Kili Day 6 – 17th September 2010

It was an early start and my appetite had returned however worrying I still hadn’t had a movement, those Imodium tablets are super effective! After breakfast we all had a group photograph with the porters and they performed a song for us.

The group had all put in money for tips and shared them out to the porters and cooks. I then gave some extra dollars to Moses as a personal thank you. The porters would be taking our gear to the coach and then making their way the ‘Machame Gate’ to start their services with a new group undertaking Kilimanjaro.

The walk to Mweka gate was very pleasant, passing through the jungle, listening to the birds chirping and spying the monkeys in the canopy. After signing out of the national park we walked to ‘Mweka’ village passing through farms with children waving and watching us walk by.

We stopped at a café to have dinner of banana stew, which didn’t taste like I expected. We said bye to our guides giving them some gifts. I had some unused thermals that I handed out. We left to board the coach to be greeted by the children from the village, we decided to hand out sweets and other snacks we still had left in our packs.

I watched the country fly by as we made our way back to ‘Arusha’. It was bittersweet that the climb was over. I enjoyed the whole experience and certainly had plenty of stories to tell on my return home, but I was tired. As soon as I got to my hut at the same hotel I stopped at on the first night, I jumped into the shower.

Once feeling civilised again, I went to the hotel bar where I had a few drinks with Tim (the group member who had to return due to the chest infection). He was recovering well and had colour back in his cheeks; he had been prescribed a course of anti-biotics. After resting up for a day, he went on a safari in the Serengeti and explored Arusha thus made the most of his time in Tanzania.

After dinner, some of the group went into Arusha with William to hit a few clubs, however I was too exhausted and remained at the hotel bar for a couple more beers, then retired to bed. I fell asleep to the bush babies squawking into the night.

A magical end to my Kilimanjaro adventure.


For those who maybe interested about my stomach issues. Despite not having another Imodium since the start of the final ascent, I still hadn’t had a bowel movement. When it finally did, it was somewhere over north Africa. It was a new low; an airplane toilet is one of the worst places to have to take a dump, and the walk of shame back to your seat made me wish I had a parachute so I could jump out the nearest hatch!

Kili from the Airplane

Kili Day 5 – 16th September 2010

My phone alarm woke me at 1130pm giving me time to get sorted for the midnight start (I took another of Tronel’s Imodium). It was pitch black, no light at all, and William was right, it was cold! -15 Celsius! I couldn’t wait to start moving to warm up. Other groups had already set off, noticeable by the line of torches, snaking up the mountain.

Armed with only our headtorches we began our ascent. It was very hard work and laborious. The path consisted of frozen scree, which is the reason for starting so early. With the ground frozen it made the footing more secure and easier to traverse. I had my head down concentrating on my foot placement, maintaining a constant pace and controlling my breathing.

Hours later, climbing the devilish zig-zag path, at dawn I reached ‘Stella Point’, one of the principal peaks of Kilimanjaro. The hard work had been done. From here, the route follows the rim of the volcanic crater to ‘Uhuru Peak’, the summit.

Looking Back from Stella Point

I could only walk a few paces before getting short of breath, the wind was bitterly cold sapping my energy. I was getting frustrated at my seemingly slow progress and at one point I had lost my patience and exasperating out loud, “Enough!” I picked up the pace to get it over with, only to cover a pitiful 10m before almost keeling over gasping for air, much to the amusement of Jeremy.

The landscape appeared so barren, alien and inhospitable. I was in awe with the view and experience. I persevered making it to ‘Uhuru Peak’ arriving at 8am. I made it to the roof of Africa!!!

I was one of the first from the group to reach the summit and I waited for the rest to join me. There was a queue at the summit with other groups taking pictures. We all waited patiently for our turn before assembling below the sign, that’s when I noticed there was one missing. Harry hadn’t made it.

Once we had the group photo, I wanted one of just me and the sign. However, at this point there was an inconsiderate and impatient climber who made a snide comment at me. Scowling at me, she said to me “Come on, there are other people wanting pictures!”.

