In a way I do not envy people who live in or near a National Park. They do not get that amazing feeling I get when the outline of big hills and mountains first appear in the distance. Whether it is Snowdonia from M54 (it might just be Wales generally to be honest) or the brooding mass of Dartmoor from A30, it never ceases to take my breath away. Last Friday it was The Lake District (and looking at the map probably the tip of Yorkshire Dales) from the M6. I was sitting in a car with Paul (@paulgbuck on Twitter and @walking4charity on Social Hiking), who was kindly giving me a lift up to Rosthwaite, just south of Keswick in the Lake District, for the 10in10 challenge.
The 10in10 is an annual challenge to walk (or run… seriously, some people run it) 10 peaks in 10 hours (or the shorter but still tough: 5 peaks in 5 hours) to raise money for MS Society. I had thought about taking part since I stumbled across an article about it in the MS Society magazine last year, but in December I put the feelers out on Twitter to see if anyone else wanted to join me. Surprisingly it turns out quite a few people were up for it as well, and Team Social Hiking was born – 22 social hikers (with a few friends).
Base camp for the weekend was Chapel House Farm campsite, a short walk from Rosthwaite in the Borrowdale Valley (I will try and do a quick review post at some point, but the summary is nice site in a great location (with zero mobile reception) and good value at £6 per person per night). Tim (@ukjeeper) and his wife had arrived the day before and staked out a spot for the team (using his first edition Social Hiking t-shirt as a marker) and we pitched up then headed to the nearby Langstrath Country Inn for lunch and refreshment. At the pub we bumped into Pete (@naturistatheist) who helped us demolish the biggest hand cut chips I have ever seen (they were basically roast potatoes!). For those of you with long memories, Pete had joined myself and Alex (@winkysmileyface) for a day of Offa’s Dyke (as well as meeting us at the end with a bottle of bubbly!)
By the time we arrived back at the campsite, a few of the other team members had arrived so, after introductions, we headed off to investigate the short walk to the Scafell Hotel Riverside Bar (the start of the challenge the following day) for some more refreshment. As an aside, I am not sure if we caught them on a bad weekend, but I did not find the staff at either the Scafell Hotel or the adjoining Riverside Bar particularly friendly or welcoming thoughout the weekend compared to the nearby Langstrath Country Inn or the next door Royal Oak Hotel). Afterwards, I made a slight detor on the way back to the campsite to meet up with Social Hiking legend Jilly (@JillySherlock) back at Langstrath Country Inn. Jilly spent two and a half years on an epic adventure cycling around the world solo – sharing her progress throughout on Social Hiking. Jilly returned with me to the campsite and regaled everyone with tales from her amazing trip, before we all called it a night and attempted to get some sleep (some more successfully than others unfortunately).
It was an early start for the challenge itself, with registration for the 10in10 starting at 6.30am. The week before I had made the final decision that my back was not sufficiently recovered to do the challenge, so I had given myself the role of ‘support team’ (along with Tim’s wife, Chris) and we accompanied the team to the start where we met up with the local contingent of Team Social Hiking (and a very refreshed Kate (@divescidiva) who had taken the hotel option).
Team Social Hiking 10in10-ers (if anyone was wondering, the pole held by Gina (@CumbrianBlondie) holds her iphone and is the secret to her peak selfies!)
The 10in10-ers set off and shortly it was the turn of the 5in5-ers
With everyone on their way, Chris and I headed off to find somewhere to get a coffee – unfortunately The Scarfell Hotel were not willing to sell a pot of coffee to non-residents, but we found the Royal Oak Hotel much more friendly and amenable, and we were soon relaxing over a cafetiere wondering how the team were faring on the first big climb of the day. Apparently for the last few years the weather had been terrible for the 10in10, but this year the sun was shining with just a few clouds in the sky and it was certainly hotting up nicely (for the support team at least) as we waited for the bus to take us up to Honister Slate Mine (a bus route I wish all my local bus drivers had to train on!).
Honister Slate Mine is the only place on both routes that is easily accessible by public transport. The team drop down from Dale Head to the event checkpoint (3 peaks in for the 10in10-ers, 1 peak for the 5in5-ers) before climbing back up to Grey Knotts. As the team members arrived, they were rewarded with a pork, black pudding and chilli pie each from Woodstock Bakery (my local bakery) – the best pie in the world! The first part of the course had some tough climbs which, with the heat, minimal breeze and congestion, made it quite a challenge, so the team had been separated into several groups. Unfortunately Rose had to pull out at the start due to an asthma attack and Tim sensibly decided not to continue due to injury. With everyone accounted for and waved off, I donated the spare pies to some hungry looking marshals (including mine – I hope they appreciated the sacrifice!!), and we caught the bus back down.
