It has taken me 6 months to complete writing this short account of my walk, but hey ho. Life.
Rather impulsively, after spending the summer blasting out 30 mile walks, I planned to complete the 57 miles of the original canal Lancaster canal path from Preston to Kendal, in under 24 hours, to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis society..
I gave myself a target of a few months to raise some money which set the date for mid November. Ideally people tend to do these things in July or spring. But I’m rather silly.
Closer to the time, a family friend volunteered to join me with a couple of lads from his work. The company specialized in health and safety gear and kindly sponsored the walk, creating personalized florescent gear.
After assembling on the bank and a bit of light stretching, we set off just before midnight. Within the hour I was already out of sight of the group, at a pace I intended to keep for the next 17 miles, while I was able. Way I see it, you may as-well get a stomp on while you are able to, balancing out the likely hood of a major crumble in progress towards the end.
The towpath leaving Preston was a major blow to moral. Of the entire canal i think this was in the most need of work. From here to Owd Nells at Bilsborrow, I slogged through deep mud and collapsed banking not far from falling in at times, despite the headtorch.
Its a rather odd experience walking through the night, this being my first time. I’d intended to get a few hours kip before I set off, but with my mind racing with anticipation I found it impossible. This worried me slightly and knew it would come to head later on.
Leaving Catterall, I got the call from my friend at 4am that his hamstring had gone and his team were calling it a day unfortunately.
I arrived in Garstang at just before 5am. 17 miles complete. I passed by my hometown, under the bridge that led to my house and began the 12.5 miles leading to Lancaster. It was during this period the sleep deprivation started to bother me. I attempted a nap on a bench but quickly gave up and carried on. I had no sleeping bag and it was cold. I became frustrated. The tunnel of vision of the headtorch and the monotonous towpath at night was tiresome and I longed for light.
Eventually the light arrived and the world around tentatively crept into view. I had my headphones in at this time and my mood drastically improved. It was an incredible moment seeing the much longed after dawn into life with my soundtrack of choice.
I was approaching the bay horse area at the time and someway over the 20 mile mark.
Just before 9:30am i arrived at Lancaster. Having done 32 miles before midday was a strange feeling. I had barely stopped between Preston and Lancaster and when I had, it was very briefly. My feet were starting to feel a little like concrete. I had about 40, 50 minute break in Lancaster and a local pal kindly sorted me out with some food and services which was most welcome!
Back to it and onwards past Hest Bank, Bolton le Sands and I stopped for a pint of coke at the Canal Turn in Carnforth. I’d started to stop more regularly now, and checking the feet. I had some ibuprofen gel and then Id talc them to keep them dry. Approaching 40 miles my splits were slowing but I managed to put in 3 miles at almost 4mph which was encouraging. Although this didnt last.
I passed Tewitfield locks at 2:30pm and my cousin met me a little further along to see us to the finish and then 2 other pals.
The last 15 or so miles were excruciating. Legs were seized up and the pace had really slowed down. Just another 5 miles, just another 3 miles. Easy distance to tackle when you are starting out but I was down to almost 2mph at this point and had been awake for over 40 hours. My decision making was massively impaired and I was experiencing mild hallucinations; Industrial machinery in the surrounding fields and multiple dogs ahead instead of the one. Id dread to have thought how Id have coped If I was on my own. Luckily I wasn’t.
Finally arriving to my family and friends at Kendal at around 9:45pm, I was overwhelmed, emotional and utterly detached from their elation. I was on another plain. A chap in the pub said I looked in incredible shape for the distance I’d traveled. Ill take that. I didn’t take many photos on the walk itself, but I have attached pictures taken when previously exploring the route.
Over £1500 was raised for the MS Society and I was proud of my effort. Intrigued by endurance, physical and psychological limits i wasn’t disappointed by this walk and I continue to walk and train for more endurance events with the 2018 Trailwalker and 2019 LDWA 100 mile the majors next in line.