This angered me; we had all waited patiently for others to get their pictures, and it was our turn. The summit wasn’t going anywhere! She could have just chilled out for a bit and savor the moment, and after all it was a great experience, and certainly wasn’t exclusive to her; but instead she decided to throw a bad comment at me. I couldn’t believe how antagonizing and selfish she was; I hoped she would step on Lego when she returned home! Because of her whining at me, I wasn’t concentrating on the person taking the picture, thus I was unable to direct him on how I wanted the image. The result was a composition I wasn’t fully happy with.

Kili Done

The descent back to camp was just as difficult but in a different way; the scree that was frozen only hours ago, had now thawed. Every foot placement slid a few inches down making it a challenging balancing act. I had a few moments resembling Bambi’s first steps and almost ending up on my back! The dust was something else, I was covered in it from head to toe; when I took a drink from my water pipe, it was like taking a mouth full of sand.

It was in my eyes and nose, bypassing my snood. I reached the camp to be greeted by my porter Moses, who cheered and congratulated me. His big beaming smile was a welcoming sight after the unrelenting summit of the tallest free standing mountain in the world.

I relaxed in my tent to update my journal before heading out to find Harry to see if he was ok. I found him with a sullen face, clearly disappointed for not reaching the roof of Africa. Turns out just before ‘Stella Point’, he was struggling to breathe, his head was pounding and feeling dizzy. After informing William, it was decided he needed to descend back to camp.

I sat with him for a while just chatting until Jeremy returned and I passed the baton to him. Soon it was time for lunch, however my stomach wasn’t up to much and I only had an appetite for a less than half of my bread roll and soup.

Shortly after midday we began our descent to Mweka Hut where we would be spending our last night camping on Kilimanjaro. It was exhausting work as by this point, we had been walking the better part of 17 hours. There was no respite from the dust and my left eye was irritating something fierce due to it.

The dusty alpine clime eventually gave way to jungle as we approached camp at 3100m. My tent never had been so welcoming on this entire trip. I soon fell asleep with a smile on my face. One of the 7 conquered!

Kili Day 4 – 15th September 2010

Barranco Wall

The clouds and mist had dispersed during the night and when I emerged from the tent, I realised we had camped at the base of the ‘Barranco Wall’. It was a nice surprise yet daunting to see that I had to climb this almost shear rock face. It did look menacing.

I woke with a bit of wind, but this was alleviated with a stop to the long drop. After a bowl of porridge, we began our ascent of this lava rock fortress. The ascent is 300m to the top and calling it steep was an understatement.

It was tricky to climb, I had to ensure my hand grip was secure and my foot hold was strong to propel myself up the rock face; it was slightly beyond scrambling but not full-on rock climbing. It was challenge but so much fun, I was having the time of my life! Once I reached the top, I was ecstatic, I felt good and strong. The summit would be no problem!

The views were amazing, and it was here I got the ‘picture of the adventure’. With the help of Graham, I posed on top of the wall looking out over the clouds at Mt. Meru. I know it is a little egotistical, but I got this picture printed out onto an Aluminium sheet and it is currently hanging in my Kitchen, I’ve never looked more like an adventurer in this picture, than ever in my life!


After a short break on the wall, we continued to Karanga Hut (4100m) where we stopped for lunch. It was the most surreal lunch I have ever had to date. The porters had laid out the tables, again complete with tablecloths, outdoors with the views above the clouds.

We were served chicken and chips, very civilised; it couldn’t have been more British even if they erected the Union Jack! I couldn’t believe it, I was dining at 4100m, way above the cloud level. There were smiles and disbelief over everyone’s faces as we tucked into our food.

Alfresco Dining at its Finest
Tronel Not Too Happy I Snapped this!

What was even more surreal, was I turned on my mobile phone and it pinged with messages. I had signal!!!! I couldn’t resist but had to share the moment and I phoned my dad. How unreal, I was able to speak to home 4100m above sea-level, eating Chicken and Chips at a dining table on the side of Kilimanjaro! (For those fiscal natured readers, I had an international roam deal with my phone company, so the call cost me no more than a £2 – I know, amazing for 2010!)

