Cheviot Challenge 2012
Mon 27th Aug]
Not sure what woke me up – was it the alarm clock or the sound of rain hammering on the bedroom window? Either way, it’s August Bank Holiday and time for the annual event to raise funds for Northumberland Park Mountain Rescue – a 23 or 18 mile trudge in the Cheviots starting at Alwinton.
By the time the event started (8 am!), the rain had eased to a steady downpour as we set off uphill. The first 2 miles, up part of Clennell Street and around the SE part of Kidland forest was quite pleasant (apart from the rain and the climb). Then the fun started! A climb up to Wether Cairn, along to Cushat Law and onto Bloodybush edge is testing in good weather. With the conditions as they were, every step was in at least ankle deep mud, interspersed with horrible peaty bogs (and lots of water). By the time I reached Bloodybush, having fell over at least 4 times, ‘Bloody’ was not the word I was using to describe things!
From there it was on to the checkpoint at Salters Road (not a road, just a muddy track) where I had to decide whether to stick with the original plan (23 miles) or divert off down the short route (18 miles). I decided that a) I couldn’t get any wetter and b) the underfoot conditions couldn’t get any worse. WRONG. 2 more falls going through Quickening Cleugh before going down a stagnant water-filled hole deep enough to threaten my soft dangly bits on Scotsman’s Knowe, I was losing the will to live. The good news – it wasn’t raining, the bad news – it was hail instead.
Eventually the ridge path was reached at Kings Seat and then it was a pleasant run along the flagged (but under water) path along to Windy Gyle. From there it was a turn towards home and a descent (with undulations of course) back through the woods, down Clennell Street and on towards Alwinton.
Approximately 5 ¾ hours after setting out, I was a relieved man, standing at the bar, dripping water from all over, reflecting on what a fun time I’d had (think the pint that was briefly in my hand helped). Then back home to hose down the running shoes, throw the socks straight into the wheelie bin, and a hot bath – luxury!
Must stop doing this type of event – I think I’m starting to get Trench Foot.