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!