It started innocently enough. Fresh from my first long distance walk – 26.5 miles of the Rossendale Way since you ask, and 'fresh' probably isn't the BEST word to describe it – and wrecklessly unable to resist the opportunity to brag, I posted something on Facebook. Quick as a flash came the responses. 'Coast to Coast next year then?'
You. Are. Joking. Came the general response from moi. But too late... the seed was planted, the gauntlet thrown... and that flippin' thought would not go away. Then, somewhere along the way, fellow Rossendale team mate Gail also got tangled in the web.
So here we are. 'Twirlies on Tour' crossing the country, from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay in aid of Mountain Rescue England and Wales. We'll be taking a couple of weeks to accomplish it and no, we won't be carrying tents and sleep mats (thanks God for Sherpa Van!) but languishing in B&Bs and enjoying the walk. And what better way to spend our hard earned 'holiday savings'?
We leave St Bees on Monday 2 May (which by spooky coincidence is Mountain and Cave Awareness Day!) arriving in Robin Hood's Bay on Saturday 14 May. Along the way we'll be cheered on and supported (we hope!) by mountain rescue colleagues whose patches we cross – Wasdale, Cockermouth, Keswick, Patterdale, Langdale Ambleside, Penrith, Kirkby Stephen, Swaledale (three stops in their patch!), Cleveland and Scarborough teams have all agreed to join in the fun.
And we'll even be joined by a couple of celebrities along the way – more about that in a mo...
We've been luck enough to secure some generous sponsorship too. Paramo Directional Clothing Systems have supplied us with a Velez Adventure Smock each; John and Liz at Whalley Warm and Dry in Whalley, Lancashire, have supplied Paramo base and mid layers; and Sealskinz have sent us a pair of waterproof socks each. (Hopefully we won't need 'em but this IS he Lake District we're talking about!!
We're aiming to raise £5000 which we hope will go a good way towards launching the proposed Mountain Rescue Benevolent Fund. We wanted to know our efforts were going towards a specific project. So why choose the Fund?
Well, as we can't say often enough, mountain rescue team members are all volunteers. They give of their time, and often their own pockets, to help those who are injured or lost in the hills and mountains – often in the most appalling conditions, at the most inhospitable times of the day or night. They save lives.
But what happens when the rescuer is injured rescuing the injured? What happens when the rescuer dies saving another's life? Quite possibly immediate hardship to the family while 'things' get sorted. The Benevolent Fund aims to bridge that gap and help those picking up the pieces after accident or injury whilst on a callout.
If you'd like to spur us on with a donation go to justgiving.com/twirliesontour and make our day! And tell your friends too – five grand may be a big sum but, with your help, we'll achieve it and then some.
And now, if you'll excuse me I have maps to read and a compass to polish...