52nd Across Wales Walk
5 September 2015
Ideal conditions throughout the entire event. .
This page provides reports and timing information for the 51st Across Wales Walk.
2015 Photo Gallery:
Brian Layton's Amazing Quadruple Crossing
Brian approaches CP5: 173 miles completed with 7 more to go!
Brian surveys what's left of his shoes at Penbryn
“Brian Layton set off from Clarach Bay at five past eleven on Wednesday night. He then completed three consecutive crossings before arriving at Anchor at the start of the event. I must admit to being concerned when I first saw him yesterday morning: one of his shoes had failed, the sole of which was taped to the upper and, as the rest of the field disappeared up the road, Brian rested for a further 20 minutes or so putting him alone at the back with no one to follow or for company. He suffered particularly leading up to checkpoint 2 where he was still bringing up the rear. But once on the familiar ground of the road to Hafren, Plynlimon and thereafter he gained pace, ultimately overtaking three other entrants to finish in 96th position at 22:29, 71˝ hours since leaving Clarach on Wednesday….and not having had any sleep since Tuesday night!!”
“There are few real meaningful firsts remaining for The Across Wales Walk. In completing this epic Brian becomes the first person to complete a Quadruple Crossing (or a “Doubled Double”) within the time limit allowed. Further, Brian becomes the first person to, in sequence; complete a single, a double, a treble, and now a quadruple crossing of this event. I wonder what our dear old friend Nev Tandy, who completed the first double crossing 31 years ago, would have made of this?”
“I believe Brian’s achievement ranks as the most extreme feat of endurance that we’ve ever witnessed in the history of this event. Ladies and Gentlemen, please get on your feet and let’s hear it for Brian Layton.”
Those present then gave Brian a rapturous standing ovation. Brian’s genuine emotion at this point was plain to see. This will certainly go down as one of the most memorable moments we’ve ever had at any Across Wales Walk presentation ceremony.
The remaining photos are all jumbled: sorry! When I have more time .......
Thanks to the following for allowing their photographs to be reproduced on this website:
To view a table of entrants and times for the main event in Excel format Left click here. To Save the file, right click here and follow the instructions.
After a break in the run of poor conditions for the 51st edition of the event, surely we couldn’t expect to be blessed with fine weather for the second year in succession? Well our luck held and the 52nd Across Wales Walk turned out to be another memorable event!
The weekend started conventionally with Friday night spent in the Memorial Hall, Clun, followed by breakfast, before coaches delivered the entrants to the Welsh border for the 5 am start at Anchor. Early on, conditions oscillated from clear, moonlit skies to overcast and drizzle with the latter then predominating. However by late-morning conditions settled to bright sun and clear skies, and these ideal conditions persisted for the rest of the day.
The 105 starters made their way through the variety of countryside for which this event is renowned. From Plynlimon, the highest point on the route, entrants reported exceptional clarity with the whole of Cardigan Bay laid out before them, from Pembrokeshire in the south, to the Llyn Peninsula and Bardsey Island in the north. Once again the display of gorse and heather in flower, particularly on the approach to Craig-y-Pistyll scree, was magnificent, and the Leri Valley was as lovely as ever in the low afternoon light.
Six entrants retired along the way, predominantly at checkpoint 4 after Plynlimon. However, 99 entrants completed the course, the fastest home being Gary Upstone in a time of 9 hours 3 minutes followed by Andy Robinson 13 minutes later. In complete contrast, last home was Malcolm Blakemore with a completion time of 17 hours 38 minutes.
Five attempts were made to ‘double’ the event with Bill Lancashire and Chris Poole ultimately completing the course within the 36 hour limit. However this was far from the full story of ‘extreme’ completions. Following-on from completing only the second ‘triple’ last year, Brian Layton left Clarach Bay at five past eleven on the Wednesday night before the event. He then completed three consecutive crossings before arriving at the start of the event at Anchor. Despite one of his shoes having failed in the preceding night Brian embarked upon his final leg 20 minutes after the rest of the field had left Anchor. Initially he struggled to reach checkpoint 2 at the 14 mile mark. However once on the familiar ground of the road to Hafren and over Plynlimon he gained pace, ultimately overtaking three other entrants to finish in 96th position at 22:29, 71˝ sleepless hours since first leaving Clarach!
Through this epic, Brian became the first person to complete a Quadruple Crossing (a “Doubled Double”) which certainly ranks as the most extreme feat of endurance ever witnessed in the history of this event. Further, Brian became the first person to complete, in sequence; a single, a double, a triple, and a quadruple crossing.
