The Gritstone Trail

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Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cheshire » Macclesfield
September 25th 2018
Published: October 2nd 2018
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The challenge and finding the limits of my body have always been something that I have been striving for. Pushing myself to the edge of my physical limitations is something that I have sought for many years now. To not only overcome the physical boundaries but also to challenge my mental boundaries in order to push through when fear or fatigue are taking grip and shaking me to my core. When these are overcome and I reflect back on the achievement, away from the pain and exhaustion, I realise I am alive and not trapped in a cycle ( although a very beautiful cycle) of everyday life. To achieve, a few times a year, the extraordinary, is what adds to my already rich tapestry of life.

My cousin Tristan has been my best friend for 25 years. Before that I was seen as the annoying little cousin who got in the way, shouted too loud and tried to take all the attention at any given occasion. When I reached my late teenage years we bonded over our love of computer games, beer, kebabs and most importantly the great outdoors. We spend many a weekend or evening, walking the local hills or going further afield and experiencing the adventures of many of England’s great mountains and dales. Over the years through work, family and living a distance apart the time spent together drifted to casual weekend here and there. Throughout this time we would get together and drink and talk about what adventures we could achieve in our lifetimes. We dreamt of the mountains and the trails, hatching plans for the great walks such as the National Three Peaks, the Pennine Way and completing some of the big mountains. After moving back close to Tristan he invited me to join him and his friends in a walking group which we named the Rambling Bastards. Over the course of the last few years we have achieved many of our lifelong dreams, we have scaled mountains we dreamt of, we have run “events” that have broken us (Hell up North being a memorable one) and we achieved our greatest goal of completing the National Three Peak Challenge in 2016 in under 24 hours. Since then apart from a few smaller walks and a truly terrifying climb up a mountain in Snowdonia called Tryfan (where Tristan, myself and fellow bastard Andy soiled ourselves with fear) we haven’t done many new challenges. Until this week when we took on a little known route called the Gritstone Trail.

Lyme Park (a local national trust property) has always been a place Tristan and I have frequented. We spent countless hours walking every inch of the park, sleeping in the woods and learning our outdoor crafts. At the top of Lyme Park along the ridge line we have always noted a small round sign saying Gritstone Trail with an arrow. This has always been in the back of our minds, and on a number of occasions Tristan said we should walk it or part of it. With other exciting adventures out there the prospect of a walk along the Gritstone Trail in “flat” Cheshire seemed mundane and boring.

A couple of weeks ago we were sat drinking in the pub and the conversation turned to another great adventure. The Welsh 3000’s, the Yorkshire Three Peaks, the Pennine Way all got brought up and the planning for all of these commenced. But we needed something to do now!! Tristan mentioned that we should do a part of the Gritstone Trail. Take a day and cover 10 miles and see what it was like. Second pint in and we had agreed the following week (subject to getting time off work and the agreement of our spouses) we should do it all in a 2 day hike. The date was set and we went home to put on our doe eyes and convince our better halves.

It was to this end that I was driving to Tristan’s house after a tough day at work in order to get up early the following morning and catch a train to Kidsgrove for the official start of the Gritstone. The weekend at work had been horrendous and I had not managed to pack anything before the departure date. When I got home at 6pm I ran round the house throwing stuff together in order to pack fully at Tristan’s house. With one exception I found everything… unfortunately the one exception was my large rucksack. Oh well we had a plan for the bulk of the gear and it meant we would only need to carry it a few hundred metres. So I threw all my stuff into a large hold-all and readied myself for the departure. I don’t think my wife, Yuliya, realised the challenge that we were faced with, as she hoped I “have a nice walk”. The Recommended way of walking the Gritstone is over 3 days. In that time we would be ascending twice the height of Snowdon and completing the distance of one and a half marathons. We were going to do it in a day and a half. We would be pushing from dawn to nightfall on day one and then day two, finish just after lunchtime in order to get home before picking the kids up. To add to the complications we would also be wild camping in the middle of Macclesfield Forest. It would be tough but we had a plan to ease the pain. We would only be carrying small rucksack, which would contain first aid kits, cameras, waterproofs, water and a few energy snacks. The remainder of our gear would be dropped off after the first day my Tristan’s wife Jackie at the pub ( what a convenient location) near Macclesfield forest. Following the sleep we would then stash the bags and continue with light sacks until completion, then we would return to the forest to collect our gear. We also, cunningly, planned to not carry lunch as we had discovered there were several pubs at the halfway point in our journey, where we could partake in some light refreshments before continuing on with our journey… what could possibly go wrong with that plan.

