Saturday, 7 August 2010

Day 14: Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay

Wow, what a day, and what a trip overall. I don't know how to describe it really, as the mix of emotions is pretty incredible, and even though I'm writing this the following morning, we're still buzzing.

We were joined for the final 15.5 miles by three more friends - Laura, Alistair (13) and Robert (11), the third time on the walk we've been joined by kids, and each time it's given us a welcome boost. Thanks to all who've joined us along the way!

The morning comprised mainly climbing and falling, but to a much lesser degree than we've had before, and the decent weather made it very pleasant. We found a woodland natural cavern (pictured) where we played, and gave a few walkers a surprise (hopefully a nice one!).

After a lot of crossing of fields, we finally found ourselves at the cliff top, and began the three mile coastal walk to Robin Hood's Bay. As we got closer the excitement built, and as we eventually entered the town all thoughts of aching feet were expunged by a quite wonderful welcome. People were clapping and cheering us all the way down to the beach, including some fellow walkers, but others who had just heard about us from friends or people they had met. It was fantastic!

Of course we dipped our feet in the sea, to mark the cross-country route being finalised, and threw our west-coast pebbles into the North Sea too. Thereupon we found a "seat" (well, a bit of brick jetty) just by the beach to play, and gave a concert lasting the best part of an hour (joined for some pieces by Alistair on the violin). This went down very well and the cheery crowd gave generously to help boost our total.

When we finally departed (having done a brief interview and played on Radio 5Live), we went off to Whitby to celebrate with fish and chips and collapse into bed.

And so, there we are. Some stats for you about the trip:

Distance walked - 193.8 miles
Locations performed at - 38
Pieces performed - 24
Time spent walking - 74 hours 28 minutes
Average walking speed - 2.6mph
Calories consumed - ???!!!
Money raised - £4,500 and counting...

Just a final thank you to some people. Ashley, Chris, Rachel for acting as Sherpas throughout, and Mary, Helen, Paul and Jo for doing it part of the way each; Angela for driving so fantastically to ensure our overnight stuff was always where we needed it when we needed it; and of course to everyone who's donated - I know the charities really appreciate it, as do we. And also to you, the blog readers - I've even constantly surprised by the number if people who've told me they've been following us - it makes it all worthwhile, as there have been several days when typing a blog entry was the last thing I wanted to do after a long walk!

Quote of the day: "Last one there's a viola player!"

Friday, 6 August 2010

...and we're there!

We have finished! All successfully! A wonderful final day, crowned by a great entrance to, and performance in, Robin Hood's Bay, was completed earlier... more details to follow later, but we need to eat now!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Day 13: Blakey to Grosmont

Nearly there. Just one day (and fifteen and a half miles) to go. The end is in sight!

But, of course, we had today's walk to negotiate to get to this stage. In truth it was a relatively straightforward day - in comparison to yesterday, anyway - and the 13.5 miles were mostly along a gentle overall decline, across a mixture of roads, farm tracks and footpaths.

Aching limbs and joints following yesterday's marathon meant that speeds were varied, but an overall walking speed of around 3mph showed that we have obviously got into a good rhythm by now. The only surprise walking-wise was that we got a good rain shower at about midday - the first time our waterproofs had to come out since day seven, last Friday.

A much nicer surprise this morning was finding out that Stephen Fry had tweeted about us - and made a substantial donation himself. This led to quite a few others donating, and by early afternoon we had comfortably passed the £4,000 mark in overall donations received. At the time of writing we've not had phone reception for a few hours so we don't know if this has gone up since then... but we'll keep you informed!

After lunch in Glaisdale we played at the beautiful Beggar's Bridge, had the only (short) steep climb of the day, before a gentle descent through Egton Bridge into Grosmont. We played for a short time by the steam railway (see picture) before finishing for the day. Just one to go now... all being well we'll have finished it this time tomorrow!

Quote of the day: "Don't overdo the vibrato! xxx" (from Stephen Fry)

Blakey Ridge: The morning after the day before

It's fair to say we all found yesterday rather tough. Aching feet, aching backs, sore joints and muscles, and overall exhaustion were very much the order of the day (or evening).

I thought it worth adding this extra blog this morning, though, just to say a few things. First, we're all feeling somewhat refreshed this morning, albeit with a slightly lesser spring in our step than some mornings over the last two weeks. This was due in no small part to the wonderful hospitality of the Lion Inn, where the food was delicious and plentiful, the beer wide-ranging, and the bathrooms actually had baths (hallelujah!).

Second, we discovered last night that we'd been mentioned on radio 2 on Tuesday evening. That's the kind of boost that is very welcome at this stage of the trip!

Third, Jeremy and James played cricket with a cello last night...

