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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Shouldn't really say but...

Don't want say too much till we have the bit of paper in our hand – and I haven't added it to the justgiving total just yet – but Monday morning started REALLY well with a phone call from our very mountain rescue supportive insurance broker, Stephen, from James Trickett and Son Ltd. Some time ago, I dropped him a line, asking whether he – and maybe even Tricketts (well, if you don't ask) – might like to sponsor us on our way. Back came the very promising response of yes, but no details. And then time ticked by a bit.

Just as I was wondering whether I should drop him another quick note, in came the phone call and a pledge for Tricketts to sponsor us for £100, with Ansvar (one of the main mountain rescue vehicle insurers) tipping in at £250. It seems Stephen is still hoping for something to come back from other contacts. So we wait with bated breath.

But that's a fantastic addition to the total – thank you Stephen, and Tricketts, for your support (and hard work for mountain rescue generally!)

Elsewhere, we've seen another couple of donations, both online and off taking us up to £1039 – plus the £350 just mentioned, not such a bad start to the week, I think you'll agree!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

999 and counting

Given that we're raising funds for an emergency service, 999 does have a certain ring to it (albeit four thousand and one quid short of our target!) But for now, it's worth dwelling on. And today's increase is largely down to a chap called Rob, who saw the piece about us is Lakeland Walker and felt moved to donate. Which is great on several fronts.

First, and most obvious, it takes us another couple of baby steps nearer our target. But, secondly, it's a donation from someone we DON'T know. Which is fantastic. It means people are reading the stuff our wonderful friend Sally is sending out and, more than that, they're acting on it.

So thanks to Rob, thanks to Lakeland Walker (who, unlike TGO actually published details of HOW people could find us and donate), thanks to Sally for all her efforts (I know she'll be reading this!) and, last but not least, of course, thanks to all those other friends and family members who've donated with their arms only ever so slightly turned up their backs...

Before I go, quick update on the training. Still getting those miles under the boots. Ten miles today, up above Littleborough, yomping across the moors, topped off by a definite high speed yomp along the canal bank back to our cars, when I realised I was late for an appointment (sorry girls!) Followed, incidentally, by just about every traffic light between Littleborough train station and home turning red JUST as I approached!! Argh!!

But, great to be walking this week in warmth and sunshine - let's hope it lasts! Only five weeks to go, so need to step it up a little now, but think we'll be okay.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Not so much of a Luddite after all then...

Oh I might be blogging and facebooking, (not, I repeat NOT tweeting), and setting up ipads and laptops so I can do both those things en route across the country but there's one thing that leaves me cold - the SatNav/GPS. As anyone who read my 'Diary of an Editor' in January's Mountain Rescue mag will testify.

See, me and satellite signals don't get on. In the car, I'd rather read a map, plot a route, write down a few instructions for myself, maybe even Google a route with AA maps (although even THEY have a handy knack of getting you hopelessly lost.) And, on foot, I'd rather carry a map in my hand and a compass in the pocket of my rucksack. As someone very recently said to me (funnily enough quoting a certain team leader who, it has to be said, has a natural way with the journalistic camera), a map and compass don't need batteries.

Back in November, a very well-known company sent me an all-singing, all-dancing, so-flippin-clever-it-almost-makes-your-tea, GPS. They wanted me to review it, give it a star rating, then plug it in the mag. Well, as a novice GPS user, and dyed-in-the-wool satellite-averse, it was a big ask, as they say. Several frustrating days trying it out - alone, and in the company of one more experienced in these matters - and the thing ended up resolutely back in its box, under the stairs. Where it still resides, waiting to be returned to sender.

Fast forward to last week and a text from a mountain rescue colleague. 'Why not ask ViewRanger to provide the mapping for the Coast to Coast?' So I did, and they did - very generously.

Then it started: me going round in ever decreasing circles with a variety of license numbers, serial numbers, passwords and user names refusing to play ball. Followed by a frustrated late night email to Russell, ViewRanger's support man, to the effect that paper maps were looking incredibly sexy at the moment; this very generous piece of sponsorship already mentally consigned to the ipad equivalent of the cupboard under the stairs.

But Russell talked me through it. (Thank you Russell!) And, today I've been testing it out in St Bees, the start of the Coast to Coast route. The plan was not to carry the ipad before me as an over-sized GPS (hardly practical!) but, safely tucked in the rucksack, it happily tracked my footsteps, logging my 10.8km walk, and how long it took me. The details it records will be useful blog fodder; once it's set up, the Buddy Beacon will allow people to track us as we walk; and, if the visibility closes in or we're lost (temporarily mislaid!), we'll always know where we are on the map.

So far so intuitive - I actually enjoyed using it! Maybe I'm not such a Luddite after all. Thank you ViewRanger!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Starring alongside Ms Bradbury herself!

All this hassling and press releasing (thanks Sally!) appears to be paying off, at least in terms of getting the message out there. (Whether it converts to cash in the bank for mountain rescue is another matter, but lets hope so!) But for now, our notoriety is spreading.

I mean, only this morning, my window cleaning chappie rang the doorbell. Now normally he's happy enough to push his bill through the letterbox and let me send a cheque through the post at my own convenience (well saves me walking down the stairs to answer the door, much less walk back up again with all the energy THAT involves). But today he RANG the doorbell. 'Saw you in the magazine,' he said. Blank expression from me. 'The magazine...' Still blank. 'Go Outdoors?' Maybe he means TGO? The Great Outdoors?

Whatever... he was reading it and thought, 'I know that face!!'  Fame at last. And, in fact, to go slightly off at a tangent, he's not the only one to spot me in TGO. Thanks to that particular article, I've made contact again with a long lost friend who, incidentally, has just come back from an amazing trip to Siula Grande which I hope she'll write about for a future issue of Mountain Rescue mag.... but I digress.