I sent my love home before heading on towards our next camp at ‘Barafu Hut’. The clouds started to come in and envelope us, dropping the temperature. My stomach started to rumble, and I again had wind, to the point it was becoming very uncomfortable.

We all stopped for a water break and my guts were screaming. I threw down my bag, grabbed my toilet roll and raced to the nearest rock (there are no convenient bushes at this height). I ducked behind it knowing I’m out of view from my group. I drop my kegs down to my ankles and leaning against the rock, I offloaded the package to much relief.

It was at this point I look up to find the path I had just ascended snaked below, where another group was making their way up. I was mortified! But, when you got to go, you got to go! It was some comfort that, I was probably too far for the group below to be able to identify me, and if they did, it’s highly improbable I would meet them ever gain once I returned home.

Yeah, I had gone from one of my life’s highest points to its lowest in a space of 2-3 hours! Nether the less, it is a funny story to tell years later!

I sheepishly returned to the group who had waited for me, to continue our journey. I was feeling awful now, I had become lightheaded, and I was getting motion sickness concentrating on the ground and the feet of the person in front of me, as we progressed in single file.

It was a long hard, slog to Barafu Hut (4600m), which by the time I reached it, my headache had returned. In the ‘Mess Tent’ for dinner, I didn’t have an appetite. I had a ‘Dehli Belly’, I cursed myself of forgetting the hand santiser. I was so religious with it on my Himalayan Adventure, it prevented me getting the stomach bug that did the rounds.

Luckily Tronel is a pharmacist, so I asked if she had anything that could help. She gave a blister pack of pharmacy grade Imodium, telling me to take two now then one after every movement. Tonight, we would begin the summit, and I didn’t want to have to deal with having to finding a convenient rock, so I took 3!

William gave us a brief for the summit, and he meticulously got everyone to list their kit and advised us what to take and wear. He stated that the temperatures would be the coldest we’ve experienced so far and stressed the importance of keeping warm. Basically, we had to wear everything we brought with us, even down jackets. Having experienced the Himalayas, I stuck to the three-layer system I had employed and packed the down jacket in my rucksack.

We returned to our tents to try and get some sleep, but it was only a few hours before we would begin our ascent at midnight!

Kili Day 3 – 14th September 2010

My Group Ploughing On

My sleep was so much better and my headache was only a flicker of what it was the day before, in fact I soon forgot about it as I began walking. The gradient wasn’t troubling, and I soon got myself into a rhythm. I spent most of the morning chatting to one of the party, Graham, he is a retired detective constable for Essex Constabulary.

We swapped war stories passing the time until lunch. We stopped just before a feature called the ‘Lava Tower’. A cluster of volcanic boulders with a huge chunk that towers above. The terrain resembled more of a lunar landscape at this point. While everyone tucked into their packed lunches, I decided to do bit of climbing (clearly too much energy!).

I Can See the Summit!

As we munched away on our food, we had views of the diminishing iconic ‘Arrow Glacier’ and the ‘Western Breach’. Above this, the upside-down moon could be seen. It was pleasant with another cool breeze keeping the heat at bay; I basked in the Sun eating my sandwich.

Dwindling Arrow Glacier
Lava Tower

We continued on to the shouts of “Twende Twende”, the breeze remained keeping it perfect walking temperature, however my headache had re-appeared. The incline wasn’t troublesome as we reached the ridge of a small valley. The route follows a tiny river, gradually descending into camp. On the way down the clouds came in reducing visibility down to 20m or so.

The Giant Senecio trees loomed and lurked over us in the mist, giving a very eerie atmosphere, akin to a horror film. Thankfully Moses met me to guide me to the tent just as it started to rain. I flopped down onto the sleeping mat and took a couple of ibuprofen for the headache, and it soon cleared up. I think it’s the dry dusty climate that is causing my discomfort rather than the altitude.

Tents in the Mists

I called into the ‘Mess Tent’ for a cup of tea, to be told some bad news. A member of the party, Tim had developed a chest infection and fever. This is not good, as it presented a challenge to get someone down from here; a priority for his health. Prolonging his exposure to this height and the lack of Oxygen would only make it worse.

