for... Ooh.... ages. All good apart from an annoying little leg-burner just before Castle Crag - JUST when you think you've done with climbing for the day!

The lads had parked the team vehicle as close as they could to the path, and eventually we rejoined it. More photos! And then a dilemma: do we blag a lift down to Burnbanks or do we do the honourable thing and keep on walking? Well what do you think? Keep walking, of course. Although we will admit to throwing our packs in the back of the Land Rover for a short while! Ian followed us down to Burnbanks in the vehicle, as Ian C and Glenn walked alongside us (gloriously pack-free). And there we met Sylvia and Mavis...

As we bade our farewells to the lads, out from the houses emerged two wonderful, elderly ladies, asking whether we had a collecting tin. Seems they saw us on the TV last week, thought we'd be coming through some time today, and had been on the look out so as not to miss us! And, as they popped their own coins in the tin, out came an elderly gent from across the way, saying he'd heard me on the radio! Am still getting over it! And thank you SO much to them!

Mavis and Sylvia make our day!

Final slog across fields, past Shap Abbey, and on to Shap and The Hermitage, where we stay tonight. Amazing place!!

Met by Sally (press officer extraordinaire!) for a run up to the pub and dinner, and a chat about press stuff. Joined by Kaz for a quick drink too. Good to catch up, although much of the news today has not been good. I know it's all out there in the news now so safe to post here, but tragic news today of David Watt, long standing member of the Kirkby Stephen team, who we're due to meet tomorrow. David sadly died in a light aircraft crash yesterday evening. He was an accomplished pilot, active rescue team member and SARDA handler. We feel sure he'll be greatly missed and we're thinking of his family and friends at such a sad time.

Anyway, it's been (made up word alert) a fantacular day. We look forward to tomorrow, although not sure out feet feel the same way.

Early start in the morning

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Patterdale, and it's raining. There's a surprise.

Arrived in Patterdale - only a short hop today so indulged in a rather late start. In fact, later than we'd planned really, delayed in no small part by my bladder crisis. No, not THAT sort of bladder crisis! Behave yourself!

No, half way down the stairs for the off and I suddenly became aware of a distinct wetness down my left side - the one the rucksack was slung over. Stopped mid-stair to feel underneath the sack and realised it wasn't just damp: there appeared to be water streaming through it. Hot foot back up to the room to investigate, thinking the thing had burst and it turns out it's user-error (Hah! No. Surprise there then!). I've screwed the top back on to the water bladder in rather hasty fashion, and water is now being forced out the top of it with every move I make.

Only a slight delay though - thanks to the super-absorbent towels of the Grasmere Hotel - and we're off. Bit of a climb out from Grasmere, but we have the hills to ourselves. Wonder where our Canadian friends have got to but assume they must be way ahead - feel sure their guide will have drummed them out of bed for an early start. Maybe, maybe not. Later, as we continue to climb slowly up Little Tongue Gill, we see them far below us, strolling along the lower path of Tongue Gill. They wave up to us.

When we meet them later, there's much teasing comment about us being happy to talk to them today, now we no longer have our 'celebrity friend' with us. Glad to hear, though, it made their holiday too, to see a famous face on their way across England.

Our only other encounter that side of the hill was a poor unsuspecting chap, a lone walker taking the weight off his boots and enjoying the view across to Great Rigg, who engaged Gail in conversation. Let you into a secret: we've almost perfected this double act now. In she went with the chatter then, just when he's least expecting it: 'Any loose change on you today?' as I lean towards him with the collecting box, helpfully nestling in a side pocket of the rucksack.

Speaking of which, brilliant news today from our friend at Tricketts insurance, Stephen Darwen. The thumb screws must have worked because Liverpool Victoria have kindly now pledged a further £100 towards our funds. The cheque is winging it's way to us as I type. So, once again Stephen, thank you for your efforts, and thank you (of course) to Liverpool Victoria.

