This last 6-8 months I have been getting more and more dreams about taking off and going for a long hike and run. They have been getting more and more vivid and I would wake each day DYING to get out there and do something. Obviously the weather hasn’t been great in the UK through winter, but this last week has been wonderful.
I woke up Friday 10th April 2015 and I decided that was the day I was taking off to do something. I didn’t know what to do initially. I knew I had a Harvey Map, part 1/3 of Pennine Way which covers all the south of the trail from Edale up to Ribbersdale. In total it should be about 160-180 miles there and back. I didn’t think I’d actually go but after looking at trains I found a value priced open return for £48, so I booked it after checking weather.
It said there may be a little rain Sat and Sunday but then all next week would be glorious weather again. This sounded perfect. I quickly packed my bags and off I went to the train station.
As soon as I left I realised I had taken the tiny old samsung phone as battery lasts weeks but I had a NANO sim from my iphone. So I had to get an EE temp number and top up £10 to text my husband.
I went from Northfield to Birmingham New St. Here I had to stop and get a compass from Cotswold and some Cliff Bars. To my surprise they only had 3 left. So I took them all. Then I carried on to Sheffield, here I asked a bakery if their vegetable pasty was vegan, she said all these with cheese are Vegan and vegetarian. I asked if I could see the ingredients list in her book. She showed me and I asked if they glazed with egg, she said no they use soya milk. YAY a pasty for me! 😛 Next I went from Sheffield to Edale. I remember laughing on the train to Edale because it was like a bus on rails. It had all bus seats rather than train seats and reminded me of the older trains from back in the day when I was a little nippa 😉 I also chuckled at the oh so familiar accents becoming broader and broader.
I arrived into Edale just before 6pm and it was cooling a bit but still warm. From here I followed my map to find a campsite for the evening before starting my journey the following day. I stayed at Field Head Campsite. It was meant to be £6.50 but I only had £6.36 in change. Instead of her breaking my note she let me have it for £6. As usual my name was spelt Hassell rather than Hassall 😉 I chuckled and went to find myself a spot for my tent.
I pitched my tent and then took out the pegs and re put them in again 4 or 5 times. It was also annoying trying to get them in when everywhere I put the peg there were rocks underneath stopping me getting in. I was also trying to not have the inner sleeve touching the outer. This seemed impossible so I did the best I could and left it. Meanwhile I could hear children laughing and playing and people talking and generally having a good time. I had a laugh when a family turned up and the daughter said “OMG Dad you seriously need to learn to put up a tent it’s going to kill someone that! Look at the state of it… now pass me those pegs!”. I thought to myself yep I know how he feels”, as I looked at my terrible attempt at putting up my own tent.
I blew up my NeoAir Thermarest sleeping mattress, which by the way I have to say I’m disappointed with. I lay on it to check it and it kept making pop sounds but they were really loud and scared other guests at the camp site. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what it was. Then I noticed the head part of it wasn’t pulled in like the rest of it if that makes sense. I think it came away in parts from pressure and each time it did it went POP! POP! POP! It was still inflated, but at £100 for an inflatable mattress you would expect a little better! I tested it at home and typically it was fine there! I had to learn what I did when it popped and lay on it differently without putting too much pressure around the head area of it. After I worked it out right it stopped popping. I also found there just is not enough room for the mattress to go inside an OMM Raid 1.0 and you as well. Something is going to go BANG!
I then went down to The Ramblers Inn and asked if they sold any fruit. I was surprised to see that there wasn’t any shops at all here. They told me if I want fruit I could go to the next village; called Hope, which is 5 miles in the wrong direction. I went back to my tent and lay looking at the map so I could work out where the nearest food shop was on route. I knew it wouldn’t be too far as I have researched about carrying food on Pennine Way before. So many advising you’ll not have too many issues getting something on route. I could see on map there was loads of place on route that were shops selling food so didn’t worry too much about it. I had 3 cliff bars in my bag but I went to bed hungry and saved them for tomorrow to give me the energy I would need to get up Jacobs Ladder (590ft) and then onto the food shop. I set my alarm for 5am and as it got darker, the park got quieter and I shut my eyes.
It felt like an age lay there with my eyes closed not overly tired. I remember thinking how I just can’t wait to be on that trail on my own without all the noise. The noise was good and there was so many cheery people. But I was looking forward to quiet time if you know what I mean. Then eventually I started to nod off just as a younger kid started crying his eyes out for an hour and half bless him. He was then quiet and drunk teens walked past making the usual drunken disturbance lol. Now I was thinking “hmmm why didn’t I bring those ear plugs? I have like 25 pairs at home… FOR THIS kind of thing too! lol I need to put them on my checklist spreadsheet as compulsory next time”. I was really toasty at first until about midnight then I started to get really cold so I put my other top on and my jacket, then it got colder so I put another jacket on and a beanie hat on top of my buff. I began to wonder why I hadn’t learned my lesson in winter when I tried my OMM Raid 1.0 sleeping bag…. this is a ONE season bag! Not a 2 and certainly not a 3!. I just thought now I had the Thermarest mattress it’d be much warmer. I was just about warm enough but not comfortably warm. Borderline shakes.
My alarm went off at 5am. I packed the stuff that was inside the tent into my bag then I packed the tent. I refilled my water and used the bathrooms. I ate a cliff bar and then off I went by 5:30am heading to the start of the Pennine Way Trail.
The views here are breathtaking they really are. Though I held off on taking too many pics yet as I knew there was better stuff to come. Also it was still pretty dark. I saved my battery and kept going. I set my Garmin to Ultra GPS recording. I haven’t got a clue how that works. I checked how to do it before I left but when I actually did it, it was asking me for a time which I had no idea what it was for. I set it to 90:00:00 which probably means update every 90 hours? oups!