There is also another concern, the infection could spread to the rest of the group, which can easily happen at this altitude and conditions, my Himalayan Adventure a casing point. It would be the end of the ascent for those who contract it, I just hope if I were to get it, it would be on my descent.

The temperature really dropped as the evening wore on, I was loathed to get into my thermals. I had laid them all out to change into as quickly as possible, to limit my exposure to the frigid temperatures. For dinner it was carrot soup and spaghetti bolognaise, just what I need for energy and warmth!

There was a small Scottish contingent to the group, and one of the members, Sandy, after dinner said a few words thanking the guides and porters, then asked if we would all share a prayer to help us summit Kili and for Tim to have a speedy recovery. It was a nice touch and seemed to gel the group a little more.

Our head guide William also said, after speaking to the leaders of other groups, he reckons ours would be one of the first to summit. He probably just told us this, to boost our confidence, but I’ll take it! We then retired to our tents to get our much needed sleep. Tomorrow, we tackle the infamous ‘Barranco Wall’!

Kili Day 2 – 13th September 2010

I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked, but on the plus side I still hadn’t developed a headache. The clouds had disappeared lower down the mountain, and the African sun was pulling no punches; it was scorching!

Kibo is now visible at last with the glacier crowning the peak, finally seeing where I am heading gave me extra energy to compensate for the lack of sleep. The trail up to midday was nothing too strenuous, however it is very dusty, far worse than the Himalayas. My snood was put to full use, and it is a must have for this trip. The low Oxygen is certainly noticeable now also, but it didn’t hinder nor make the morning difficult.

Once we emerged above the rainforest, we could see that we were above the cloud level. In the distance peeking out of this vast white fluffy carpet, stood Mt. Meru, in Kenya. For lunch we stopped at a group of boulders to eat our sandwiches. I perched on one, enjoying a cool breeze that picked up. It had been so hot to this point I had consumed all the water in my backpack bladder, all I had left was half of the contents of my water bottle.

Mt. Meru Poking Above the Clouds

I relaxed in the sunshine with Meru in the distance. White Collared Ravens were also interested in my lunch, watching me attentively for any crumbs or scraps I’d throw their way. At the shout of “Twende Twende” (Let’s go Let’s go), lunch was over, and we donned our packs to make the last 2 hours to Shira Plateau.

White Collared Raven

The incline from this point increased suddenly, the route became more difficult to navigate as it became rockier and more unstable. The dust seemed to thicken, and I was caked in it. I developed a headache and my sinuses felt tight, my throat was extremely dry, likely due to the dust rather than altitude.

As I trudged on, I noticed that the moon was still visible in the sky, and it looked odd. It took me a few seconds to figure out why, and it was because I am now in the Southern hemisphere. The first time in my life have gone below the equator. The moon to me is upside down!

Odd Moon

The sun didn’t relent, and I was thankful to reach the Shira Plateau (3962m) where it was a gentle stroll to camp. Moses welcomed me and offered to carry my backpack to my tent. As soon as I sat down, I kicked off my boots and gaiters. I immediately grabbed the pack of baby wipes for a “Whore’s/Corby wash” (if you don’t know what one of these are, check out my Himalayan Adventure blog).

I took some ibuprofen and applied some tiger balm for good measure. I then just admired the view from my tent out over the valley I had just climbed, however it is now blanketed with the clouds; but Meru was still visible.

I took a stroll around the plateau to visit the ‘Shira Cave’. On the first ascents of Kili, the cave was used as a shelter, however it has eroded from the years of use, reducing it to a fraction of its size. It is prohibited to shelter in it now, but I still got a picture inside!

Shira Cave

On the way back to camp I got chatting to one of the guides, Samuel. He was telling me how much the glacier has receded over the 10 years he had been working as a guide/porter on Kili. A clear sign of the effects of global warming; he told me that there is now a lack of water travelling down the mountain, and it’s affecting the eco systems of the rainforest that covers most of the national park.

He also gave a bit of background on the Porters. For each group that climbs Kili, all the porters are from one tribe. So, each group will have a unique tribe to carry their gear. Every night at their camp, they would all dine, sing and dance together.

