Keswick to Barrow Walk 2015

Name of walk Keswick to Barrow Walk 2015
Date of walk 2015-05-09
Distance walked (miles) 40
Duration of walk 13 hours 56 minutes
Weather Rain for the first four hours. Sunshine in the afternoon.
Peaks on walk Kirkby Moor.
Walked with 2000 plus others!
Parking None.

It is that time of the year again when 2000 plus masochists meet in a muddy field in Keswick at dawn, to walk the 40 glorious miles back to Barrow. Once again I am walking in aid of the Hospital Equipment Fund for Furness (HEFF). I never meet the other members of my team as we walk as individuals, but I know I am always the last of the team to finish! No doubt the others are all young and fit! I leave home at 3.50am to catch the 4am bus from The Ferry on Walney Island. The weather forecast is not good, but is due to improve after lunch. I spent the night clock-watching, unable to sleep, and eventually got up ten minutes before my alarm was due to go off. A good start!


View from the bus window of the start as we queue to reach the exit point. For the third year running, it is raining.


I pass through the start at 5.44am. Then cross the field to reach the track that leads through the woods to Thirlmere.


Just like last year, there is water on the road on the west side of Thirlmere. This was just a short section.


Further on there was a much longer section of flooding and there was no option, if you wanted to keep your feet dry, but to walk along the top of the dry stone walls. It is a sheer drop on the left. So much for health and safety!


View across Thirlmere to the Helvellyn range in mist.


Dunmail Raise in the dip.


Lots of water in Dob Gill.


Steel Fell ahead.


Top of Dunmail Raise. Helm Crag on the right. Heading down into Grasmere.


At the Grasmere Checkpoint I meet up with the Dowdales School Support Team enjoying the weather. Dave and Rob from the Science Department and Julie the Head Teacher.


Grasmere from the route up Red Bank. Red Bank is the steepest ascent.


Coming down from the top of Red Bank towards Elterwater.


It is a steep windy road. After the descent I make a brief stop to top-up the Vaseline on my feet, an old Royal Marine trick for preventing blisters.


At Yew Tree Tarn I meet up with the HEFF support car and Liz and Ian, who do this every year. I stop briefly for a drink of orange juice and some cake. Liz and Ian park up at various places on route enticing members of the team with tempting things to eat and drink. They have a table, chair and a stove to make a cuppa, all the comforts of home. Plus they carry all the spare kit.


Yew Tree Tarn. Next I head up and over the footpath down to Monk Coniston.


It is a quiet woodland route.




Coniston Water ahead.



More lambs! As I head around the east side I meet Jonny, one of the Dalton bell ringers, he is one of the hundreds of stewards and marshals giving up their Saturday to line the route.


Looking across Coniston Water.


The road on the east side.


Just after the 20 mile marker is Machells Coppice and lunch. Lunch is free and there is a choice of burgers or sandwiches and fruit. Plus tea/coffee/juice.


I have a tuna fish sandwich and a large cup of coffee, then apply some more Vaseline to my feet. Ten minutes is long enough to stop, any more and I may stiffen up. Onwards and upwards!




At last the sun has started to show itself and I can finally take my waterproofs off.


Earlier on the east side one of my former students from Thorncliffe had introduced himself. Steven Philips, I would have never recognised him, he is 28 now and no longer small and ginger! He is now an engineer, so the physics I taught him must have come in useful! Steven is on the right, his brother David on the left. We would keep passing each other throughout the afternoon. Steven's dad, Colin, was with them too. Colin and I used to play badminton for the Oxford Club many years ago, so we chatted on route too. This was Colin's 37th K2B about glutton for punishment!


Still plenty of dark clouds around.


Little pigs!


The Red Lion at Lowick, Steven was going to stop here for a pint! I stopped for a coffee at the church, I got a free Mars Bar too.


The hills are looking good! I head ever upwards towards Kirkby Moor.


A welcome sight.....the marker not the hill!


Close up of The Hoad in Ulverston with the sea behind.


As I head up to Kirkby Moor the Coniston Fells are now a long way in the distance.



I take a close up photo with Coniston Water in view.


The Kirkby Moor Wind Farm. Pink polka-dot turbines? Now they would look really great! Owen, Martin? ;-)


Now passing the reservoirs.


Looking back to the wind farm.


The north end of Walney Island.


Poaka Beck Reservoir.


Heading down into Marton.


Crossing the A590.


The hill down into Dalton. Three miles to go now. By this stage it is three very painful miles, my knee is throbbing and my feet are killing me, but on the plus side, the Vaseline has prevented any blisters. Brendan meets me at Mill Brow and I let him take my bum-bag ruck sack. He then parks near the finish and I meet him on Abbey Road. Chatting for the last mile or so keeps my mind off the pain!


The finish at BAE Systems Sports Club.


They clap you in, always an embarrassing finish! I touch my electronic tag on to the final check point, it beeps. I then collect my medal and from my electronic tag they print out my Check Point Time Card.


24 minutes quicker than last year!


The medal.


Medals from the last three years. Next year is the 50th Anniversary of the walk, I was thinking that I would do it one more time, as it will be a special event, but now I'm not sure given the amount of pain I was in for the last 5 miles this year. But then the K2B is much like child-birth, a few months later you have forgotten all about the pain! So I am writing this here so I don't forget. NO! DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!

So once again I was made a fellow of the Ancient Order of Barking Dogs, a title bestowed on everyone who completes the 40 mile trek, acknowledging the madness of the challenge…..WOOF! 🙂

I slept well on Saturday night, but my thighs were a bit stiff the next morning. I had to be up early Sunday morning to ring the bells for two Sunday Services! That is TWO spiral staircases to climb up and down again! Plus having to ring the 21cwt tenor bell at Dalton! Penance comes in many forms!

Many thanks to Liz and Ian for their excellent support, to my sponsors, and to all the Committee, Stewards, Marshals, Refreshment Stall Workers, Check Point Staff and First Aiders for making it such a well organised and great day!