Back on the path we run into our young friends from the Ennerdale Bridge B&B. Really glad to see them still going, despite our concerns. 'We're tortoises,' they say. 'But we get there in the end.' Now feel sure they will. But will be keeping an eye out for them along the way. When we met, they'd been rattled by a passing couple who, completely unsolicited, had taken them to task for walking without poles, wearing inappropriate footwear... you name it. Now that's fine but, at that point in time, their footwear was perfectly adequate for the conditions and er... I wasn't using my pole for the descent either.

Personally, I use them on the uphill, not on the down where I know from experience I'm perfectly capable of tripping myself up with them. Gail, on the other hand, uses hers on the way down, not on the climb up. Personal preference. And, as I understand it, the jury is still out whether poles are a good or a bad thing. Debate at your leisure.

And it WAS quite funny when, not long afterwards, I heard a cry from Gail (hysterical laughter as it happened), who was crossing the wooden bridge behind me. Her pole had jammed in the slats, as she carried on going. Okay and funny on this occasion but a classic scenario for accident-in-the-making.

Anyway, we'll look out for our young friends now. As I say, hope they stay the course, and I have a sneaky suspicion they will.

Photoshoot with our friends at Patterdale this evening then we'll be back down to the White Lion for a nightcap. Long day tomorrow with the climb to the highest point on the Coast to Coast, to Kidsty Pike. Penrith team members are meeting us there to walk back down to their vehicle a Haweswater. It's started to rain this evening, but hopefully it won't dampen our spirits too much. At least we have the Paramo to keep us dry!

Until tomorrow, then...

Eccles cakes and iPads with Sir Chris

And so to Grasmere...

Left Gillercombe and the parrot (which, incidentally, entertained us during our magnificent breakfast with a full and extensive repertoire of songs old and new: a parrot-style 'Name that tune') and headed down the road towards Rosthwaite village where we were due to meet Sir Chris.

The three of us set off alongside Stonethwaite Beck, climbing steadily upwards towards Grasmere Common, passing underneath a stunning Eagle Crag (which Chris was clearly VERY tempted to clamber up!). Great conversation and a good giggle throughout as we chatted about any number of topics. What struck me most was how life brings those things to you which are for you. Five or six years ago, when Bob Sharp and I launched our book, 'Mountain Rescue' at the Kendal Mountain Book Festival (part of the Film Festival), we were sandwiched between a line up of mountaineering greats: George Band, Doug Scott... and Sir Chris Bonington, on after us in the book signing stakes. Feeling I should say hello, not least as a fellow author, I chickened out, not knowing what to say by way of a starter! And here I was, six years later, sharing a day on the hill with him and chatting away like old friends. Turns out we even know people in common. Small world.

The day was entertainingly punctuated by a series of encounters with fellow walkers, their faces a picture... Er isn't that?.... One couple we met, came towards me after Chris had passed. 'My wife thinks that looks like Chris Bonington,' said the chap. 'It is,' I said, 'why don't you go and chat to him.' And off they shot down the hill to catch him up. And as they said their goodbyes, out came the tin!

The big group of Canadians who are walking the same route to Robin Hood's Bay, in the company of a guide, were equally as awed. When we'd mentioned, yesterday, the celebrity companion we had today, they were unsure who we meant. In the flesh, the realisation dawned. And the expression on their guide's face was a picture! 'Did you just bump into him?' he asked. 'No, we arranged to meet him,' I said, barely suppressing the urge to punch the air in glee. Tee hee!

Arrived in Grasmere at 1.30 (so a short day), where we expected to be met by Langdale Ambleside team members. Just tucking into our beers when in comes a text from Nick explaining they'll be a bit late due to a call out. Beginning to wonder whether I should email ahead to Patterdale and warn them of imminent job - we do seem to be bringing them with us.

Anyway, it gave Chris and I a chance to catch up with our iPhone and iPad, read a few emails, download an app or two, tweet and make friends on Facebook. He was very impressed - as everyone has been thus far - by the ViewRanger software, including the fact it continues to work despite not having a phone signal. GPS goes on tracking you regardless. So does the Buddy Beacon if you remember to switch it back on! Do they cover the Himalaya, he wondered. Over to you Craig - sounds like a development opportunity!

Langdale arrived, complete with team photographer Paul Burke - check out some great pix (not least we two Apple-ites, heads buried in cyberspace!) - on the Langdale Ambleside Facebook page. In fact, why not become a fan while you're at it?

