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The final test run

The final test run

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Thank you to everyone who has been reading these updates and to everyone who has donated! I’m very close to my fundraising target and when including verbal pledges will reach the £5,000 mark, but it would be great to raise even more for a great cause so please donate if you can. 

This month was our last practice run before setting off for our little journey up the world’s largest free standing mountain, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

Our plan for January’s walk was to camp overnight in sub-zero temperature and then to climb Sca Fell, some 978 m high.  Unfortunately the snow that had settled in the middle of the week was now melting and rain was forecast. This meant that the hills were going to be extremely wet and boggy under foot and so we changed plans.

We decided to go back and climb Pen Y Ghent, a fell that stands at 694 m and is the third of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. To make the route longer, we decided to start at the southern side of Pen Y Ghent where the Pennine Way joins the road and walk anti-clockwise round Pen Y Ghent through Silver Dale and then up to Foxton. From there, we would then follow a track to Plover Hill before heading onto Pen Y Ghent summit and back down the Pennine way to the car - thereby extending the walk to over 10 miles in total.

(Mike and Andy’s route)

We weren’t sure if there was anywhere to park where we intended to start, but thanks to an enterprising farmer, a grassy area and £1 in the honesty box we had that sorted. I sent a quick text message back home from my Sat messenger to say we started (it automatically sends a grid reference so family can track my progress), then it was gear on and away we went.

We only took the route through Silverdale to add to the miles covered but Andy and I were pleasantly surprised; we walked along the western side of the valley following the river which, in summer, would make a great walk. At that moment though, the rain was steady, the ground was very muddy and slippery and the feeder streams we needed to cross were becoming mini rivers.

From Foxton we trudged through melting snow and thick bog where water seemed to be bubbling up from underground water courses. My waterproof trousers had, by this point, given way to the wind and it was not long before my legs were soaking and the water had run into my boots – great! While I was dealing with freezing feet and legs, Andy’s gloves were doing nothing to protect his hands but about five minutes after telling him how warm my hands were, my gloves gave up too. With this, we stopped for a quick coffee and bite to eat before heading straight up to the top of Plover Hill. 

As we climbed we soon warmed up and being wet didn’t feel quite so awful. We arrived at the summit without difficultly despite the crust of frozen mud that gave way to boggy ground under foot.

At the summit we met a few others who had walked the normal route from Horton in Ribblesdale and spoke to a couple who had just returned from the Inca Trail. We discussed walking at altitude and whether we would be taking altitude sickness prevention pills: they said that the altitude really messed with their stomachs and that they hadn’t been able to eat for three days. A slightly perturbed Andy confidently announced that nothing would put him off his food on the climb up Kilimanjaro (well we’ll soon see but I hope he’s right).

As the weather dried up, we headed back to the car and, with this, finished our last training walk before the big climb. This was a good one to end on as we learned a few things - the definition of waterproof is variable and spare rain wear might just save us from the conditions on Kilimanjaro.

So now I need to clean my gear, re-waterproof my boots and trousers then figure out how to fit all my equipment into a 15 kg bag. Then it’s time to go... wish me luck!

I will be leaving for Kilimanjaro on 4 February and will be updating you on my progress when I can – stay tuned.