Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Leg 1: to Honister (August attempt)

Mark, Self, Phil & Chris (What about these tights?)

As midnight approaches my nerves begin to calm down for the first time in a very long day that started before six in the morning. The little sleep I managed during the day seems to have done no good at all and I feel sleepy until the caffine tablets kick in. The last seconds are ticking away and I constantly think about how much there is to do before I can stand here in front of the Moot Hall again, in less than 24 hours (I hope). This will be a constant distraction throughout the day, unlike the last time when I didn't know how much there would be to do to get back to the Moot Hall. Midnight signals the 'off' and we are away - off into the darkness at a pace that won't last very long but as it subsides it brings a calmness from the knowledge that I can do this, I have done this and all I need to do is take 11 minutes off the last time and not worry about how to do it.

A last minute injury to Tony Bland on Friday evening triggered a small panic as I tried to contact Mark Seddon to ask him to navigate this leg. Mark called back, as we were getting into the car to drive to Keswick, to confirm it wouldn't be a problem and again everything seems to be in place.

Newlands Church passes by silently as Mark, Chris and Phil chat constantly to help pass the time and prevent the enormity of the task from intruding, too much, on a great day out. Dry and hard underfoot, even after leaving the tarmac, the climb up Robinson takes us back into the clag and a cool wind. The path along the ridge that is so easily followed in daylight can barely be found and with visibility reduced by the clag rather than the darkness concern about our precise location mounts until the tiny tarn just before the summit is reached. Over the summit and descending on as straight a line as Mark can manage we drop out of the clag and find ourselves in the right place for the climb up Hindscarth in much better nick than I was in June. Before the summit the clag envelopes us but Mark leads us straight to the summit and away again towards Dale Head.

This is going well and I am eating and drinking almost to the plan, confident that if every leg goes just a little better then I will have a good chance of being on Skiddaw with time to descend to Keswick before the day is done. This, however, is a distraction and a trip or a stumble here could bring it all to an end.

The final pull up Dale Head seems protracted but soon enough the summit looms out of the clag and the first road crossing beckons. Descending on the right line we find Ed Swift waiting on the hillside above the Youth Hostel and we run into the car park 5 minutes up on the schedule. The leg has gone quickly and without incident - just what I wanted.


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