Photo shoot done, we bade a fond farewell to Sir Chris and he was whisked away to rejoin his car in Rosthwaite, leaving us to catch up on blogging.

Which brings me back to where I came in... blogs now dutifully up to date. Please keep spreading the word and get those donations coming in. Another short hop to Patterdale today then the hard work really starts as we trog through the bogs and over the Pennines into bandit country.

Speak to you later, signals permitting.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Would you like parrots with that?

Anyway... Where was I?

Am now on the hotel's wifi which is intermittently much better than the o2 connection and no good at all. I'll try to catch it on the good bits.

Tuesday morning: another day, another radio interview. BBC Radio Cumbria and Mike Parr on the landline to the B&B before breakfast to see how we've got on. Of course it's only been a one-day walk so far so it's not exactly a true picture - the test, as I said on air (get me!) will be seven days, or two weeks from now. But, so far so good. Unlike the couple we met en route who were already aching and noticeably limping. They expressed surprise that we're not in the same condition. Turns out they live somewhere very flat, not a hill in sight and were inspired to try the walk after seeing Julia on TV. Mmm... We're concerned for their welfare, wondering whether they'll make it beyond today and the steepish climb up Loft Beck, at the end of the valley. But they prove us wrong and turn up for dinner at the Scafell Hotel. Hope they stay the course.

Interesting too, this couple's experience of sleeping in the country... Unnerved by the silence at night, they were intensely irritated by the magnificent chorus of birdsong on waking. Far more comfortable were they with the gentle sounds of their home ground, of aircraft coming into land and taking off over their heads from Standsted airport.

So, interview and breakfast over, we set off up the Ennerdale valley in the company of Rick, Search Dog Alf and Rick's butter-wouldn't-melt terrier who's name I can't remember (apologies to Rick). Another cracking day out. Rick and dogs departed our company around Gillerthwaite and we pressed on up the track to Black Sail for a cup, and an opportunity to rattle the tin. Well they wanted to sit on our bench, and that comes at a price!

Onwards up Loft Beck and over to Honister Slate Mines for ice cream. Then down to Rosthwaite, where we managed to add a half mile onto our day by overshooting the turning to the B&B. Now, about the B&B...

We'd been warned along the way about Rachel, our eccentric, but extremely hospitable host at Gillercombe. Serves breakfast with a parrot on her shoulder they said, sending fellow Twirlie Gail into a flat spin. News of Gail's flat spin clearly went on ahead of us as, by the time we arrive, the bird is tucked up in the garden aviary. Which doesn't stop Rachel luring us into the garden for a photo shoot, doing our best Captain Hook impression. For some reason, parrot was reluctant to climb onto Gail's shoulder. We put it down to the purple hair.

So parrot pix out of the way, we headed to the Scafell Hotel to meet with Roy, Jan, Mark and Fiona from Keswick MRT. More pix with them and a handy team vehicle. Handy because, no sooner have we tucked into steak pudding and chips, than three faces drop in unison as something starts vibrating in their pockets. Yep, such is the life of a mountain rescuer. Half drunk pints of beer, half eaten dinner, abandoned. And in a blur they were off... to Whinlatter and a fallen mountain biker.

Early night for us. And boy, were we ready for it!

Photos, footpaths and flapjack

Finally, an internet connection! Three days worth of walking and stuff and no means of getting it up there in the ether is a tiny bit frustrating... But trying to copy and paste from the Pages log I've been diligently keeping is BLUMMIN ANNOYIN'! Started having problems on Sunday evening whilst attempting to load some stunning shots and it's basically gone down hill since. Think it might be to do with the strength of signal I'm getting. Never again will I complain about the speed of my home wifi!

Anyway, I WILL attempt another pic upload, but in the meantime just want to get something on here. Oh and before I forget... Apologies to anyone trying to track our whereabouts via the Buddy Beacon on the Viewranger site yesterday or, indeed, today up until I remembered I'd turned it off at Ennerdale and hadn't turned it back on!

