DBJs view on the Chase Walk 2004

posted 6 Oct 2016, 07:48 by Dave Tomlin
So again I find myself doing another stupidly long walk, but this time it had quite an unexpected end. It was the second time me, Chris, Joe and Steve had been on the Chase Walk, we had all finished it last year. Doug was the only newcomer to the 40mile hike.

We pitched in the campsite in the dark on Friday night. After a bad nights sleep we woke up at, yes another stupidly early time, 5:10, packed our kit and proceeded to join the long cue for breakfast of sausages and beans. The kit check was not very stringent, luckily for us, and we started walking at 6:37.

I had quite a bit of confidence in navigation, half remembering the route from last year when we completed the course, and if we were doubt you could always follow a group; however a lesson learned was that groups of who seem experienced walkers actually cannot map read.

We set off round the 16 checkpoints, going up and down hills with this odd mix of scrub and conifer trees on. The sun was shining and we were having a good time. It was easier walking than the Southern 50/50 and the previous Chase Walk as this time we knew we could accomplish it. We got to checkpoint 2 in good time, keeping to out predicted times, which were quite optimistic. On the way to checkpoint 3 it started raining, boo hoo. So I ate a mars bar. Then it started really raining and being windy, very windy!

We got to checkpoint 4 in the rain where we got some very nice flap jacks, so nourishing. We didn't stop at any of the bases for very long; past experience suggest that long breaks hurt your legs a lot after you get up again. So we made quick progress though the bases, in fact there was one team we kept pace with all the way, but they overtook us about 7 times as they stopped at every check point for ages when we passed them. It was quite odd how they kept overtaking us, except at the end when they got lost after leading us the wrong way, how inconsiderate.

We walked along a long canal (There's something about long walks and canals), there were loads of teams walking this stretch, it was quite reassuring for us to be walking in a group of teams as we knew we were going at the right pace. By this time, around 10:30, it was getting very windy.

We climbed up what we think is the third worst hill, but it seemed a lot easier, maybe because we had the strong wind behind our backs, just as we got back onto the chase we walked off it to checkpoint 7 ran by 1st Sutton Sea Scouts; worried they'd notice we were from Warwick we just passed though this base. From 7 to 8 it was all new territory to us as last year we took a short cut. But the wind became a real problem on some of the fields here. Particularly one field that was just bare soil, the wind was blowing strait across it whipping up clouds of dust which were flung into your face and body. This really really stung, luckily me and Chris had map cases we could use to shield our faces with; Joe wasn't so lucky wearing a short sleeved top, oww!

Heading back onto the Chase it was lovely and sunny again, really hot in fact; the wind was warm and southerly. On the way to checkpoint 9, south along the road, it became very hard not to be blown onto the on coming cars. This wind really did push you all over the place! 

Eventually we got to checkpoint 9. We checked in, and as a passing comment the lady there told us we weren't allowed to continue as the communications were down and because of the extraordinary strong winds, so we got some soup and waited with all the other groups here. The walk was cancelled due to the strong wind; I wouldn't have liked to be walking in the dark when a tree falls down around you, or on you. So all the teams got mini bussed back to the campsite. We had to walk around one fallen tree to get to the mini buses. 

This obviously was a great disappointment as we came all the way to complete the 40 miles and were doing very well, were the 23rd team out of 71 to get to checkpoint 9; I think we all could have finished. But as we were aching it wasn't that much of bad news

Back at the campsite there were many tents blown to the floor, poles bent, sheets ripped, one tent was shredded and one person had lost his tent completely. But our tents survived! Except a little rip in mine and bent pole in Steve's. We carefully packed up and sat inside with most of the other walkers till we got a premature lift back to Warwick on the Saturday afternoon.

It was a pity it got called off as we were having a very successful walk, but now I get to eat all my mars bars to myself, yum yum.

DBJ 21-03-04