Little did we know that we were going to be hit by icy cold showers and strong side winds. Oh wow, it turned bitterly cold. On went the hats and gloves, up went the hood and in poured the water…straight into my boots. Turns out my waterproof jacket wasn’t so waterproof either. I was soaked, we were all soaked…and cold.
Finally, the top. The cloud cleared and the sun shone through, but the chilling winds were bitter. The views were breath-taking, but it was too uncomfortable to stop for any length of time. Plus, my phone battery had died so that was me done with the photos. In fact, that was most of us done in every sense.
We’d been out for 6 and a half hours by now. Even our chills had chills. I managed to double tap the Trig point but any thought of the obligatory group photo with the dogs was long out of our minds…we headed straight for the shelter.
Hurray, the shelter at the summit, we’ve made it! Off came the soggy t-shirt, on went the dry layers and thermal headband. It was a great feeling reaching the summit. Kendal mint cake, snacks and coffee were shared round. A few shivery photos were taken, before heading back out.
Now, the summit of Helvellyn was 2 thirds of the way round with the final third being all downhill. So, you’d think it would be a quick hour to the finish.
Nope, not even close. Time was now around 5pm, people were aching and tired. We’d been out for so long thoughts of sitting in a warm pub were dwindling away
It soon got dark, no we were so slow it got dark. The return leg would have definitely been halted if we hadn’t brought torches. I was literally walking 4 or 5 steps turning around to shine my torch for the people behind then walking 4 or 5 steps again, and so it went on. Being out on the hillside and no street-lights, it was pitch black. No one could see the trail in front, the bottom of the hill, the car park, nothing. It was like we were descending into a dark void.
|A photo should be here, but honestly it was that dark you couldn’t tell the sky from the ground.|
We were probably just over half-way down when we heard a distant shriek from up the hill: ”are you at the trees yet?” I knew from the strained tone that said trees were an important indicator for knowing the car park was near-by. This scream cried out again becoming more desperate each time. You see that person shouting has Fibromyalgia (chronic all over muscle pain and stiffness). If you imagine walking, over 9 hours, with relentless pain then you can understand why it took as long as it did. It goes to show the determination needed to succeed this quest (it was over 9 hours; yes, I get to call it a quest). The planned pub meal was a distance thought. Just to get down off this bloody hill and see the cars again was all that was needed now. I actually think it was another hour before I could finally call out ”we’re at the trees!”
Eventually, after 11 hours 44 minutes, reaching an elevation of 3,105 ft and precisely 7.27 miles (going off AP’s stats) we had conquered our quest.
It was with great teamwork that we managed this feat. We shared food, fleeces, walking poles, handwarmers, even dog leads as we assisted each other down. It was this level of care and effort which really sticks in my mind. For a group of strangers, we were pretty awesome.
Back at the car, off came the wet clothes on went the dry casuals and fresh socks…aah! We had one last regroup and some cake (of course) before heading our separate ways. The dogs were equally knackered, but fine, nonetheless. A great hike and experience that I doubt any of us will forget. Well done everyone.
I endured two and a half days of crashing out before recovering from this adventure. It could have been much worse, and it was definitely worth it.
Next week, I look into why my body was able to complete this huge hike when many days I struggle just getting around the house.
A final note…
All of the dogs mentioned in this blog are rescued dogs. We are still raising much needed funds for Saving Saints Rescue UK. To continue the care and rehoming of dogs like these please use this link to donate:
Any donation is very much appreciated. Thank you.