So... In a nutshell... Arrived Sunday evening at the Fairladies Barn, St Bees, dumped the bags then wandered down to the beach to suss out the distance and time required to get there. In the event, it was academic as the Wasdale vehicle picked us up at the door after breakfast and gave us a lift down. Not cheating, honest, as the C2C technically starts at the beach.

'Drive down onto the sand,' Richard W instructed our driver, Chris. And off we went down the ramp, somewhat hesitantly, to a prime photo op position, the headlands and C2C start looking stunning in the background against the clear blue sky. Photos duly posed and snapped, including the traditional pebble, and then it was a live chat to BBC Radio Cumbria, during which I realised with horror that the sea had fast approached, turning my small spot of sand into an island, surrounded by a fast-widening moat! Time to go!

Great day's walk, during which we were joined by Michelle and James Martin, who we first met two years ago at the Lakes event with Prince William, when James was marching his way along the C2C with his Mum in aid of Buxton MRT, at the tender age of 11. Good to walk a way with them.

Cockermouth team members walked along the route from Ennerdale Bridge to meet us - the forward party being Laura with Search Dog Jake. Does that count as a find? Several photos taken - now on the Lake District SAMRA website - then onwards to the Fox & Hounds and a well-earned drink. Not before Laura magicked up a tray of freshly baked flapjack, still warm. Yum. We were hoping she might turn up at each stop with fresh supplies... Or at least forward the recipe to each team...

Right, am now going to post this bit, or at least that's the plan. The iPad, of course, might have other ideas... More later.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Packing and panicking

So... packing. Panic stations yesterday afternoon: pile of 'must take' stuff on one side of the floor; choice of two cases on the other, neither of which look even remotely big enough! In fact, I was SO panicked that I jumped straight in the car and off to the Trafford Centre in search of 'bigger bag'.

Got as far as John Lewis when, (faced with, frankly, not too great a selection for my purposes),  rummaging in my handbag for the tape measure I'd had the forethought to throw in there, I discover that's about all there was – having tipped the contents out not half an hour before while sorting stuff to pack! In short: no wallet.

If ever there was a divine intervention to prevent me shopping any further (Adventure Eyes will be pleased to read!!) then this was it! And strangely, having ip-dip-dipped and ip-dip-dipped again between the two cases back home, (and edited the 'must take' pile a little), both are perfectly adequate.

Mind you, by the time I'd packed all the bits and bobs of equipment, walking kit and maps, (God help me if I forget those now!) first aid stuff and toiletries, there ain't much room for stuff to wear in the time left at the end of each day. Gonna be sick of the sight of that pink check shirt by the time I get to Robin Hood's Bay, I can tell you. And don't get me started on the probable state of my day-wear (two weeks splashing through bogs... can't wait!)

My friends, incidentally, no longer cling to the theory I have 'designer mud' on my boots. They simply shake their heads in silent wonder at the apparent transformation from designer-clad art director to wind-blown, mud-splattered fell-tramper. Had some amazing words of support from all of them, however. Thanks buddies – all of you!!

Quick check on the justgiving page and we've passed the two grand mark – 41% of our target. There's talk of a couple of live interviews over Radio Cumbria's morning slot, so here's hoping the continued media coverage and word of mouth help bring in the other three grand! Thanks to TV and press so far, we've already had very kind donations from complete strangers – thank you to them, and thanks for your good wishes.

Anyway... one more sleep and we're off.! Watch this space!!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

...and how could I possibly have forgotten......

...all the washing and reproofing.

Meanwhile, so much for getting some work done this week ahead of two weeks away! Spent all morning emailing the various teams and friends joining us along the way - including Sir Chris, hopefully on day three, Wednesday 4 May - organising the logistics of meeting up, estimated times of arrival, departure times and so forth. Flags, banners and team vehicles promised at various points.

Nobody's come up with a free foot massage yet but we live in hope! Did suggest to my chiropractor he might like to meet us at strategic intervals along the route - just to keep the joints creaking, you know - but, strangely, he's not taken me up on the idea... Looks like we'll have to manage on our own!

I hear the tide is up at Robin Hood's Bay early afternoon on the day of our arrival, if we fancy a paddle (look, if you think I'm swimming in the North Sea in mid-May - mid any month come to that! - you can think again!). Paddle sounds good though. We could take our trans-Pennine pebbles with us.

