Adventure, Inspire, Interview

Hiking the Pennine Way with Steven Rose

Hi Steven, would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?

I am 61 years old and last year I took early retirement and moved to the East coast of Yorkshire from West Yorkshire with my wife. My main interest is long distance/fell walking and as a result of this I am a guide for HF Holidays and also for the RSPB.

Yorkshire is a stunning part of the country, what an amazing place to retire! Do you have a long distance trail that stands out for you?

I have over a 10 year period walked a number of national trails but the biggest challenge was the Pennine Way in 2009.

The preparation wasn’t good , the previous year the engineering business which I co-owned closed and my weight had ballooned to 15 stone. For a few months until Christmas 2008 I was listless and didn’t think I could motivate myself to do the walk in August 2009.
In January 2009 whilst on a short break I had a collapsed vertebrae in my neck which trapped a nerve and caused me intense pain and the pain killers I was prescribed gave me nausea.  In fact on the first training walk I felt so poorly and unfit that I barely remember the walk. I did though realise that we would pass that way on the Pennines Way later and hide a bar of chocolate in a wall and vowed to retrieve it.
Steadily my fitness returned, the neck pain receded and I lost weight. 2 weeks before the walk I had lost 2 stone and felt better than ever before. I can honestly say that I sailed through the 17 days it took  to complete the walk.

The Pennine Way takes you into the last remaining wilderness in England which means you have to dig deep at times, particularly in bad weather and that year saw, on our final day, the remains of hurricane Billy lashing us on the cheviot hills. It’s the only time I have sheltered in a peat bog to get out of the wind! By then there was only 2 of us left from the three who had started. I had set Malham as a kind of indicator, if I got there then I knew I would finish the trail.

The highs are the glorious sense of freedom you get spending 3 weeks in the highest, most remote areas of England and knowing that the work you have put in mentally and physically is carrying you along. The low was at Tan Hill Inn the highest pub in England being put into a staff bunk room and waking up to sleet in August!!!. I was knocked off my feet by the Helm Wind on top of Cross Fell but the previous day at High Cup Nick; I looked down into the cockpit of a Tornado jet as it streaked along the valley below. In the south Pennines I watched a Lancaster bomber flying over the Moors and on millstone edge, whilst eating ice cream, 2 flights of the red arrows gave us a private display.

That sounds amazing! Did you ever think you may not complete your challenge?

In January 2009 I did doubt if I could do the walk. The main issue was carrying a full pack and for the first five days until Malham when the Pack horse service kicked in that caused me concern. I overcame this by only taking lightweight clothing which I could wash in the shower and they would dry overnight. As the months passed though I was confident enough of my fitness. However, two weeks before d.day my wife and I were on holiday in the Dale’s and I injured myself which necessitated a visit to the doctors. I was put on strong antibiotics and warned not to drink for two weeks otherwise no Pennine Way. By the end of the week though I climbed Buckden Pike and I knew I was going.

Brilliant! You mentioned you are now a guide, do you think your experience with the Pennine way has helped you with this?

I gained great confidence in my ability to navigate using map and compass and the following year gained a qualification through the Mountain Training Association to lead groups. Overcoming the pain gave me greater empathy to conditions that guests and visitors may have and to adjust walks to accommodate them and to assist in giving them the confidence to attempt walks they may have thought beyond them. The Pennine Way was and is a major event in my life and being able to achieve it opened my life to other possibilities and pathways.

My advice is never give in, aim to achieve  your goals your own way and believe in yourself

We love a good motivational quote, do you have a favourite?

My three motivating words are:

Nil Sine Labore

Nothing without effort.

Steven Blogs about his adventures over at Walking Tales Of A Yorkshire Man if you’d like to follow his future hikes.

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