On my journey to Tristan’s I stopped at Sainsburys to get the supplies for the next couple of days and also bought some beer in order to calm the nerves and aid sleep. Upon arriving at Tristan’s I realised he also had similar ideas when he shoved a pint of Stella into my hand.oh well whilst in Rome! We spent an hour rearranging the bags into some working order and upon completion sat back to begin my second beer when I realised I had forgotten my contact lens equipment. Fuck!!! I then began the drive back home, leaving my pint to warm up, to get aforementioned ocular stuff. It was worth it though as I sneaked round the back of the house to see my wife relaxing in front of the television with a glass of wine. I banged loudly on the door and watched the carnage as cat was kicked against the wall, wine ran down the walls and Yuliya soiled herself. After recovering from the slap I gathered my missing items before chancing a kiss. Saying goodbye I received a curt “twat” in return. She would miss me….. honestly!

Finding myself back at Tristan’s we settled down to talk about the challenge, and it was apparent we were both not only daunted but very excited about it. The beer flowed and by the time I settled down into my sleeping bag it was near enough 1am and the room was spinning. Keeping one eye open and concentrating on red dot on the power lead ( you’ve all been there) I drifted into a restful sleep which was ruined by Tristan coming down stairs to make coffee, signalling it was now 6am. We dressed quickly and packed the remainder of my gear. The mission in the next 45 minutes was one that every walker has to attempt to deal with and is one of the major catch 22’s of the pre walk routine. The pre-walk poo. In order to achieve this goal, which must be achieved before leaving or you would find yourself opening your bowels in the wild, was to drink several cups of coffee in a short space of time. Three cups in and Tristan ran, squeezing his arse cheeks together, to the toilet and from the splattering sounds had full lift off of his mission. He then sat there farting and laughing like an insane man from inside the bathroom. As I heard the toilet flush I realised I was ready. I waited until he left the loo then ran passed him into the loo. Tristan passed me with a “good luck” whilst giggling to himself. As soon as I walked into the room I realised what his elation was. My eyes instantly wept as a smell/fog hit me and the odour of his beer fuelled jobbie attacked every part of me. I entered, forcing myself to hold back sick, and settled down on the now warm seat. What I expected to be an easy task had ground to a very quick halt. Nothing….. at all happened. Great. It had retreated so far away from the smell that I don’t even think I could have manually evacuated it. Oh well we had 2 minutes to leave and I would pray there was a toilet before the start of the trail.

We piled the gear into Jackie’s car and we set off to the train station in Macclesfield and before long we were sat on the train bound for Kidsgrove. It was here that we got our first glimpses of the route. The Gritstone trail runs along the eastern edge of the Cheshire Plains and is basically the border of the Peak District. The train bounded along as the countryside and hills flew past. The day was breaking and the sun rose over dew soaked fields. There was a haze from the morning mist but most importantly for our success overhead was cloudless blue sky.

Climbing off the train we were hit by the cold of the early morning. We watched the train depart with the glum faces of the rush hour travellers facing the prospect of a day behind their desks. We turned away and headed into the car park. The start of the trail only 20 metres ahead lay beckoning us. Unfortunately we had seen a Tesco from the train and we decided to top up with more fluids and grab some breakfast. After 30 minutes we were back after eating pasties and drinking water and failing again to purge my bowels. I wondered if I could last until the pub at lunchtime otherwise it would have to be an outdoor poo. Oh well I had plenty of practice over recent weeks.