Anyway, must dash, just remembered something else I didn't get...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Easter Monday quiz: how many lists can one woman make?

Answers on a post it note please – but make it a different colour to any of mine. So not yellow. Or green. Or blue. Oh and nothing on backs of brown envelopes or torn off edges of newspaper pages. Because they'd just get mixed in with all the notes wot I already wrote and confuse me.

Seems like only yesterday (nearly four weeks – how time flies!) I was witness to the last minute packing, unpacking, repacking, unpacking and repacking (repeat as many times as possible in a three week period), and multiple listmaking required in advance of a pretty major expedition. Things-to-do, things-to-remember and things-you'd-probably-rather-forget: post it notes must be making a FORTUNE!

Then there's 'must get out on the hill/get to the gym/go for a run or I won't be fit enough syndrome'! The sorting out work stuff, money stuff, house stuff, family stuff, friends stuff...

'Wow!' I thought, somewhat naively. 'Thank God I'm only going Coast to Coast! At least I won't have to do all this!'

Ha!!! No, ha ha ha ha!!

That sound you hear, dear reader, is hysteria. Just to put you in the picture, this fine, four day Easter weekend I have mostly been putting in a bit of on-the-hill training; pounding the treadmill and climbing the stairmaster thingie; shopping, shopping, shopping and more shopping (well I keep thinking of things I haven't got yet!); and making lists!

Gail, incidentally, tells me she doesn't make lists. How can you NOT make lists?

It's forward planning you see. Forward planning. Speaking of which, somewhere along the way I decided I'd plot the route ahead of time – prepare ourselves a set of easy-to-follow daily route descriptions, mark up the maps and work out rough timings. This latter not least so I can provide an ETA at each location for the mountain rescue colleagues popping along to meet us. But let me tell you THAT little exercise took a wee bit longer than anticipated! Still, should now have far more time at the end of each day to eat, drink, blog and sleep!

And, finally, that TV appearance. Can I just say, that cutting room floor must have been knee deep. The bit about ViewRanger; any mention of the iPad (okay, I get those two – it was the BBC after all); the bit about the battery in smartphones and the iPad in particular being power-hungry and if you lose that, and it's your only source of mapping, you've lost your navigational ability; the bit about map and compass absolutely being our first line of defence, the iPad destined to spend most of its journey tucked inside my rucksack... all gone. Do people now think I'm going to stumble around the bogs and crags of the north of England carrying an Apple computer before me like a tray?

That said, thanks to the power of television, I do seem to have acquired some new Twitter friends – handy, their own tweets would suggest, if I'm ever down wit the homiez or in the market for a purple pill.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Bits and bobs

As date of departure draws ever closer, so the shopping and 'must remember to pack this' lists seem to grow longer. Popped up to the sunny Lake District last night for a couple of days (and incidentally there was NOTHING on the road – clearly setting off at 8.30pm, on the Thursday before Good Friday is a sensible plan!) so took the opportunity to trawl the outdoor shops of Keswick for a few last minute essentials.

Like an extra pair of walking trousers (and thank you George Fisher's who seem to be the only outdoor retailer in the UK that actually stock technical trousers for LONG female legs! And plenty to choose from); a new 1.5 litre 'bladder' for the rucksack (so I can carry more water and drink hands-free); a 22 litre dri-bag for the inside of the rucksack (just in case it rains – but, of course, it's not going to....); and another couple of pairs of socks.

Last week stocked up on Compeed, plasters, and general first aid items, as well as the usual toiletries. Think I might just about be getting there on the shopping list now. All I have to do now is pack the stuff.

Back to (hopefully also sunny) Manchester tomorrow and another job list: wash and reproof all the Paramo; finish sorting out our approximate route plan, mark up the maps and work out approximate timings so we can let the various teams know our ETA for each day; liaise with Huw and Sally about what happening when we arrive in Robin Hood's Bay.

