Tuesday 23 December 2014

Almost the Scottish Borders

Returning from the November trip with Mike, my thoughts where already mulling over ideas for a December trip. The Christmas period is never a good time for me. This time around, after a visit to the Parkinson's specialist, where the news was not encouraging, a marked deterioration in my condition. This in turn will mean more medications, a need to see another specialist and so forth.
A trip away was much required. A plan was formulated, After further thought, there was a plan A and a plan B. For some reason I was apprehensive. Maps where spread out on the floor, distances measured, routes planned, all the usual pre trip minutiae. However, an uncertainty still niggled. Possibly it was the fact that this was my first serious winter trip for a while. More gear to be carried, a full seven days food, cold weather, a heavier tent and sleeping mat, all the things one needs for winter backpacking.
There was only one thing to do, get my train tickets and go for it. This time around I also packed a small note book to jot down a few things as they occurred.
Travel arrangements all sorted and  with an early morning start, I arrived at Haltwhistle at eleven thirty on Monday morning. The weather was as forecast, heavy rain and windy. It was a long, steep uphill pull out of town. Flooded roads meant little traffic.
A niggling ache in the area around my ribs was now feeling sore. Arriving at the car park by Burnhead I nipped in the loo and got the first aid kit out and took a couple of Ibuprofen.  The weather by now was wild. High winds and lashing rain. Quite awesome really, rivers and becks where unbridled raging torrents, water ran everywhere, Paths where mini streams, it even came bubbling up out of the ground itself. All was water, somewhat spectacular. High drama and a sight to behold. In many places the grassy slopes where slick and greasy. Twice my feet went from under me.
The going was far from easy. Following Hadrians Wall over the crags, the wind pummelled me and the driving rain was horizontal. It was hard going with constant up and down, quite often steep. It had not been my intention to camp on Hadrians Wall. However, given the time factor and conditions, there was little choice. Mind, I was fairly sure nobody would be out looking for folk camping? Thus, working on the principle of stopping late and leaving early I kept my eye out for a place to stop. A little spot among the trees by Crag Lough served the purpose..
Trying to put up a tent in stormy conditions is never easy. By now the forecasted  gale force winds where really picking up. My one concern was that I was now in pain. Also, I was staring to get the shakes. Snug inside the tent, a hot drink and a warm sleeping bag was much welcomed. Worryingly every move I made hurt. Normally I only have a tremor on my left. Occasionally though, maybe due to exertion, my whole body shakes.
It was a long, painful night. A few more Ibuprofen dulled it down a bit. My concern now was questioning if I should press on or quit. The wind died down in the early hours but the rain continued. It was an awful quandry, I desperately wanted to push on. The weather forecast was good for the latter part of the week.
Taking the tent down in the morning it was obvious I would be struggling. It was with a heavy heart that I headed down to Bardon Mill and the train.
There went my Christmas. This was a trip I had really been looking forward to. Much preparation had gone in to this one. To say I am disappointed would be putting it mildly. Gutted! most certainly.