We stood next to the stairs leading down to the canal that is the start of the trail. With all of our walks we started shooting a video to capture some of the highlights of the walk. This time we decided to make it a bit different and commentate throughout rather than overlaying music or voice. We would have plenty of time to practice along the way. Video finished we embraced and took the first of tens of thousands of steps towards our goal. Day one would start easy with a 5km walk along canals through Kidsgrove and then out through the country towards the base of our first summit of Mow Cop. This was a good way to get some miles under our belts and warm up our bodies. The going was easy and the morning was delightful. Birds flew over us in the morning haze and soon the sun burnt off the mist and we walked in bright sunshine at a quick pace. The key to this walk was to balance speed with the distance, and on several occasions we had to mentally back off and slow our pace down.

With the constant bouncing there could only be one outcome and soon enough I started to feel the urges that I had tried to start at Tristan’s house. Set in my mind the possibility of an outdoor poo was inevitable however there was a problem. We were approaching the base of Mow Cop which is a heavily populated hillside and I was unsure whether there would be any appropriate locations. I searched round as I walked the canal path and eventually found what I was looking for… an over flow drain hidden in the trees. This was a semi circular tube about a meter wide and a meter deep. I told Tristan I would catch him up and pushed my way in through the trees. Rucksack off I located my 20 sheets of loo roll and jumped into the ditch. Trousers down, in position, leaning my hand on the side to steady myself I let out a very satisfying poo. Unfortunately I didn’t realise how close I was stood to the side of the channel, not realising that my bum was only a couple of centimetres from the side…. The result was when it came out, it immediately pushed back met the outgoing poo and pushed out of the sides…. This was more than a 20 sheet problem. The answer was to rub my bum down the moss on the side before finishing off with the bog paper. Clean and impressed with my bum wiping ingenuity I put my rucksack on and jogged to catch Tristan. I felt great…. In fact I felt about 4kgs lighter (which I probably was).

We finally reaching our turning point and headed off the Canal and up a main road. Cars thundered dangerously close to us on the winding road, the road was steep and maintaining a steady pace we soon gained height. To our relief the signs pointed away from the road and we completed our journey to the top of Mow Cop across fields. Our legs burnt with the exertion by the time we reached the houses running along the top of the hilltop. The broken ruins at the summit highlighted our path and we detoured off the road to explore the hilltop. With some scrambling over some crags we were faced with an impassable cliff. The area, obviously a favourite hangout for local teenagers, was littered with plastic bottles, broken glass and small laughing gas vials. Although not on the actual path, the local council should do something about clearing up this area, although a beautiful area it has been left utterly unsightly and quite frankly dangerous. We manoeuvred around the cliff and eventually reached the summit crest and the ruins of Mow Cop. Although many outside tourists or passerby’s will look up from below and wonder what the original castle looked like. It was in fact built in 1754 and was in fact a summerhouse. Now, as then, made to look like a ruined castle. The area we had just climbed had been fenced off to stop people entering due to a number of suicide attempts off the cliffs.

Now we faced an issue as there were several paths going off in different direction but luckily there appeared to be a local man to ask. “Good morning, do you know the Gritstone Trail?” Tristan asked. “Yes” replied the local. “We’re looking for it”. “Yes I know it” was his reply before silence fell again. “Would there be any possibility you could tell us where it is?” Asked a bemused Tristan. “Well now, let me see. If you turn right here and keep going past the shed and the tree stump to the main road, turn left at the hedge and follow down into the valley and past the pub, if you meet the cow gate you’ve gone too far. Before that you head up the hill and at the third tree………..” he was still talking after we bade him farewell and thought it would be best to try and find it ourselves. Honestly of all the people we had met all morning we had to ask directions from the village Idiot. We found the trail around the next bend under a large sign saying “Gritstone Trail”.. we left the village of Mow Cop with the sounds of ‘duelling banjos’ echoing in our ears.