Once I returned to camp, it was time to answer the call of nature. This was a funny moment for me. For all the camps on the plateau, unless you were with the posh party that had their own toilet tent. We all had to share two long drops. One had a porcelain toilet over the hole, next to it, was the standard hole in the floor, squat type; plenty of these in the Himalayas.

There was a long queue for the porcelain toilet, that was in a right state having visited that one earlier. There was no queue for the hole, clearly these trekkers weren’t that well-travelled! I gave the line a quizzical look then walked past them all and entered the vacant toilet.

I then went to the mess tent for dinner before returning to my tent to catch the sunset. The clouds had moved up causing the summit of Meru to look like a shark’s fin, piercing a fluffy white sea to a golden backdrop, as the sun sank below the surface.

Meru Jaws

Kili Day 1 – 10th to 12th September 2010

It had been a fairly stressful start to this adventure; I had opted to take the National Express coach to Heathrow, rather than the train like I had done for EBC. Due to traffic, I barely made the change at Milton Keynes. Luckily once I had arrived at the airport, everything went according to plan. As soon as I walked through the ‘departures’ door, I spotted a bloke with a rucksack.

I went over to him and asked where he is heading, he was on the same trip! His name is Harry, from Sussex. Once through security we had the obligatory airport beers at the bar. I was pleased to have met someone on the trip so quickly. Although I went to India by myself two years earlier, it had been with work. Kili was my first true solo adventure, which I was a little apprehensive about.

It was a long flight (close to 24hours), with a change at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and a short stop at Nairobi, Kenya to pick up more passengers. In Ethiopia, we met up with the other trekkers who would become my travelling companions over the next 8 days. Chatting with them, none had been to high altitude before and were nervous about altitude sickness. It reminded me of my pre-adventure jitters last year.

From Addis Ababa, I had a window seat. The clouds seemed to form animal shapes over the barren and dry ground below. Vast cracks in the earth, stretched across the land where rivers once flowed. The scene from ‘The Lion King’ where Simba is looking to the heavens and seeing Mufasa in the clouds came to mind.

After a bit of some ‘kooky’ flying from the pilot we landed in Arusha, Tanzania. Once the paperwork for immigration was completed, I stepped out into the African Sun (well it was overcast, but none the less, I was finally, for the first time on African soil). I took a deep breath to take in the atmosphere. The dry dusty air caught the back of my throat sending me into a small coughing fit!

The ground is a dry reddish brown, with trees dispersed through tall yellow-brown grassy plains. It lived up to everything I had imagined it to be like.

It was a coach ride into Arusha; I was fixated on the scenery. Large dust columns slithered between the trees, as they gave way to the plains. Unfortunately, Kili was obscured by the clouds and haze. We arrived at ‘The Karama Lodge’ hotel, which is set on a wall to a valley. Each room is a wooden lodge on stilts, looking out over the forested valley below.

I sat on the balcony to my lodge, enjoying the cool breeze as it rustled through the trees above and made an entry in my journal. At 7pm I went to the main hotel building for dinner and to meet our guide, William. The next day would be an early start and it will be spent walking through the rainforest that encircles Kili. I couldn’t wait!

Despite an encounter with a huge spider and the monkeys drumming on the roof of my lodge, I got a surprising amount of sleep. Around 8am we arrived at the ‘Machame Gate’ which marks the entrance to the ‘Kilimanjaro National Park’. There was a light rain, and the air was brisk, perfect for walking.

We passed under the pointed arched gate after signing the register, to begin our adventure. There are warning signs about the journey with a list of “Points to Remember”. This hammered home the dangers of high altitude.

The route was mostly gentle with a few steep sections, but nothing strenuous. The rainforest was peaceful and quiet, the occasional bird or a squawk of a monkey broke the silence. We caught glimpses of their tails as they moved through the canopy above. Every hour or so we would stop for a break and to eat our snacks; it was also then I realised I had left my hand sanitiser back home. An error I would go on to be punished for, further into the adventure.

