40th Across Wales Walk

6 September 2003

40th Across Wales Walk in summary:

Heavy showers throughout the morning, clearing later to give near ideal conditions towards the end of the event.

  • 139 starters, 126 finishers.
  • First ever triple crossing by Roderick Hollands
  • 7 successful double crossings.
  • Fastest time 8 hours 20 minutes by Vince Thwaites.

This page provides reports and timing information for the 40th Across Wales Walk.

  1. Photographs of this year's event
  2. Report on this year's event on BBC Mid-Wales website
  3. Entrants and completion times
  4. The Across Wales Walk: an Organiser's perspective
  5. Supporting your Doublers by Lynn Yorston

If you took part in the 40th Across Wales Walk, please click here to record your experiences and comments in the Across Wales Walk Guest Book

Checkpoint 2 after 14 miles
Robert Hall engages in foot maintenance
Sarah Lamb checks in Nick Hall
Doubler Terry Ames and John Poolman approach the checkpoint
Andrew Lenz and Christopher Downs 
Allen Ince and friends from Capel Curig MRT
General scene at CP2
Checkpoint 5 after 37 miles
Bob Gold
Peter Gretton
'Doubler' Philip Gwilliam
Richard Sanders
Neville Tandy
Richard Moyle and Joseph Tonkin get some serious rest
Clive Lungmuss supporting 'Tripler' Roderick Hollands
'Doubler' Richard Rosser
'Doubler' David Yorston
Finish after 45 miles
'Tripler' Roderick Hollands arrives at the finish after 53 hours and 135 miles.....
............and finally completes this marathon feat on the beach at Clarach Bay
Presentation Ceremony, Clun Memorial Hall
Stuart and Bob distribute certificates.....
.....to the youngest female entrant Anna Page.........
........the Organiser of the first AWW in 1964 Roy Millard............
.....Organiser of the 25th AWW Chris Palmer......
.....and to Tripler Roderick Hollands.
Stuart reflects upon how one's appearance has changed in the forty years since the first AWW in 1964
Most prolific 'Doubler' Richard Rosser describes the history and finer points of doubling the AWW.
Clive Lungmuss entertains with a 'sideways view' of doubling the AWW
Nev Tandy recounts more than thirty completions of the AWW
More photographs taken by Richard Gilks and Chris Mennie

40th ACROSS WALES WALK: entrants and completion times

To view a table of entrants and times (Excel 4 format, approx. 114Kb) Left click here. To Save the file, right click here and follow the instructions.

Organiser's Report by Stuart Lamb

In the summer of 1963, whilst hostelling in mid-Wales, members of West Birmingham YHA Group mused whether it would be feasible to cross the Principality of Wales on foot in one day. In October of the next year they put this simple proposition to the test, and the Across Wales Walk was born.

Forty events later, 'West' pulled out all the stops to celebrate the anniversary of what has become one of the classics of the challenge walking calendar. Extra coach capacity enabled the largest ever field of 139 entrants to start this 45 mile linear event at Anchor on the Welsh border having spent a short night in the Memorial Hall, Clun.

Forecasts of a final breakdown in the fine summer weather were only partially realised as the walkers experienced occasional heavy showers in the late morning. However, these cleared in the early afternoon to yield ideal conditions: entrants reported excellent visibility with the full span of Cardigan Bay, from St Davids to the Lleyn Peninsula, being visible from the summit of Plynlimon. These conditions persisted until the close of the event with checkers enjoying a rare, dry pack after the last of the 126 walkers completing the event reached Clarach Bay.

Fastest home was Vince Thwaites in a creditable 8 hours 20 minutes. Further, an unprecedented ten entrants attempted a 'double crossing'. Having left Aberystwyth on the preceding day, nine completed the outward leg, with seven completing the full ninety miles. However, building upon his 'double' last year, Roderick Hollands raised the stakes to new and extreme heights by completing the first ever 'triple crossing' of the Across Wales Walk. Moreover, he completed this 135 mile ordeal in 53 hours on a strict self-supporting basis carrying all supplies and gear throughout. A truly awesome feat of mental and physical endurance.

On the following day, in a break from usual practice, entrants and checkers returned to Clun, the 'ancestral home' of the event, for a special presentation ceremony. Following issue of the certificates, we celebrated the forty years since the event's inception by inviting entrants past and present to relate their experiences over the years. Roy Millard, organiser of the first ever Across Wales Walk and completer of the previous day's event, described its humble origins, contrasting these with the large scale and logistically complex undertaking that it has now become. Next up were Clive Lungmuss and Richard Rosser who, being responsible for 23 of the 46 'double crossings', were particularly qualified to describe this variation on the event since its inception by Neville Tandy in 1984. Richard and Clive's contrasting yet complimentary delivery made for an informative and riotously entertaining 'double' double-act. I'm sure that few present will pass the barn at Black Gate without recollecting Clive's description of sharing a short night's bivouac there with a dead badger! Finally, with more than thirty completions of the Across Wales, Neville Tandy, described his life and times in mid-Wales as the most prolific entrant by far. Proceedings then concluded with a snack lunch and celebratory drink.

Overall the fortieth Across Wales was certainly one to remember as we move into our fifth decade crossing the beautiful valleys and mountains of Powys and Ceredigion.

Thanks go to the members of West Birmingham Hostelling Group, the welcome band of walkers-turned-checkers and RAYNET who, year after year, not only make this event possible to stage, but also persistently provide the exemplary levels of support to the entrants for which this event has become renowned.