The plan has always been to 'launch' the Mountain Rescue Benevolent Fund as we arrive on the beach, poised to throw our respective pebbles back in the sea (carried, as tradition dictates, from the beach at St Bees, all the way across the country). Rumour has it there's a bottle of champagne on ice. And we've even been promised home-baked Victorian sponge with lashings of butter cream by cousin Bee – how good can it get?!

I believe we may be accompanied for our last leg by members of the Scarborough and Ryedale team, in training for their own endurance walk later this year. They have been given strict instructions that they walk at 'Twirlie pace' – more to the point, 'Twirlie pace after two weeks of walking' and who knows what pace THAT might be! Could be we're SO fit, we're positively skipping round the coastal path to Robin Hood's. Let's hope so eh?

In fact, now I come to think of it, that sounds like a plan!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sheep poo on the shoe

Another day, another adventure for the Twirlies and this time it was off the Clough Head car park (in sunny Haslingden) to meet the film crew. Well I say crew, I mean the delightful Laura and her cameraman. And the weather gods were kind. Which is just as well what with Gail turning up in her slippers, having forgotten her boots... No, don't say a word.... I know, I know. (But at least the hair matches the Paramo now.)

As it was, we didn't have to walk far, just up and down, then up and down and across and down, down and across, then up and down, down and up... we looked at the map, poked about a bit with the iPad, tried to look natural, pointed at the far horizon, you know the sort of thing. Julia Bradbury: eat your cotton-picking Countryfile heart out! Then a few lambs gambolled across the field ('Ahs' all round) and I stepped backwards into a very large pile of sheep poo. And me in my 'Sunday best, don't really go on the hill' trainers! Ah well.

But I think it went okay. And hopefully there's some stuff there for Laura to use. There's more filming to be done with the Lakes teams, then a live bit as well. So, watch the screen on Easter Monday, from 6.00am and then through the morning. BBC News.

I'll be hiding somewhere behind the sofa.

Monday, 18 April 2011

...what price that media training now?

Seems the Twirlies might hit the small screen soon – 'Z list' status here we come! Panic? Moi?

'All you have to do,' says Laura from BBC News, 'is imagine it's just you and me, having a blether...'

I'll try to remember that. Once I've calmed down, remembered how to breathe – and, more importantly, how to speak. Oh, and whatever the heck it is I need to say. Ohmmm...

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The things you can do with a tennis ball

Another weekend preparing for our adventure and it occurs to me life is starting to resemble the 'set-up' scenes on some dodgy TV reality/makeover show. You can just hear the Nick Knowles-style voiceover, every syllable oozing sardonic delight as he sums up the catalogue of woe thus far: evidence – if evidence were needed – of the sheer enormity of the protaginists' challenge, the impossibility of success against such odds.

...'Will the girls remember which end of the compass points north?... Will Gail remember to pack her map and will her hair colour exactly match the Paramo jacket?... How many finger nails will Judy break before throwing in the towel? And whose was this crazy idea anyway? Don't they know there are beaches out there, poolside recliners with a never-ending supply of gin and tonic, fresh towels and sun cream, vast expanses of unfeasibly blue water just waiting to be paddled...

Last week it was slipping on a scree path (broken finger nail, bruised bum, grazed coccyx), and dehydration, followed by a points-earning backflip off stepping stone in the-beck-that-bit-back (very bruised ribs, soggy pants).

At some point, too, I've acquired a 'tweaky' knee – generally fine for most of my walking or running but every now and then, it just 'tweaks' – cue a session at the chiropractor and some instruction from him on how to inflict pain on myself by the judicious application of thumb pressure. And it does seem to do the trick. Once I've stopped myself screaming.

And then, as if not being able to breathe thanks to increasingly painful ribs wasn't enough, the birch pollen decides to put in an unseasonably early appearance – prompting friends to ask if I'm okay because my 'breathing sounds a bit laboured'. Just what you need when you're attempting to walk across England, taking in the odd hill here and there. So now the asthma medication is upped – but at least that's manageable.

