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Day 1 – Pennine Way – Edale to Crowden – First Day Conquered!

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20.50 and i’m lying in the relative luxury of my dormitory bunk after a satisfying day on the hills.

It didn’t all start so optimistically when we arrived yesterday in Edale with low heavy cloud cover and persistent rain. Things didn’t look much brighter either upon reaching our YHA accommodation.

It seemed we’d arrived in the land that time had forgot with it’s ancient facilities that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Harry Potter movie.

Our “dorm” was in a “cottage” high up on the hillside aptly named Jacobs Ladder probably because of the amount of steps required to reach it.

Our saviour and “sherpa” councillor Ian Greenwood rescued us and treated us to our “last supper” in the Old Nags Head before we returned to our dorm to find we were now sharing with some youths and some middle-aged twitchers who could snore for England! I should talk!!

Thankfully 7.00am arrived and provided a welcome opportuity to hastily depart our digs but not before a heartily satisfying in house breakfast.

Our sherpa drove us to the start, the waiting finally over. We donned our boots and posed for one final photo before the start of our quest.

The forecast was windy with occasional showers. It remained windy throughout and we were relentlessly buffeted by the bitingly cold wind.

We’d soon “layered” up and I’d got my woolly hat on finding it hard to believe only a week ago I was up here training on the hottest day of the year.

However rapid progress was made up Jacobs Ladder and we marched quickly to Kinder Downfall. Still windswept but luckily dry we left the Kinder Plateau via Mill Hill and across Featherbed Moss to Snake Pass.

A brief stop for lunch having broken the back of the first day we progressed purposely up Devils Dyke to attack the top of Bleaklow and proceeded on our long slow descent for the day towards Torside Reservoir and Crowden amidst stunning scenery.

What a difference the YHA at Crowden is, smaller in comparison to Edale but virtually new with modern facilities. We were greeted by Lauren, our superb hostess who invited us to take the weight off our feet and make a brew which was most welcome.

I’d said to Harvey the previous night my legs were itching for a walk, which they were. However three quarters the way through today they’d changed their mind!

The last couple of miles hurt and this was probably were all my aches and pains come from I’m nursing now.

Once camped in our superb accommodation and gratefully showered we went for dinner in house and was joined by two fellow walkers brothers Tim and John. Who had been following us from Edale intending to do half the PW.

Poor John was dead on his feet but we couldnt help but chuckle as he shuffled creeked and groaned across the dining room floor. We wonder what condition he’ll be in tomorrow and if he’ll make it to the end of the day.

I’ll let you know later……..

By Paul Courtney.

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Day 1 – Pennine Way – Edale to Crowden

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So the Edale Youth Hostel 8 bunk bed dorm was just as expected – a zoo.

I am sure they rounded up every person who snored and put them in our dorm. I suppose I should be grateful for three hours sleep under the circumstances.

Anyway day broke and breakfast lightened the mood. Apart from no porridge it was a full on feast so a proper stock up for the day ahead.

With dry weather (a welcome sight after arriving the day before in a downpour that had lasted all day) forecast with maybe the odd light shower it seemed like almost ideal conditions for the first day.

What soon met us was a strong cold northerly wind head on up the dale towards Kinder Plateau.

The ascent up Jacobs Ladder was made all the more strenuous by the wind however gratitudes were made for dry conditions!

Once the upward pull had been made and height gained to Kinder Low trig point the wind concocted up a chilling bite so much so that sheltered rick had to be saught to add layers. So much for summertime!

A quick pace then took us around Kinder Scout plateau, Kinder Downfall that was more like a trickle even after the previous days rain, over to Mill Hill with a 90 degree turn onto the paved track across Featherbed Moss to Snake Pass.

The welcome sight of Sherpa Ian met us on the pass for a brief lunch stop before heading off up Devils Dyke up to Bleaklow cairn.

The Way was dry and a little arduous but the best was yet to come with the route down off Bleaklow on Clough Edge alongside the sharp drops down to Torside Clough a real walkers treat.

