Travel

Jess and her dog Toby hike Crinkle Crags in the Lake District

They are serious: this young lady and her Border terrier, Toby, are climbing 10 mountains in the UK this year to raise awareness for the prevention of young suicide. For their fifth walk, they were joined by some serious Lake-District-hikers. Jess tells about the adventure

We have officially hit the half-way mark on our 2018 challenge for PAPYRUS (Prevention of young suicide UK) and CALM (Campaign against living miserably), and it was fitting that this was during Mental Health Awareness Week as this is what the challenge is all about: raising awareness and encouraging people to talk about their feelings and mental health. This gave us another conversation-starter with other walkers we met along the way.

This walk started differently to all the others of this challenge, because we had decided to camp the night before in Great Langdale, a beautiful National Trust campsite in the Lakes and the starting point for our walk.

A very, very good dog resting before his epic hike

This was Toby’s first ever camping trip and did not disappoint at all! The campsite was beautiful are really well maintained – it added to the gorgeous scenery that surrounded the campsite and made for a beautiful, relaxing night in the Lakes.

My dog Toby thoroughly enjoyed his first camping experience, made even more enjoyable by having his very own Toby-sized sleeping bag for ultimate comfort. He did not, however, enjoy getting woken up at 5:20am by a bird making weird and wonderful noises.

The walk we tackled for part five of our 10-peak-challenge was Crinkle Crags in the Lake District. It was a beautiful but incredibly tough walk: the terrain was very difficult in some places and the weather was scorching, which – although lovely for the majority of human walkers – made it for Toby and me. (I am the polar opposite to a fair-weather walker – give me a walk in the rain over a walk in scorching heat any day of the week.)

We made sure that Toby had plenty of drink stops, and I made sure to bring his cool mat, so he could lie on the cold surface each time we stopped. We also took his backpack off for a portion of the walk to try to keep him as cool as possible.

If you can look like Toby, always look like Toby

Of course, the sunshine did mean that we had an extra photo opportunity which our previous walks in less than ideal weather have not allowed for: Toby got to rock his Doggles for a little sunshine in the mountain photo shoot!

There were thankfully some streams and tarns on the route, so Toby was able to have a well-deserved paddle along the route and soak his feet to help keep him cool. Hopefully, the next few walks for our challenge will have a similar set-up.

The walk was approximately 8 miles (12.7km), and you’ll be pleased to hear ended at a pub – the pub we stopped at was called the Old Dungeon Ghyll, which was very dog-friendly and welcoming. We didn’t have to follow a route for this walk, because we had some additional support from seasoned Lake District walkers. They are friends of my friend Sophie, who has been doing this 10-mountain-challenge with us.

This was a really tough walk for Toby. I suggest you go in a small group, because there were a couple of sections that we had to pass Toby down as the section was too steep or rocky for him to manage. The Walklakes website says this walk is potentially dangerous for dogs, although well-controlled and experienced dogs should have little problem.

Toby is pretty much a mountain goat and is really sure-footed when we are out walking in the hills and mountains, but even he struggled with this terrain as there were so many sections of loose rock to negotiate. That little Border terrier, as ever, was a dream and, if there were sections he couldn’t manage, he waited to be lifted and lowered to a safe section. He made himself quite at home with the group and was more than happy to have a lift along the way with them.

The PAPYRUS and CALM T-shirts made it to the top

The most challenging section on this walk was on one particular part of the descent – we later found out the tough section is called the “bad step” …

That section was a sheer drop a rock face, with some small foot and hand holds on the way down – difficult but doable for humans, very, very difficult for woofs.

Thankfully, Toby by this point had resumed wearing his back pack (Ruffwear Approach Pack), which has the ingenious feature of a top handle to lift the dog if required. We had to pass Toby through three other people to get him to the base of the rock face before I, his humble human, was able to climb down.

There are no pictures of Toby coming down as we were more concerned with safety, but to give you an idea of the “bad step” one of the group managed to snap this picture of me climbing down once Toby had safely been delivered down.

Not your everyday walkies

For this walk Toby also had his new harness labels, of which he has a small selection so we can change them around. For this walk we went with “prevention pawtrol” along with us wearing bright orange and purple T-shirts. They proved to be another good conversation starter when we are out walking, which is what the challenge is all about. We want to talk to people about the prevention of young suicide. My brother took his own life in his early 20s, and my friend Sophie also lost a friend to young suicide. We want to chat to fellow walkers to raise awareness and to learn where to get help.

There were eight of us in total for this walk (including Toby, of course), which coupled with the good weather meant we stopped and talked to more people to explain our cause.

Part five was the most challenging walk yet – both due to the terrain and the weather – but we had a great time as always, managed to talk to lots of people about the challenge and mental health. Plus, the views and scenery were outstanding.

To donate to the charities Jess, Sophie and Toby are supporting, please go to papyrus-uk.org and thecalmzone.net

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