48th Across Wales Walk

3 September 2011

The Across Wales Walk

48th Across Wales Walk in summary:

Overcast and cold start turning foul in early afternoon whilst most were on or approaching Plynlimon. Drier in late afternoon then lashing rain towards the end of the day.

  • 109 starters, 101 finishers.
  • 7 successful double crossings by Janet Pitt-Lewis, Bill Lancashire, Chris Pritchett, Steve Bees, Ruth Burton, Rob Richardson and John Sreeves.
  • Fastest time 8 hours 38 minutes by Mark Lewis.

This page provides reports and timing information for the 48th Across Wales Walk.

  1. Photographs of this year's event
  2. Entrants and completion times
  3. The 48th Across Wales Walk: an Organiser's perspective
  4. The 48th Across Wales Walk: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best by Kathy Tytler
  5. The 48th Across Wales Walk: Ode to Plynlimon by Kathy Tytler
  6. The 48th Across Wales Walk: Bill Lancashire describes his Double Crossing
  7. The 48th Across Wales Walk: Ruth Burton describes her Double Crossing
  8. The 48th Across Wales Walk: entrants' feedback

2011 Photo Gallery:

Unprecedented demand for places - full in three days!

Doublers Bill Lancashire, Rob Richardson and follower (and prodigious doubler) Richard Rosser in Aberystwyth before setting-off on their outward leg.

Breakfast service at Clun

Breakfast team buttering toast

Ready for the off.

Breakfast for the 'Doublers' at the start

Harry Barrow, Chris Seddon and Angela Walton approaching CP1

Looking back to Llandinam

Approaching CP2

Tony Walton checking at CP2

Tony Walton and Andy Field at CP2

Dry Socks? Chance would be a fine thing!

Vicki Burkitt, John Hadley and Darren Jones arrive at CP2

Michael Richardson checking out of CP2

David Holland, Nicola Ghent and Una Wood approaching CP2

Barry Olver and Roy Ramsay approach CP2

Running repairs at CP2

Busy times at CP2

Nick Hall and Rob Young arrive at CP2

Bob Bills, Steve Jelfs, Phil Stevens, Angela Walton and Mark Van Schalkwyk at CP2

David Hood, Mark Van Schalkwyk and Bill Lancashire leave CP2

Stephen Caulton at CP2

Brian Williams, Bob Gold, Ian Davis, RAYNET Operator and Peter Hatcher at CP3

Ian Davis having lunch at CP3

Mick Clayton, Dawn Thornton and Roy & Viv Millard at CP3

Paul Breach, Graham and Jane Bayes, and Julia Cooke-Simmons at CP3

Mark Lewis leads into CP4

Low cloud over Plynlimon

Sarah Lamb and Wyn George check in Aaron Scrivener at CP5

Patrick Hobbs and Jane Bayes at the Finish

A very wet Rob Young arrives at the Finish

Wendy Arkell making drinks in the shelter of the van at Finish

Green: usual route from CP3 to Plynlimon.
Blue: route taken by Leo Lewis! A frightening 2h 40m loop lost in the mist and rain.

Thanks to the following for allowing their photographs to be reproduced on this website:

Richard Swift
 Phil Stevens
Bill Lancashire
Alan Wright
Graham Bayes
Stuart Lamb
 

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: entrants and completion times

To view a table of entrants and times in Excel format Left click here. To Save the file, right click here and follow the instructions.

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: an Organiser's view by Stuart Lamb

As the Clun church clock struck 3:00am, the air was warm and the sky clear with a superb array of stars on show. Fifteen minutes later as organiser it was time to wake those spending the night in the Memorial Hall. After breakfast all made their way to the coaches for the brief ride to Anchor on the welsh border. However on arrival for a 5:00 am start the weather was overcast with a menacing cold wind chilling those assembled. As usual the ‘double crossers’ were waiting, having made unsupported crossings through the night to the start. The cold weather had clearly had an effect: I can only describe shaking hands with Bill Lancashire as like taking sausages from a chiller cabinet!

