Coast to Coast 2020 - Day 2 (Shap - Gunnerside - 33 miles, 95 total)

I set my alarm for 5am which was quickly dispatched.  Things were not looking good already.  At 8am I rolled out of bed with much discomfort still present and whilst I was still incredibly stiff I felt I could probably at least get to Kirkby Stephen (79 miles) and reassess.  However, the late start just added to the impossibility of a three day crossing.  I then had a full on breakfast comprising of 3 Weetabix, mixed fresh fruit and a Full English (all of which was delicious).  I started off at 9am in the rain, but to be honest it was better than yesterday where I had caught the sun.

Start of Day 2

To begin with I flicked between three modes: walk, run and run/shuffle.  I was making good, but not great progress and although it looks like I did a short cut, this again was just down to following the more modern route.  The only exception was near to Brownber where I devised a change off the hoof for no apparent reason as it certainly wasn't a shortcut.  I was again now struggling and I was now just down to walk and run/shuffle.  In short I was broken.  With 3km to go I spotted my wife waving to me and it gave me an enough of a lift to press on.  She had even used the stove to boil some water to make me a hot drink with the rain.  I was extremely miserable, had been going for 4.45 and had only completed about 15 miles.  I eventually rolled into Kirkby Stephen at 2.30pm - bad enough regardless, but made worse by setting off late.

Kirkby Stephen - Keld

Review at Kirkby Stephen

I had some lunch in the car and just said I'm done, I'm not enjoying it and I wanted to go home.  My wife just encouraged me to rest, to take my fell shoes off and to dry my feet.  I'd like to say that I had 45 minutes rest, but it wasn't really a rest as such.  It was a case of the mental torment of being 90% certain in my head that I wanted to quit.  I could at least hold my head up high and say that I traversed 62 miles across the Lake District in a single day.  In the end I suddenly agreed that I would at least get to Keld (90 miles) which is the half way point and reassess there.  At the very least I will have then completed half of the distance.  I also wore my wife'ss walking shoes, which gave a bit space for my rapidly swelling feet.

I set off at 3.15pm for what is only an 11 mile leg to Keld.  However, what lay ahead is the biggest climb of the day and one of the biggest of the whole trip at 662m.  I power walked the initial section and to be honest I felt okish.  The Nine Standards Rigg climb has three route options and I decided late on to take on the supposedly easier winter route.  It was a decision that I soon regretted - whilst remaining dry the visibility soon reduced to c.50m.  Considering the path is a recognised Coast to Coast option, it just petered out to nothing.  I was now left with a compass that was half functioning as the air bubble inside it covered a third of the whole unit and due to the visibility I had little to work off.  I eventually came across a huge ravine which I figured must have been a stream and worked my way back to a wooden post which I assumed was a path marker.  After that I eventually found my way to the road where my wife was waiting, but it was another 30 minutes lost.

It was now 5.15pm and I decided the remainder of the way to Keld to just stick to the road.  Unconventional - Yes.  Cheating? Maybe.  My wife then just kept a distance from me and just checking in every now and then to see whether I was ok.  With the benefit of hindsight I'm not sure why I was using the road as actually the tarmac was always much worse on my feet.  Perhaps mentally though it just meant I could switch off a bit.  I eventually rolled into Keld at 7.10pm.  That walk along the road gave me plenty of thinking time; 3 days was out, but four days might still be on.  However I also knew that calling it a day at Keld would not be enough either, simply because although it is the half way point, the chances of repeating my Day 1 performance was nil.  I needed to press on.  I agreed that my wife would leave me in search of accommodation in Reeth, or failing that Richmond, check-in etc. and then come and find me before I called it a day.  The chances of me getting to Reeth (101 miles) that night were zero, but every mile I could do that evening would make the chance of a sub four day finish feasible.

Review at Keld

My wife came back at about 8.40pm and reported that she had found a pub in Feetham which was just 3.5 miles from Reeth, but I called it a day at 9.15pm at Gunnerside as it was now pitch black, and to continue any further could impede upon my recovery time.  Overall 33 miles for the day; which ever way you cut it, it was a poor effort but considering that I was going to call it quits at Kirkby Stephen I couldn't complain.  There are two recognised routes between Keld and Reeth; a Northern remote section and a route along the River Swale.  In the end I did neither and just stuck to the road - it is probably cheating but certainly not a shortcut and if anything added a couple more miles.  Why did I do it?  There was a mix of reasons - the mental aspect being one, but also not knowing where I was going to finish in the last of the light and I needed to be somewhere within touching distance of my wife.  I think with hindsight had I always known I was going to end the day at Gunnerside then I would have gone along the River Swale, but I just did not know that at the time.

Keld - Gunnerside

After a quick shower the owner had kept the kitchen open for us (again upon hearing the story of what I was doing) and quickly whipped up some home cooked chips and a huge beef and Stilton baguette which did just the job alongside a pint of lemonade.  I have to say the hospitality was fantastic and I would love to stay in the Punch Bowl Inn in Low Row in more normal circumstances.  All that was left was to consider the next two days and whether or not I had done enough today to keep to my new goal of completing within four days on target.  Two more days of 33 miles would leave me over 20 miles short, so I knew that I needed to up my game even if my body was falling apart.  In fairness my quads were about the same (not that I think they could have got worse), but the new enemy was the state of my feet.  Still all to play for.

End of Day 2 Review


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