I can say now with absolute certainty that my marathon training has not helped me in the slightest as training for the Coast to Coast.
Today was day one. Today, despite most forecasts to the contrary, turned out to be an absolutely glorious day so really there was no excuse for the sheer level of exhaustion I felt in my legs by the end. I’m currently sitting on the bed with a pillow below my legs trying to coax the lactic acid, or whatever it is that is making my calves so sore, away from the hot zone. I think each day is going to feel like a marathon until I’m broken in or just plain broken.
However, as I type with a pair of socks covering my vasalined feet (this is apparently a remedy for tender points to keep the blisters away), I can say, now that the pain is subsiding a little, that it was a pretty amazing first day. Mainly for the unexpected sun and also for the sheer diversity of the walk; beaches and cliff tops, roads and boggy fields, hills and valleys. It felt like this introduction was a precis of the whole two weeks.
We began from our lodgings and walked to the ‘official’ starting point, marked by a very helpful sign.
This was after we had made several attempts to reach the sea. How hard can that be when you’re standing on the beach? Quite hard as it turned out as there were small streams blocking our way, unless we wanted to get our boots wet from the outset, and we ended up walking quite a way along the beach to physically reach sea water. I found a cuttlefish shell and Sally found a pebble and I think a few little items were ceremoniously chosen to store by other members of our ‘Six Pack’ so we could place them on the other side at Robin Hoods Bay. Before we’d even started we’d done about a mile and a half with all this to-ing and fro-ing.
So Alfred Wainwright starts the walk in a rather teasing manner. For the first five miles or so he gets us moving west and then north as we skirt the edge of St Bees head. But as the morning begins to brighten we can see ghosts of the coasts of the Isle of Man and Scotland. In fact the further north we go, the more we can see of the ‘sticky out’ bit of Scotland; materialised into cliff faces and hill tops. The path here is undulating and pleasant and occasionally scary if you looked over the precipice. I loved being being above the seagulls as they floated lazily on the currents of air.
We do however, eventually make a right turn and head due east finally into the country.
The first bits are quite level and there is some road; we go through the small towns (or large villages?) of Sandwith (pronounced Sanith) and Cleator. I bet the residents of these places are well used to people dressed up in our sort of clobber ‘skiing’ through their streets . Well I would once have mockingly called them ski poles but I now think those sticks are amazing. Maybe a bit redundant on the flats (although some people say they’re good even there) but for going up and more especially DOWN a steep hill as Dent, today’s main obstacle, turned out to be, they are a godsend. One minute I’m happily chatting to Derek as we begin making our descent with Sally walking just a few feet in front, the next she’s suddenly disappeared. There is a really sharp gradient all the way to the bottom and one slip and you wouldn’t stop rolling.
Although by the end I was trudging along and thinking are we there yet, I really did enjoy it. No honestly, my moaning in that last couple of miles may have indicated otherwise, but it was a beautiful start to our adventure. But you know know, that 14 miles was actually 17 plus miles according to Paul’s ViewRanger mapper. So no wonder I was whacked.