Formalities over, at 05:02 the 108 entrants set off westwards into wonderful mid-Wales on paths virtually un-walked, but for this one day of the year. The sun made a brief appearance at 07:00 and conditions were reasonable by the time CP2 was reached with many reporting the route as uncharacteristically dry under foot. Thereafter at CP3 in the Hafren Forest, the cloud was down with variable winds. Then, with the majority of entrants on or approaching “The Big P” the heavens opened: Plynlimon was once again doing all it could to spoil our day. Some entrants lost their way, others decided to return to the previous checkpoint where, fortunately, our dedicated RAYNET volunteers had remained to assist in just such eventualities.

However once again the majority of entrants proved their resolve by pressing-on through the foul weather to CP4 at Nant-y-Moch dam, where just two retired, and then to CP5 at Bontgoch. In the late afternoon, the rain backed-off for a brief period, only to start-up again in earnest as the last entrants left CP5. These awful conditions then stayed with them along the never-ending road through Bow Street and Clarach until the last walkers arrived at Clarach Bay, 17 hours 26 minutes after having left Anchor.

First home was Mark Lewis in a blistering 8 hours 38 minutes with Dennis Jolly following a mere 5 minutes later. Special mention must go to Lynne Onions who retired after a fall just three miles from the end of the event. Of the nine attempted ‘double crossings’ Gill Howe and Andrew Gilbertson retired on their outward leg in Llanidloes, but Bill Lancashire, John Sreeves, Janet Pitt-Lewis, Steve Bees, Chris Pritchett, Ruth Burton and Rob Richardson completed their ordeal.

On the following Sunday entrants enjoyed the presentation ceremony at Aberystwyth University before returning by coach to Clun. Overall it was another successful event and thanks go to West Birmingham Hostelling Group and the welcome band of walkers-turned-checkers who once again made the event possible. Thanks also go to RAYNET who provided their usual superb communications between checkpoints.

A date for your diary: the forty-eighth Across Wales Walk will take place on 1 September 2012. See www.acrosswaleswalk.co.uk for details in early May. Prompt application is recommended as demand for places is very high: in 2011 all places were taken in just three days!

 

Stuart Lamb

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: – Prepare for the worst and hope for the best! by Kathy Tytler

The weather forecast had been changing throughout the week, so I prepared for everything – which was just as well because the weather took a definite turn for the worse during the day.

It started off clear for our 4am walk to the bus, but by the time we’d got to Anchor Bridge it had clouded over and the wind had got up.  Still, the morning was pleasant and I enjoyed running parts of the route... until I was stung by a wasp on the road down into Llanidam.  It obviously wasn’t looking where it was going; it flew straight into my left thigh and stung me!

I met up with Pat at checkpoint 3, Hafren picnic site.  She had taken the road route and made better time than me.  I had also been walking with Jill Green and Jim.  Jill had not done this event for many years, so I offered to show them my route over (or around) Plynlimon.  As we set off through the forest there was a bit of rain in the air, but not much and we began to feel quite warm in our recently donned waterproofs.  To climb Plynlimon we took the compass bearing straight up from the forest gate, and although steep at first, I found it a better route than the one I had used for the past few years. 

Now Plynlimon is a mountain of many ridges, and many moods.  We were heading for the fence which crosses our bearing diagonally, so there is no danger of missing it.  It is a climb of about an hour.  There are times when you think you are almost there, but it’s just the next ridge.  Pat and I knew this, and that we just had to keep patiently plodding upwards on the compass bearing.  As we climbed the weather deteriorated, rapidly.  The wind and rain had combined to that which only seems to occur on mountains and ensures that you get wet through.  The mist had brought visibility down to a few feet.  However, our compass bearing brought us to the fence exactly where planned, by the boundary stone.

We continued alongside the fence to the gate and the fence junction.  At this point my route deviates from the recommended route by taking the fence line to the right to just beyond its lowest point, then left (or due west) alongside the stream to Llyn Llygad Rheidol (the small reservoir just below the peak of Plynlimon).  There is a track used by water company vehicles which, although a longer distance, allows fast progress to the road alongside Nant y Moch.  It was at the gate that another figure joined us from out of the mist.  I thought I’d better explain our route to her and as the wind and rain, and the hoods of our waterproofs, were making hearing difficult, I shouted to her to get her attention, calling her “Lady in Blue” – she had on a blue waterproof.  The route down to the small top reservoir is straightforward and safe, even in the really bad conditions we were experiencing (The "Lady in Blue" was Leo Lewis - Stuart).

