Leg 4: to Threlkeld (August attempt)
With John Fleetwood (don't miss John's video), Paul Murray, Mary White and Steve Kenyon to tackle the leg where the weather was to difficult the last time. I fell stronger than here than in June as we set off 20 minutes behind schedule and 5 minutes behind June time. By the summit of Seat Sandal the 5 minutes on the June time has been made up and we are ahead of it by Fairfield although I am about 25 minutes down on my schedule. Climbing is still good although descending is getting slower as my legs tire but we reach Dollywagon Pike 8 minutes faster than in June, probably because I have been eating and drinking better all the way round.
The 22 hour schedule has slipped away but the reality is that it slipped away on this leg in June, seven weeks ago. If the 22 hours had really mattered I would have had to wait until next spring because seven weeks might be sufficient time to recover enough for another attempt but it isn't likely to be enough time to recover completely.
John and Paul urge me, gently, to climb at a comfortable pace - reminding me that there is plenty of time until midnight and that almost all the climbing on this leg is done already and for the first time there are so many hills behind me that I can look around the skyline and see, not where I still have to go, but I can see where I have been and it is fantastic!
It may not look like it on the video but as this leg developes I am beginning to really enjoy it. Nethermost passes and then Helvellyn where Keith Foster meets us with more drinks. Leaving Lower Man the realisation begins to dawn that I will probably reach Threlkeld with about 5 hours left, with good visability and enough strength to be confident of reaching the Moot Hall before the end of the day - its not done until its done and I'm not getting carried away but I feel a gradual relaxation and it helps me enjoy this leg a little more.
Mary continues to give me food and drink on the climbs and to carry it on the descents so that I have no distractions and nothing to worry about. Steve carries the kit and the rest of the food and drink and all in all I am very well looked after.
Whiteside, Raise and the Dodds pass quickly and comfortably as Blencathra and Skiddaw appear on the skyline like the old friends they have become since February. Previously I had considered the Dodds fairly uninteresting but today they provide an opportunity to savour the Lakeland ridges and I do long to stop, not because of exhaustion, but just to drink in and enjoy the experience of the day but I have do the savouring on the hoof, without stopping.
Clough Head is the last of this leg and the steep descent to the Old Coach Road is terribly slow but I have so little left in in my 'descending legs' that there is little else I can do.
John prefers a slightly longer but much more runnable path from the Old Coach Road and we are soon travelling quickly to the road pass the water treatment works where Jim Bispham & George Roden from Westmorland & N Lancs LDWA are to open the gate for us. Threlkeld is reached with just over 5 hours left and I enjoy my final helping of bananas and rice pudding.