Friday, 17 February 2017

Around 1984/1985 I attempted to backpack Wainwright's Coast to Coast, from St. Bees to Robin Hoods Bay.
This could well be titled, 'How not to backpack'.

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This was to be my first long distance walk since leaving the army 3years earlier.
The plan was to get across, including travel to the start and from the finish within 7 days for the 192 miles.
I would not use shops or cafes etc instead I would carry all my camping equipment and food together with £100.. cash, no cheques or cards.
My pack, a Berghaus Laser 65 - 75 litre, with tent attached underneath, a bin bag full of gear stuffed on top and a 1 litre Stainless Steel flask strapped to the side. It's weight was in the region of 80 lbs or 36Kg.
I knew it was heavy, I'd carried similar whilst in the army, although not for quite the same distance as this trip.

I began early afternoon from St. Bees.
Up onto the cliff top of St. bees head the strong wind coming in from the sea blew me over. I couldn't get up, pinned to the ground by the weight. I had to slide out of my shoulder straps sideways.

I struggled on until I reached Cleator Moor, looking up at Dent Hill and not fancying the ascent at all, a guy came out of the nearby cottage. He told me I was welcome to camp in his private orchard and use the outside toilet and sink. I snapped his hand off and set up my tent amongst the trees.
I had forgotten the ferrals that seperate the inner from the outer, fortunately I was able to improvise using two packs of Polo Mints.

Later I walked back into Cleator got talking to a guy and ended up drinking far too much. Slept in the following morning, not getting going until after 10am, with a throbbing head.
Sod it, not going up there today, so walked along the road to Ennerdale Bridge. On the way struggling with my head and the weight i decided to offload some weight. the lady at a cottage let me leave it in an out building. I left there minus some food, some layers and my camping gear, realising already that this was not going to work.
Onward to Blacksail Hut YHA where I tried to get in for the night. the warden wasn't having it saying they were full even though a couple who had booked there, decided to stop at Gillerthwaite instead. despite me telling him this, he told me there was another hour of light left, plenty of time to get over to Honister Pass.
It was dark as I reached the pass and got a bed in Longthwaite YHA.
From there through Rosthwaite up, over Greenup Edge I fell for the Wythburn trap and went down there instead of Far Easdale. Onwards I found room in Patterdale YHA. By this time I knew for sure I wouldn't make it, it was already end of day 3.
Leaving early the following morning to avoid the chores, which you had to do in those days. I stopped for breakfast on the fellside overlooking Patterdale.

Another guy came up the path and we walked together to Shap, where I found another B&B. I abandoned the Coast to Coast here.
I was looking at getting transport home when it dawned on me that I still had enough money for another two night B&B. I studied the maps.
The following day I set off for the 90 mile walk home, which I did, via Tebay, Dales Way to Kirkby Lonsdale and next day,  Wray, Wennington, Dunsop Bridge to Chipping and the final day, Longridge Fell, Ribchester, Mellor Brook and the Leeds/Liverpool Canal to Chorley and Euxton.

Not the Coast to Coast, but a good Lakeland traverse and walk home of a total of 150 miles.
A couple of weeks later I went back to collect my gear from the cottage and had a run up Ennerdale to Black Sail Hut for the rest. The mice there had enjoyed the remainder of my food.
I never, have, carried anything like that weight ever since!

1 comment:

  1. Wow that was some serious weight you tried shifting !
    Were planning on doing the C2C this august with full camping gear but now days with new tech gear our full pack weight including water is 8kg. We are camping at YHA and having meals there so not carrying food etc.
    We plan on a 9 days walk of around 20 miles a day average.