Coast to Coast

This 2012 walk ought, more reasonably to be called the ‘Most to Most’ as I didn’t walk all of it. I made a basic mistake of not giving myself rest days, so my body forced me into them. However as all my accommodation had been booked in advance  I had to get from point to point. It meant walking some of the way then catching a bus to the end for the longest sections.

The only blogs that still exist are pasted below (oddly, I thought I wrote much more), but there’s a lot more to remember. My favourite memory is of The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge. Mr had joined me for a few days and we camped in the garden of the pub. It was cold and clear, and I opened the tent flap to watch the full ‘harvest’ moon rising above the dry stone wall. Quite stunning.

The people I met along the way were good company. One Australian couple kept trying to find out what I did for a living, but I was evasive, preferring to travel and be met as ‘me’, and avoid the set-piece conversations. I think they decided in the end that I must be a Funeral Director which I found amusing.

Blogs below.

8th June 2012: Call Mountain Rescue

On Sept 18th and 19th last year I blogged about my ‘booked and paid for’ YHA booking that was transferred to a local B&B so that that said YHA could accept a group booking for that same date. No problem – all sorted.

I may have mentioned that my mobile phone does not have coverage for most of the Lake District, so I couldn’t pick up any messages for several days.

When I left for my solo trip I made sure that Mr had a copy of my daily schedule showing where I planned to be for every hour of the day, with route references, accommodation addresses and phone contacts etc, so that in the event of an emergency folks would know where to start looking. I also telephoned home each evening (quite hard to do in some cases) to advise that I had arrived safely. I also took a copy of that email as evidence in case of a problem with the B&B.

Can you see where this is going?

So… on the one night that I didn’t find a phone (there was one but for some reason I couldn’t find it)… Mr received a phone call at 10.30pm at home saying. “This is the Youth Hostel. Helegant has not arrived. Is she lost on Helvellyn?” The messages that I eventually found on my phone three days later tell the story of Mr’s reaction to that idea, and his “Am I glad to hear your voice” when I did manage to get through to him was quite touching.

The Youth Hostel that had made the call was the one that had received the provisional booking from the one that had ‘bounced’ me, and not only had they made a provisional booking that I knew nothing about, they had made it for the wrong day, and I was already safely asleep in the correct Youth Hostel – the one that I had booked and paid for, for that night.

All was eventually sorted out, and I’m grateful to the manager of the hostel where I was sleeping for dealing with the additional paperwork and other loose ends – there were several, and he was very efficient and helpful. Thankfully Mountain Rescue were not called. That would have been a tad embarrassing.

7th June 2012: Kit Monster

Best bits of kit:

Leki poles. I bought the Makalus in the Italian Alps around 1998 and on this holiday I really found out how to use them effectively. With them I got up and down hills safely, walked much faster than without them (and shared the effort between upper and lower body in the process – no sausage fingers either). They also made excellent additional poles for the side flaps of the tent. When I compared them with other brands of poles I was surprised at how light they are.

Inov8 Terroc 330 shoes. Grippy soles for slippery rocks, comfortable (with the extra liner that I put in to make them fit), and totally suitable for all but the two days of bog. They now stink, and are also about to go through the washing machine!

Deuter backpack. Bought in 2004 for another event, this has become a staple. It doesn’t allow me to carry too much, but fits well and has a pocket for a water bladder, a raincover, and a stand-away frame that allows some air circulation.

Buff. Dipped in a cold beck and worn around the neck on a hot day – bliss; hairband on a windy day – very helpful; neck warmer on a cold day – excellent. Versatile and lightweight. Buy one now.

Maps and compass – yes, I really do think it’s essential to be able to navigate.


My baby Trangia. I didn’t use it much (there is too much good home-made food in pubs and cafes en-route), but there was something quite decadent about lying on the ground with the tent flap up and watching the haze as an invisible flame boiled water for morning tea. It felt a bit Baden-Powellish.

Sent home:

Yes, although I put everything on the floor and took away from the pile for 2 weeks (including my bivvy bag), I still ended up posting home some unnecessary kit.

The main item was my favourite long red waterproof Didrickson jacket full of pockets, which is my all-time favourite, and which I re-proofed especially for this trip. It is just too heavy, and on a hot day I wasn’t willing to carry the weight.

Lightweight trowel, lightweight extra tent pegs and guy ropes. Packed in case I had to do any wild camping. It didn’t take long to realise that I wasn’t going to be doing that deliberately, and if I did, the waterproofs and foil blankets would have to suffice.

Camelbak bladder. Too heavy compared to the (duplicate) poly-bag version in my backpack, and the tube developed black spots in the sunshine, despite having been sterilised before I left.

Spare set of clothes. Maybe not an ideal solution given the difficulty in getting stuff dry, but still less to transport.

Two pairs of gloves – why did I pack 3 pairs?

Maps – after they had been used.


Garmin 305 (went flat in 8 hours) and charger – nowhere to plug it in to recharge – see below.

Mobile phone – no coverage for most of the trip so I was totally reliant on payphones – another story to come about that one!

Solar panel charger with adapters for camera, phone and Garmin- worked brilliantly when tested on the windowsill at Berkhamsted, but failed to achieve a charge when north of Watford gap.

Would have been useful but I managed to live without:

That spare set of clothes – wet clothes have limited appeal after 24 hours.
The extra tent pegs – there was one storm where I began to think the tent would take off if I removed my weight from the groundsheet. In the event all stayed secure but it made me think.
A pair of boots, for about 8 hours. These were the same 8 hours during which I discovered that Sealskin socks are not waterproof. Ho hum.
Satellite phone.

23rd May 2012: The night before

It’s the night before my ‘big adventure’. Sproglet has just left, Mr is on his way back from work to see me ‘before I go’, and I get the distinct impression that they both think I should have made a will before I left 😉 I now have three personal alarms (which I am *not* taking with me.)

Nothing I plan is going to even ripple the waters for any active types, but outside this community the world is more risk-averse.

19th May 2012: Snowdonia in flip-flops

An interesting article on the radio right now about mountain-craft, comparing the different approaches and levels of preparation adopted by visitors to our wild places.

Some of it would be comical if it weren’t so worrying. I too have seen small children in flip-flops on the slopes of Snowdon as the wet-stuff rolled in.

The suggestion is not simply that learning to read a map and use a compass is ‘a good thing’, but that changing your plans to suit the conditions is also sensible. Actually I think that’s sometimes a tougher call than folks realise. Thank goodness for years in IT.

13th May 2012: Real plans

Years ago I was a project manager and I know that few plans survive encounter with reality, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve a goal. All it needs is creativity and tenacity.

Some time ago I dreamed a big dream and put some plans in place. Then life happened, and I forgot about it.

About 6 weeks ago I remembered the plans with a degree of shock, because I realised much is in place, but that I can’t make the dream happen as it was planned – mostly due to my own failings. However, I leave in about two weeks…

But, someone once made a glib statement about lemons, and it seems time to look positively as well as realistically at life as it is, and make the most of the opportunity. I think it will also be cathartic.

So, if this sounds cryptic (which it is) all will be revealed in time (I used to have a sweatshirt with this tagline written on it – does anyone else remember the reference?), and I hope to report back in June.

And now… back to work.


Below is a picture of the camping barn at Richmond.

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