A date for your diary: the forty-first Across Wales Walk will take place on 4th September 2004. See www.acrosswaleswalk.co.uk for details in early May 2004.

Stuart Lamb

Organiser, 40th Across Wales Walk.

'Supporting your Doublers' by Lynn Yorston

If any of you have ever completed The Across Wales challenge, you will understand what I am on about. For those who have missed this event I shall explain. You arrive at Clun hall on the Friday evening, where you 'sleep' on the floor. At about 03.15, you are woken with a light breakfast and then herded onto buses to travel the 10 miles to the start. At 05.00 this motley group of walkers gather on the bridge that forms the border between England and Wales outside a little village called Anchor. The aim is then to head in a westerly direction, over Plynlimon at 752m, only to stop at the seashore at Clarach Bay before 23.00 that same night . In doing this, you have crossed the width of Wales, hence the name. You are then taken on to the halls of residence at Aberystwyth University to sleep the rest of the night. Certificates are then handed out after a big breakfast on Sunday morning.

It is a tough walk with 5 checkpoints over its 45 miles. The route follows quiet country roads and footpaths. You can pass through wind farms forests, grasslands and even over a dam. The peat bogs around Plynlimon make it all more interesting. The fact that it is held at on the first weekend of September, means that by then, the weather cannot be relied upon.

This year they celebrated their 40 anniversary. The present organiser, Stuart Lamb, indicated that he would make this one special by holding a review back at Clun on the Sunday lunchtime.

In their wisdom, Dave, Paul Sorensen and Paul's two sons Peter and David thought they would also like to make this year special. They would attempt the 'DOUBLE'. This involves starting on the seashore at Clarach at 11.00 on the Friday, travelling eastwards reversing the route, to be at the bridge to meet the buses at 05.00 on the Saturday, only to turn right around and return to Clarach Bay by 23.00 I was required to supply food and drinks for them as the first leg is left unsupported by the organisers.

Who said walkers were not mad ?

However, as it turned out David found himself double-booked (excuse the pun) that weekend. Maybe he just had a stroke of sanity.

We arrived at the Bay in good time only to meet with several others who were equally as mad. The day was hot and expectations high. Then, to our amazement, a walker marched down the road looking as if he had been walking all night to get there. HE HAD. He was attempting to be the first to complete a 'TRIPLE'.

I know there is a certain madness involved, in this but .....

So off they all went and I dutifully followed, camp stove in the back of our van, tracking checkpoints in reverse order, brewing tea by the roadside throughout the day and night. At each stop I seemed to met with the other teams, ahead of my blokes and filled their water bottles as required. Paul found the pull up to the forest hard and it took its toll on their spirits. The heat and climb over Plynlimon was blamed, but this is a tough walk. Still, I was there to offer my gentle encouragement and a cup of tea. Then at the pre-set time that they had given me for their departure, I told them to 'bug*** off . (I am nice really !!)

Spirits rose at Llanidloes where the fish and chip shop had agreed to fast-track their orders. The staff just couldn't grasp why anyone would want to walk the width of Wales once, let alone twice or even three times which ever mental case you were. We all left the shop with a smile.

Throughout the night, Peter was becoming more and more tired. They met up with me about 3.30am at a picnic site for a hotdog breakfast and a hot drink. They could now take a short break before having to walk down the hill to the start. All three had a power-nap but the temperature was dropping as dawn approached.

'Men, right on time, they arrived at the bridge to meet the main group of walkers ready to start the challenge. Joining them was the guy on his TRIPLE. How could he look so awake

At just 19, Peter has a whole string of walks to his credit including the Lakeland 100, but the DOUBLE was to elude him. He dropped out as they returned to the picnic site, joining me in the van for the rest of the day.

By now, daylight had retuned but some showers would dampen the morning. Dave and Paul were walking on with great determination and Peter was snoring. The checkpoints took away some of my duties but the TLC was still in great demand- I watched their timings and kicked them out of each checkpoint on or before time. When I met them at the forest the thought of Plynlimon for the second time was beginning to daunt them. A quick chat with some-one in the know put their minds at rest. Now definitely was the best time in the world to try a new untested-by-them route off the hill. Of course it was !! So off they went leaving Peter still snoring and me wondering when I would see them again.

I drove on around to the dam where Peter and I watched the stream of walkers coming down the edge of this hill. The clouds were gathering fast promising some more rain. By a lot of luck and even more judgement Dave and Paul arrived at the checkpoint having gained 30 minutes on their times. The new route worked.

They left the dam with a renewed spirit and with the end in sight. - they were nearly tail-enders but so what?" they were on the DOUBLE.!! Peter went back to sleep and I drove on to the last checkpoint.

This is where Peter woke fully. "Can't miss the bread pudding - it's the best". Even though they were still nearly the last, Paul couldn't miss the bread pudding either. Time to leave!! The last stretch is downhill all the way. lf you believe that ...

We waited at the seashore counting the weary walkers in. Most seemed to have completed the challenge with great resolve. Dave and Paul came in with only a handful of people behind them, but does that really matter7? They had completed the DOUBLE.

In the 40 years that this walk has been held, Only 18 people have completed the DOUBLE. 90 miles within 36 hours The DOUBLE has been completed 53 times. Only one person has completed the TRIPLE. 135 miles within 54 hours

Many thanks to Stuart and his team for a wonderfully memorable weekend in Wales.

Who says walkers are mad ???????????


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