And THEN, yesterday, my little 'LDW Gruppenfuhrer friend', as I've now affectionately named her (seasoned long distance walker in whose wake uphill I am often to be found puffing, panting and generally begging for mercy) suggests we do a walk from Dovestone Reservoir, up and round the crags which line the Chew valley. Great, I thought, good training... until I climbed out of bed... no, attempted to climb out of bed, yesterday morning and realised that the pain in my ribs has now partly migrated to my right hip joint! Cue another little trick from Tim the chiropractor, involving pinning a flourescent (although I have to confess the day-glo bit is not mandatory!) tennis ball to the wall with my bum and wriggling around until I find the spot that REALLY hurts, then applying even more pressure. I generally stop when the screaming gets too loud. Heaven knows what the neighbours must think.

Anyway, what with that and the Nurofen, it was a cracking day out with blue sky and sunshine and (largely) the place to ourselves, as we skirted the valley sides with some amazing drops beneath us into the valley.


More torture with the thumb screws and the tennis ball on my return – accompanied, I probably should say, by a large glass of wine. (I'm told it's an integral part of the Coast to Coast experience!)

Another fine walk this morning, this time a little nearer home – in fact, walked straight out my door and off on an admittedly very flat route round the local footpaths and looplines. Good three hours' yomp. I can't pretend my alter ego Creaky Old Jude didn't climb out of bed masquerading as me this morning but one look at that tennis ball and she was off!

So there we are. And – getting back to Mr Knowles and his genre for a moment – you and I both know it's only so much televisual windbaggery. It always comes good in the end.

That said, those three little words 'flourescent tennis ball' now added to my ever-lengthening packing list...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Winchies and winces

Onwards and upwards we go, breaking past the third-of-the-way barrier to a whopping 34% (lol!) thanks to my favourite paramedic winchman. More than this I cannot say, but thanks Duncan! Just hope we won't be calling on your services (or any of your mates, come to that!) during our two week yomp across England.

Speaking of which... bruised ribs! No, I mean, REALLY bruised ribs! Those stepping stones really bit back! A quick trip to the doc's yesterday (worried the pain seemed to be getting worse, not better – a definite rise in the wince:movement ratio), and I'm told I haven't broken anything. However, I'm also told it's normal to get worse before it gets better and it'll take 6-8 weeks before I'm feeling less pained – so, at that rate, there might be any number of bruises, blisters, sprains, strains and broken finger nails to contend with in the meantime. Better get on with it then!

That said, had an acupuncture treatment today and, as usual, Joshua goes straight to the problem - a few needles, including one in the most painful point (to 'draw out some of the stagnation'), and I have felt much better through the day. Fingers crossed the healing effect will continue.

Meanwhile, fellow Twirlie went off on a walk on her own this morning. We spoke just as she was setting off... she assured me she was packing a map!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Third of the way there...

Update on donations so far: a few more arms twisted up backs this week and we're up to £1,626.00 – that's 33% of our target!

Our wonderful 'press person' Sally (see Sal, I said it again, just to check you're reading the blog lol!) has now sent out a second press release so hopefully there'll be a positive rash of donations over the next few days.

Sally's latest press release focuses more on the fact we're hoping whatever we raise will get the new Mountain Rescue Benevolent Fund off to a good start. So what is this benevolent fund?

Well, it's a tricky one this. As anyone who keeps a weather eye on the news knows (or anyone who read my book, come to that – 'Mountain Rescue', written with mountain rescue colleague Bob Sharp, and published by Hayloft, ONLY £20, email me for details!!!) mountain rescue can be a risky business.

Most of the time, it's picking up casualties – more often than not a fractured tib and fib – or finding those who are lost. Sometimes it's searching for missing persons – and when it's a missing child, it can be particularly traumatic – and sometimes it's assisting the ambulance service during harsh winter conditions. Then again, there's been protracted mountain rescue involvement in civil stuff like the floods which hit Cockermouth, Sheffield, Avon and Somerset – all high profile natural emergencies during which volunteer team members walked away from their families, their work and their hobbies, to support their communities. Wading through chest-high flood water, dodging plate glass windows in full sail down the high street, avoiding debris, effluent, bobbing cars, or a cat's cradle of wool set free from the local wool shop by the unstoppable tidal flow – to rescue residents from their own homes, deliver food, or even district nurses, to those in need.