Walking down off Mow Cop we followed along pathways across fields and through wooded areas. The air was cool inside the woods but when out in the open, sunshine warmed our already hot bodies. To balance the clothing would have been a pain so we were relieved when we got down to the bottom of the valley and started along the Biddulph Valley Way (an old coal railway feeding the potteries) which is a pleasant flat walk through the valley after Mow Cop. The track was shaded and we progressed well in the cool air. After 3kms we found ourselves again breaking into the bright sunshine and found the start of the long climb up to Bosley Cloud ( the second of our big ascents). We walked across fields which were dry and firm under foot (despite several days of heavy rain previously) and entered the village of Timbersbrook a little after 11am. On the official guide to the Gritstone, Timbersbrook is the end point to one of the legs of the journey. We had covered one of the days routes in a little over 4 hours. Progress was going well, little did we know that this would be the easiest of the three day routes.

Climbing along bridleways we slowly made our way up to the foot of Bosley Cloud Country Park. Here we were plunged into deep forest following stone footpaths. The sun broke through the trees periodically casting misty lines to the ground through the cold and damp air. The atmosphere was magical as we wound our way ever higher. As the climb started to level out the trees broke and we slowly emerged onto the summit plateau. The path snaking through boulders hid the view that was soon to appear and when it did, it was stunning. The Cheshire plains spread out in front, over fields and roads, across the majestic half dome of Jodrell Bank. In the distance the dark shadow of Liverpool could be seen, as could the hills near Frodsham and beyond this the Snowdonia mountains. Even though a short climb, in terms of our usual climbs, the view on this day was one of the best I had ever seen. Reaching the summit we sat and caught our breaths. Looking at the map and our route we had to drop into the next valley before climbing up for our third and final ascent of the day. For now though our minds and bellies were set on one thing. In the valley below, in the town of Rushton Spencer lay our lunchtime stop. This would be a place to satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. The only issue would be leaving the Pub to start the final 12kms of the day once we were lubricated.

We descended “the Cloud” along steep paths (which made our tiring legs struggle) and followed the signs which periodically told us that we were on the right track. We entered farming land and followed the route until we got to the head of the trail to be met with barb wire and padlocked gates. Not wanting to climb said obstacles we scrambled around trying to find an escape. Whether the OS map was wrong or the farmer was reluctant to open up his fields to the walkers I can’t tell you. We had to scale the gates in the end and we found ourselves back on track after only a short delay. Eventually with weary legs we approached the main road running through the valley and decided to leave the trail to locate one of three pubs within easy walking distance. The quickest route to Rushton Spencer was along the Staffordshire Moorland railway (another disused track) for about 1.5kms. As we approached the village we climbed a stile and crossed a field, pushed our way through an overgrown hedge to the waiting pub. OS owe us an apology at this stage, as the pub was now a lovely row of cottages at the side of the main road. Determined we pressed on and soon signs at the side of the road intimated we were on the right track. “Fresh food served daily” read the signs. “Guest real Ales” now this was looking good. We staggered up the last stretch like Lawrence of Arabia after a walk through the dunes ready to quench our thirst.

The Knot Inn was exactly what we needed. Good menu, good beer, beer garden and friendly staff who were kind and courteous (although the barman did have the broadest Mancunian accent I had heard outside of Burnage). We asked for a couple of pints of lager whilst we read the menus and quickly ordered our food and 2 more pints as the first two had mysteriously emptied in the minute it took to decide on the steak and ale pie. I’m sure the atmosphere would be great at night but at the moment there were a few locals, obviously wondering what had just walked in. In the corner sat 2 slightly deranged men, sweat soaked clothing hanging from their torsos, giggling whilst drinking pints of beer and wolfing down food like they hadn’t eaten in a week. I must say that if you ever get the chance to go to the Knot Inn the food is great. We took our 4th pint out to the beer garden, after settling our very reasonable bill. With the dehydration from the morning excursion being replenished with lager, the real possibility of calling Jackie to bring the sleeping bags here in order to camp under the slide became a very attractive thought. No!! We had a job to do. We reluctantly finished our pints, replenished the water for our bottles in the pub and strode back to the railway to start our 1.5kms walk back to the Gritstone. The pain in our legs had mysteriously vanished and we walked on with determination to complete the final 12kms before 6pm when the pub, we were meeting Jackie, opened its doors.