Apart from being extremely wet, the remainder of our route across Wales went as planned, with heavy showers of rain interrupting the generally overcast, cloudy weather.  The scree slope at Craig-y-Pistyll was wet, but we traversed it alright.  I was later surprised that I hadn’t recognised David Yorston at the scree, we referred to him as “Man in Green”.  Everyone had their waterproofs on with hoods up – not much of the person was visible.  The road to Clarach Bay seemed as long as usual, with a heavy rain shower ensuring we were still soaked through when we finished.

At the presentation the next morning Stuart invited a participant to explain what had happened to her on Plynlimon.  She had spent a couple of hours in the mist becoming disorientated and cold.  She had managed to contact RAYNET on the SOS number fo help, but then said she was eternally grateful to a group of walkers that she had tagged onto and was guided down to a track which led to the road.  She did not know who they were, but they referred to her as “Lady in Blue”.  It was us!  We had a chat to her where she described her full story of being lost in the mist on top of Plynlimon.

The weather experienced in recent years for Across Wales Walk, especially the conditions on Plynlimon, is making Stuart worried that the mountain has it in for him.  In particular when the Saturday of the walk is bad, but is preceded by a good Friday and followed by a good Sunday.  He is willing to try anything... so has asked me to write a poem to try and placate Plynlimon.  I have done some research, and I think we need to placate the sleeping giant who lives beneath the mountain.  Legend has it that he is a very grumpy giant who likes to waylay travellers when he is woken up.  We could appeal to the five fountain nymphs who have carved the routes of the five rivers to the sea.  Geographically, the Plynlimon Massif consists of five peaks; Pen Pumlumon Fawr, Pen Pumlumon Arwystli, Y Garn, Pen Pumlumon Llgad bychan, Pumlumon Fach (these are the Welsh versions of the names).  The area is described as a giant sponge, which along with its lakes and reservoirs, contains enough water to meet the needs of the whole of Britain.  I suppose it’s got to come from somewhere – it’s just a pity it always seems to fall on us!

It was a day when it definitely paid to prepare for the worst. Our bad weather and safety equipment earned their keep and were much more than a load in our rucksacks!  I’ve looked back on the AWW website at the weather reported each year by Stuart since 1999, the first year I walked across Wales.  My “Ode to Pumlumon” is now complete, I hope it works.  Perhaps we are due another hot one!

2010

Relatively dry start, beautiful dawn and morning.  Wetter and cloudy in early afternoon while most were on Plynlimon.

2009

Moonlit start, clouding over with blustery westerly wind, but cleared later to give some views from Plynlimon.  Quite wet underfoot.

2008

Drizzle and mist, drying later, but horrendously wet underfoot from the torrential rain the preceding day.

2007

Overcast and occasionally rainy day, but generally fine for a walk.

2006

High winds and heavy rain led to suspension of event at CP3.

2005

Weather clear and dry at low level.  Cloud on Plynlimon for most of the day.

2004

Weather initially clear but low cloud above 1500ft made navigation difficult over Plynlimon

2003

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

2002

Some early drizzle, occasional heavy showers and strong head wind.

2001

Near ideal conditions throughout the morning leading to wind, drizzle and rain later.

2000

Near ideal walking conditions throughout the day.

1999

The hottest AWW ever!  24 degrees C with little or no wind.

 

Extract from The Legend of Sabrina, Phoenix Gallery website; www.thephoenixgallery.co.uk

High in the hills of mid Wales lived five sisters who were the fountain nymphs of Plynlimon. One summer evening they all agreed to visit their father the Ocean and start out next morning.

Vaga (the river Wye) awoke first, lovely, comely, sweet and reasonable saying "I know where the sea lies and I know too the lovliest way to it." She began to pick her way over smooth mossy stones, to wonder through whinberry and moss making her way quietly southward to the sea.

