East to West crossing on 22nd July 2017

I think it was just before Christmas that we got talking about this walk – my dad, David and one of my sisters, Jennie, had done the walk before. So naturally my husband, Tim, and brother in-law Jonathan heard the call of a challenge and said ‘we’d quite like to do that’. And so it became that our team-sheet started as 5 – dad, Jennie, me, Tim and Jonathan… and after asking at least 20 other people if they wanted to join us… the team-sheet stubbornly stayed at 5.

The date was set as 22nd July as the weeks before were busy – Jennie was on a girls trip to Ibiza, mum and dad had back-to-back weddings and then we had my brother’s graduation 2 nights before the walk – it seemed like excellent prep for what promised to be a gruelling trial (last time Jen and Dad both lost a few toenails).

The weekend arrived and we were all bit shocked to find that we were going ahead with our commitment. After a long week of work we mustered on the Friday night at Davina and Jonathan’s house for pasta, fish and chips and route/stop planning. Davina, mum and Steve (Jonathan’s dad) gamely agreed to be our support crew – and thank goodness they did – they carried no fewer than 7 extra pairs of shoes, 8 extra pairs of socks, 1 baby, 2 dogs, 18 litres of water, 25 sandwiches and 3000 biscuits.

Against advice from Tim we set our alarms for a leisurely 3:40am in order to start the walk at a slightly-later-than-planned 5:40am… but after arriving with some apprehension in the pouring rain at the reservoir carpark we were off!

The first 10 miles went off without a hitch as we all enjoyed the beautiful scenery and regularly exclaiming at how it was ‘only’ 6am, 6:50am, 7am and ‘why aren’t we in bed’. We were happy and upbeat as we met our support crew around mile 9 and were all pleased to review our state of dehydration by confirming who had and hadn’t made a loo stop yet. Off we set again and the rain closed in, by the time we made it to the Lion Inn we were soaked to the bone. 3 mountains of (really good) chips, a few sandwiches, coffees and sweets later, we were slightly drier and back on the road about 13:30.

By mile 24 we all acknowledged that the mood had become a little sombre, the 20-30 mile stretch seemed supernaturally long (maybe the chips were a terrible idea after all), and we all wondered out loud as to whether:
a) Anyone had actually died carrying a coffin along this supposed coffin-carrying route
b) Anyone had done their duty and on return to Osmotherley found another person in need of a wake (the sighs of frustration)
c) Whether it would be preferable to be cremated or buried rather than inflict this pilgrimage on anyone

We reached the Goathland viewpoint area and were happy to be fed, watered (and medicated – thank goodness for ibuprofen) again by our support crew. We all agreed that staying still for more than 60 seconds meant seizing up so after a bit more ‘foot admin’ we got back on our way. Off we went into the marshes where we immediately acknowledged that the trench foot we had been suffering since the downpour was here to stay; we would all just have to worry about our rotten toes later.

We did a final mini stop as we crossed Scarborough Road just as the light completely faded. The final stretch was done under torch light and completed at marching pace with only a few half-hearted debates about who was in the most pain, before we finally made it (in the pouring rain again) to the finish stone –  such relief!!

In our morning after debrief (around a fry-up) we all declared the walk to be punishing and exhausting and a really great day. It’s day 2 of recovery now and we’re all walking gingerly around our respective work places wishing we were at home in our slippers, or even, dare I say it, still out walking..
In tribute to our walk, and the fact that this Ed Sheeran song was stuck on a loop in Tim’s head for at least 30 of the LWW miles, here are some photos of our day.

Our walkers were:
David Wilbraham (for a 3rd time- he did the walk in his 40th year, 50th year and this year he turns 60!)
Jennie Downing (nee Wilbraham, for the 2nd time)
Jonathan Marchant
Tim Snaith
Annabel Snaith

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