Dean (@dean_read) tucking into his pie at Honister Slate Mine
I got off the bus at Seatoller and started down the road to the finish of the 5in5 at Seathwaite. I was so disappointed (gutted in fact) not to be able to take part in the event (although in truth having seen the route in real life, even fit, the 10in10 would probably have been too much for me!), but it was lovely to take the short stroll on my own down the valley and soak up some of the amazing scenery that surrounded me. I cut off the road and took the footpath which followed the river, passing a dad swimming with his son and dogs in a deep pool, then a group of Germans gillying up Sour Mill Gill, before arriving at the finish line of 5in5.
As it happened there were a few hours to kill, and I spent the time being entertained by the brilliant marshals and watching people dropping down the punishing decent (and in truth having a little snooze in the sunshine!) I was shortly joined by Chris and Tim, and I got to meet and have a chat with Duncan who, with his wife Yvonne, organise the event. Duncan was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the same year as me. I sometimes feel a bit isolated in these early years after diagnosis, so it was nice to have a chance to chat to a fellow MSer (and they both deserve all the praise they get for putting together such a brilliant event that raises so much money to try and find a cure for MS).
Team Social Hiking on 5in5 (thanks to Paul Buck for the photo)
Eventually we made out coloured blobs that looked like the team making the descent towards us and we cheered them all through and across the finish line. Tim was at hand with his car to give everyone a lift back and he kindly dropped me off at the finish of the 10in10 (back at Rosthwaite) to await the rest of the team. I was able to ‘borrow’ some wifi to quickly check their progress on Social Hiking, and saw the lead group was only a few miles away.
Part of Team Social Hiking on 10in10 (thanks to Nick Hood @nickhood4 for the photo)
First to cross the line was Dean, followed by the rest of the lead group (pictured above). They were shortly followed by Rik (@RichardHubbuck), who had been nursing a knee injury though out, with Adrian (@turbostream) and shortly behind them was Matt (@hillplodder), who had been separated from the others after he had stayed with Tim during the first stage.
With everyone back and safe, we joined the rest of the participants (and later the marshals) in the Riverside Bar to celebrate. We ended up taking over the small outdoor courtyard, and Team Social Hiking polo shirts were issued to everyone and one or two (or more?) beers were drunk! Despite (or perhaps because of) completing such a tough challenge, everyone’s spirits were high, and we enjoyed a fantastic evening in great company (although I am sad to say none of the team won a raffle prize). The local contingent (with the exception of Karen (@kwheatman)) took the sensible option of a hot shower and a soft bed, but the rest of the team returned to the campsite to continue celebrating.
The 10in10 was an absolutely fantastic event, and a massive thanks go to the organisers and the marshals (who I spent most of my day with – their humour, enthusiasm, professionalism, encouragement, care and hard work was first rate!)
I am so proud of everyone who was part of Team Social Hiking – such an amazing and fun bunch of people who came together to raise an estimated £2500 for MS Society (incidentally it is not too late to donate…. https://www.justgiving.com/socialhiking4ms/). Thank you so much each and every one of you. I feel so honoured to be the custodian of a website that has helped bring together such a fantastic group and I cannot even begin to put into words my emotions of being surrounded by people who are so proud of being part of this thing called ‘Social Hiking’. I left the Lake District feeling so revitalised from the enthusiasm and passion everyone had for Social Hiking (although also a bit annoyed that I did not arrange to spend a few more days in The Lakes like Matt and Cath (@wellycath)).
Thank you as well to everyone who has donated and supported Team Social Hiking (did I mention it is not too late to donate…. https://www.justgiving.com/socialhiking4ms/) helping us raise money for a charity that is so important to me.
There were plenty of photos, videos and Social Hiking maps from the event (and there will no doubt be a few blog posts) from members of the team. Matt is keeping a list of everything on his blog post about the event (well worth a read too) at http://hillplodder.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/the-10-in-10-ish/
There is already a list of people interested in joining Team Social Hiking in 2015 (on both 10in10 and 5in5 (which I WILL be doing))………. and if you want a taster, here is the trailer for Rik’s forthcoming film of the event: