First an introduction:  I’m Richard and I’m in my very late forties. My walking partner, David, is a couple of years my junior.  We kind of got to know each other through our children and the various playgroups etc that they attended twenty years ago.  These days we can basically be termed drinking partners.

This wasn’t my first time.  I completed the Coast to Coast in 1997.  The baggage carriers hadn’t really got going then, everyone carried their own kit and, of course, laptops and GPS’s were absent. It was a great two weeks and I can still vividly remember the walk down into Baytown.

In 2007, whilst working away from home (following the floods in Yorkshire), David had a stroke.  His physical recovery was excellent, but he still has trouble communicating, especially speaking.  He hasn’t returned to work.  At the end of 2008, with all this time on his hands he started to think that perhaps he could do the C2C himself.  I was asked if I would go along as well and, of course, I agreed.  We also agreed to take one of my dogs along.  It would be either my Jack Russell, Maggie, or Border Collie, Elsie.  After more deliberation than perhaps it deserved I chose Maggie.

We also managed, almost by accident get ourselves a bit of sponsorship.  Almost as soon as friends, colleagues, family etc. knew about our plans we were asked if we were being sponsored.  It wasn’t out original plan, especially as the principle aim was to have a good time, but by the start of the walk we had been promised a couple of thousand pounds for the Stroke Association. 

Some very brief notes on preparation.  

We intended staying in B&B, but to carry our own kit.  Because we were taking a dog, and accommodation might be a problem, I decided to book quite early.  For me that meant December, four months in advance.  My first concern was to make sure that our planned rest day in Kirkby Stephen fell on the bank holiday weekend.  That way our wives, Chris and Julie, who would be joining us for the break, didn't have to take any holidays!  The first place I booked was Keld, to make sure a room was available.  I then fitted everything else around it.  I must admit that I had very little trouble with availability, but I had to pay above the odds once or twice, especially in Grasmere.

To get that bit fitter and build our confidence we conspired to get out on some of our local hills at the weekends.  Some rather convoluted routes were devised around Macclesfield Forest and Rivington Pike (where no climb was avoided!) and I had the perfect excuse to visit the Lakes on several weekends.  The idea wasn’t to get super fit, but just to get the body used to the distances.   David, especially, had to convince himself that he was still phyically capable of doing the walk and when the time came I think that job had been done.

All photo credits belong to David.