The forecast for the weekend didn’t look good, instructions had been sent out to bring waterproofs and be prepared, little did we know.
So Friday 10th January dawned and 14 excited members of the #EBC2020 team started the journey to Keswick preparing to meet up as a team for the very first time. One member had sensibly booked a holiday to Thailand and promised the rest of us that he was in training out there!
After a summer of completing a mammoth application, surviving both a telephone interview and a selection day on either the South Downs, Brecon or the hills around Keswick – our team had been selected and these enthusiastic adventurers were looking forward to meeting up and starting the team bonding exercise.
Most of them made it to The George, the traditional starting place for weekends like this in Keswick. Banter started early, Cow Pies were eaten (and shared) and an early night was had by all.
It was a soggy team that arrived in Costa the next morning, all with smiles on their faces, hot drinks and packed lunches in their rucksacks and prepared to test out their equipment on a “quick” 6 hour walk round the lake! Our guide, Wes, laid out his map and showed us the route. Due to the weather we would be staying low, not only was it raining cats and dogs, it was also blowing up to 50mph…….everyone hid their nerves behind fixed smiles as we took a group shot before heading out of Keswick.
It was heads down and hoods up for most of the way as we headed up in the direction of Walla Crag (but not up to the top!) Within about the first 20 minutes we all realised the limitations of our waterproofs but kept battling on. There was no stopping for pictures today, there were no views for a start, and the only times we were stopping were just to regroup as naturally the group spread apart as we walked.
But spirits were still high, at times the winds buffeted us and threatened to take us off our feet (note to self, thank god it was just after Christmas and I’d had all that extra cake) but still the laughter and chatter filled the air. Sometimes it was difficult to hear the person you were talking to as the wind would change direction and take the conversation off with it! But still we smiled our soggy smiles.
We made it to Surprise View – it was a surprise, there was no view other than clouds and rain. Everyone by this point was soaked and cold but still we battled on. Wes told us we were about to head down through the woods and it could be a bit slippy so to be careful. Well, the path was a river and we were all up on the mossy banks at the side, edging our way carefully down the slope to the main road.
It was definitely a bit much, even for the seasoned trekkers amongst us. When we made it to the road there was a “get out” and yours truly “got out” and jumped on the bus back to Keswick. My usually reliable waterproofs had let me down big style – when I got back to my B&B every single item of clothing was soaked!
But the team ploughed on, walking through Grange and over down the side of Cat Bells and round into Keswick. They tell me it was good fun, even if it was a bit wet – but they all figured they were wet anyway, what difference would another hour and a half of walking in it make? Well, they were right of course. But I still enjoyed my long hot shower even if my team mates were still out in the rain!
Everyone made it safe and sound back to Keswick and headed off to dry out before meeting for a lively dinner and drinks that evening.
Sunday morning dawned with bright skies and clear views of the hills – was this really the same place as yesterday? We headed down to Moot Hall where the team were treated to overviews of the trip and Nepal and what to expect, along with great presentations from a previous EBC-er, Mark Brant and Chris Short of Far Frontiers who is organising all our logistics for us. Mark gave the team some top tips about fundraising whilst Chris took them all on the journey to Base Camp and made it come alive for them.
There were lots of questions and lots of comments about how it all feels real now. Now the hard work begins, both in terms of getting fit enough to make it, and also raising those much needed funds for Supporting Nepal’s Children.
Thanks to all our team – we are so excited to be able to introduce some new people to the wonderful country we have fallen in love with. We know that this will be a special trip for us all.
Until March when we do it all again!
Supporting Nepal’s Children