Torside Reservoir then opened up down the valley in the distance as the valley target into Crowden.

A pleasant, flat final couple of miles around the reservoir to Crowden Youth Hostel was taken with sore feet and aching limbs and walking into the Youth Hostel yet again met by Sherpa Ian was a relief for the first day, still basically physically and mentally in tact!

Crowden YHA is a whole different ball game to Edale YHA. Small, quiet, modern, with an air of peace about the place. A dorm of four beds with only three in and no hike up to bed!

16 miles, 2 peaks, 8 hours walking. Day One Done!

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The Last Supper – The Pennine Way Challenge

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I write this sat in the ‘lounge’ of Edale Youth Hostel. For ‘lounge’ read ‘Sixth Form Common Room’. Not in a bad way – it is just a real recollection from the deep recesses of my memory.

It is the evening before the beginning, yet there is the distinctive feeling that this is the beginning.

The re-engagement of old activity centre culture really brings home the task ahead. Not so much the physical walk, more the ‘away from the norm’ logistics of sleeping and eating.

We are in a dorm of 8, four bunk beds with a loo attached. Bedding to make your own bed was given at reception. Just wondering if I have to take them back tomorrow. It is so not De Vere.

The first executive decision of ‘wear what you walk in tomorrow’ has been taken, thus allowing a quick getaway in the morning and no need to sort rucksack logistics.

A short drive (yes, drive) into Edale was made courtesy of my Uncle Ian, whom is acting Sherpa for the first week.

Edale Youth Hostel is a good mile or so from Edale Centre.

The second executive decision was to partake in the Last Supper in the Nags Head – the public house at the beginning of the Pennine Way.

A cracking pie, chips and very non Yorkshire pint were devoured in a bustling atmosphere of drenched walkers that had come off the hill from a day of persistent rain.

There is not many places that can beat a ‘walkers’ pub. It is one of the great delights of the world.

Stories are shared, stories are told, trials, tribulations and triumphs.

Shared between people that have never previously met, but have a common goal of the hills.

The Last Supper is eaten, a bunkbed is awaiting and the weather seems to be clearing.

The long wait has gone, the challenge has arrived.

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Up For It – Harvey’s Pennine Way Challenge!

By Paul Courtney

It was on a cold dark winters evening when I first read Harvey’s story on Facebook that my dream of walking The Pennine Way took its first steps to reality.

After reading Harvey’s story I was provoked into action and determined to do the walk with him and for him although we had never spoke or even met yet! Anyway what I had got to lose?

We weren’t friends so I couldn’t lose one but maybe at the end of it all I might even gain a new one.

For anyone that knows me or has played sport against me they me will know how fiercely competitive I am. So failing this challenge is not an option and I’m really excited and enthusiastic about helping turn Harvey’s challenge into a positive outcome.

Initially we spoke and pledged our commitment to the challenge that lay ahead and quietly went about our own training and exercise regimes.

I must admit it came as a bit of a shock to the system when Harvey suggested we should train with full 25lb packs. My pack seems heavier every time I pick it up but now I’m used to it I can hike 15 miles or so without any discomfort.

I met Harvey about a month ago when I had the opportunity to do a training walk of 11 miles with Harvey and his mum from his house.

Paul & Harvey

Paul & Harvey

Harvey’s mum will be joining us on the Pennine Way to do a walk of similar length. All credit to her, I really look forward to her company once again on the day hoping the weather will be as kind to us as before.

It was a wonderful experience to meet Harvey and his nearest and dearest and to be welcomed into their home. It was this that finally personalised everything for me.

After our initial get together we arranged another walk on the Pennine Way itself to get a feel for what lay ahead.

Once in Edale I felt the excitement and anticipation building up inside me although very much in awe of the challenge that we’re faced with.

The scenery in the dale is so much more dramatic and rugged and it was obvious that in whatever direction you walked would require a fair amount of strenuous effort to escape the lower reaches of the valley.

Walking is so much more tiring with hills in the way … how many will we have to climb??

