Ravenstonedale Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

A Journey of Soles

Journey of Soles On July 18th 2003, at a book signing ceremony held at The Book House in Ravenstonedale, Kathy Trimmer launched her book 'A Jouney of Soles'. The book is a record of the Lands End to John O'Groats walk undertaken by Ken and Kathy between 22nd October 2000 and 3rd December 2000. The trip took 43 days and raised £13,569 for the Rainbow Trust charity. Ken and Kathy were accompanied by Ranger, their trusty labrador.

The book is publihed by Hayloft Publications ISPN 1 904524 05 2. It is available from The Book House, Ravenstonedale, all good book shops or direct from kathy@coldkeld.com. Alternatively you can borrow it from your local library.

An extract from The Preamble - by Ranger

21st October 2000 8.30am
One hour behind schedule already. How can we be late leaving on an adventure that has been four years in planning and a whole year in fine-tuning?

The 'Team' consists of me, Ranger, star of the show, Labrador Bitch, (but not at all bitchy) aged two and half; Peter who will drive our mini bus which my owner Ken has converted to a camper van and the said Ken & Kathy, idiots who decided to take me to walk the length of Great Britain, a distance of almost a thousand miles which we're planning to do in 43 days at an average of 22 miles per day.

Most people tackle the walk southbound for some obscure reason. I wonder why? You're far more likely to have the wind on your back waking northbound.

Someone suggested it's all uphill going north because you're going up the page on the map all the time. I think the reason is that most of the population of great Britain live closer to Lands End than John O'Groats and they feel that they are waking towards home and the possibility of a big finish with friend greeting them on their arrival.

Maybe its just the name. Why Land's End? It's certainly not Land's End as far as we're concerned, it's Land's Beginning!

Ken insists that it's Lands End because, while working in Cambourne many years ago, he became an honorary member of the Lands End Committee who's duties include standing on Land's End on windy days to make sure that it doesn't curl up. If you fail to attend when called to duty, you have to buy a beer for the rest of the committee. I did warn you that I was walking with a pair of idiots!

When talking about the walk to friends, people had asked us if we were being sponsored. A neighbour, Mollie Young, is a volunteer fundraiser for Rainbow Trust Children's Charity.

They provide support or families unfortunate enough to have a very sick or terminally ill child. The support they provide is for the whole family, taking care of brothers and sisters and helping parents cope in an often-devastating situation. They have two centres where the families can take a break together, taking pressure off of parents for a few days while someone else does the cooking and helping the children have as much fun as possible.

The reason we're already behind schedule could have something to do with what happened last night. Our neighbours decided to throw a leaving party for us. For heavens sake, we'll be back at home in three weeks!

Our home happens be almost exactly half way between Lands End and John O'Groats. Perhaps they're hoping we'll get lost, which we probably will.

Ken and Kathy (that takes up too much space, hence forth I will refer to them as the 2K's) went into the local school assembly last week and took a map of Great Britain with the route marked on and told all the children about our walk and they promised to say a prayer for us when we leave. Believe me, we'll need it! They are going to walk with us for a couple of miles when we pass their school in three weeks time.

The 2K's also went to the school in the next village, Orton, and left a map with them and they will hopefully walk from their school to meet us on the same day. Apparently they based the whole of school assembly the following day on our map... maths, geography, history, geology, sociology and several other 'ologies'. They're all there somewhere between Lands End and John O'Groats.

The children were given the opportunity to ask questions and one little chap asked how long they intended staying at John O'Groats. He couldn't quite understand that they were going to take seven weeks to get somewhere and didn't really have any plans about staying there at all.

The other thing that delayed our packing yesterday was yet another television feature, this time for 'Northwest Tonight' which is a bigger deal than the last one we did for Border Television an few weeks ago.

Anyway, much like the last one, I was paraded up and down the road in the rain (Why do television cameras always bring rain with them,) and up the field. Then they did some filming inside and I got to sit at the dining table with 'the team' and was filmed with my paw on the map. Mollie and Ken also had their paws on the map and when we saw it later that evening on the telly, my paw looked like, well, my paw, Mollie's fingers looked beautiful with her red painted nails but Ken's fingers were a disgrace. He might have washed his hands!

Anyway, this television interview had a bonus because I was then taken into town (Kirkby Stephen really is a town, even though everyone thinks it's a village). I was filmed being taken to the butchers shop and given a bone to take on my walk. The then 2K's went to the greengrocers shop to collect a lovely box of fruit that they had donated.