As we made the slow climb out of the valley we came across various groups of teenagers who appeared to be doing the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Upon talking to them we discover that they were camping in the Knot Inn beer garden (possibly under the slide). Knowing the staff and the effect of the beer, we very much doubted that they would continue their journeys the next day.
Camping in a beer garden. Honestly what had the world come to. 25 years ago when I did the Duke of Edinburgh we had to camp in a farmers field, digging holes to shit in and carrying the alcohol to drink, that we had to keep hidden from our visiting teachers in our rucksacks. The results would pretty much be the same when we woke surrounded in pools of sick, but at least children wouldn’t have been playing in the area later in the day. Honestly the youth of today had it easy!!

We trudged up the trail and followed the moorland across the tops until the final climb up to Sutton Common. Here lies one of the most recognisable places on the walk. On top of the summit sits the Sutton Common Radio Tower. Many times I have driven in the valley past this and indeed it can be seen from the other side of Manchester. The tower is a 72 metre high concrete radio mast. It may be seen by many as a blot on the hilltop but up close it is a beautiful achievement in engineering. The location was picked away from built up areas to provide the backbone of communication should there be nuclear strikes to the British isles. Happily these days are behind us now (until Brexit) and the tower provides location for telecommunication dishes and antennas. At the top we get our first view of Macclesfield Forest (our base for the night) and at its base the Leathers Smithy Pub.

The decent into the valley was steady, which was good as our legs were feeling the damage now (the alcohol having been sweated out of our systems several kilometres ago). Every step was painful. I could feel several areas on my feet that were breaking down with blisters but the main pain was from my joints that were suffering from the distance. We were approaching the end of a Marathon distance. The walk across the valley approaching the pub seemed to go on for an age and with time ticking close to 6pm we pushed ourselves to run across several fields. We eventually made it to the pub at 6.05. To be 5 minutes late after completing over 21 miles was very impressive. We had survived the first of three challenges on day one. The next was just about to begin….. eating and drinking our body weight in the pub then following the second challenge attempt to find a spot in the woods and set up camp without alerting the local forest rangers.

Tristan’s wife and daughter Imogen had arrived at the pub a couple of minutes prior and decided to stay for tea. I was worried that my odour from the day would be off-putting but I was ensured that it was barely noticeable. I chose to keep my jacket on until they left in order to trap the toxicity and avoid spoiling their dinner and indeed their food. I was dreaming of Scampi and chips throughout the trip and low and behold the pub delivered… alongside a plate of onion rings and blue cheese sauce. After stuffing ourselves and recounting our tales from the trip so far, we bade farewell to Tristans family and returned to the pub having collected our overnight bags from the boot of the car. Several pints later we discovered the malt whisky shelf and challenged ourselves to sample each in turn. It was, I understand, an additional challenge for the day but one we were very willing to participate in. We succeeded but it was hard going.

Therefore slightly before 11pm we staggered out through the door into the night and proceeded up the road to find our camping site. The walk was only a few hundred feet in a straight line but this felt like a mile as we bounced from one drystone wall to the next in zigzags. Ensuring no-one was around we hopped the perimeter fence and climbed through the forest until we found a suitable area (under a holly tree) to make our camp. 20 minutes later settling into our sleeping bags protected by bivvy bags, we started on the whisky we had brought with us. We talked into the night about life, family, adventures whilst lying under a canopy of trees with the full moon light breaking through and giving everything a ghostly atmosphere. The night before had been frosty and very cold, tonight was warm and settled. The wind blew through the trees and filled the air with nature’s soundtrack as the night hunting animals crunched in the leaves surrounding us or screeching though the trees above us. We could have stayed up enjoying each other’s company for many more hours but with the whisky bottles drained and the prospect of another 22kms tomorrow we settled down for the night at 1am.