Did I read somewhere we will have to climb more than the total ascent of Everest over the course of the Pennine Way!!!

It was on this second meeting that Harvey and I became more familiar with one another’s company. You know … friendly banter, sharing a few funny stories. Although at one point I’d made some witty comment about Harvey and he did say we have a word for you where we come from!! (which I won’t repeat lol)

And this was after Harvey had spent some time clowning around up to his waist in a peat bog and on subsequent occasions giving admiring glances to passing sheep.

I did some further training on the Pennine Way this last weekend with my friend Julie and it appears that since Harvey has introduced himself to the sheep they have now become overly friendly…

Julie - Kinder Scout

Julie on Kinder Scout

The countdown has begun and I’m entering the final stages of preparation for “Harvey’s Pennine Way Challenge.”

The run up to D-Day has required a lot of planning and preparation from both of us and it’s a huge relief that most of the arrangements are now firmly in place.

Maybe one more training walk and some cycling this week then a few days of rest before the big “off” on Sunday.

Some final adjustments of kit and if this weather continues more shorts and sunscreen will be required.

I’ll also be making one last push to boost the sponsorship kitty.

Initially I just signed up to do the walk but then decided to support Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research hoping to get at least a further £500 to put into the pot.

I’ve managed to surpass that figure this week so everything else will be a bonus. Many thanks to all who have supported me and donated towards the charity.

So without further ado I’d like to wish Harvey the best of luck for the walk and hope that it’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime for both us. I look forward to posting stories of our adventure as it unfolds over the following weeks…. Cheers!!!

By Paul Courtney

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One Week To Go For The Pennine Way Challenge!

The start of my Pennine Way challenge is fast approaching and with a hectic last few weeks of organisation and training walks things seem to be on track!

I am absolutely delighted to have Paul Courtney on board for the whole 265 mile walk.

Paul contacted me a few months ago after finding my group on Facebook when researching walking the Pennine Way for himself – like me a goal he has had for a few years!

Paul has been fantastic in supporting with training walks, kit lists and organisation and has been kind enough to join my fundraising activities for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research for the challenge culminating in a piece in his local newspaper this week.

I am sure Paul will add his thoughts to the blog as we go – not least on how he is managing to put up with me day in, day out!

Paul Hinckley Times

Paul, Hinkley Times

My uncle, Ian, has also been instrumental with advice on plans, kit and fundraising activity. It is great to have family involved in the project.

The training walks for Paul and I have included full pack weight adventures around the areas we live and also enabled us to hook up for a look at the beginning of the Pennine Way from Edale a couple of weeks ago.

Harvey & Paul on Kinder Scout

Harvey & Paul on Kinder Scout

We conquered the original start route of the Pennine Way across the peat bogs of Kinder Scout, great practice of navigation skills for us both, so after we have done the first day next week we can proudly say we have done both Pennine Way starts after returning to Edale ‘southbound’ on our day of training!

Jacobs Ladder Pennine Way Southbound

Jacobs Ladder Pennine Way Southbound

Other practice days have taken me on part of the Pennine Way route from Hardraw up Great Shunner Fell with Ian and his friend Paul.

The main surprise from both these sections of the route was how dry the ground is. After the winter of snow I was expecting the ground to have held more water.

Hopefully a continued dry spell will keep the conditions underfoot in a dry state for us over the next four weeks – although for walking weather we are hoping for dry, but cloudy weather to avoid the heat whilst hiking!

Last night I was back in the BBC Radio York studios for a pre-record on my story with Jonathan Cowap for his weekday morning show which is due to be aired some time next week (watch this space!)

As well as the monetary fundraising it is also very important to me to raise the profile and awareness of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research so any opportunity to share my experience and thoughts are always welcome.

A follow up to the Sir Ian walk in the local newspapers has helped raise the profile locally and with more activities in the community planned my conversations tend to be greeted with ‘How are plans going for your walk?’ which can only be a good thing for the charity.

So, we are down to final plans this week and looking forward to some dry weather!

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