Coast to Coast 2006

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      > Afterthoughts



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The Savage's Coast to Coast Diary
Day Twelve

Afterthoughts - Back home

It's been a few days now since completing the walk. Time for a little reflection. You don't need any guff from me on planning and doing the Coast To Coast, there is already loads out there. You know what to do. Here are a few other thoughts.

1. Walking is the most natural thing in the world for most of us, it's just one foot in front of the other. And so it is with the C2C. It's just about walking distance. If you are moderately fit then you are physically capable of giving it a good go, no problem. For the old, the infirm, the tub of lard and the lazy dog, even, there are possibilities - you'll just have to go slower and take longer than everyone else.

2. Finishing it; well that might be another matter. This walk has its physical challenges: the mileage itself (day after day), the climbs (day after day) and the descending (day after day). You'll probably have good days and less than good days; ups and downs. Your feet will sometimes hurt and there is always the danger of blistering to sit alongside the other aches and pains that will emerge from time to time. But it's not just about the physical. Sometimes fate does take over. If you badly damage a leg it's the bus back home for you. But even if all body parts keep working reasonably well there will be times when you are going to have to dig deep and find that extra something to get you through to the end of the day or start the new day. Those determined to complete the C2C will get to the finish. Maybe you'll find out something about yourself along the way. Don't assume though that everyone starting will see it through to the end. There were a couple of separate individuals we came across, part of larger groups, who dipped out early, and they won't have been the only ones. I wonder what they found out about themselves.

3. Of course the thing that is not in your gift is the English weather. This will make a huge difference to how you feel each day and the progress you make. Chances are you'll be giving the walk a go sometime May through to September. You know the old joke about the English summer - nine months of anticipation, three months of disappointment - well its not an old joke actually, it's a cruel one that gets played out most years. Like us, you might get lucky ( just one rotten day). If you were born unlucky you could be looking forward to a trip of rain, wind, fog and feeling very, very cheesed off. All bets are on but the hot money is on you getting a bit of everything along the way.

4. Make sure you enjoy the scenery and the landscapes you're passing through. Reading back over the daily updates I don't think I've commented enough on the stunning environment that we'd been walking through day after day. Maybe it's because we live in the North and most parts of this route are accessible and familiar to us. Get lucky with the weather and you're in for a real treat throughout. Many of the days were short enough for us to have been able to stop for much longer than we did.

5. Why would anyone want to do this walk with a full pack on their back and camping each night? Surely the only reasonable answer is economics. That's fair enough. Although I guess the answer '' 'Cause I'm mad me '' is also acceptable. Campers, you have my respect. But all I'll say is that the campers we came across always looked that bit more grumpy than the rest of us and, come to think of it, a bit more rumpled, dirty and smelly. No, for us it had to be a soft landing each night with the heavy lifting done by others. This is the way most sensible people do it. We used Packhorse There are other options but Packhorse never let us down, our overnight bags were always waiting for us at the next B&B. We came across one large group doing the walk who were staying in their own caravan, parked in various locations throughout the C2C route, each night. They took it in turns as to who did the walk, who drove and who moved the caravan, when necessary, each day. My brain was hurting as the logistics were described to me. Keep it simple.

6. Don't expect to be treated like royalty at your B&B. As much punter as guest was our experience. You're just the latest in a long line passing through the first room on the left at the top of the stairs. Do, however, expect the quality of rooms to be good . We had one poor, a couple just OK and the rest more than that just OK. Packhorse booked our accommodation and, as they promised, put us into a range of places including private guest houses, pubs and hotels. We viewed the whole accommodation thing as part of the adventure. Even when it went all wrong we still laughed it off. If I had my time again there are probably a few key words I'd mention when booking a room: 'bath' and 'quiet' would be near the top of my list. Overall, we preferred the farmhouse B&Bs / private guest houses over pubs and small hotels.

7. You're going to come across all sorts of people on your C2C, all shapes, sizes, ages, capabilities, experience and nationalities; the friendly and welcoming and the less so. You'll meet some again and again on the walk. With some you'll even feel happy about that. In the same way that you'll be passing comment on them they'll be doing the same about you. What goes around comes around. And yes, you will meet those who appear to have little aptitude for navigation.

8. Just going into this with your eyes open may not always be enough. There are certain points on the route where, if visibility is right down, navigation by sight alone will be difficult. Going over the top between Black Sail and Honister and on Greenup Edge going over through Far Easdale in the Lake District, or on certain stretches of open moorland between Shap and Kirkby Stephen, are examples. We got lucky and had good visibility on those stretches. Many will have the insurance of GPS. You will almost certainly make some navigation errors on the route. Just make sure they are small ones and that nobody notices. And don't just follow the guy in front....he may be a Womble.

9. Expect to come across bulls at some point. We had three encounters: one roaming free in the bracken at the end of Ennerdale Water, one on the open moors on the Shap - Kirkby Stephen stage and one in a field on the route to Danby Wisk. When you have this sort of meet your options tend to be limited to either a rapid movement of the legs or a detour. Our bulls, we felt, had more interesting things on their minds than causing mischief to us (even though they were often just yards from us) so we just chose the 'fast walk don't look back (I said don't look back, William)' option.

10. I know you won't forget your end of walk rituals. Feet dipping in the sea at Robin Hood's Bay? For us the tide was well up so only a short walk to wet the feet. For those of you born unlucky, in addition to the poor weather you've encountered, the tide will now be well out, the sea only accessible after negotiating lots of seaweed and slippery, barnacle encrusted rocks. The pebble? if you've stayed with us from day one you'll know that Roscoe, our seven-year-old, wanted treats and gifts to be brought back: he got to throw the pebble into the sea. He seemed more than happy with that. Book signing? In the Bay Hotel you'll find a book for all those who've successfully completed the crossing to provide an entry. We're in there: 19th August 2006, just a blank space where there should be a witty or profound comment. You can then move on to other traditional, English ways of celebrating success. Expect some bemused looks and smiles from the day trippers. Some will understand, but many won't have a clue, what you've done to deserve that cup of tea. And why not treat yourself to some C2C memorabilia that the enterprising burghers of Bay have prepared for your purchase. William got a C2C T-shirt which had the essentials printed across the front and back. It went on immediately and stayed on for the next day and night. Proud or Idle? No question really. You can't walk the walk without feeling anything but pleased with yourself.

Good luck with your C2C adventure , I hope you enjoy as much as we did.

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