I was awoken by Tristan at a little after 6.30 after a deep, warm and comfortable sleep. The liquid refreshments the night before had undoubtably taken there toll and I struggled to focus through the blinding hangover. We had a small breakfast before reluctantly easing out of our cocoons into the morning chill. The clouds has enveloped the sky overnight and the morning looked grey and unimpressive. The first challenge was to stand up as the realisation of the proceeded days toils had taken an adverse side effect on both of our legs. Our knees creaked with pain and the prospect of the walk started to feel like a real challenge. We packed our kit into our bags and found a suitable tree to stash them under. We slowly made our way down through the forest and hopped over the fence (when I say hopped I really mean fell) at the bottom of the wood.

This section of the walk involved several big climbs as well as several shorter climbs, undoubtedly this would be the hardest day and probably a reason why most people start the journey at this end and finish on the gentle slopes and the canals near Kidsgrove. But we only had 22kms to do and we had to complete it by 2pm. We descended into the valley and saw our first (and in my opinion worst summit having previously struggled to climb it) summit approaching. Teggs Nose is a hill overlooking Macclesfield Forest based on the outskirts of the main town of Macclesfield. Formally it was a quarry but now the hill top has been turned into a country park. Scars of the industrial past litter the hill top and children play on the abandoned equipment with joyful abandonment. We however were stood at the bottom looking up and wondering whether our legs could carry us up the steep incline. Only one way to find out. We have always had a saying on our walks “what ever happens, no matter how you feel, if you put one foot in front of the other, you will always get to your goal”. This is most certainly the case now. Our legs felt unsteady and weak and with heads pounding from the alcohol the night before we walked on. We stopped periodically to catch our breaths but in the end we ascended the hill in one go. The exertion of the climb had of course caused issues from my pressing bowel issues and this would soon be coming to fruition. Luckily we knew there was a loo at the visitors centre and after a short walk through the park I thankfully relieved myself in the comfort of a toilet cubicle.

We considered hanging around for the café to open but with a 15minute wait until opening time and then the lost time whilst we were there, we decided to press on. The landscape of Day 2 was recognisable and well trodden by the pair of us. We were now approaching Bollington, which is Tristan’s home town, and he knows every inch of these hills and dales. The descent from Teggs Nose is gradual and a relief on our legs following the hard climb we had just done. There are a number of small valleys that add to the burn of the climb but in all the walk is pleasant and light. The view of the remaining route breaks out in front of us and the drop to Kerridge Ridge is a beautiful view. With the imposing ridge surrounded by idyllic cottages blowing out coal smoke in the morning chill. This view to me is England at its finest. Most only see these picture postcard villages from below but from up above they are breathtaking.

We descend lower until we reach the base of Kerridge Ridge. Although not a very tough hill to climb it is a right pain. The path climbs along the side which means that the path is angled at a 45 degree angle to the right. The result of this is a lot of pressure on your right leg and, for me in particular, is hard on the right Achilles which I ripped earlier in the year. By the time I had reached the top my Achilles was in spasm and I needed a couple of minutes to regather myself. A short walk led us to another famous view point White Nancy.

White Nancy is another folly built in 1817 to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo. It was originally a one roomed building but the entrance door has now been blocked up and the structure sits overlooking Bollington town. It was here we settled down for a bite to eat and rest from the mornings climbs. We were in sight of the last range of hills and we only had about 10kms to go. We soon started down the path leading into Bollington town but as soon as it looked like we would enter civilisation the path led away and into the countryside once again. I recognised this area from some of the runs that Tristan had led with his running club (the bollington Harriers). It was at this point I had to scale a fence and dash into the near-by woods for a wild-poo. Honestly my bowels couldn’t go 10 minutes without announcing there existence.

