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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Second training weekend - getting better all the time

What a great weekend we had. We left early on Saturday morning - Karen and Paula drove my car up (brilliantly, thanks girls!) as I was still nursing a pesky bug and didn't fancy it - and by lunchtime we'd booked into the hostel and were starting the climb over Kinder Scout. We have to cross a stream first - it's about 12 feet across, fast running and ankle deep, and there are one or two stones peeking tantalisingly above the water level, so you think you might just keep your feet dry.....last time we all slithered about, Dawn went in up to her knees and Karen and I scampered up and down the bank like worried sheepdogs trying to find a better place to cross with David tapping his foot going - "you can't do this on race day girls - get ON WITH IT' and eventually we just did the same as the others and got wet. This time, well, we just got wet. But it was great climate control for the ensuing uphill section, which is almost vertical at the top. My sand dune training paid off and I felt a lot more comfortable. Dawn 'Scout' Lee did her job by fast-forwarding to the top, finding the finger width path and guiding us onto it. The rest of Kinder was a bit of a breeze, the weather was glorious, we found all the right tracks and groughs - until suddenly Dawn sank deeply into a peat bog, accompanied by a sickening SNAP! I thought it was her leg.....until I heard her trademark giggle, which quickly turned to dismay upon seeing one of her beloved poles snapped completely in half.
The long steep descent into Edale is a bit of a killer, and I am still quite slow trying to sidestep downhill, but I'll work on that (sand dunes again). When we reached the Nags Head, one of the 'Four Inns', Karen checks her watch and announces that we have knocked 20 minutes off our previous time!! I feel really proud of myself. A lovely cup of coffee, quick potter about in the Peak District Centre and then we set off back over Kinder - as we begin the seriously steep climb, the wind picks up gradually at first, and then with increasing severity until it is not only difficult to stand, it's downright scary! In true Barefoot Studio Team form, I am puffing my way up in front, and Karen and Dawn are singing directly behind me. I mean, I have only just enough breath to WALK, and they're SINGING....
At the top, my head is spinning from the wind which by now is about Force 8, and I was so glad to have my poles for stability. I know Dawn really noticed the difference on one pole (apart from walking round in circles all the time) and we very very carefully paced downhill with surefooted Karen in front leading us down to the Snake Pass Inn. Where she let us have a half of lager!!!! We really deserved it, mind....
Found a great pub just down the road from the hostel, for an evening meal, and made plans to book it for the pre-walk evening meal pasta-fest.
Up early the following morning, walked directly from the Youth Hostel, over the dam and up over Torside and down to Doctors Gate. This time, we followed the Pennine Way for quite a lot of it, with a little navigation thrown in. Yes, it is a longer route, but much easier going - more of a track, so we should be able to pick some speed up here. Having conquered it, we returned over the moor. It was a fabulous walk. I could feel myself using both legs much more evenly, my agility had improved, my energy levels felt ok, except that I had glands the size of golf balls, my throat and my head hurt and I felt like shit actually. But hey, if I can walk feeling like this, it'll be no problem on the Day!
We made a decision at that point that Paula and I would drop Karen and Dawn off to do the remaining section of navigation from Wessenden Heights to Crowden Youth Hostel, where we would collect them and then drive back.
Paula and I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate in the car as we watched Capt K and 'Scout' Lee set off at a blistering pace over the hills, and then drove leisurely - in the wrong direction! Oops, turn around, and drive into the village of Holmfirth, where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed. We had chips. We looked at Nora Batty's house. We got cold and bored and decided it was time to go and collect the girls. Off we went, following a bus which crawled along, full of incontinent old geezers doing the Last of the Summer Wine Tour. we didn't really mind, until I noticed that we weren't actually going the right way. Paula obligingly turned around, and we found ourselves sucked back into this junction in the middle of town where all signposts take you to Nora Batty's house, but not to any town or village. Slightly anxious about the time now, we try a different route, still wrong, and so I get sally sat nag out, who was as much use as a chocolate fireguard and was nearly hurled out of the window in exasperation. Sweaty with nerves now, imagining both girls at the pick-up point cold and hungry, we retrace our original route, and Paula drives like a demon along Snake Pass, pausing only to flick her wiper blades at a cyclist as we passed (the indicators and wiper blades are reversed on my car) which made us both laugh hysterically (you had to be there), we careen wildly onto the approach road, passing a sign saying Police Accident we stare at each other in horror that it might prevent us from getting to the girls.....we arrive at the Phone Box meeting point, to see with relief that they weren't there! About 30 seconds after our arrival, my mobile rings and Karen's cheery voice tells us not to worry, they'd be about another 45 minutes.....phew! Talk about stress - I wondered if it might have been preferable to do the walk!
When they arrived, we tucked them up in the back of the car, came clean about the chips and the navigational nightmare, and they slept almost all the way home whilst Paula and I shared the driving.
This virus thingy is hanging on for longer than I'm happy about, but I feel so much more confident about the Walk. I know it's going to be tough, but re-visiting the moors has de-scarified it for me. We've seen just about every weather variety, and coped with it. We've got great kit. We really bonded together as a Team, and I know in my heart that we will all be around to pick each other up when (if) we hit THE WALL. (so long as we don't all hit it together. We'll have to sing our way out)
Today we were interviewed by the South Wales Echo and Radio Wales.
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