|The Story of the Walk (by Colin Taylor):
I'm not sure why I started writing this. Partly I think as a record of what I hope will be a significant event in my life and partly because it might actually be useful to someone.
I am 52 years old and my wife Jackie is a bit younger… Neither of us are super fit, neither of us has ever done anything like it before and, a couple of weeks before we set off, both of us are excited and worried.
We have read a few other people's reports of their crossings and found them to be very useful and entertaining. It's reassuring to compare notes with others. Here's my attempt:-
How did we ever get to this stage?
It is a rainy Thursday evening in April. We have had dinner in the local pub and the conversation has centred around the three usual subjects – Work, Friends and Holidays. Holidays are important to us, they always have been. We are fairly well travelled and think nothing of arranging flights, hotel bookings, car hire, excursions anywhere in the world. It is second nature to us. But this is different. Even the holidays which need the most planning are nothing compared to this. The most complex of holiday plans rarely take more than a few evenings of 'net surfing to sort out. Half an hour to throw some clothes into a case and we're off. This is all consuming. My life has been taken over.
The count-down clock on my laptop says:-
Coast to Coast Countdown 00Yrs 00Mths 14Dys 16Hrs 38Mins 06Sec
My laptop at work has a similar count-down clock. Both clocks are synchronised to go "000" at 1.00pm on Friday 14th May 2010. This is the time that I finish work and drive to Richmond in Yorkshire, where our great adventure starts. The clocks have been running for a few weeks now.
It all started with an innocent TV programme with Julia Bradbury walking across the country in a couple of hours. Doesn't look that difficult. I quite fancy a go at that…..
So, the B&Bs are booked, so is the luggage transfer, the car parking and the transfers from the car and back (All courtesy of Sherpa Van). So now we can sit back and relax. Not a chance. It is all consuming.
So, what is there to worry about? It's a walk in the park (well, three parks actually). But never before have we put so much advanced thought into a holiday.
Is it a holiday? Or is it an expedition?
Are we fit enough?
Will our backs / hips / knees / toes / hold up?
Will we sprain an ankle? Our neighbour did – on his second day.
If we consider things that might stop us going, will it be the one thing we did not consider which will stop us?
We only ever walk circular routes. Do we each have one leg longer than the other but never realised?
It's a uni-directional walk – West to East. Will we get right-hand-side sunburn?
Will the sun shine? Will it rain? Will it be hot / cold / snowy / foggy?
Will the B&Bs be OK? Will we be in any fit state to care?
Will we find enough to eat and drink (and enough places to deposit it when we are finished with it)?
Bromelaine for the knees, rosehip tablets for the hips, cod liver for all of the other joints, hayfever tablets, zinc tape, plasters, travel sickness tablets (for the bus transfers), sun screen for the sun burn, lip balm for the wind burn, Compede for the friction burns. Most important of the lot – Ibuprofen, because we just know that none of the other stuff will work. That's one rucksack filled then.
Hats (fleecy & Goretex), gloves (wish we knew what the weather will be like), socks (merino, do we need a pair per day? Is it disgusting to think otherwise?).
Over-trousers (more Goretex), zip-off trousers, long trousers, short trousers (how muddy, sweaty, wet, dusty, hot, cold will it be?). Are we too old for shorts?
Shirts (should we take my cotton tee with "Frankie Say Relax" on it?), fleeces, base layers.
Do we need a different wardrobe for dinner in the pub at night?
My God, do I even have 16 pairs of underpants? Must buy a few.
Coats. The weather issue again – full Goretex deluge capable, shower proof, shower resistant (we really need to know the difference quickly), soft shell, hard shell, sea shell ….???
Should we buy brollies? Oh, and a pair of Speedos for the dip in Robin Hood's Bay?
Colin. The first "real" walk I ever did was to get dragged up Helvellyn in a pair of Dunlop Greenflash trainers. I was told there was a café on top, otherwise I wouldn't have done it. For years I walked my dog in an old pair of Totector work boots. Eventually I discovered Brasher and wore out a couple of pairs of Hillmasters and a pair of GTX Chilli. Last November, in the wettest week the Lake District had seen for about 600 years, I treated myself to a beautiful new pair of Scarpas. They were the dog's… It took me 4 months to realise that the Italians have very narrow feet and their boots are made to suit. I was suffering. Out with the old debit card again. Meindl – fantastic. I'm keeping a mileage log (sad), 97 miles in them so far.
Jackie's boots are very much "better the devil she knows". A few years use in them, her Berghaus boots are not overly comfortable and sometimes leak a bit. But should she risk new boots at this stage? Probably not.
Coast to Coast Countdown 00Yrs 00Mths 10Dys 16Hrs 43Mins 41Sec
Practice Makes Perfect
It's the evening of May Bank Holiday Monday. Only one more weekend before we go. So, we've been out practicing again. We have upped our game.
About 15 years ago we started walking every Sunday morning. 6 – 7 miles was typical to begin. This soon extended to 9 – 10 miles and we have stuck with this kind of distance for a long time. Weekends away would often see us walking about 20 miles in total. After deciding to do the Coast to Coast we started extending our range. We walked 17 miles yesterday and 20 miles today. That will be 134 miles on the boot log since I bought them 5 weekends ago – an average of 27 miles per weekend. Ok, there are a couple of Bank Holidays in there but I think we should be ok.
We both use Berghaus Freeflow rucksacks. The frame and mesh are brilliant at keeping the back cool and dry but there never seems much room inside. I am eternally grateful for this as I always feel obliged to fill it. Not content with the usual coat and sandwich box, I have accumulated an impressive collection of ballast. Typically, I carry a Leatherman knife, compass, torch, first aid kit (This actually contains a "Space Blanket". We not going into space but our holiday / expedition is taking almost as much preparation.), foam mats (for sitting on), mobile 'phone, wallet, loose change and of course a water bottle (I find that water from a bladder tastes a bit like it came from a bladder – and just as warm). I might get a small camera, my SLR is way too heavy.
Coast to Coast Countdown 00Yrs 00Mths 09Dys 18Hrs 03Mins 37Sec
We don't use maps much. We use walking guide books. "Go over the stile and turn left". It would be nice to think that AW's guide book would get us safely from one side to the other safely and efficiently. It's a brilliant piece of art, but I'm an engineer and I just don't trust artists. We plumped for the two-piece map by Harvey, mainly because they're cheaper than the OS set but mainly because they are water proof (or resistant. Really must find out the difference). We also bought Henry Stedman's guide to the Coast to Coast path. I thoroughly intend to read it before we go. Hey, we'll just follow the signposts.
Coast to Coast Countdown (at work) 0 months 0 weeks 2 days 0 hours 13 minutes
I'm at work, contemplating a few details during lunch. The walk plan is pretty much as AW's original but with some minor modifications:-
Deviations from AW's plan:-
Rosthwaite to Patterdale - Extra night at Grasmere
Richmond to Ingleby Cross - Extra night at Brompton-on-Swale
Extra couple of days at Robin Hoods Bay - Might go for a walk……
Continue following Colin and Jackie's Coast to Coast walk...
Copyright © 2003 - 2013 Walking Englishman. All rights reserved.