Sabrina (the river Severn) was awake before dawn watching the east waiting for the sun to come up. As soon as she saw the sun she ran over the eastern moors saying "I know the sea lies to the south of me" as she leapt over tussocks of rough grass, "But I have time to spare." She ran away towards the east hastening through gorges and cliffs avoiding boulders, dropping down walls of rock, working her way through silent valleys. Not until she was alerted by a small bird did she become aware that Vaga was ahead of her. Quickly she turned southwards and made off at speed across the plains towards the coast.

Rhydiol did not awake until the sun was high in the sky as Sabrina was hastening far away through lush meadows and down avenues of willows and alders. While Vaga was entering the wooded gorges far to the south. She realised she had been lazy, jumped up in a panic and began to leap like a goat over rock and precipice. She knew the shortest way to the sea was westwards.

Llyfriant and Mynac slept even longer and had to take the hastiest routes possible. The journeys that the five sisters made on that summer day long ago, the five rivers still trace today.

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: ODE TO PUMLUMON – Hidden Jewel of Mid-Wales by Kathy Tytler

 

Clunton and Clunbury

Clungunford and Clun

Are the quietest places

Under the sun.

(A.E. Housman “A Shropshire Lad”)

 

But under the stars in a clear night sky,

Two hundred feet are walking by.

Hushed, no noise must we make,

At four in the morning we must not awake

The slumbering, dreaming, good folk of Clun,

But now we’re away it will once more become

The quietest place under the sun.

 

At Anchor Bridge the breeze awakens,

The leaves on hedgerows all are shaken,

And Stuart in his time honoured style

Sends us on our way with his wry little smile.

On Kerry Ridge the wind blows stronger

And walking feet stride faster, longer.

The clouds rush into threatening sky

Promise rain today, by and by.

Running down the valley into Llanidam,

Remembering rainbows, how they once shone,

But it’s Pumlumon’s mood that defines the day

Will wind and rain be kept at bay?

Will the mountain shine, our jewel of mid-Wales

Or will we be lashed by storms and gales?

 

Walkers new to this crossing have heard tell

Tales of the mountain whose bulk did swell

Clear above Hafren’s forest green

To the blue of the sky, not a cloud to be seen.

And legend also tells the tale

Of clothes discarded as its flanks were scaled,

Sweating and burning in the late summer heat

Wearing shorts and t-shirts for this climbing feat.

And at your summit Fawr Pumlumon,

Nant y Moch below sparkles in sun.

The air is still, the view is clear

With confidence we avoid your crags so sheer.

 

Today against the wind we struggle,

Waterproofed and hooded in our own cold bubble,

On compass bearing, blind, we climb

Getting wetter all the time.

 

Another figure is now in our midst,

The “lady in blue” appears out of the mist,

In wind with difficulty we did speak,

She had been lost upon your peak,

Held by you in your veil of mist,

And by your stormy countenance kissed.

You kept her firmly in your hold

As she wandered lost both tired and cold,

Twas not until next day her tale was told

And the spite of the mountain did unfold.

 

We make our way to safer ground

Beneath your crags that loom and frown,

To get to Checkpoint 4 is our plan

Using the vehicle track made by Dwr Cymru’s van.

 

Pumlumon:

For many years you’ve been in a strop,

Many have climbed up to your top,

Some lost and cold and fit to drop.

Pumlumon! this mood just has to stop!

 

 

The mountain replies...

Beneath my skin a giant slumbers,

Untroubled by the feet of numbers

Of walkers who usually keep

North to the glamour of Snowdonia’s peaks.

Alone in mid-Wales, I’m watching, brooding,

A five peaked massif, forever moody.

I spend time in silence, by-passed, dismissed,

Some folk don’t even know I exist!

Of five rivers, I alone am the source,

I work with my weather, a water resource,

Each river watched over by a nymph of the fountain,

Sending water to the sea, from me, the great mountain.

All year long we bring life force from the sky,

Just my five water nymphs and I

Filling the reservoir of Nant y Moch

Water is life and that’s what we’ve got!

Just one day each year many people come

Awakening the giant from my rocky tomb,

In foul mood I’m disturbed in my sleep,

Thinking only of my solitude to keep.

I pull a veil of mist across my face

Summon wind and rain to disrupt your race.

