CAN WE DO THIS?
Whilst Bruce Springsteen is my musical hero, I was not best impressed when he belted out ‘Promised Land’ to wake me up this morning. I turned to Patrick and asked the 2 usual questions “How did you sleep?” and “What’s the weather forecast?”. He responded with “Ok, just not enough” and “Not good!”
We’d both got concerns about today. Parick described it as a sense of foreboding and I just felt generally down. For those of you who know us well, this is not usual. I’d woken up in the night thinking about the route and cycling further south of the A595. North of Cockermouth it joins up with the A596 to head south and we imagined that the volume of traffic would be similar to that just south of Carlisle. I proposed a contingency plan to Patrick in case of a large volume of traffic on this road f we perceived it wasn’t safe. Many of you have advised us to ‘stay safe’. We’ve heeded your words and safety is a top priority.
We met Jackie for breakfast and confirmed the plans for the day. The breakfast at Graysonside B&B was excellent – good quality museli, Yeo Valley yoghurt and fresh berries were available from the buffet. Jackie’s tomato and cheese omelete was excellent as were Patrick’s poached eggs on toast were perfectly cooked.
Our planned ‘planned ‘pedal off’ at 9am was delayed by 5 mins as bowels got in sync with the agenda! When we left Graysonside it was actually dry. However, within 5 minutes the weather got in sync with the Met Office forecast and it started raining heavily.
Our first scheduled rendezvous with Jackie was in the Co-Op car park in Egremont, (18 miles down the road) where she was planning on providing coffee.
Our low period of the day is usually late afternoon, when we’ve pedalled for over 80% of the distance and the last bit just seems too much. However, today we experienced a low before we even got 10 miles down the road. I wasn’t feeling good and shouted back to Patrick “OK?”. We regularly do this and he responds “OK”. On this occasion his voice wavered as he responded “I’m struggling”We had a brief stop at the top of the hill where we made positive comments to each other, but it was clear we really didn’t feel motivated. As we pedalled on up the next hill I had rain dripping down my face, mixed with tears. All rather pathetic, but that’s what 3 Peaks Ultra does to you. Much later in the day we exchanged full details of our emotions earlir in the day and recognised that they were virtually identical
We eventually arrived in Egremont and with the help of a local man, who we later discovered was called Fred, we found Fraser’s café. A random event that completely changed the day. The staff and customers were welcoming, supportive and encouraging and made a very generous donation to CRUK. We’d gone in the shop dispirited and disheartened and left uplifted and reinvigorated. Our coffee had warmed our hands and their support had warmed our hearts. It was a café with a real sense of community where there was good natured banter between staff and customers. Fred, Eileen, Beth, Trisha, Louise, Beth and Neil, you achieved more than you’ll ever realise and put 3 Peaks Ultra 4 CRUK back on the road. Thank you!
We cycled on feeling positive and determined, up the hills and through the rain and reached Wasdale Head in time for lunch.
We changed into our walking gear in a toilet and headed off up Scafell Pike in torrential rain
It was a long , steady climb. There were numerous groups coming down, but few others going up. We didn’t stop on the way up other than to regularly check for features and landmarks to help us navigate down in the poor visibility.
When we eventually reached the top there was only one other group there who kindly took our photo as we battled to kep the CRUK polybanner unfurled, in the 35mph winds and hail.
They quickly headed off down a different route , leaving us alone in poor visibility and despite carefully checking features and compass berarings on the way up, as we tried to find the path, we soon realised we were disoriented only 50m from the summit. Suppressing panic, we got the compass out, but couldn’t believe where north was. We retraced our steps to the summit and decided to head off in the direction of the bearing which we couldn’t quite believe. After a short distance we realised we were heading in the right direction and began our cautious descent down the mountain in the wet, slippery conditions. It was a huge relief to get back to Wasdale Head Inn. We’d done it! Can we do this? Yes, we can
We quickly stripped off our wet clothes, showered , changed and headed off down to dinner to meet Jackie. There was no sign of her or the car. Very soon we began to worry. There was no way of contacting her with no phone signal or wifi. We used the hotel landline and eventually managed to get hold of her. It turned out she’d been sitting for 3 hours at the car park where we’d left each other earlier to bring us the 1 mile back to the Inn. She’d begun to get slightly concerned about us, whilst we’d been in the hotel for almost 90 mins. Unbeknownst to her we’d taken an alternative, more direct path which emerged very close to the Inn. At least all was well and everyone was safe. With friends and support like this, how can we not keep going?
Originally the name ‘The Pikes of Sca fell’ was given to the peaks which are now known as Scafell Pike, Ill Crag and Broad Crag. an error on an ordnance survey map naming the highest peak ‘Scafell Pike’ has now stuck and is in common use.The neighbouring peak, Sea Fell looks higher from many angles and is actually just 10 feet lower.