Basic Expedition leadership expedition
Aaaarhh! Someone has put super glue into my calf muscles. Or that's what it felt like as I extricated myself from my sleeping bag at 6.30am on Sunday. Oh, the pain - and the blisters on my feet, and my knees, and my hips - why or why had I agreed to do this?
I have started so I will finish, there was no way I was going to lose face by caving in. Breakfast was quickly demolished and the tents collapsed making our group the first off the camp site, with the testosterone boys hard on our heels (I envy them their youth).
We had another sharp ascent from the outset - about 800 ft to the Mermaid Inn up on the ridge way which connects Leek with Buxton. We had planned a slightly more scenic route but in the end opted for a direct line to Warslow, again using a ridge way but this time walking the five miles on paved roads. My hips, knees and feet were a bit fragile before we started and this just about finished them off. The road stretched of interminably into the distance and progress seemed non existent. I just put my head down and placed one foot in front of the other, waiting for it all to stop.
Mermaid Beacon with Roaches in the background
The mermaid herself
It passed, as all things do, and we finally found ourselves in Wetton. We were supposed to meet the supervisors here for a checkpoint but we were an hour and a half ahead of schedule. So, after availing ourselves of the facilities (which are beautifully maintained) we descended into the Manifold Valley. The good news was that this offered a bit more shade, but the bad news was that all trace of the wind was lost. Swings and roundabouts.
Chapel in Warslow
Cecilia knew the area well and has an encylopedic knowledge of tea rooms. She knew of Wetton Mill which serves tea in big half pint mugs - more nectar to de-hydrated walkers. The loos at Wetton Mill happened to have a mirror and I was horrified at the sight of myself, unwashed and unshaven for three days. I will be 50 next year and I am starting to think I am getting a bit old for Rucksacks.
Thors Cave and the Manifold Valley
The Manifold valley is quite beautiful but held one last ascent back into Wetton, offering a fine view over to Grindon and Thor's cave. That last climb into the village was a killer, and my standby challenge was resurrected to take everyone's minds off the effort : Give me 40 bands with "and the" in the title - you know Derek and the Dominos, Martha and the Muffins etc.
And so we emerged back to the original camp site, still together as a group and amazingly the first to return, closely followed by "testosterone infusion".
So that is for the formal part of the training. I still have to do 30 hours of on the job volunteering which I will attend to in the autumn but as far as this group is concerned, its goodbye. Its been a bitter sweet experience. The leaders and pparticipants have all been great, and the activities have been enjoyable, but all those weekends away for the family have been difficult.
As for backpacking and sleeping out, I would like to say that all that is in the past. But I remember saying that after my time as an assistant Outward Bound Leader and still I found myself swinging a heavy rucksack onto my shoulders.
However, Jeff did spot me sizing up the back of the Mondeo and noting it was big enough to sleep full length on an air bed and perceptively guessed my intentions when I start my D of E supervisory duties!