 

Pumlumon we acknowledge that you

Bring treasure more precious than silver and gold,

Your hailstones worth more than diamonds too.

Water, your riches, that life must behold.

Providing this bounty we know is your task,

Water is life, we need it for food,

We come in peace... and all that we ask

Is that you greet us in a sunny mood.

 

Thanks very much Kathy - you are truly "The Bard of Berkshire"!     Stuart

 

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: Bill Lancashire describes his Double Crossing

Now back at home I've had time to reflect on this year's event. Overall, I enjoyed it very much and the feeling of 'never another double-crossing' that I had around CP3 has long since vanished and I see another 'double' attempt on the horizon for next year.

For me this started perfectly as I wandered the streets of Aberystwyth in perfect weather conditions on the Friday morning waiting for the moment to 'set off'. The time of 11.00am came and I duly set off from the seafront and headed up the hill past the university then turned off the main road then left onto the side road then joining the pleasant minor road at Cwmpadarn that gradually climbs then drops to Cwmerfyn, where picking up the track that eventually leads through to the Nant-y-moch. I could see two other walkers crossing the dam wall in the distance and on arriving at the Pumping Station was greeted by Ruth, Rob and Steve and then Chris joined us a few minutes later.

The conditions were perfect going over Pumlumon. The areas that are usually boggy were mostly dry. I arrived with Chris at the Hafren picnic area to find Clive had already got the tea brewing. Leaving there we headed off down the road arriving at the Llanidloes chip shop somewhere around 8pm (I don't remember exactly when). Ruth, Rob and Steve arrived a little later. After about an hour and twenty minutes we set off walking gently towards the wind-farm. It was still very warm as we crossed the hill and we were pleasantly surprised to find no dew on the Kerry Ridgeway which normally leads to first wetting of the shoes. Anchor was reached around 3.10am. It was still very warm we settled down for a rest on roadside. When Clive arrived around 4.30 it had become very cold and breezy and the hot drinks were very welcome as was the procession of head torches coming down the road as 5am approached. It was good to be on the move again to keep warm.

The return leg for me started off very enjoyable but started to get a little difficult at CP2 when I found it difficult to eat - a feeling that remained until on Pumlumon. The rest at CP3 was welcome but the wet stuff that started falling was not. I reached my lowest point climbing Pumlumon and wondered if this could be my first ever DNF on a walking event. As the wind and rain lashed on the upward climb I suddenly 'snapped out' of my 'downer' and everything started to feel good again. The pace picked up again and the rain which had penetrated all my clothes by then was insignificant. In fact, I started to think of the poem that Kathy Tytler wrote about the 'Houseman' but in my case it was just the original Bob Dylan chorus that kept singing in my brain :-) . I managed to eat a little at CP4 which helped a lot. I didn't enjoy the very slippery rocks leading down from the screes, but I marched on in hope that the infamous 'bread pudding' would be on offer as usual at CP5. It was!, and away we went on the final leg, being very mindful of the traffic on the approach to Clarach Bay.

It was refreshing to be greeted by sunny skies on the Sunday morning particularly as I was staying in Aberystwyth until Monday. After breakfast and the presentation ceremony I walked to drop off my bags at the B & B then sat on the seafront watching the holiday scene. After lunch, with sky still blue I climbed up Constitution Hill to the View Point and then made my way on the coast path to Clarach Bay. Then I felt wet stuff falling and wondered if my last remaining dry clothes were doomed. Heading for the wooded route back to Aber I avoided most of the heavy rain.

Thanks again Stuart to you and your family and indeed to all the regular walkers who continue to make this my favourite event. Looking forward to next year already.

Kind regards,

Bill.