Every incident team members undertake is dynamically risk-assessed by those leading the team. (If this were the official sales pitch, I'd be saying something like 'safety is paramount'.) And inherent in team membership is trust in your fellow team members in what might be quite surreal circumstances. Back in the floods, what if anything had happened to one of those team members? What if one of them had tripped on some unseen hazard, lurking under the waters? Been knocked off their feet by a water-borne Renault van? Or pinned to a wall by a garden chair? What if a team member had lost their life during the rescue operation?

Very recently, members of two Lake District teams went out in appalling conditions (slates being blown horizontally through the air, team members only able to make progress forward on all fours) to search for a missing walker, a man with plenty of experience on the hill. At the end of the search, and the missing man now accounted for, one team member had not returned to base (he eventually returned safe and well) leaving his team leadership debating what they might be telling his family by the morning light, and how. My point is, whatever the risk assessment says, however experienced you are, these things happen.


And, if a team member dies – or gets seriously injured during a rescue – chances are there's a family at home having to cope with the loss. There might be bills to be paid, children's dinner money to find, food to be bought: stuff that won't wait while paperwork is sorted, t's crossed and i's dotted. And this might be where the benevolent fund steps in, to ease that family's financial worries.

Anyway, I'm starting to sound like that sales pitch after all... so I'll put a sock in it now. Just thought you should know.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Dehydration, sun stroke, bruised ribs and a broken finger nail – perfect day on the hill...

Think we can safely say training is continuing in earnest. A big thanks first off for my Buttermere 'parking angel' . Got there as early as I could, knowing the rest of the walking world would have had the very same idea and, guess what, I was right. No chance of parking at the usual place behind the little church on the Newlands road  so doubled back through Buttermere to the National Trust car park. Now unfortunately, I'm not a member so I have to pay. Damn!

A rifle through the purse, several pockets and the bottom of my rucksack and I managed to get together £4.70 – still one whole pound short of the necessary £5.70 for a day's parking. £4.70 only gets you four hours. (Note to self: investigate cost of joining! Must pay for itself over the year in car park charges alone!!) So, I wandered along to a fellow walker busy gathering stuff from the boot of her Mini (same colour as mine funnily enough). Could she change a fiver? No, but please just have a pound, she said, handing me the coin.  So thanks to her, off I set at 9.50am...

...past The Fish, then right at the t-junction in the path, and along the valley a bit before turning up past Scale Force and on to Red Pike, over High Stile, down and up across Hay Stacks, in the direction of Rosthwaite (our destination for a C2C stop), then a left turn down the beck, past Gatesgarth Farm and round the lake back to Buttermere. According to the iPad*, 19.1km with a fair bit of uppy downy stuff in between.

A great day out... which would have been all the better but for a few things...

Having seriously underestimated the potential warmth of the day, I didn't take enough water. So, by the time I was approaching High Stile, I already knew I was going to be 'on rations'.  Managed to eke it out so the final mouthful was perfectly timed a few hundred yards from the pub – where I bought the BEST pint of soda water I have EVER tasted!!!

Then there was the baseball cap – the one I looked at in the boot of the car and didn't bother to pick up! My that sun was hot!

But incidentally, I now know without doubt that I am English! Because what I DID carry around the entire day was the Paramo Twirlie jacket – just in case it rained! Surprised, quite frankly, I hadn't packed the brolly.

Then there was the beck-that-bit-back... doing so well, I was, negotiating big boulders across Warnscale waterfall when I swear one of 'em moved. Or maybe it just threw me off? Either way, I landing on my bum, in the water. Ouch. Still at least it cooled me off for a while.

 So... dehydration, sun stroke, couple of bruised ribs, a broken thumbnail, and one soggy trouser leg... perfect day on the hill, I'd say.


Picture caption: Tired, windswept, sunburned, dehydrated, rather fetching hairdo, yet-to-be-soggy-legged and bruised. But happy. No really, this is a happy face!

*iPad battery still going strong 12 hours after it started out this morning, despite having the GPS signal switched on all day, including just under eight hours of tracking as I walked. So not really sure why it only lasted six hours last Tuesday. Maybe it was an knackered as we were? Anyway, whatever, research continues...