On the 4th of August we completed the 10-year anniversary walk. Ten years since the death of my dad and only a couple of weeks after we had completed the 10th Dorset walk.
We decided to try and walk 2 legs of the normal walk in one day. Obviously choosing the hardest parts and walking in the other direction. Why? Because we wanted to finish at the Smugglers Inn, a cracking pub! The event was open to anyone who was daft enough to give it a go and as with the first ever walk, people said yes and weirdly really enjoyed the experience, I think.
Before the walk itself 12 of us decided to go coasteering at Dancing Ledge, the quarry part of the day 3, if you have walked it before. This experience was well, ‘knarly’.
The highlights were:
1.The traffic on the way down! As ever the M25 and M3 were a little on the busy side, a nice few hours sat in traffic, great start. As we tried every route possible to miss the traffic, we did encounter some back roads. Like children we risked our lives to try and leave Matt behind. Childish and amusing!
2.Getting to know James German a little better. He really does listen to advice. When discussing leave time, we discussed how poor the traffic can be and the need to leave early. James took the advice on board, and ignored it. As we all stood ready to go, James and Harry were still yet to arrive as… they were still stuck in traffic. Start delayed as we waited for them. On the plus side he did have tent poles and he wasn’t walking in his work boots.
3.Walking to the cliffs, in a wetsuit, in a heatwave, is ‘hot’. In fact, a lot like being boiled in your own skin.
4.Jumping off cliffs into the sea is fun. Climbing out of the sea to climb cliffs is not, its ******* hard work and hot!
5.Helping the attractive instructor over a style would be the right thing to do. Unless you’re the overweight guy in a group who got shot down hard.
6.Sitting in the beer garden after coasteering is a magnificent feeling! Self-restraint needed, big day tomorrow!
We were all staying near Smugglers, most of us camping (joy). Some in the Smugglers, a much better plan. Northy surprisingly was staying at the pub, how strange. Friday evening was spent at the Smugglers. A great evening catching up with people that we hadn’t seen for a few years. Interesting listening to TY share his love for Hinchingbrooke PE and the excellent teaching he received. I’ve never actually seen a nervous breakdown up close and personal. On reflection TY needs to stop being a baby.
Self-restraint working at full throttle, everybody to bed at a decent hour!
Saturday - The day of reckoning
As it turned out Saturday 4th August was the hottest day ever recorded on planet Earth, EVER. The day started nice and early as the team traversed its way across the Dorset countryside to the start line at Kingston. Our driver drove past the massive, modern, clean toilet block on the campsite, only to announce the importance of a toilet time before he starts. I can now inform you of all the places in Dorset that don’t have toilets. A lovely start as Michael walked through breakfast service in a local hotel for a very brief visit and walked straight back out. We were now late!
There was definitely an element of concern on arrival, as one of the team stated “I can’t walk this far on the road never mind over that” as he pointed out the terrain ahead of us.
So, it begins, all we need to consider is sun cream and water and repeat, easy. The walking at the start was pleasant as we walked downhill from Kingston. Then, the steps up to the beast – an increase to heart beats, the banter became slightly more nervous, but relentless none the less. The general topic of conversation was different to the usual walk, significantly more childish, when compared to the definitely more mature school pupils we normally walk with!
The walk through Kimmeridge and onto Tyneham was enjoyable apart from the increasing heat and the company. We covered quite a few miles at a fairly steady pace without too many significant inclines. At Tyneham we were met by the support team of Baldwin and co. Their help was much appreciated throughout the day and thankfully they were not needed to transport anybody. The attention turned to support for our strawberry blonde team members who were potentially risking their lives being out in the Sahara like conditions. Support I was to regret in only a few hours – Karma!
Post Tyneham it became evident that walking the other way was just a little harder! The near vertical climb out of Tyneham was almost unmanageable – I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, in fact I could see it and my lungs were hanging out of my mouth. It was revolting! If you have been before, you know what comes next, the travellator. Which going down is ok, until you reach the bottom and you look up!
As we reached Lulworth Cove unfortunately, the entire population of Europe had also arrived, which made walking along the beach a real pleasure. Thankfully lunch time!
As we searched for fluids and shade, on display were some of the reddest faced and broken people I have ever seen. Eating was hard as people were overheating, tiring and dehydrating. Well, unless your Courtney and in which case order sausage and chips. Contemplation turned to what lies ahead. Were we halfway or 2/3rds? How hard is what’s left? Can it possibly get any hotter? Unfortunately, most of us knew the next few miles were extremely tough, Durdle Door to Ossmington Mills left to cover.
At Durdle Door there was a prolonged wait, strange as we had only just started walking again. Tyrone, Wayne and a number of others seemed blown away by the view of Durdle Door, it was really nice to see them taking in some culture.
The heat now was hot enough to boil the water in your bag. The next few miles I was starting to acquaint myself with heat stroke. That added an interesting dimension to the walk. Am I going to make it?! Will anybody assist me? That particular bit looked quite unlikely, as most were quite happy with the ‘he’ll be alright’ approach, maybe this was influenced by their options. Stay and look at Damien dying or get to the pub for a cold beer! I would have stayed and helped!! Annoyingly the group now sped up as they sensed the finish! I think I was crawling.
As we reached Ringstead some of the team had made a break for the sea as we reached a beach. My God did that feel good, cooling body temperatures, I’m sure you could hear the hiss as bodies went into the water. Less than a mile to go, people starting to run to the finish, James and Harry racing each other. Finally, the finish and the pub. What an achievement, 20 miles along the Jurassic Coast in a thousand-degree heat. Some of the toughest walking, in the toughest of conditions, a tremendous achievement by all.
As I arrived-ish to the pub - “would you like a beer Damien?” - “No thanks, water and ice please.” - “there is no ice!!!” - “I want my bed” – “you’re in a tent tonight” – “happy days”. Please add expletives as I’m sure there were plenty.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one suffering. Olly Watts and Nick Kyndt, seeing your pain helped ease mine!! Matt H having to phone his wife for permission to stay and play with his friends. Getting clearance denied and having to drive back to Cambridgeshire immediately, also cheered me up.
On a serious note I would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone that took part. We started discussing this event about 4 years ago, amazing how quickly time flies. It was a real privilege to walk with such a fantastic group of people. It was also superb to see so many ex-students, I don’t share it very well face to face, but it means so much to me that you were all willing to come and support me/us. It was great to see you all again.
•The whole 40 miles in a day.
•The 15 year anniversary?
•The normal walk next year, year 11. I hope many of you do make this one!
Overall a superb event for a pretty decent cause.
10 years since my dad died, I think we are doing ok in his memory.