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: Ruth Burton describes her Double Crossing

My first contact with the AWW was in 2003. I walked with 2 colleagues from work. We were slow, not knowing the route. Despite Stuart’s warnings about going straight down from the top of Plynlimon in a straight line to the N-Y-Moch dam, we did. I suppose we were tired, it was getting late and we didn’t really know how to find the path he had described. I managed to badly sprain my ankle, jumping across a small rivulet and landing on an uneven tussock of typical Plynlimon grass. This slowed us further as I was limping from then on. I kept my boot on, refusing to look at the injury. We arrived at Clarach late, around 9- 9.30, very much in the dark. I took my boot off in the Halls, to find it very swollen and bruised. The following day I could hardly hobble down the 4 flights of stairs. As is my way, I didn’t seek any medical attention for it, but could still feel it as sore for example if I caught my foot in the bed sheets for up to a year later. I do remember SIX things vividly from my first encounter with AWW: 1. Just how friendly and supportive the checkpoint/volunteer staff were 2. That everyone got a mention and clap at the ceremony 3. How I laughed my socks off at the story for the wooden spoon that year: a chap who wore of his own boots and one of his wife’s (only realising after some 15miles in!!) I have recounted this hilarious story many times over the years. 4. The food at the CPs is delicious, especially Judith’s flapjack. 5. There was this “God” of walking – Richard Rosser (RR) who was at the centre of the ‘doubler’ type of people. 6. I planned NEVER to do that event again, it hurt and I’d done it once and really hadn’t enjoyed it that much, especially with finishing so late and in the dark.

Well……..after several years, I forgot the pain and applied again. I planned this time to do it alone, and hoped to make better time. In 2005, I did. I finished I think about 7-7.30, just as it was getting dark.

I have done the AWW every year bar two since. One year I completely forgot about it and booked our late summer holiday in North Spain for that week. I was gutted when I realised and even considered the extra expense of rescheduling the ferry, but couldn’t as the dates were the only ones compatible with work by that stage. Another year, I had a place, but had to withdrawer a month before, as I was getting back pain. I wasn’t running as much as I usually did and deemed myself really unfit enough to even attempt 45 miles, even walking.

I have tried just about every method of trying to sleep on the Friday night at Clun, first time on a mat in the Hall (never again!- I didn’t get a wink, with all the shuffling going on) and then in the back of my Peugeot car (too short and steamed up the windows). Then bringing hubby along and camping outside (so he could take the tent down later), then back to a longer car with a specially made wooden ramp inside to smooth the step where the seats came down. Finally, for the last 2-3 years, in relative luxury in our campervan (except once we had recently come back from France, and on setting the alarm for a 3am wake up- the clock was still 1 hour ahead and in fact went off at 2am, I was NOT amused).

I ALWAYS knew that I wanted to ‘double’ the AWW. Ever since I saw how the doublers were made such a fuss off at the Sunday debrief sessions and my motto is, just as Hilary said of Everest “because its there”. I love a challenge. As mentioned above, I was totally overawed by the ‘doubler’ legend RR. However, I learnt after some years that he actually worked with a chemist friend of mine and actually is human!

In 2010 I attempted my first double. I drove my campervan up to Clarach on the Thurs evening. I met up with Aaron at 10am the following morning. As is tradition, we were sent off by RR and lovely Clive (thanks). I would have liked to walk in my usual hiking shoes, but due to a cock-up in women’s sizes that year by North Face, I was unable to get a new pair and my old ones had certainly expired. RR was very concerned to see me walking in heavy leather walking boots, but I had thought this would be compensated by the use of walking poles. We did ok until the fish + chip shop at Llanidloes but we were exceedingly slow over the night section through the windmills. In my mind I had hoped to have at least 2 hours to doss down to rest. However, with Aaron feeling the hills and myself having very sore blisters from the boots, I eventually hobbled down the road at Anchor at 4.30am, with only 30mins to ‘turn around’. I didn’t treat my blisters well, to be truthful, it was too late by then. I still felt at this stage that I could make the return journey, albeit slowly. Aaron and I set off at 5am, but very soon fell to the back. The road up to Kerry is normally quite a way, but on this occasion seemed to stretch on for ever. I turned left onto the Ridgeway and by then Aaron was fallen behind even my slow pace. I think it was about 1/3 – half way along the Ridgeway that I decided I couldn’t go on. There were lots of reasons in my head: most pressing was the state of my blistered feet that were agony each footfall. Then there were other considerations going on in my head. By the Tuesday I had to be in university on a residential course for 7 days. I had to concentrate and be awake and learning as it was a vital part of my studies that year and I didn’t want to fail. I also had to drive the campervan back down to Cardiff alone the next day, for which I couldn’t be in too bad a shape to do this. We pulled out at CP1, with just 10mins to spare before it closed, so it was clear we would never make other check-points in time. RR had said from the start when I first discussed the double that it’s not a physical fitness thing, it is as much a mental challenge to continue. Now I understood. I wasn’t too deflated. We actually got three claps the following day in Aber, as 1. as potential doublers, 2. as failed doublers and 3. part of the general ‘Did Not Finishers’! Every cloud has a silver lining!!