After a comfortable night in Aberystwyth University Halls of Residence, the presentation ceremony was held on the following morning during which performances were celebrated and certificates awarded. We also took time to remember the late Dr Julian Broadbent who, twenty-nine years ago, responded to our request to North Dyfed RAYNET for communications support. Every year since, RAYNET, driven by Julian until ill health intervened, have provided a critically important service which has benefitted all taking part over the last three or so decades.
Thanks go to former members of West Birmingham Hostelling Group and the welcome band of friends and walkers-turned-checkers who once again made the event possible.
A date for your diary: the fifty-third Across Wales Walk will take place on 3 September 2016. See www.acrosswaleswalk.co.uk for details of this event in early May.
Walking gear all washed and dried and shoes just
drying-off so here as promised is my email with some recollections of the first
leg of my 'Double-Crossing' if you are interested to know what we got up to.
Firstly I must say that it was a great weekend and I finished the main event in one of my earliest times ever. I am very thankful as ever for all the efforts put in by many to make the event 'happen'.
I arrived early evening at Aber on Thursday by train as usual to be greeted soon afterwards by Richard, Clive and Rob. After taking my bags to the B&B we met up with Aled and Chris in Wetherspoons for a quick pint before heading off for the chip shop. After another couple of beers, and me nearly causing a riot in the pub with some football supporters by blocking their view of the screen, I left for an early night and left the other to it.
Friday morning I heard rain on the dormer window when I awoke at about 5.30 but by the time I was dressed it had stopped and I went a walk all along the promenade before breakfast which was nice.
After breakfast we went for the traditional walk to the promenade and this year to greet Rod and Helen who had contacted saying they were just approaching. After taking them to their car at the Uni. Rob gave me a lift as I wanted to start from Borth and we called at Clarach Bay first to see how Brian was doing. At Borth there was no sign of the Bowkers. I left Rod, Helen, Richard & Rob in the café as I set off walking a few minutes after 11 am.
That was the last time during the whole day I was to see any of the 'walkers' and walked entirely on my own for the whole time which I enjoyed very much.
I initially headed to Tal-y-Bont where I found Richard, Clive and Rob having tea outdoors. After a very brief exchange I made my way along one of my favourite routes taking the road on the North side of the Leri Valley. The views were wonderful and I stopped to search for a geocache at Bwlch-glas on the way. Shortly after passing Bwlch yr adwy I spotted two figures (Richard & Rob) climbing the small hillock near to the ford passed on the approach to the 'Scree' on the AWW Route. They intended to stay there a while to spot any other walkers but promised to get to the pumping station before me which was important as Rob was transporting my lunch food. I spent a good half-hour having lunch and then a decision needed to be made. In fairness Richard and Rob had to wait to see and help other walkers and had doubts if there would then be time to get to Hafren in time for my arrival. I suggested that I could carry my two parcels of food for Sat. breakfast and lunch myself over the mountain but in the end Rob said here would leave Richard at Nant-y-moch and drive there to meet me.
The walk over Pumlumon in the clear weather was wonderful. I visited the trig point as always if conditions permit. The ground was surprisingly dry on the ridge considering how much rain we have had. As I approached Hafren Rob was walking to meet me up the track and then told me of Rod and Helen's retirement at Nant-y-moch. After giving me my food 'stashes' Rob bid farewell to met Richard in Llanidloes for their dinner before heading to Clun.
I then made good headway to Llanidloes being greeted along the road by Wyn George who had been to see Aled and Chris at Hafren. For the first time ever I arrived in daylight at Llanidloes at about 7pm. Richard and Rob where in fact still there having dinner before they set-off. Wyn came in whilst I was eating and was waiting for his 'lads' to arrive who were about and hour behind me. After an hour I set off alone to head into the night and crossing the wind-farm on the hill. I was not looking forward to it as never been alone before. All went well and on exiting the wind-farm I have two surprises:. Firstly there was a load bang and a flash which nearly got me reaching for the toilet roll in my rucksack :-) but it turned out to be nothing more that a firework display in a nearby village. Secondly in the pitch dark someone loudly called out my name. It was Wyn waiting for Aled and Chris. He made me a cuppa which was nice.
I then got on my way with the only notable thing being to startle a herd of cattle near Black Gate and fortunately they stampeded away from me. Unfortunately it then started to drizzle so not wanting to risk getting stuff too wet on the first day I stopped the put on a waterproof top and cover my sack. I then found a disadvantage of using a hand torch instead of a head torch:. It is difficult do quite simple things with kit without being able to direct the light source.
