The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Jade & Becks’s Big Walk

Lichfield Jade, Becks’s mum and Becks

In a post a few weeks ago, amongst other people on journeys, I mentioned Jade & Becks, who had set out from John O’Groats in mid-June and I said that we hoped to catch up with them when they passed through our neck of the woods. That very nearly didn’t happen, because having left them a note on their blog a good couple of weeks ago they then didn’t get internet access to see my comment until this Monday.

By good fortune (from any number of points of view) they ran out of gas at the end of last week, and on Saturday discovered that it’s not possible to buy replacement canisters in Uttoxeter, so in desperation put a post on Facebook (via their phones) asking whether anyone near to Uttoxeter happened to have some spare gas.

What they really didn’t expect was a positive response, but soon arrangements were made: Mick & I met up with them (and Becks’s mum, who is walking with them for a couple of weeks) just north of Abbot’s Bromley on Sunday morning (which conveniently was about as near to us as they were going to get; they couldn’t have picked a better place to put out a plea for gas!).

When we met them it became apparent that a lack of gas was not their only problem. Jade was hobbling along, obviously injured and in a lot of pain (yet in incredibly good humour; I wish I could deal with pain that well).

At the first rest stop the likely reason for Jade’s injury became more apparent. We already knew that her pack was large, but when she took it off I found that I couldn’t lift it – and she’s just carried that for the best part of 750 miles.

Having walked with them as far as Rugeley, it was back to our house for all of us, where one of the first things I did was to weigh the packs. Hold onto your seats, chaps: Jade’s pack weighed in at over 25kg. Did I mention that she’s managed to carry that for the best part of 750 miles? Beck’s was a more modest, but still heavy, 16kg. These are two girls with a lot of fortitude!

Jade Monster Pack Big pack!

Becks Pack

A more modest pack

In an effort to help Jade’s leg recover, they had a packless day on Monday. Mick dropped them back off in Rugeley in the morning and picked them up from south of Lichfield in the afternoon (I was at work the whole time, desperately wishing that I was out walking), to have another night with us. Jade was still hobbling badly, but did look a little bit better for not having carried a pack and for having had a gentle day along the canals (nice and flat and, most importantly, no stiles).

It was obviously time for drastic action and whilst I would perhaps usually save my bluntness until I’ve known someone for more than two days, I was brutal in my review of Jade’s pack contents. She’ll probably hate me forever for that brutality, but I figured that at this point it was more important to try to get her to the finish line than to be polite.

Shocked GayleExpressing great shock as the contents of the pack come out!

Being a good sport, she let us pick through every single item in that pack. There were some items that she argued vehemently to keep and despite our best efforts we couldn’t talk her into parting with those, but most items she accepted needed to go. Thanks to our excessive stash of kit, there were also plenty of things that we were able to substitute for lighter items (I really want these girls to succeed having made it this far).

So, Jade, Becks and Beck’s mum set out yesterday morning with Jade wearing my Osprey Aura 50 (which, empty, weighs 2.5kg less than her pack), with my Rab Quantum 400W sleeping bag (1.2kg less than her bag), my pink Thermarest Prolite (only 150g lighter, but less bulky too, which was an important consideration in fitting everything in a 50litre pack), and my sleeping bag liner (another 150g gone), not to mention the folding plate in substitute for her x-plate (another 100+g) and a plastic mug in place of her x-mug (another 50g). With her clothes stash slashed and numerous other items having been discarded or substituted, the result was that today she set out with a pack weighing in at 13.6kg – a weight that even I could carry (albeit with quite a bit of whinging). “It feels like I’ve not even got a pack on!” she declared.

I cannot tell you how much I admire these two for setting out on such a journey at their age. Moreover, for the fact that with a tight budget they’re camping all of the way. My fingers are firmly crossed that Jade’s leg gets better with less weight on her back and that they do make it to Land’s End.

They’re not just doing this for fun. They’re also collecting for Children’s Hospice South West, via a Virgin Money Giving. If you have a few spare pennies that you’re looking to give to charity this month, then I’m sure both the girls and the Children’s Hospice will appreciate it going in their direction.

(Hope Jade & Becks don’t mind that I’ve stolen three of their photos for this post!)


  1. I met the two lasses above Crianlarich and I must admit that their packs seemed rather large - and that's coming from the king of heavyweight camping.

    It's good to know that they've got beyond Uttoxeter. The worst is behind them now (as, sadly, are Birds cake shops).

    Oh, and much kudos to the two of you for helping them so brilliantly. It really was a kind deed.

  2. I found the girls' walk from David's blog and have been following them since.
    25kg.... Dear God!.....
    Well done you two - first class help.

    Give them my best wishes?

  3. The Mick and Gayle Rescue Service. I shouldn't think Jade will be at all offended, it's easy to take good advice from someone who really knows what they're talking about! Would that be the same Rab Quantum 400W? Very highly recommended ;-D
    word: restm

  4. The experience that they have had meeting you two and the walk completion will stay with them forever.
    I wished that i had been better informed when i first set out 45 yrs ago.

  5. Hello! We are so thankful for Mick and Gayles help and also all the lovely people we have met along the way. Jades leg has been getting worse over the last couple of days but we will make it to Lands End! :) We made it into Stratford Upon Avon late last night and have been in the hospital today as Jade couldn't move this morning. She throughly enjoyed being wheeled around the hospital in a wheelchair! After being looked at by a physio, a doctor and 2 nurses they said that they think its an aggrevated siatic nerve (don't know how to spell that!) The nurses suggested lots of pain killers and rest as we suspected they would. We were both imagining we would have to go home for a week or so which we didn't realy want to do but one of the nurses has taken pity on us and kindy invited us to stay at hers for the weekend!! We are really hoping that a few days rest will be what it needs. Thanks to Mick and Gayle Jade also has a human size bag which is definately going to help! Thankyou again! x

  6. Something to restore belief in the youth of today after the rioting troubles.

    Well done Mick and Gayle, and I reckon that Jade and Becks are up there with Shackleton and Scott.

  7. That really is great kindness, sure looking forward to reading the day Jade and Becks touch the southern signpost.
    Cheers J.P.