Lunch Time

The clouds remained with us all day, and I had not yet seen Kili at all. We reached Camp 1: Machame Hut (3000m) just before 5pm. My porter ‘Moses’ showed me to my tent, it was nestled between the trees. I had it all to myself, one of the group had paid extra to have their own tent and rooms, which meant I was the odd number; thus, I too had my own tent and rooms.

It is bittersweet, as it was good to have my own space, however it felt a little anti-social, and I would have liked to have had company to share the experiences of the day with. At 7pm we had our dinner. This was in a large tunnel tent, where tables had been placed end to end, all complete with tablecloths. We ate by candlelight and listened to the briefing for the next day.

We retired to our tents where I filled in my journal. I had no headache, I felt strong, feeling in a lot better position than I was after the first day on the Himalayan adventure. I just hoped it would remain this way for the rest of the week.

The Roof of Africa

After finishing my Himalayan adventure, I was eager to book another trip, to give me something I can look forward to; I truly had been bitten by the travelling bug. Having seen the tallest mountain in the world, it made me want to climb it, but back in 2009 the cost for a permit was £30,000. Silly money! The Everest group talked numerous times about the ‘7-Peak Challenge’, which is the tallest mountain on each continent.

This grasped my imagination. I wouldn’t be able to get them all done, but that wouldn’t matter. Not many people would be able to say they have done even one of the 7-peaks. So, I looked them up:

  • Europe – Elbrus 5,642m
  • Africa – Kilimanjaro 5,895m (also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world)
  • Northa America – Denali 6,190m
  • South America – Aconcagua 6,961m
  • Antartica – Vinson 4,892m
  • Australasia – Carstensz 4,884m
  • Asia – Everest 8,848m

Everest is a no no, due to the expenditure, and the same for Vinson. Carstensz at the time was in the middle of a civil war. So that left Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro. The most technical one out of those four is Denali, thus I would need to do some climbing training before tackling that one, but it wasn’t out of the realms of possibility.

Shortly after returning from Nepal, I was offered a place on an Aconcagua ascent in the new year; however, sadly I did not have enough leave left to take up the offer. I looked back on ‘The Adventure Company’ website (the same company I had booked the Everest Base Camp with). They had a package for Kilimanjaro; that settled it for me. I booked it for September 2010.

Unfortunately, I would be travelling this one alone, as my brother Pete didn’t want to undertake any more adventures. This trip would be different to EBC, primarily I would be camping; there are no teahouses on this one. There were still porters to carry the bulk of our gear, as well as the tents. This would also be my first visit to Africa, a continent that has always captured my imagination.

Kilimanjaro sits on the Northeast border of Tanzania and is a dormant volcano. Its iconic glacier stands out above the Serengeti, unfortunately it is predicted to disappear between 2025 and 2035. It has three volcanic cones with the tallest being Kibo, with ‘Uhuru Peak’ the tallest point.

However, the most important aspect of Kili, is it will be my first of the ‘7-Peaks’ and the 12 months following my Himalayan adventure, could not have passed by quick enough!

Welford to Wilbarston

We picked up today from where we left off on the 27th July. The walk in the gale force winds on the peak of Skiddaw hadn’t deterred Hannah from adventuring with me.

The weather was perfect, the low autumn sun was out, the temperature cool and the ground dry, we couldn’t ask for better conditions for mid October!

After leaving a car at Wilbarston we returned to Welford to begin our 4th stage of the Jurassic Way.

Welford Church

We set off from the church where we ended two months prior, cutting across fields to the Welford reservoir. The path follows the banks before scooting over a sluice to head towards Sibbertoft.

The kilometres flew by as we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the Northamptonshire countryside, listening to the birds and enjoying the autumnal colours.

Cows Drinking from the Reservoir

While at Sibbertoft we were greeted by some friendly cattle, that paid a bit of interest in us. Naturally we stopped to say hello and give them a stroke.

From Sibbertoft you keep heading towards Market Harborough until East Farnden where the route heads southeast to Great Oxenden, here we stopped for a quick drink at ‘The George’.

At this point we were over halfway, the distance had flown by. We continued on crossing more rolling fields as the sun gradually lowered casting long autumn shadows.