Our legs were painful but with the the majority of the hike behind us we pressed on with renewed energy. We soon started to climb out of Bollington and towards the tops of the hills which led to Lyme and on to Disley. The climb was tough, the sun was beating down and despite de-layering we were both sweating profusely (nice thought). As we climbed we approached close to a hill called Andrews knob, of course discovering this on the map led too much hilarity to its origin. I have later discovered that it the site of a round barrow (a bronze aged burial mound) which has now sadly been destroyed. We eventually approached the top of the rise and walked a short way down a road before joining the path up to Sponds Hill which would quickly lead us the Bowstones above Lyme Park. The walk up to Sponds was pleasant but the wind had picked up to such a rate it was very hard to hear each other. The view from the top of Sponds Hill was stunning. Looking back into the distance we saw what we had achieved in the last two days of hiking. The top of Macclesfield forest could be seen and beyond that the tiny radio tower looked dwarfed by the magnitude of the completed distance. Beyond and in the hazy distance we could just make out the hill which sat the ruined folly at Mow Cop. Our starting point was beyond the horizon. We really had achieved something epic over the past two days. To complete the walk we only had 7 kms to go and most of this would be downhill. Even so it was not going to be easy as we walked on like a couple of paraplegics dragging our weary legs one step at a time.

We soon descended to Bowstones which we had visited hundreds of times. This was the site of the our first glimpse of the Gritstone trail those many years before. The place takes its name from two phallic shaped boundary markers on top of the moor. Legend has it that Robin Hood and his men used them to restring their bows. We left the stones behind us and crossed a stile into Lyme Park and started our descent into the final valley. Tristan being completely retarded thought it would be a good opportunity for some running and took off down the hillside like a deranged escapee. I chose to walk down to the bottom meeting him as he fought for breath at the forest gate of Knightslow Wood. The walk was pleasant into the heart of the Park. Our initial plans were to have a break in the park but we were pushed for time and soon wound our way out of the park via the Eastgate. The next couple of miles should have been joyous as we were within touching distance of the end. However they were tinged at least for me with sadness. Not only was every step a torturous challenge due to joint pain, muscle ache and evident blistering of our feet but for me there was another reason to be disheartened. Tristan and myself always enjoy our time together. As I said previously we have been best friends for over 25 years but we get so little time to enjoy our passions together these days. With work and families and other outside commitments we have to plan months in advance these adventures. We do have plans in place for the future…. Actually quite soon we are taking on Hell up North together with my wife. But a running event is very much a solo event as for the majority of them I struggle to breath let alone talk and laugh. It’s funny when you finish a “big challenge” that it always has a sense of anticlimax. When we completed the three peak challenge a couple of years ago, Skipper our driver said why you looking so glum you’ve done it! But after the months of prep and planning, the fatigue and the exhaustion, the only thing we wanted to do was put it behind us and sleep. It is only hours, day or weeks after the event did we all truly appreciate what we had done which to many in the UK would have been impossible. That feeling was with me know. I knew that upon reflection this would be one of the most memorable challenges I have ever achieved. It was made even more special that I achieved it with my best friend. So I say let the planning commence and let’s get the next big one planned.

The walk into Disley led along tracks until all of a sudden we were walking through beautiful ornate cottages and down the final path. Through the woods we descended the final 15 steps and together we entered the car park at Disley Station. The end of the Gritstone Trail. The end of another adventure. But certainly not the end of OUR adventure. The journey through life is filled with moments. Whether it is your child’s first step, or your parents smile as you as you stand up on stage, or the success of a job interview, or the smile of your wife as she walks towards you up the aisle. These are the moments that form the rich tapestry of our lives, and this is why we adventure. There really is no better feeling than OUR moments and may there be many more to come.

Steven Silver October 2018

Please copy, paste and follow this link to the video that we made of the journey


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