Keswick to Barrow Walk 2014

Name of walk Keswick to Barrow Walk 2014
Date of walk 2014-05-10
Distance walked (miles) 40
Duration of walk 14 hours 15 minutes
Weather Rain, then overcast
Peaks on walk Kirkby Moor
Walked with 3000 others!
Parking Got a bus

Saturday the 10th May was the day of the 48th annual Keswick to Barrow Walk (40 miles), with a new record of over 3000 walkers entered to take part. I had completed it last year when it rained for the first 7 hours and 20 minutes, and I decided that I would like to do it again in better weather. Unfortunately, in Cumbria better weather does not necessarily mean good weather! You have to just get on with what you are given. I caught the 4am bus from Walney Island to Keswick it had been bucketing down all night, so I guess it will be rain again then! I was in full waterproofs for the second year running! I was walking for The Hospital Equipment Fund for Furness team (HEFF), but we do not walk as a team. It is best to go at your own pace. Liz (team co-ordinator) and Ian were in the support vehicle and we would meet up at various places on route. Brendan had opted to do the more leisurely Coniston to Barrow Walk (23 miles). His bus was not until 7am.


The route map for the K2B on the right. I had it in my pocket and it got a bit soggy


Approaching the start check point just before 6am. It was heavy rain at this stage. You have to go through an underpass and cross a field to get to the start of the track. The field was a quagmire.


On the track heading in the direction of Thirlmere. I did not take many photos as I kept getting water on the lens.


Very low cloud over Thirlmere.


Lots of water on the road down the west side.


View towards Dunmail Raise, the gap in the mountains.


One of the obstacles to be tackled. A 70m stretch of ankle deep water. I did not want to walk in wet footwear, so I joined the stone wall walking queue. It was at this point that I knew the weather was not conducive to a faster time than last year.


Dob Gill looking very full.


The view on the other side of the bridge.


Heading up the road over Dunmail Raise.


Now heading down towards Grasmere, Helm Crag on the right.


A very wet lamb!


The HEFF support car was parked near Sam Read's Bookshop, so I stopped and Liz and Ian provided me with a hot cup of tea and a slice of fruitcake. I took the opportunity to use my vaseline and Compeed Stick on the balls of my feet, which I did after every 10 miles in order to reduce the chance of blisters, especially given the wet weather. I then headed on to the checkpoint. I met up with Rob Waddington and Julie Connor, the headteacher at Dowdales, who were checking on the Dowdales' teams. As I headed for the lake the sun came out.


View back to Dunmail Raise from the steep route up to Red Bank.


Now heading down towards Elterwater. In front of me on the left is the guy I met on the top of Kirkby Moor on one of my training walks and he had graciously opened my small container of vaseline for me. He recognised me immediately, but I took a while to twig who he was. I said I never recognised him with his trousers on (previously he was in shorts), he said he'd best not mention what I asked him to do with the vaseline! After this conversation i hoped that the woman walking with him wasn't his wife! ;-) We met up several times over the course of the day, I even overtook him near the finish.


Within a couple of minutes of taking this photo it started to rain again, but the respite had been most welcome.


I ran my tag through the sensor of the Elterwater check point, grabbed a quick drink and set off for Coniston. The photo is taken from the bridge at Elterwater. The next section was a bit wet.


Passing Yew Tree Tarn, the rain had started to let up.


Then it started again so I took no photos until I reached Monk Coniston I chatted with some more Dowdales staff and I also met one of my former Thorncliffe students, Stuart Howitt. He now works at BAE Systems, but was one of the First Aiders for the walk. He was waiting for an ambulance to arrive as one of the walkers had suffered a collapsed lung.


A rather excellent garden on the route to the east side of Coniston Water.


Looking down on Bank Ground. I used to work at Low Bank Ground, an O.E. Centre, just next door to it, back in the eighties.


Some lovely bluebell woods.


Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin.


Some spectacular Rhododendrons next to the Brantwood car park.


The half way point! A half a mile on is Machell's Coppice, where lunch is provided free. I just had a coffee and a tuna sandwich. I stopped for about ten minutes, long enough to reap the benefits, but not get stiff.


More bluebells.


White wild garlic flowers.


East side jetty.


Snoozy lamb!


In Lowick I met up with Liz and Ian and the support car. They had my spare trainers, so I changed into new socks and footwear. I stopped at Lowick Church checkpoint. Chatted to yet more Dowdales staff and got a quick coffee before setting off for the route up to Kirkby Moor.


I walked over Kirkby Moor with a female engineer from Derby, with a PhD in chemical engineering, she was walking with her company team and camping in Keswick. We took each others photos at the 30 mile marker. There were a lot of people from out of the area that I talked to, there was even a group from Spain.


A view to the sea, heading up Kirkby Moor.


Looking back in the direction of Coniston Water.


Coniston Water can be seen better in a close-up photo.


Looking back to our route past the wind farm. Not much to see in Marton and Dalton, so I took no more photos. My walking companion needed a rest at Marton, but I needed to head on. I stopped briefly in Dalton for a drink, then continued down the long slog into Barrow and along Abbey Road to the Sports Club.


The advantage of being a bit later is that the crowds at the finish are far smaller, and there is less distance of board in which you have to suffer the 'walk of embarrassment' as they clap you in. The second advantage is that I have missed Eurovision!


At the entrance you use your electronic tag for the last time, and immediately get your medal. You give in your tag and they print you out your check point times, and overall time.


This year I was an hour and 20 minutes slower than last year. Still not bad for an old girl with a dodgy knee! You get a free drink and free meal ticket, but like last year I wasn't hungry. Brendan had met me at the end, so we used them for two drinks, one for each of us. Brendan had completed the Coniston to Barrow Walk in seven hours and 15 minutes. He had had his pie and peas and had been home for a couple of hours. Sitting in the bar for 20 minutes meant that I had started to stiffen up and it was not easy to walk to where he had parked the car!


Me with my 2014 and 2013 K2B walk medals. I don't feel too bad today. I was still able to climb the Dalton St. Mary's church tower for Sunday Service bell ringing this morning!

Thanks to Liz and Ian for their excellent support. This year I have raised about £190 for HEFF.

You can still donate using my sponsorship page at:

Now I have completed the walk twice, I think I will call it a day. As I said last year, the ‘Keswick to Barrow Walk’ is something to do before you die, NOT until you die! Forty miles is a bloody long way; but it is not a test of physical ability, it is 90% mental fortitude……. the ability to press on through the pain…….so, thank heaven for codeine! 😉


Now putting my feet up and watching the footy!