So, TGO did good. Although they omitted to mention how you could actually donate, which rather misses the point of the exercise. Last week we appeared in Lakeland Walker AND today, there we are, nestled at Julia's feet, smiling out of the bottom right hand corner of the page. I rather think we've arrived...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Making it onto Google Alerts

Or not, as is the case. Shortish posting this but just want to test why the blog isn't coming up in the Google Alerts I am sent (in copious numbers) for anything even vaguely mountain rescue oriented.

Mostly they're stories from the US – today's entries include 'Hikers rescued near Rock Canyon' (States), 'Ski tourer rescued from crevasse' (Les Arcs), What you need to know to stay safe in the Phoenix mountains' (States), and 'Father and son climbers rescued in Glen Shee' (Scotland, of course). And there's usually a good sprinkling of 'Bulgarian Mountain Rescue Service' entries. Not yet any 'Twirlies on Tour' though.

Maybe I just need to end every post with the words 'Mountain rescue needs you', or something like that. Might get a bit boring for the reader though, not to mention the author.

Anyway, I guess I've managed to weave the words into this post so lets see what happens. Oh and anyone who has now been directed to this page through the efficiency of Google Alerts... welcome. Please support mountain rescue in England and Wales by supporting us in our 192 mile walk across the country (no not the narrowest bit) and going to to pledge some cash. Then follow us online as we go. Thanks xx

Monday, 14 March 2011

Eight hundred and ninety-two pounds and counting...

So, the technology's in place - iPad set up and all the essential sites bookmarked (blog, Facebook and justgiving) so we can blog on our travels - even on the hill should the need arise (mobile signal permitting, of course). Thought I'd better test it all out by using the iPad to actually do the business! Need to make sure everything's running smoothly before we set off on our travels.

Just back from a very chilled session of Tai Chi and, thanks to the generosity of some of my classmates, (nothing to do with those arms, ever so slightly twisted up their backs, honest) I've another forty squid to add to the total, so what better excuse? Justgiving site duly updated, now for the blog.

So... Drumroll... And ta-da! We're now up to a BRILLIANT £892! Which, with Gift Aid, takes us over the first grand! Still a way to go towards our target but this is great! Thanks to everyone who's either donated or pledged so far... Every penny counts.

And, speaking of Tai Chi, picking up lots of hits and tips from teacher Jason about keeping the energy flowing, in the legs especially - let's hope they work!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

You're walking HOW far?

So... 'The Coast to Coast'. I thought everyone, by now, would know what we meant by 'doing the coast the coast' - thanks to the ubiquitous Ms Bradbury et al striding across the country in Wainwright's footsteps, in the company of camera crews and TV production assistants. But no. It seems not.

'Which bit of the country are you walking across - the narrowest part?' (A question which may be more about their perception of my walking ability - natch, narrowest part = fewer footsteps = less effort.) 'Which coast to coast?' (How many are there I wonder? Although, as we live on an island, I guess it's not an unreasonable question.) Or just the vague, 'Where's that?'

So I start to explain... it's 192 miles from St Bees in the Lake District to Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire coast... and the questioning turns from the sublime to the ridiculous...

'You're WALKING 192 miles? Are you stopping anywhere along the way?' Oh only the odd butty break and call of nature, should be there by tea time... OF COURSE we're stoppping on the way.

In fact, we're taking thirteen days to complete the challenge – setting off from St Bees on the Bank Holiday Monday, 2 May – waved off by members of Wasdale MRT – and meandering our way via Ennerdale Bridge, Rosthwaite, Grasmere, Patterdale, Shap, Kirkby Stephen, Muker, Reeth, Richmond, Ingleby Cross, Blakey Ridge and Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay, where we'll be met by a motley collection of friends, family and the Scarborough and Ryedale MRT. Hopefully still capable of putting one foot in front of the other (us that is) and walking to the bar to order a celebratory drink!

So, yes, we'll be stopping once or twice along the way – the B&Bs are booked (no tents or jetboils on this trip) and, thanks to Sherpa Van, our bags should miraculously arrive at each destination ahead of us. Ooh... maybe we should hitch a lift?

Only kidding...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

What's in a name?

So, where was I? Oh yes... 'Twirlies on Tour'. Catchy name huh? Well WE thought so...

'You might want to rethink that one...' read the email from a mountain rescue colleague, followed by a helpful link. Hmm... a rapid Google and it seems we have a choice.

Either we're 'young, cute, sexy female dancers, generally of theatrical background'... or, at the other end of the scale, there's the pensioner option – 'you know, the ones who stand at bus stops with their free passes and ask if they are ‘too early’ because it is not yet 9.30am'...

Neither, I hasten to add, applies, so why Twirlies? Well it's all thanks to a certain team member (who shall, for the purposes of this blog, remain nameless) who expressed some surprise when confronted with an almost entirely female rescue party, shortly after falling over in a fell race, injuring himself quite badly. I believe he remarked that the number of 'twirlies' in this particular team appeared to be higher than in Rossendale. Which didn't go down too well. His use of the word 'twirlies' that is. And given his injuries, he might have chosen wiser words.

And then the story got bandied about a bit, not least of all by Gail and me as we wandered the hills of Lancashire, catching up on the goss and plotting our Coast to Coast adventure. Then a light bulb moment: 'Twirlies on tour! That's it! That's what we'll call it..' and, you've got to admit, it does have a certain alliterative ring to it...

And strictly no bus passes or ballet shoes allowed. Honest.

Judy and Gail go Coast to Coast for Mountain Rescue May 2-14

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 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...