I finally got to Anchor Bridge at 1.30am which was about two hours earlier than ever before. I took the opportunity then to sort a few things out in case the weather got bad. This included taking my shoes off to empty out. I never usually do that but I had been 'shuffling' a small stone around in one shoe and couldn't face doing it another whole day.
After that and a bite to eat I lay down on the grass verge in my survival bag. I think I dosed -off a bit because I suddenly realised I was in a few millimetres of water. It couldn't be sweat because I was quite cold then I realised it had been raining quite a bit and it got in the bag. I got very cold soon with the cold ground and at 4am decided to get up and walk around a bit. I took the opportunity to go and look for the geocache which was hidden at the border two years ago to mark the 50th Across Wales Walk. Just after signing the log Wyn George appeared with a very welcome mug of tea for me. He was parked just up the road tending to Aled and Chris.
After 4.30am a few others arrived in cars to be followed soon by the trail of torches of the main group emerging from the two coaches.
I was still very cold as we started walking and I kept two 'tops' on and walked quickly to get warm. At the first checkpoint I was boiling so stopped to take off layers. Things went well from then and apart from very brief exchanges with a few people I walked on my own the whole way. I usually walk alone but having spent the previous day completely alone it was especially nice on the event to have brief conversations with other participants on-route especially a few 'first timers' several of who were finding the route prior to CP3 particularly tricky to find which I could totally sympathetically with them about.
I reached Hafren at about noon and had my well-earned half hour lunch break. Then after the climb over the mountain with lovely views to Nant-y-Moch it was then the long walk through to Clarach Bay passing the 'Screes' and the 'man going gardening'. I enjoyed the approach to Clarach in the warm sunshine. I got there just after 6.30pm which was one of my earliest ever even including the times I only did the main event.
It was nice to get back to Aber, shower, and have an early meal and still have plenty of time to sit and reflect on the day with others.
All was perfect for me on the event this year and I am very thankful.
Dear family Lamb,
Please accept my most sincere thanks for organising and running yet another superb Across Wales Walk. You all contributed, in no small way, to my successful quadruple crossing with your genuine encouragement and enthusiasm. I fully realise the sheer volume of detail that needs to be addressed to stage such an event and thank you, on behalf of us all, for undertaking it.
I have taken part in well over 500 ultra events all over the country and in Europe. Bearing this in mind I have to say that when it comes to post event presentations absolutely none of them comes remotely close to yours for sheer entertainment and enjoyment. Clearly this years was very, very special to me. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your very kind words which brought tears of joy to my eyes. I see this aspect of the event as a very enjoyable part of the weekend. Thanks once again for allowing me to undertake, and complete, a challenge that I will not forget for the rest of my life.
My very best regards to you all,
Stuart, this was my 12th crossing and possibly the best. If there is such a thing as perfect weather in Wales yesterday was as close as it gets. That is of course is something you do not have control over but the rest of the event you are in charge (or is it Judith) and what a great weekend you provided. As Peter said it is a family reunion for both the walkers and the checkers and the Lamb's with their attention to detail and love of the event make that happen. Once again thank you.
Graham, Jane and Vikki
A quick note to say thank you for an excellent event. Hope all goes smoothly this evening and tomorrow.
We've had a superb day and loved the route. By great good fortune we did make it onto the train to Newtown thanks to Raynet who drove us to the station when we finished.
Mark & Kathie
Please accept my thanks for yet another well run and enjoyable event. As always, it was well organised and executed that stems from all of the hard work that you, your family and team of organisers put in throughout the build up to the event.
Once again, a big thank you for all of your and the team’s efforts.
Just a quick note Stuart to thank you, your family and your support team for another great walk. I think I speak for many when I say it is the annual primary focal event for me, and motivates me through the dark winter months.
Mark Sherratt, who I dragged along as a first timer, is now also hooked, and I’m trying to persuade him to attempt the double next year…
Just a note to thank you for organising the AWW. It was my first attempt this year and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend.
Andy Taylor (No. 26)
Stuart and Family.
Another great weekend. Well done to you and all the helpers.
Thanks for a great weekend, I always come home with a great feeling inside of me. It's a pleasure, right from the eerie atmosphere of the start in the dark, to the friendly faces at the checkpoints, the banter with a great bunch of fellow walkers and I even managed to find my room at the university with relative ease.
Yet again, thanks to you all for your appreciative comments, Stuart.
Top of page.