Friday evening I was helping two lads on leg 1 of their Bob Graham Round attempt.
It was a filthy, wet night but thankfully also quite warm (as long as you kept the water out).
The contenders were going for a 23 hour schedule so it was no more than a steady walk up Skiddaw. Unfortunately one of their friends and helpers - Mike, wasn't quite able to keep pace and dropped behind by a couple of hundred metres. I was tasked with dropping back to him to collect gear he was carrying and also ensure he knew how to take the shortcut to miss out Gt Calva and meet us again at the Caldew crossing.
Gear collected, a jog to catch back up again and we were soon approaching Skiddaw summit - 5 minutes ahead of schedule which was good going considering the rain and strong headwind. I waited for Mike on the summit and took the chance to don my water proof overtrousers as it was rather uncomfortable in the wind and rain at 3000ft.
We then descended and easily picked up the trod leading us over Hare Crag. Unsure he could regain the others Mike thought it best to skirt around Calva and I stayed with him as he wasn't really so sure of the area.
Crossing the Caldew was very tricky as it was in spate. It was also VERY COLD. Once on the far bank we took stock and looked out for the rest of our party descending off Gt Calva. Spotting them, we chose a better point to cross the river and guided them towards it. To ensure safety, myself and Mike stood in the river and grabbed hands with the others as they crossed.
As they set off up toward Mungrisedale Common me and Mike collected our backpacks, watches etc which we had shed in case we fell in and rushed to catch up. Mike was unable to catch up and as we headed ever higher, eventually into the cloud he ventured marginally off our line. I had been checking he was still behind every so often but with hindsight I should have waited for him.
Upon reaching Blencathra summit plateau I was far enough behind the contenders to know they were already descending but too far ahead of Mike for him to know where we all were. Several tense minutes were spent wandering along the plateau between the point I expected him to emerge and the trig point. Thankfully there was finally a response to my calls and he emerged out of the mist.
Knowing the others would only be stopping for a few minutes I was keen to see them off on Leg 2, so suggested we take Halls Fell Ridge as it may allow us to catch up as they had gone down Doddick which is a bit longer. This was a REALLY BAD idea, as in the fading light and with every step onto wet, slippy rocks, WE probably took far longer than they did.
Anyway, eventually we were back in Threlkeld with the road support crew. Mike was straight into the back of a car to be taken back to base and I chatted briefly over a cuppa to the helpers. We had missed the lads setting off for leg 2, but as I jogged through the village to my van i could make out their faint headtorches picking a line up Clough Head.
The rain was atrocious on the M6 North of Penrith - far worse than we had encountered on the fells. I seriously doubted that they would continue the round far beyond leg 2 in such poor conditions. As i write this on Monday I understand they DID both complete the round. Well done Duncan and James.