We woke up on day 6 to heavy rain and the knowledge that we had a lot of mileage to cover to complete our walk today. We were all tired from an awful nights sleep in the worst hotel ever and the worst breakfast probably didn’t fuel us up enough. I can honestly say I will never return to the County Hotel again. Mouldy bathrooms, non flushing toilets, rank breakfasts, noisy night clubs under the rooms, a stink of glue, all added up to us being a bit deflated this morning.
We set off with a plan to walk 7 miles to our lunch stop and then to complete the remaining 7 miles after lunch. It ended up being so much further than that. We were determined to do it and set off motivating each other and singing songs again to keep our spirits up in the rain. We must have looked like a right bunch of idiots plodding through Carlisle in our sodden wet weather gear.
We were told this would be a long hard slog of a walk but that it was all downhill from Carlisle. We should know never to trust anyone that says that. The day seemed to be filled with steps, endless gravel paths and hills that just snuck up on you when you realised you were at the top and had been walking slowly up hill for miles.
We knew today was going to be emotional as we were finishing this challenge and because we were all thinking about Mum. We were often in our own little worlds today, digging deep to keep going one foot in front of the other, and many tears were shed for different reasons. Each one of us had our reasons for doing this and you could see the gritted teeth and determination become more evident on our faces with each step.
We stopped at an incredible pub for lunch, the Greyhound in Burgh-By-Sands, and met a lovely group of elderly locals having their weekly lunch meeting. They all very kindly donated. Some were touched by cancer in their lives or their family and friends, some were moved by our story, some even never donated to charities but when they saw the state of us all soaked to the skin from the rain and sweat and totally exhausted they then broke their rules and donated to motivate us.
After lunch we had a long hard march along very long roads and gravel paths. It seemed like we would never get to the end of them. We had to have quite a few pit stops to refuel and rest our burning legs.
Along one path as we were all struggling along we passed a man on crutches with his wife and granddaughter. He asked what we were doing and Auntie June explained about Mum, he said that he could see she was digging deep and wouldn’t tell us his story as it would make us cry, he said he would just ask Auntie June to take a £10 note from him to keep in her hand to get her through the last few miles to put in our charity box at the end of the day. This kind man has no idea how much he helped to spur on Auntie June as she clutched that note all the way along and Uncle Tim had to pry her hand open at the end of the walk.
So many people have supported us along the way and so many people have shared their stories of surviving cancer or losing loved ones. This day was a tough one emotionally for me as all I wanted was Mum to be there at the end to give me a cuddle and say how proud she was just like she used to at the end of my Race for Life’s that I used to run. I was crying to myself with each step at parts of the journey thinking about all that she was missing but determined to make the most of every day that I have. Life is too short and too cruel and we have to take what is given to us making the most of it and living life to the full. Don’t wait to do the things you want to, don’t hesitate to tell people how you feel, rise to every challenge as we are all so much stronger than we believe we are capable of being. I know that this journey has shown me that I can do anything that I set my mind to and so can Auntie June and Dad and Laura! How she walked as far as she did with her feet as bad as they were I don’t know.
As we plodded on and on it got harder and harder. We finally got to a point where we had marched across the marshes and up a sneaky hill and I stopped to catch my breath. A builder came out of his house to talk to me and very kindly guided us to an honesty cafe and toilet. Laal Bites, I think it was called. We had a coffee and some chocolate, writing in their visitor book and used the converted cow barn toilet. I’ve never been so thankful for a well-earned break. I laid on the picnic bench in the brief moment of sun and struggled to get up afterwards.
We then had to walk along more gravel paths which seemed never-ending, I felt every stone in my blisters, by this point Dad and Auntie June had blisters too and we kept plodding on step by agonising step. We walked past some very creepy farm buildings with dead crows hanging from the buildings, like something out of Deliverance. Finally we reached the coastal path and at this point I could see how much Dad was struggling, his teeth were gritted and every step looked like it was costing him every ounce of energy.
As we were coming to one of the final gates of the day a local man stopped to talk to me about his neighbour who was doing photographs for a donation of walkers that passed his shack. Rounding the corner we were welcomed by a sign with different mileage on it from places other walkers were from. The gentleman who ran this was named Roger and was a prostrate cancer survivor who also supported Cancer Research UK so we had our photo taken with Mums name on the signpost. I burst in to tears at this point. I miss Mum so much and it broke my heart to see her name up there but she would have been so proud of us…the sign said 83 miles from Newcastle. We had 1 mile to go!!
We really didn’t know how we could do this last mile so Roger pointed out the landmarks along the last mile, and we could see our B&B in the distance. At that point my phone rang, it was Tony calling to say keep going, it was so perfectly timed, I needed that motivation to get me through the last mile. Thank you Babe.
I am so proud of my Dad and how he made that final mile. His teeth were gritted so firmly and every step was like walking a mountain at that point. I love him so dearly and I could see the emotion on his face. I am so lucky to have him as my Father.
We finally made it! We walked the 84 miles from Newcastle to Bowness-On-Solway and stamped our passports all along the way. We all cried at the end and there were many many cuddles shared. We then had to walk to our B&B, Walls End Guest House, I sobbed my heart out when I got to my room from exhaustion, relief and pride. I had the most luxurious steaming hot bath and got myself ready for dinner. Dad and Auntie June both have rashes on their legs from the walk and we all were walking like cripples but we managed to hobble up to the pub, The Kings Arms for a delicious dinner and a very well-earned drink.
Thank you Uncle Tim for supporting us all week, driving all over to meet us and provide us with food, water, changes of clothes and foot SOS.
Thank you everyone for your donations and messages of support. We have raised over £5300 so far to help Cancer Research UK try to find a cure for this disease that is stealing so many loved ones from us all. Every penny helps us to help them make a difference to so many lives and one day maybe in the future people will look back on cancer as part of history. If you want to support us and donate please use our Just Giving Page:
Walls End Guest House