Crossing report from Johan Toxopeus, Bilthoven

Crossing report from Johan Toxopeus, Bilthoven, The Netherlands, 73 years old, solo, unsupported, East to West.
Thursday July 30th.
Weather: cloudy, 5 hrs of rain.

A remarkable report on pure determination through adversity

Gerry

Careful planning and a good condition are essential for a successful crossing, especially for elderly people crossing solo unsupported. My condition was ok I thought. Last year I did my second successful crossing (see my posting for June 27th 2019). For planning I took Thursday July 30th, because that day the forecast was 17 degrees C, clouded, not too warm and dry, ideal walking weather. That turned out to be a great mistake. I started at 03.45 am in Ravenscar in the dark.

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After about 15 minutes I sprained my left ankle terribly with a loud crack, very painful, but after a few minutes I was able to endure the pain and stand on it again and hobbled on with plenty painkillers during the day.

At about 07.00, near Eller Beck, it started to rain as a next unpleasant surprise.

The sections over the moors and bogs were very wet and it rained continuously up to about 12.00 hrs. In this section I met the first human beings of the day around 11.30, two brave other walkers going the other way also shocked by the weather forecast. No others till the Lion Inn. I fell a few times in the muck when slipped resulting in a blue eye obtained from my spectacles hitting the face. Around 13.00 hrs Fat Betty and at 13.30 hrs the Lion Inn where I booked a table the day before (COVID rules), exactly on time. At the entrance, however, I bumped my head, being a tall dutchman, severely against the old and solid ceiling beam, resulting in a blooding wound and headache (there is a clear sign on the beam ‘mind your head’ I saw later). A pint of Wainwright bitter, lasagne, sock change, more painkillers restored faith again. I hardly could get my left shoe on because of the swollen foot. After one hour rest, I started my second and easier lap. It was dry, clouded, much better walking conditions and an easy path over the disused railway. However, my pace was much slower now, being very afraid of ruining my ankle even further.

At 18.00 hrs I sat down on the bench of the unfortunate Robbie near Hasty Bank. Very slowly now I proceeded to the end, with a nice coke at The Lords café and cheered by my whole family via the app. At 23.00 hrs rather tired, with a half closed blue eye and limping I arrived at the parking lot where I parked my car the day before. Great crossing, great fun, but I am afraid that my family forbid me to do this ever again on my own for a fourth time. I drove back in 1.5 hrs to my Ravenscar B&B. Back in my room with a stiff whisky, I was horrified with my own left foot, it looked terrible, swollen and completely dark blue from severe haemorrhage. The next day it looked even worse and I could hardly stand on it and back home the other day my general practitioner noticed severely torn ankle ligaments. She could not understand how I could have walked with that for 62 km!, haha.

Should there be Lyke Wake Award for Gallantry?

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