Jill Elliot, who was a friend of Hazels at Durham, has raised over £2,300 from a walk (well actually a 24 hour hike of over 50 miles!!!!) she and three others participated in in the Peak District and has very kindly sent in the following report all about it.
56 miles in 24 hours! No sweat! Or so we thought one night in the pub after a few (possibly too many) drinks! And so commenced our Bullock Smithy adventure.
A friend of ours is an assistant Scout leader with the 3rd Hazel Grove Scout Group. One of their annual events is the Bullock Smithy Hike (a 56 mile hike around the Peak District). Now in its 32nd year, we decided if teenage Scouts can complete the Hike then we could too. These were words I think each of our group of four who embarked on the Hike regretted at least once during the months of training that followed!
The morning of the walk began grey and dreary but at least it was dry. The rain of August had finally ceased and we were hoping it would remain dry for the next 24 hours.
Our bags had been carefully (and hopefully) packed with sun cream and sunglasses but these items were soon discarded on the morning of the walk. Due to the weather they were clearly not necessary and all extra weight needed to be removed from our bags. This was a decision we began to regret as we arrived at the starting point of the Hike to be greeted by glorious sunshine. The sun continued to shine as Ruth, Lu, Muriel and I set off with 250 other competitors.
The first leg of the Hike took us out towards Lyme Park, and for any Pride & Prejudice fans out there, we kept our eyes open for a glimpse of Mr Darcy (a.k.a. Colin Firth) but unfortunately he was not around to cheer us on.
We reached the first of fourteen checkpoints in good spirits. The sun continued to shine and we had not encountered too many hills.
As the day progressed the journey became difficult for one of our group. At checkpoint 4 in Edale Ruth decided after a valiant effort to retire.
Following Ruths departure, Lu, Muriel and I pushed on. The steepest climb we had yet faced in the Hike was our next challenge before dusk. We pushed on and reached the summit slightly (!) out of breath and were rewarded with beautiful views of Castleton as the sun set.
Having reached checkpoint 5 we were revived by jam sandwiches and juice but we still managed to take a wrong turn (we knew we should have paid more attention at Duke of Edinburgh and Guides!). However, we were soon back on track and heading in the right direction.
As darkness descended and the first rain of the Hike came down, our fear set in. Navigating in the dark was a whole new challenge. It was not something we had experienced before nor prepared for in training. Somehow those map reading skills that had eluded us earlier returned and we managed to navigate our way through a series of fields and down a few tracks towards (we hoped) the next checkpoint at Peak Forest.
All of sudden red flashing lights appeared out of the darkness. What could they be? Thankfully they were from Muriel’s boyfriend’s camera who had come along to cheer us on. We had gone the right way! He was one of the most welcome sights we could have seen (well, the finish line would have been pretty good too!).
Following another refuelling stop at Peak Forest we were much revived and set off through fields and over styles with a spring in our step. A muddy bridle way or two, a few comedy falls in the mud and we were at the next checkpoint. This was the lowest point for me; I was muddy, feeling sick and generally tired, but knew I had to keep going. At Millers Dale we joined another group of four for safety and set out as a seven for the next leg of the Hike.
A rumour had been spreading about the next checkpoint at Chelmorton, apparently they had donuts and coffee! The thought of donuts spurred us on.
This leg of the Hike saw a break in the rain however it returned with a vengeance as we left Chelmorton. Thankfully our waterproofs held out and we made it to Earl Sterndale dry, well, apart from a few soggy feet. Many of the footpaths we encountered during the Hike would have been better described as streams following weeks of incessant rain. No amount of waterproofing our shoes could have kept the water out!
We took a slight detour (honest) as we headed on and eventually made it to the next checkpoint after being charged by a group of horses (possibly the most scary thing we have ever experienced in the dark).
As we left Brand Top dawn was breaking, a welcome sight because we knew that navigating would become easier (or so we thought). It also meant the finish line was drawing closer.
Dawn broke but navigating did not become any easier, thick fog had set in. Somehow we managed to find our way (thankfully we had walked this section of the Hike as part of our training). At this point Lu, Muriel and I decided to increase our pace and set out again as a group of three.
After another detour we were soon back on course. At checkpoint 12, Walker Barn, we were told that it was unlikely we would finish in Hike before the noon deadline. It would be close but not completing the Hike was something we refused to accept having come so far.
Our group became four again as Nick, one of the guys we had walked with overnight, joined us. I dont know where we found the energy after walking 46 miles but we began to run (well, lets be honest, jog) to try and reach the finish line by noon.
As we ran along the Macclesfield Canal, we must have been a great spectacle. People passing us on Canal barges cheered us on, we had to finish!
Whitely Green was the penultimate checkpoint. As we left the checkpoint we had five miles to complete in an hour and a half. Under normal circumstances, following our months of training, this would have been ok, but after 22 hours of walking, could we make it?
My feet really started to hurt but we had to keep going. We set out running along the Middlewood Way. Tiredness and confusion set in towards the end, had we gone the right way? We kept going and hoped we had. Eventually we saw the housing estate we had walked through almost 24 hours earlier, such a welcome sight! We dug deep and sprinted (dont ask me how) towards the Scout hut and the final checkpoint to be greeted by cheers. We were the final participants to complete the Hike before the 24 hour time period lapsed. Our feet were sore and we shed a few tears through exhaustion and delight but we had made it!
I dont think any of us will be participating in the Hike any time soon (well, other than to help on a checkpoint), but the sense of achievement was immense. Its a challenge everyone should undertake at least once!
Raising £2,321 for a fantastic cause has made all of the fundraising and training worthwhile. Thanks to everyone who sponsored and supported us in our training for the Hike and to the volunteers from 3rd Hazel Grove Scout Group who organise the annual Bullock Smithy Hike.
Image credit: ru boff