Friday 6th of June saw our team of 5 whittled down to 4, merely an hour before departure, following the sad news of a serious health issue of the father one of the team members.
Following an excellent meal at the Three Tuns in Osmotherley, we set out at 10pm in excellent weather conditions and high spirits. Apart from a few minor navigational hiccups on the part of Karl ‘I Can Read A Map Honest’ Lavery, the first 13 miles over the 5 large hills, passed without a hitch and we were greeted onto the crest of the 5th, by the crimson wisps of the pre-dawn light upon the skyline.
With clear skies, high spirits and fuelled with Aunt Jenny’s secret recipe Flap Jack, not even the strong headwinds could dampen our mood. Progress for the next two hours was good, before we encountered the first of many problems. Following the exertions of climbing the five hills, a night deprived of sleep and the mind numbing monotony of the old railway section of the walk, Pippa ‘hit the wall’, struggling to put one foot in front of the other. A sugar fix, hydration, slowing the pace for 15 minutes and filling the moorland air with the sound of rock music from the wireless speakers, (essential hiking equipment), soon put Pippa back on song.
The sleep deprivation, the endless monotony of the old railway line, plus an unending landscape of heather, combined to make every minute feel like ten! A fact re-enforced every 15 minutes by Bob, who could not ‘*^**!** **^”!!*** **!**^”**’ believe how far we had ‘not’ travelled. The scene was now set for what was to come.
We had our first meet with our support driver, Pippa’s husband Rupert, at 7 am, with 22 miles under our belts. Refuelled with more of Aunt Jenny’s flap jack and deciding the weather being so good, we would lighten our bags of wet weather gear, (including, on Karl’s suggestion, our gaiters)!
After two miles and an hour and a half of swamp and ‘deep’ peat bogs of Rosedale Moor, where, for every step forward, there were two to the side, we strode out confident in our abilities to tackle anything, at which point, Pippa ‘Bog Hopper’ Oldfield, sank to her knees in a peat bog and was steadily sinking further, so had to be pulled out by Karl, who was eager to capture the moment with a photo! Bob and Michelle were also having mishaps as the peat paths proved to be treacherous; trench foot seemed to be the order of the moment. Maybe ditching the gaiters wasn’t Karl’s best decision of the day.
At 9am, we devoured a well-earned cold full English breakfast, rubber toast and hot tea. As the weather was turning, we donned our wet weather gear. Soon, the showers had morphed into torrential rain, making the going underfoot very slippery and the already sodden paths turn to streams and puddles and bogs of unknown depths. Michelle, having just changed her socks for the 3rd time, promptly sank to her waist in an innocuous puddle. Sadly, Bob and Karl were not in attendance to assist by way of photographic evidence.
The very poor conditions, tiredness and muscle fatigue, all combined to slow us down severely and test the will of all, (apart from Rupert who was very encouraging and cheerful, not to mention warm and dry).
The final checkpoint was at Fylingdale Moor, where, with 8 miles to go, the weather worsened. Pippa, soaked and exhausted, had a melt-down, which warranted a BAFTA nomination. The empathy shown by her team, (or more to the point, lack of it), brought the dragon queen out in her and in a moment, she was out of the car and striding out ahead of us, expressing her appreciation of our support.
Conditions worsened and we soon arrived at a track junction, with the prospect of a river of clay for a path ahead or nice forestry tracks left and right. Michelle pleaded the case to use the nice tracks, (despite the 8 to 10 mile detour they would entail). Pippa’s succinct response prompted us to continue on the clay tracks! The situation was complimented by clouds which were at ground level and visibility down to 50 yards. We had nothing to navigate by for over 2 miles other than a compass bearing and instinct. Bob continued to punctuate our lack of progress with Gordon Ramsey impersonations.
Where it was a straight run in to the finish, we agreed Bob should walk on to meet the support vehicle and Karl would walk Pippa and Michelle in, as they were working on will power alone. The climb from the last big drop into Wraggby Wood, was too much for them, so we took alternative path to the North, with a more gradual climb. As we passed through the last field, we were repeatedly charged by a herd of Limousin Cattle, which we had to stand off at each charge and encirclement, before finishing tired, relieved and rather proud to have pulled each other through as a team. The moment only being topped by Bob’s wife, Joanne, sending him a text asking him to walk the dogs when he got home!!
For those of you who have supported our efforts for Yorkshire Cancer Research, a big heartfelt thank you. For those of you who would like to support us our just giving page can be found here.