13 July 2012

Walkin' in the rain, just walkin'in the rain...

And it IS a glorious feeling - sometimes. A light shower during an evening stroll or even a heavy one on a day in the hills is just fine. With the right gear, a dry berth at the end of the day and a reasonably cheerful disposition most walkers can cope with most of what the weather throws at us.
Still smiling - In the rain on the Cleveland Way

In fact I'd go so far as to say that bad weather makes for good stories. And I should know, I've told a few. From my dad tethering me to him with a length of bailer twine when the wind whipped under my cagoule* and blew me off the top of Wold Fell to my second only long distance walk, the Coast to Coast, 17 years ago.

We'd spent months thinking about when to do the walk. 

March or October - days are too short, July - might be too hot **, and finally we decided on the last week in May and first week in June. Old Whitsun - the sun always shone then didn't it?

We were backpacking. Even the most modest B&B's were out of our price range in those days and the cost of accomodation, pub grub and of course liquid refreshment at the end of the day would have made the 2 week trek a non-starter. We thought the tent was the bees knees. It was just under 4 lbs*** with no ridge pole and so tiny that we took turns to undress outside then did a sort of limbo dance to shimmy straight into bed.

We left St Bees on a Friday afternoon in glorious sunshine. It was to be the last time we saw the sun, or a view or sometimes even each other till the east coast came into view 14 days later. Fourteen days of non stop, unremitting, lashing rain which, just in case we needed a change, turned into sleet on Blakey Moor.

It was one of the best fortnights of my life.

When I think about that walk it's not the rain I remember - it's the vertiginous scramble up Greenup Ghyll and the beautiful isolation of Angle Tarn; it's the hostel warden at Black Sail getting out his bike after tea and pedalling down to Ennerdale Bridge to look for a walker that hadn't turned up (no mobiles or forestry road in those days) and the blitz spirit as we began to recognise fellow c2c'ers;  it's getting my mountain legs on day three and suddenly starting to enjoy myself and most of all it's that fabulous sense of achievement that I could walk nearly 200 across my own country with my bed on my back. Take that rain!

So, if you're setting off this weekend on the Coast to Coast or the Dales Way or our very own Dales High Way or any of the other fantastic long distance trails across the UK and you're worried about what the weather will throw at you, don't be. It'll be your walk and whatever happens you'll never forget it.

* does anyone use that word anymore
** too what!!!
*** eat your heart out TGO Challengers with your ultralights and your sawn off toothbrushes