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Day 12: Osmotherley to Blakey

Well, we always knew today was going to be tough: long, lots of climbing and descending, and a real test of endurance. It is with an air of relief that I can report we all survived the 20 mile trek with no major problems.

The route started with a decent uphill, then downhill, then long uphill stretch. Fortunately the forecast rain did not materialise, and we were blessed for most of the day with "middling" (or "ideal for walking") temperatures, and virtually no rain at all (for the fifth day in a row, no waterproofs were needed!).

After another downhill stretch, we found ourselves 7 miles in at the Lord Stones Café, where we not only played, but had some industrial strength tea and incredible black pudding sandwiches to perk us up.

There followed three peaks in quick succession, each with steep 100m (or so) ascents and descents. On the third of these, we found a rather spectacular crag, where we played Mendelssohn's "Lift Thine Eyes" (pictured).

After lunch, a further climb was followed by about 9 miles of relatively flat walking, much of it along a dismantled railway track. Although this was easy in some respects, it was certainly wearing on the feet, and it was a huge relief when after about three hours, the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge came into view.

So that's the most difficult day over: 165 miles completed, just two more days and 27 miles to go. The end is getting closer...

Quote of the day: "We saw you ahead of us: it was like a ghost moving through the fields!"

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Day 11: Danby Wiske to Osmotherley

As expected, this was somewhat easier than yesterday: mostly very flat, with only a sharp climb at the end to give the muscles a good workout. Just 12 miles in total, and ten of those were completed before lunch. The most notable aspect of that stretch was having to dodge traffic to cross the busy A19 (all six lanes!).

The said meal was had at Ingleby Cross, where we played a couple of hymns around the war memorial (pictured). The following ascent into Osmotherley was a nice reminder of how to go up hills before the more tricky 20 miles of up and down tomorrow...

A fairly short blog entry today, then, but that reflects a fairly uneventful day's walking. Expect more tomorrow - as long as we're fit to type after that leg!

Quote of the day: (an elderly woman to James) "You may be tall and thin, but you've got great legs!"

Monday, 2 August 2010

Day 10: Richmond to Danby Wiske

Ok, I have a couple of admissions to make. First, I had confused the mileages of today's and tomorrow's stages, and rather than the 12 miles I was expecting, it should have been 14 (and in fact ended up closer to 15). The fact that tomorrow's walk should now be no more than 12 is some consolation, but the psychological difference between 12 and 15 miles is quite significant.

Second, despite today's walk being remarkably flat (and, if I'm being honest, largely dull), my back is starting to ache more and more. I guess that's what carrying a cello for 10 days and 134 miles will do for you. I'm going to try to fit a waist strap tomorrow to see if that helps.

Anyway, so what of today's walk? As I already mentioned, there was not much in the way of gradient change throughout, but it was not without features. For one thing, we crossed under the A1 this morning - and decided to play Nessun Dorma to celebrate this feat of engineering and the noise it produces.

Later, we stopped in the village of Bolton-on-Swale and played at the church by the tomb of Henry Jenkins, who reportedly lived to the grand old age of 169. We celebrated this fact by playing a whole three verses of "The Day Thou Gavest".

And so we arrived in the village of Danby Wiske at about 4.30, planning to have a takeaway pizza this evening (the pub doesn't do evening meals), and play later while contemplating tomorrow's (shorter) leg of the walk!

Quote of the day: "At first I thought that was an ironing board you were carrying - turns out it's only a cello!"

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Day 9: Reeth to Richmond

A quite easy day today - just ten and a half miles, and the terrain not too difficult either, with just a couple of shortish steep climbs. For this reason, we set off later than we had on other days - in fact we started by playing, once again, on the village green at Reeth, with a surprisingly large audience for 9.30 on a Sunday morning!

The walk itself was straightforward enough - one of the highlights being when we met a fellow Sheffield Wednesday fan on the way so stopped to give him a rendition of "Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday" on the cellos... which went down very well! Later on the walk we also gave our first performance of "Sheep May Safely Graze" while some, erm, cows grazed in front of us. In fact, there were some sheep only a few yards away, but we don't have anything to do with cows in our repertoire.

On arriving at Richmond we played a 30 minute or so set in the town square (pictured), joined for much of it by Donald Smith as a fourth cellist - he (and his wife Shirley) had been instrumental in our performance at Sedbergh earlier on in the summer. We were also joined by our latest co-walker, Joanne, who will be walking with us from here to the end at Robin Hood's Bay, as Clare's brother Paul departs from our company tomorrow morning.

So here we are - 119 miles in, five days to go, and it feels as if the end is in sight. Two more relatively easy days are followed by a very tough one on Wednesday, but we won't think about that quite yet...

Quote of the day: "I rushed my toast to come out and hear you this morning!"