As we left Braybrooke and approached Stoke Albany, we realised the route had been easy to navigate and none of those blasted nettles that had plagued us on the previous stages, stood in our way. But we spoke too soon. We encountered worse!

The Route Goes Through That!

We were confronted by a wall of green prickly plants! There was no defined path, and only guided by the ordinance survey app, we entered this triffid monstrosity.

There were brambles, hawthorns, nettles and all manner of shrubbery between us and the next field. Clearly the ‘Jurassic Way’ is not a well trodden route. It is a shame really, as it would make a great first thru hike for those wanting to test the waters of this pursuit.

You get to see the best of the Northamptonshire countryside, no demanding hills like the Cotswold Way and there are plenty of villages, and pubs along the route, to keep you going.

After some ducking and weaving resembling a modern dance recital, we navigated through this prickly obstacle wall.

From here it was easy going across freshly planted fields into Stoke Albany then on to the stage end, of Wilbarston.

We arrived at the village hall where we had left a car; grabbing a selfie before heading to the local pub (which was closed so we ended up in The White Horse at Stoke Albany) for our, now traditional stage end pint.

As autumn has set in and winter is around the corner, the last two stages will likely be done in the spring. So see you next year as we continue our adventure on the Jurassic Way.

Hannah’s First Mountain

All the training and the long distance walking covering the Jurassic Way for Hannah has led to this point, summit day for Skiddaw.

You may recall from an earlier blog, that Hannah has never climbed a mountain and challenged herself to climb the 4th highest in England for charity; Dementia Uk.

We set off from Northamptonshire about 8.30am, zooming down up the M6 making good timing. By 12.30 our were bags fastened, walking boots tied and we started our ascent.

The weather was cloudy with sunny spells and fairly windy, not too bad considering the forecast was rain today.

Our good timings continued as we made our way up the dreaded steep zigzag section that puts you on the run up to ‘Little Man’. We encountered a few brief rain showers, nothing to dampen our spirits.

The path gradually gets steeper as you summit ‘Little Man’ nothing we couldn’t handle, however as soon as we got to the top, we were hit with gale force winds, winds we were protected against as the path runs the North East side of the mountain.

We and fellow walkers had to sit low to the ground and hold on to the rocks to stop us being blown over.

The path dips down along a ridge and up again to Skiddaw. The wind was blowing with such force the clouds we speeding by like race cars. It was too dangerous to take this path, and the other walkers had the same idea.

There is another route that follows a path on the North East side of Skiddaw giving protection from the wind, not ready to give up, we back tracked to this path and attempted the summit. But nether the less, Hannah had summited her first mountain, ‘Little Man’!

Bracing the Wind

The plan seemed to be working, soon we were ascending Skiddaw. The top was in cloud cover but didn’t look daunting. We reached the cairn that marks shallow rise to the true summit.

Bang, the winds hit us again, the true summit a mere 100m away, but the weather worsened. It started to sleet! This, coupled with the gale force winds that had us clinging to the mountain top, forced us to turn back.

For the sake of getting an extra 3m higher to the stone marker wasn’t worth taking flying lessons. If you doubt us, see the below video!

We begrudgingly began our descent in the driving rain. There were a couple of walkers heading up that we warned of the conditions, but they wanted to see for themselves.

Once we got to the bottom of the dreaded zigzag section the clouds cleared and the sun came out. We couldn’t believe it! However looking back up you could still see the clouds speeding over the summit. It may be pleasant now but the winds certainly hadn’t stopped.

Once we dried off a celebratory drink or two was in order. So a pub crawl around Keswick ensued. We also found out after speaking to some friends, that the mountain rescue team, find Skiddaw the worst for people and dogs being blown off from the winds!

So congratulations to Hannah for conquering Skiddaw in some of the most horrendous conditions. The current total for Dementia UK is £840!

Camino Portugués Brucy Bonus

I have finally found some time since returning from my second Camino to make my customary video of the trip. It has been a bit hectic for me since arriving home; my feet were only on British soil for a week, before I was boarding a plane to Amsterdam for a training in course; I had only enough spare time to do my washing! The montage is below, and I hope you enjoy!