Fellow travellers

Fellow travellers

There’s great representation from the colonies. I’ve counted 22 Australians (4+4+14) keeping pace with us on the C2C – or perhaps more accurately, we’re managing to keep pace with them! The first 4 were Aussie-cum-Kiwis; they took a rest day in Patterdale so we’ve left them behind, sadly. We liked their laughter and their humour – “mine’s a mocca-vodka-marijuana-latte” they would say, as they came across us pouring coffee from our thermos by the side of the trail. The second 4 were led by the Black Hatter, a rather terrifying dame, wide in girth and bossy in tone; her 3 companions followed in her slipstream – they had no option! The 14 are a jolly set of Aussies. We saw them rarely in the first few days and, when we did, we felt a little overawed (maybe even irritated) by them as they seemed to take pleasure in telling us how many high peaks they’d climbed – as many as the route offers and then some. This is discouraging in the extreme when you’re almost pegging out along the low routes! But we’ve warmed to this energetic group and enjoy their “G’day” greetings and their pleasure in our Pommie country.

Then there’s 6 Canadians (2+2+2) including the irrepressible sisters, Amina and Selma, now burning the trail superfast and way ahead of us. Mr and Mrs Debbie (I never caught his name) from Toronto whom we thought might bail out after Day 2 are still going strong. And two other Canadians have appeared in the last couple of days – they’re multiplying!

7 Americans (4+3) – well they used to be a colony! We think the 4 gave up long ago. They resorted to a taxi on Day 1 to avoid the climb up Dent Hill so the signs weren’t good. They were wondering if they’d overdone it on the cooked breakfast – or just bitten off much more than they could chew. But the 3 ‘senior gals’ from the West Coast are still plodding womanfully on and look like they’ll make it no bother.

Closer to home, we’ve met a couple of Germans and an Italian. And then there’s Olga (Russian but now British) a slim blond with the widest smile, and The Teacher, a tall, slim, boyish chap with curly hair and a beard, legs like spindles and size 13 boots, hiking with their dog, Beta, (Maths teacher, what else?) We met them at Angle Tarn as they were packing away their tent and shared the trail with them for a couple of days. They made slow progress – Beta was a bit long in the tooth and dogs can be a challenge when it comes to muddy sections or crossing stiles. Beta wasn’t too keen on bridges either, and The Teacher also enjoyed a quiet pint if there happened to be a pub en route! They’ve packed up and gone now – back to work tomorrow.

Lanky and Shorty, aka Dave and Barbara are part of the daily routine on the trail. Tall Dave with his loping gait and easy smile and diminutive Barbara, who must need twice the number of paces to keep up with him. What she lacks in height she makes up for in doughty resilience. There’s hardly a day when she’s not in shorts; she has those legs out in all weathers, even today in 12 degrees and a wind chill from the north-easterly. And there’s Dave and Sue. You can recognise them on the trail as he’s always miles out front waving his stick or looking at his map. Mind you, Jim does a lot of looking at the map and he’s usually out front too.

We share the trail, evening drinks, dinner, stories and laughter with Liam and Jilly whenever we can. And sometimes we let them have some homemade trail mix too! We head off tomorrow while they linger an extra day in Richmond – honestly, a rest day, who heard of such a thing? They’ll be out for a walk and wishing they were back on the trail.

No sightings of either the Mute Man or the Minute Matchstick Man since encountering them on the first two days. One can only speculate that Mute Man got lost and couldn’t find a way to ask directions. As for Minute Man, I think he’s like a dervish and spends his days walking round and round in circles, a perpetual circuit of Ennerdale Water, hankie in hand, defying his vertigo. If you go there, look out for him.

And so the group changes as our schedules start to go out of sync. But some friendships are made in short spaces of time as chance brings you together to tackle this amazing challenge.