Crossing Report: 8/9 June 2018

‘How old are you again?’ he asked.

‘I’m doing it a week before my 72nd birthday’ I replied a bit truculently.

‘Don’t do it, Susan. Don’t do it.  I tell it like it is, you know. It will kill you, it’ll kill you!’


Since the advice I tend to listen to is my own, I paid no attention and consequently, with our three wonderful guides, Tom and Claire Chapman and David Allen, I was part of the 13 LWW virgins, including my daughter, that set off in high spirits at 9pm, pleased to be on our way and out of the range of persistent midges.


Unlike other Crossing Reports, I can’t detail just where we were, at what time, what conditions were like in X wood or Y hill.  All I know accurately, is that we started at Osmotherley and all but 3 ended at Ravenscar.  I apologise to experienced Club members for any inaccuracies, but like one lady whom I had met on a training walk who had completed a crossing ‘Oh, many years ago’, I can with clarity remember starting and ending – but the bit in between is a bit of a blur!  In fact she said ‘horrid blur’ – but, apart from a handful of occasions when I wished my heart and lungs were 40 or even 20 years younger – I generally loved the whole experience.


I can though, describe some of my personal thoughts and impressions.


We all admired, still as a single group, the sunset to the north, as we walked through Coalmire woods, though I was pleased to stop for photographs as I reckoned we were walking at a fair fast pace.  On reaching the first hill, we spread out and, to my surprise, I still found myself towards the front.


Someone then asked me if I’d practiced walking at night. My vast experience of my head torch extended from me walking from kitchen to sitting room and back and deciding I didn’t like that torch, so I carried a hand one instead.  In retrospect, I think I should have persisted – though with the light of others’ head torches, we managed to get to our first checkpoint and waved and flashed our lights to guide the second group home.


I wasn’t looking forward to climbing up Cringle Moor, but in fact we skirted it, picking our way carefully trying not to fall in the drains and just grateful that at least the stones were dry. We collectively shuddered at the thought of rain or ice and then reached our second checkpoint where hot drinks and sweet things were served. With the temperature having noticeably dropped, I successfully managed to blag my way into the warm of the support van on account of my age!


Then, having managed the ascent reasonably well up to Round Hill, I knew the dreadfully boring stretch to Bloworth and the Old Railway lay ahead, but I was looking forward to seeing dawn break.  No chance though, as by then we were engulfed with bitingly cold early morning mist! Since I live below the railway, I’d seen what the previous few mornings had been like and decided, thankfully, to wear my thermal trousers and then change into light summer ones when the temperature rose. (However, as the temperature rose later in the day, I forgot to change, and I got so hot that salty sweat dripped constantly into my eyes!)


We eventually cut off the railway, and after some considerable guide pondering on the right unmarked route, we eventually trudged rather wearily along the road to Rosedale Head until seeing the support van loom out of the mist and I again had no compunction in playing my second Joker to get a seat in the warm. The rest of the group were visibly shivering.


After setting off, I made sure that I gave due obeisance to Fat Betty, though thankfully she turned down the remains of my ‘Trekking Bar’ in my pocket.  We were excited and nervous about the ‘boggy section’ to come, which afterwards, our guides said was the driest they had known it. It didn’t seem dry to us, as most of us ended up with having to change out of our soggy socks at checkpoint four!  I attended to what I thought might turn into blisters – my only physical problem during the walk.


It was at this checkpoint, I think, that the leading group decided to stock up on the pile of just cooked bacon into the rolls provided.  I pounced, overfilled my butty, grabbed a seat and called out my order for a cup of tea. And I gobbled it down.


I’ve never been very good at exercising after eating!


Dave, the guide at the front, pointed out the Blue Man-i-th’-Moss to me and we then speeded up to catch up with one ‘mountain hare’ in front.  I wasn’t feeling too good, and then just behind the leading pair, I threw up.  ‘That delicious bacon butty’ I thought, but immediately felt better and caught them up, saying proudly, like a six year old, ‘I’ve just been sick!’ They were duly solicitous, but I felt much better and we motored on.


Before Simon Howe I was sick again, and again felt a lot better. Then, excitingly, there was a chance of seeing the Moors Railway train pass in front of us so of course we ran, just to see a wisp of smoke in the deep embankment below as the phantom train trundled towards the coast.


And so to checkpoint five and another long wait for the others in our group to catch up in order that we could leave together.


There was a pull up towards Lilla Cross and it was soggy and energy sapping as I remember and just before that landmark from where the finish of the walk can be seen, I did something I’ve heard about, but never experienced either as a participant or as an observer… I projectile vomited almost the whole of the bacon butty that remained in my gut.  I was no longer in the front group at this point, but just with my lovely daughter and Charlie, the son of my local MP, Kevin Hollinrake (a great supporter of the cause we were walking for). At least I was useful in adding to his life-learning experiences and because of that thought, and with a blissfully empty stomach, I now felt good again, and as traumatised Charlie waited for his parents, the pair of us powered on.  However, it felt, for my daughter and me, a long way to the next checkpoint, wherever it was!


We had again, quite a long wait before setting off on the home run towards the mast that appeared to never come any closer.  But, after the slog up Jugger Howe, of course it did, simply by putting one foot in front of the other. (If David Allen  is your guide in the future, do not ask him how far it is to the end, because his 1/8 mile turned out to be 1.5 miles – though I put that down to his inspiring motivational skills!)


At the end, my daughter reminded me to touch the final LWW coffin stone – otherwise I wouldn’t have completed the crossing and presumably, would have had to turn round and go back to Osmotherley!


It was great.  We were elated.  We had done it (17 hours and 43 minutes) and we cheered in the rest of our group that followed.


I know we all felt emotional at the end because we had pushed ourselves both physically and mentally.  We had hit our personal walls at various stages but had climbed over with difficulty and dogged determination. We had passed!


Oh, and there’s still life in this old dog. The walk didn’t put me in a coffin – though that would have been pleasingly symbolic!


PS:  When can we do it again?



Sue Mumford