So………..2011, and inevitably I was going to attempt to double again. Of course I was. I came better prepared: no heavy boots, but walking shoes and no ‘stressful baggage’ outside of the AWW- I had taken 2 days off afterwards to recover and take my time getting back home. I also changed my team (Aaron wasn’t planning to double that year). A friend Steve Bees (who has done LEJOG and is a UK ML) wanted to do the distance. Rob Richardson (another chemist!) I had got to know over the years and usually met up for curry in the pubs at Clun on Friday. RR and Clive (thank you again) sent us off from Clarach. RR approved of the footwear this time around. They both met us at Nant Y Moch with very welcome tea and biscuits, and again at Hafren Forest after Plynlimon. This time I knew that my challenge was to maintain pace after Llanidloes. Rob had pre-walked the windmills road during the summer. We did well and got to Anchor at 2.50am, which after some foot care and setting out sleeping bags and usual general faffing (or organisation!) and some food, left two hours to rest. Fortunately it was a very mild and windless night. Though I didn’t sleep, I certainly got good rest and it was just great to lie horizontal and take the weight of your feet and legs. Super-Clive was back in action with flasks of coffee at 4.50am.which I am sure made all the difference. I kept telling myself its only 45 miles. I’d done so many singles by then I knew what was ahead. It was just a matter of keep going, not stop. I told myself I just had to keep going west until my feet were in the sea. Easy to say! This time we got to CP1 easily in time and in fact not at the back of the pack. CP2 came quite easily and we took the trudge up the road to CP3 in our stride. Unfortunately it started to rain as we left CP3. This was forecast. Time was becoming an issue that we only had two and half hours to get to CP4 before it closed. The walk up Plynlimon was not fun. The rain was lashing into our faces and our feet squelched through the rain sodden grass and mud. I suddenly had excruciating pain in my right little toe (later I found this to be the nail coming off). We got disorientated at the top and took time to find the path down. We lost time here. I gave up. I told the others that the ‘challenge’ was off. I truly thought we were going to be timed out of finishing. Rob did a sterling job and got us down safely. However, once we did get down to the path along the reservoir we made up some time and unbelievably we got to CP4 with 20mins to spare. I was exhilarated to get to CP4 as I knew we would finish now. At CP5 we were met like royalty. I had dreamed of getting to CP 5 and drinking soup and eating Judith’s fruitcake. It was truly a dream come true. The walk from CP5 to the end was quite miserable. I was really physically tired, having had no sleep. My language got a bit ‘choice’ as I muttered away to myself about how far it was to do the last 8miles as we plodded away with hoods up as it lashed down. It was reassuring to see the RAYNET team sitting on the corner at Bow Street. I knew it was just 2.5miles to go. I know that in the past the road from Bow Street to Clarach has really dragged, but actually this time, as I was getting quite euphoric, it wasn’t the worst. We even caught up with 2 others. We thought they were the support team as they were wearing yellow jackets, but found out they were ‘singlers’. The end came. Despite losing 4 toenails in the process, I have to say, I was in a better state, physically and mentally than my first ever single crossing.

RR, the guru of the AWW, said that it’s a mental issue to complete a double. I disbelieved this, thinking it was obviously a physical challenge. How wrong I was. It was a lesson I was happy to learn. I hope to continue crossing Wales for many years to come in this special event, made particularly ‘special’ by the team, headed by Stuart and family that organise and support the event to make it happen. I plan to marshal one year as my way of thanks for the support and kindest shown to me over the years.

 

48th ACROSS WALES WALK: Feedback from those who took part

Stuart

A big thank you to you, your family and all the other helpers for another AWW.I felt really sorry for the checkpoint teams who must have found it cold once the rain came.

Thanks once again and hope to see you next year.