Actually, I don't care too much for fruit but my provisions for most of the route have already been taken care of. Because the camper van won't be with us all the time, the 2K's will have to carry all their clobber in their rucksacks for about half of the journey and have left parcels of my dried food at strategic points along the route with people they have cadged beds with. I'm not a fussy eater, I'll eat anything and everything but they're fussy about my food and don't want me to get 'holiday tummy'.

The fund raising has given an extra dimension to the walk and Mollie is doing an excellent job with publicity. We've sent sponsorship forms to everyone we know and, as a result we've been offered beds for most nights of our walk so won't need to spend too many nights in the camper van. Not that it's too bad; their bed has a spring interior mattress and a down duvet. I have an old candlewick bedspread.

It's been so embarrassing to be within earshot of that pair for the last six months. "Where are you staying?" people would enquire. "Where do you live?" They would reply.

Despite the fact that the route was planned to take in as many free nights B&B as possible, it is fairly straight.

We will walk through Cornwall and Devon on minor roads and footpaths and then pick up the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. We will follow the River Severn, Staffordshire & Worcester Canal, Trent and Mersey Canal, Huddersfield High Peak Canals.

That will take us to Manchester and then we'll follow the Rochdale Canal and join the Pennine Way, loosely following it to Lothersdale and then diverting via Settle and Dent to home. By then we will be half way through the walk.

The second half will again be on minor roads and footpaths until we join the new cycle path, which follows the A9 and takes us almost all the way to John O'Groats, or Lands End to us.

It's not really a very sensible time of year to set out but they don't do sensible, not the 2K's. Apart from that, we do have to work for a living, all of us. I guide walkers across the fell round where we live so this really is a busman's holiday. Those two come as well but they'd never find the way home again without me.

Walking on canal towpaths must be the easiest way of walking. It's flat, until you come to a lock of cause. It's mostly quite easy on your feet, or paws in my case and I can be off my lead. I'm also quite a good swimmer so I might swim part of the way although I don't think I'll tell my sponsors or they might not cough up.

We've already had over £5,000 of sponsorship money, mostly for me, not the 2K's. We had one cheque for £20.20. Twenty pounds for me and ten pence each for those two.

Our Fund raising was given a kick start by a friend of the 2K's, Hugh Symonds who did a slide presentation for us about a run he did ten years ago when he ran all the 3000 foot plus mountains of Britain, 296 in all, running every step in between. He then ran to the ferry to Ireland and ran all he 3000 footers there as well. The total journey was over 2000 miles, more than twice as much as ours, and we're not doing mountains. Makes our walk sound like a Sunday afternoon stroll!

Their adventure raised £25,000 for Intermediate Technology. They wrote a book about their adventure and it was Hugh who told Kathy she could write a book about ours. She doesn't think she can so I have to do it for her. Such is life!

And this is what it says on the back cover...

Kathy was born and bred in Mansfield, which she describes as a good place to come from. She has lived in Cumbria for more than 20 years and feels she is becoming 'heafed'. She was educated at a school where you had to fail an exam to gain admission. Her greatest achievement was to pass her Brownie Pathfinder Badge and has used the skills she learned to build up a Guided Walking Holiday business, which she runs with her husband Ken from their farmhouse on Wild Boar Fell in the upper Eden Valley.

It takes a tremendous effort to trek from Lands End to John O'Groats. Raising money in this way takes a special kind of dedication but to do it for such a deserving charity makes it all worthwhile. To these mad creatures, both two and four legged, I say, 'Many congratulations on your successful walk but don't do it again. It's no easier the second time around!'
Ian Botham, OBE

What shall we do today? It is the common luxury of long adventures that Kathy, Ken and I have enjoyed for weeks on end - to not have to answer this question. Each day on the journey from Lands End to John O'Groats was an adventure and each day followed naturally so that a wonderful new, but sadly only temporary, way of life developed. Days to be savoured. I met Kathy and Ken approaching Sedbergh in the darkening twilight of a November afternoon. Chirpy and cheerful, as usual, with a sponsorship bucket in tow. I enjoyed touching their journey for a few shared moments. Now I have enjoyed sharing it all in reading this wonderful story of adventure and fulfilment.
Hugh Symonds, Fellrunner, Sedbergh

A thoroughly absorbing read about an ambitious (and daft!) plan to raise money for special causes. Read this from the comfort of your sofa - you'll need to be lying down because you'll be exhausted by the end of Chapter One!
I'm particularly impressed by Ranger's contributions - spelling, punctuation and grammar spot on. Ranger returned home ahead of time to being planning the book, allowing Ken and Kathy only the minimal amount of time to recover - thus ensuring that the dreaded call of 'walkies' wasn't heard for a while!
Anne Hopper, BBC Radio Cumbria.

If you want to know more you're going to have to buy, beg or borrow the book!