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Ravenshead Newsletter 03-2021 - 9

     The long walk…..268 miles of Pennine pleasure but a little pain as well!

    It all started during a few pints with a throw-away remark about   immense challenge. Without the other two, I wouldn't even have
    unfulfilled ambitions. My great friend Stan Beedham just happened   found my way!It was in the days before GPS  and was all achieved
    to say: “ I've always fancied having a go at walking the Pennine   with maps and compass and of course Wainwright's books of
    Way”.                                                directions.
    Always looking for a challenge, particularly when fortified with the   Both Stan and Martin were good map readers and they used a
    kind of courage a pint or two of beer provides , I replied: “Well, if   compass to ensure we were  (usually ) going in the right direction.
    ever you decide to do it, I'm coming with you”.      Me? I wore a compass round my neck for effect. I hadn't the faintest
    A third member of our group, another good friend , Martin Eaden,   idea what direction we were taking and only wore it because my
    who at the time lived in Ravenshead,put down his pint and said:  children had bought it for me the previous Christmas.
    “If you two are serious, I might as well come as well”.  Not that I didn't get into one or two scrapes. One of our biggest
                                                         mistakes was carrying rucksacks that were far too heavy, in fact
    Our wives, sitting with us, were less enthusiastic. In fact my dear   Martin quipped that the only thing missing from Stan's was a full
    Jackie  made it clear she wasn't sure I was totally serious in my   dress uniform of an American Army colonel!
    intentions. She gave her blessing but added in that knowing way: “I
    think you're all talk”.                              I wasn't much better and stumbling up the scree of Penny-ghent, in
                                                         Yorkshire (my baggage was so heavy it was sliding from side to side)
    Could it have been that she had heard me agree to previous grand
                                                         it was all I could manage to keep a foothold. Allan Broughton, a
    plans over pints of beer in the past, only for them to have faded   fellow Rotary club member who had joined us for walking on that
    from my mind by the following morning?
                                                         particular day, found it highly amusing!
    But there was no going back. Particularly, as members of the local   Allan's day with us was a double blessing. He took some of our dirty
    Rotary club at Sutton-in-Ashfield, we had agreed to become
                                                         clothing back home  but by way of a treat, Jackie had set him up
    sponsored, with the proceeds going towards a  new scanner for
                                                         with a date and walnut cake.  Attached to it was a short note in
    Kings Mill Hospital.
                                                         which she said that she and all the family were missing me and
    The plans were hatched in December, the walk would take place the   wished me good luck and sent all her love for the rest of the walk.
    following September. That would give us plenty of time for   They were all looking forward to seeing me return home, she said.
                                                         The note, which touched my heart strings, brought a tear to my eye
    The Pennine Way is 268 miles long over challenging terrain. It starts   as I rang home that night and I kept it with other souvenirs of the
    from Edale in Derbyshire and finishes in Kirk Yetholm, Scotland.   walk. I'm reading it again now, so you can guess there are more
    That's an average of 20 miles a day over 14 days, which is the time   tears.
    we had allowed ourselves to be off work. In reality that turned out
                                                         And there were so many unforgettable moments.  The first seven
    to be 29 miles some days and 15 others, depending on where we
                                                         days were walked in blazing hot September sunshine. I saw near
    could stay overnight.
                                                         empty reservoirs on desolate Yorkshire moors and drank tea among
    There's a fair bit of climbing, just over 11,000 metres of ascent,   the ruins of Top Withins, reputed to be the Wuthering Heights  of
    some of it fairly hard work. I wasn't too worried about all that, I had   Emily Bronte's book.
    been running—or jogging to be more precise—marathons for some
                                                          I watched so many birds and animals, who were often totally
    years and felt up to the task. I'm unsure how confident the other
                                                         unaware that we were in their midst and one morning in the
    two were however.
                                                         Cheviots I marvelled at the most unbelievable sunrise. I swear the
    Undaunted, we spent most weekends between May and September   entire sky was on fire.
    the following year, trudging the hills of Derbyshire, which in itself   I saw Cauldron Snout, which is said to be England's longest waterfall
    was new ground for me. Despite her initial reservations, I had
                                                         at 183 feet and then there was Low Force, followed by High Force
    nothing but encouragement from Jackie from day one, who set me
                                                         along the  River Tees.
    up with a brand, spanking new pair of top of the range Brasher
    walking boots.                                       I walked part of  Hadrian's Wall in the midst of desolate, lonely
                                                         countryside. Whatever must Roman soldiers have thought of being
    These were just incredible. As sturdy as could be, they were as light   posted up there?
    as a feather to wear, it was almost like walking in carpet slippers.
    Even on the great walk itself, I barely suffered a blister, whereas   It rained and rained the second week. We got wet through outside
    Stan, who I think walked in a pair of boots he inherited from his RAF   but it never dampened our spirits. We stayed at some tremendous B
    National Service Days, and Martin, who I am sure used a pair of odd   and Bs, one a wonderful old vicarage with a bath that you almost
    sized (I mean like a nine and an 11) oddities, both suffered greatly.  got lost in. There was one pub however where Stan inquired what
                                                         time the radiators came on, to enable us to dry our sodden clothing.
    The fact that Martin spent much of the 268 miles walking in old
    school type issue white plimsolls (yes, plimsolls, not trainers) and   “In another month's time ,” the surly landlady snarled back, ”it's not
    washed them nightly in whichever room wash hand basin was   cold enough yet.”
    available, caused some mirth, as well as annoyance to Stan, who   So the following day we walked in clothes still wet, with the
    held very high standards of hygiene.                 remainder tied to the outside of our rucksacks, flying in a gentle
     He didn't always appreciate loads of Pennine bog mud being   breeze until they became dry. What a sight we must have looked
    poured down the sink before the nightly ritual of cleansing his   I ate copious amounts of chips, salted peanuts, Mars Bars, Kendal
    teeth!                                               Mint Cake and chocolate bars, yet still managed to lose a stone in
    We were grateful for much pre-walk advice from another   weight and came back with a wonderful tan.
    Ravenshead friend, Roger Garratt, who had completed the walk   Thank you Stan for your unfulfilled ambition. It led to two of the
    earlier in the year as a tribute to his late father.  most memorable weeks of my life and we raised a good sum of
    As for the walk itself, it felt such an immense privilege to be able to   money for the Kings Mill Scanner.
    join   good friends and to be able to complete what to me was an
                                                                                           Paul Richardson
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