Oh my days!!!!!

Easter Sunday started with a lovely sunny day in Rotherham.  However, the forecast for Glossop where we would be hiking was “Continuous heavy rain”.  Hard to believe such a contrast in weather over just 30 miles, but nonetheless, we packed our gear and a change of clothing for the end.

After a good bowl of porridge with cinnamon and peanut butter, myself and my cousin Jill drove over to Old Glossop and met up (for my third time!) with the Shamblers walking group – around 25 people had turned out for the 10.5 mile strenuous walk. It was predicted to take 5.5hrs to complete.

The walk started off at 10.30am, and thankfully it wasn’t raining.  We were very quickly climbing up the side of a field, over a few stiles, and back down again.  Across a lane, over another gap in a stone wall and then a short sharp climb of 45 degree angle up on to Shaw Moor.  The terrain was moorland which then degenerated into peat bog by the time we passed Harry Hut trig point (441m) and got to Mill Hill where we stopped for a quick 10-min lunch break. 

By now the weather had closed in, and I was deeply regretting not taking the time to hunt out my waterproof trousers!!

After lunch, we turned left and joined the Trans Pennine Way across Featherbed Moss.  I was very grateful for everyone who had laid the flagstone path across the bog – it made walking so much easier! We walked for 2 miles in poor visibility (our two guides Jerry and Danny assuring me of the great scenery that WAS there beyond the low cloud), and I was convinced we could have quite easily been walking around in a large circle, as you couldn’t make out any navigation points, apart from the path we were walking on.   Eventually we came to the A57 Snake Pass road.

It was at this point I gave up, exhausted.  I wanted to phone a friend to come and pick me up.  I’d done 7 miles and had had enough.  I was wet through, cold and tired.  However… there was no phone signal!!  Jerry told me that the final leg of the hike would take about 1.5hrs, then I’d be back at the car and would feel great at having completed the hike.  He also offered me a cup of hot milky tea from his flask…and I accepted it (which to those who know me, shows how really desperate I was!!!!).

We crossed over the A57 and headed onwards and downwards… down a scary treacherous pathway.  All of my worst nightmares lay in front of me: steep rocky declines; mud; wet slippery stones; streams to cross; bogs to navigate; sheer drops to walk along the edge of!!  I had two panic attacks.  At one point I looked ahead down the length of the clough / valley and felt overwhelmed with what I had to tackle.  There was no turning back, yet I couldn’t see the end of it.

I paused, prayed, took a deep breath, and heard Jill’s voice ringing in my ears “You can do this Sharon”.  My mind went back to other scary hikes I’d done with Jill – mainly the horseshoe route up Pen-Y-Fan in Dec 2012.  Without Jill by my side i wouldn’t have attempted the hikes, and I’d so far survived, so I kept going, with the thought of a great cup of ‘Black with a Splash’ (coffee) waiting for me at the end.

I’d like to say I enjoyed the hike… and I did enjoy a few parts of it, but for the most part it was a scary exercise in endurance and facing fears.  My face in this picture goes some way to summing it up.

BUT I KEPT GOING.

One of my favourite passages in the Bible is from Philippians 3 vs 12-14:

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”.

People often comment on my levels of determination, and the fact that I do just keep on going – albeit at a slow and steady pace.  The thing which keeps me going and helps me to stay focused is that I truly believe God helps and strengthens me to do things which are all part of his ‘Big Picture’ plan for me.  At the time I certainly don’t enjoy being out of my comfort zone, but I know I learn things from it and my character develops because of it.

After a gruelling 6 1/4 hrs, me and Jill return to the car.  And the very impromptu photo of me sitting (squelching!) on a carrier bag, taking in all that I’ve just been through and achieved, is embarrassingly funny!!

HUGE thanks have to go out to Jerry and Danny of the Shamblers, who stayed with me and Jill when I could no longer keep up with the main group of hikers.  They were encouraging, supportive, funny, knowledgeable and reassuring.

Until the next time…