It was an awesome feeling to be up so early no one else in the camp site was. I was the only one leaving. Made me even more determined. Little had I realised they had probably read the weather warning signs on the info windows. They were staying in bed for a reason!
It was dry as I head onto the trail. Then it began to drizzle a little. I walked along flagged pavement fields, past lots of sheeps, through lots of gates that stated that sheep are just stock “STOCK grazing make sure gate closed”. I passed Lee farm and then came to the bottom of Jacobs Ladder. Jacobs ladder is awesome! I kept wanting to take a pic but kept thinking it would look even better the further up I got. But it got windier, and rained harder. The ladder was becoming a log flume! I was being blown around, but I kept soldiering on in my piss wet through non waterproof tracksuit bottoms. Before I knew it I was completely covered in fog, hail, 40mph winds and sleet and rain. I got to the top quickly so I could find a flat surface to pitch my tent for emergency cover. Of course on top was even worse.
Putting up my tent was near impossible. The ground wasn’t flat at all but massive bumps of thick grass. The wind was blowing the sheets like crazy and I couldn’t figure out which end went where. By the time I secured it and got inside (which wasn’t very long) I was absolutely drenched, the inside of my bag was soaked, my footwear, feet and socks soaked and inside the tent. The wind was so strong it pushed the height of the tent right down so it was touching me no matter what I did. I tried to quickly go out and reinforce it but it didn’t make a difference. I looked out to the sky and I could tell the storm wasn’t going to go any time soon. Then noticed I was started to shiver and shake and was lay in a big puddle in the tent. I knew then I had to go back down to Edale.
I got out to sort out my tent and the top sheet was just blown away, SWISH and it was gone out of my hands. It very quickly disappeared in the fog/cloud. I packed everything else I could soaked in my bag and made a move for it back to the base. I am NEVER one for littering in the wild. I tell people straight when I see them do so, but on this occasion there wasn’t much else I could do… and I wasn’t exactly impressed myself losing my expensive tent.
I ran back down Jacobs Ladder with the wind behind me pushing me quickly down those death steps. It was actually pretty fun until I lost balance a bit and thought I twisted my ankle. After keeping on going it seemed fine. I told myself I was fine and that if I was going to get any joy out of this trip, then enjoy this run I’m doing back.
The weather was now also treacherous at the bottom of Jacobs ladder. Even as I ran past the sheep, they were all pushing into the side of the bricked fences to keep the hail and wind off of them. It was an amazing sight. I’d have loved a pic but at this point I had no idea of where my camera was in my bag and so I just kept going.
When I got back to the camp I tried to find the “drying room”. I found my change expecting it to be a pay per 20 min drying machine. It wasn’t though and the sign said “The HEATERS in this DRYING ROOM will come on at night AFTER a wet rainy day”. Oh lord haha! There was a free to use washing machine though 😀
I worked my way to the notice boards and that was when I saw the other sign I wish I’d seen earlier;
“Mountain Weather Warnings Sat 11th April 2015, Low pressure coming from south west 30-40mph winds.”
Then I noticed the next sign
“Mountain Weather Warnings Sun 12th April 2015, Low pressure coming from south west up to 50 mph winds”
:O Thank god I didn’t carry on. I knew I couldn’t sleep a night soaked and only had one emergency foil blanket. Shame I couldn’t hold in till Sunny Monday I could have dried everything out in the sun 😉
I headed back to Edale Train Station and had just missed a train so I had a chance to sit in the cold wind for an hour and look upon beautiful scenery, and watch a train spotter taking snaps.
When I got to Sheffield I went to Sports Direct so I could buy new cheap trainers, tracksuit bottoms, underwear, socks and a top. My marmot waterproof jacket had dried again now thank god. I changed into these in the changing rooms and realised I got children’s socks but had ripped the packaging off. I pulled them on tightly and made do with it. I got myself 2 more vegetable pasties and a Soya Latte and then came home back to Birmingham. Of course at this point everywhere was lovely and sunny!
So I have learned so much from this experience. Sadly I did 6 miles at best rather than the anticipated 160-180. I can’t wait to go again, though my husband has said I’m not having another tent any time soon. Which is completely understandable lol. I’m a complete noob with a thirst for adventure. OK so things didn’t go to plan on this occasion but at least I’m not one to let anything stop me. If I want to try something I’ll go for it regardless of experience. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger hey? I’m still up for running and walking the whole Pennine Way at some point and I’m still up for doing the UK South West Coastal Path too and that’s some 640 miles and equivalent to 3 Everest’s in overall elevation apparently!
These little things keep cropping up pulling you back a bit. They are tests though to make us stronger so it’s easier next time. I am an ultra runner and I am going to be a successful one too! My determination and stubbornness keeps forcing me to keep trying, and I will. I’ll succeed or die!
I need to work out what the hell to do with your tent as emergency cover when it’s absolutely belting it down already. How do you not get everything completely soaked? What happens if everything does get soaked? Say I was in the middle of nowhere and it’d take days to get back? Also my Salomon Speedcross 3s were demolished within minutes going up that bitch hill in the rain/sleet/snow/hail! I now also know to read information notice boards! Also I have come to realise that although I love my WAA ULtra 20L bag it’s not enough for these kinds of things. The 4L front pouch is very handy though and without being able to clip it in properly to another bag it’s pointless as a waistpack as bounces all over the place. It’s also pointless in rain as gets soaked. Next time more planning rather than just jumping for it and going.
So that’s that then. Next adventure is Turkey May 1st for 3 weeks. Let’s see what trouble I can get myself into shall we? 🙂 Any tips or advice pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease post away. Thanks 😀