Alec White

 

Stuart.

Once again a big thank you to you, your family and all the helpers without who the X wales would not be possible.

Phil Stevens

 

Hi Stuart

Thanks to you and everyone involved with the organisation of the Across Wales Walk. A great weekend despite the weather, it can be a bit unpleasant walking in driving rain, but to all of the people manning the checkpoints it has got to be pretty grim, but as always they do it with great humour and are always most helpful. Thanks for the help they gave Nick, who looks as he will changing his walking boot for a plaster boot has he sustained a fracture

Thanks Again

Rob Young

 

Hi Stuart,

I would like you to pass on my sincere thanks to the two stewards, and your daughter Sarah, for their kind care and attention on that evening, making the disappointing circumstances all the more bearable. Again, thank you all for an amazing weekend and experience.

Lynne Onions

 

Hi Stuart

Thanks again to yourself, family and Team for organising the across Wales walk. I really enjoyed this difficult challenge and am really pleased I finished.

Kindest regards

John Adams

 

Hello Stuart

Just a brief note to say thank you for a very well organised and well run event this past weekend. This was my first AWW and I thoroughly enjoyed the event from Friday at Clun through to the return coach trip on Sunday morning. I met some great people on various parts of the walk. Most of these were ‘veterans’ of the event with a great deal of experience who made a particularly damp crossing of Plynlimon both safe and, to a certain extent, enjoyable!

A big thank you from me to all of your team and I hope to see you next year.

Regards

Nick Garavini

 

Stuart, once again thank you for a tremendous event. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The weather was a bit of a pain on Plynlimon but I suppose we were among the lucky ones as it was not too bad from Nantymoch to the finish.

Once again the checkers were superb especially those at Nantymoch who had to deal with us as we arrived soaked but luckily not cold.

I have attached a couple of photos, one of us at the start, I wanted to get a finishing photo but the camera was and still is full of water. The other is looking across the Severn valley back to Llandinam.

Graham Bayes

 

Hi Stuart,

Please thank John and everyone at Checkpoint 4 for all their tremendous help for Nick on Saturday, a wonderful team of people.

Nick was at the fracture clinic yesterday and has a fracture in the ankle, so presently is wearing a large support boot as the ankle is still quite swollen.

Also thank you as well Stuart and he is asking me to remind you of the Marshalls walk details, would you believe!

Best wishes

Carole Hall (on behalf on Nick).

 

Stuart - hope you and your family are fully recovered - and that the bus dried out eventually. Many thanks for another superb event (personally I think a spot of rain on Plumlumon adds a bit of character) I know it’s a bit early but - when are you taking entries for next year? (Normal time I'm afraid Janet - 1 May or thereabouts - Stuart)

Janet Pitt Lewis

Hi Stuart

On behalf of Team Dry Socks I would like to thank you and all involved in last years Across Wales Walk event. We managed to raise almost 1000 for our chosen charity for the year and we are very grateful to you for accepting our entries. I would also like to congratulate you all in running such a well organised and friendly event of which you can be very proud.

Although we like to do different walking events for charity every year Craig and Myself will be entering the Across Wales Walk again this year as well as the WAAT4 Challenge which we will fund raising for. Craig and I are taking it as a personal challenge to make a decent time this year as Craig was bringing up the rear and I would have too if I didn't decide to run the last 7 miles. We were hopelessly lost on Plynlimon for hours even though I had a GPS in my pack which I didn't realise until I opened my pack to get out some much needed food (I thought my son had the GPS and he pulled out injured earlier). It was a mixture of despair and relief when the mist cleared and we saw the peak of Plynlimon on the other side of a steep valley opposite the peak we were on. We will learn from our mistakes however and intend to Recce the mountain if we get a place on the event this year.

We have since lost the 3 young lads from the team who all found The Across Wales Walk too difficult and wont be joining us in any of our events this year. We have all learned that youth isn't everything and is no substitute for good hard training. Hopefully they will join us again in the future after licking their wounds.

Anyway that's enough waffle from me for now and I would just like to thank you again and hope to see you again in September.

Thank you,

Darren Jones (on behalf of Team Dry Socks)

 

Thanks to you all for your appreciative comments, Stuart.

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