This week’s blog is a bit on the short side. I’m out for the next few days acting as safety cover on what must be the most gruelling race in the UK – It’s called ‘The Spine’ and the competitors are racing each other north up the Pennine Way.
This might not seem particularly challenging, as many walkers complete the PW every year, but most walkers take three weeks not six days, and most walkers don’t attempt it in winter!
One of the tasks I’m down for is manning a safety point with my old mate John Bamber, at one of the highest bothies in the UK – Greg’s Hut on Cross Fell is at an altitude of 700 metres or so, and if the weather is bad anywhere over the next week it will be bad on Cross fell.
Which is why I was setting off up to Greg’s Hut last week – a recce seemed like a good idea as I’ve not been there for about twenty years, and John had not been there at all.
The idea was to make a light and fast ascent, so I was somewhat bemused when John loaded a huge rucksack in the car. The logic soon became obvious – it was to carry the bag of coal that John had decided was an essential for the job.
So it was that for last week at least, John became the highest coalman in the country – good value for him because he gets warm twice, once carrying it up and once burning it in the hut stove!
We’re both old enough to know better of course, but at least we don’t have to do the whole Pennine Way in winter! Watch this space next week to find out how it all went.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock
p.s. As I post this, the racers are strung our between Gargrave and Hawes. Six of the original sixteen have already withdrawn, but the remaining ten are pushing on in very cold conditions. You can read daily updates on The Spine website at http://thespinerace.com/?cat=3