(56 miles in the glorious Peak District!)
"Will the Bullock Smithy Hike take place this year?" was the frequently
asked question of BSH organisers. Following equally frequent requests,
by BSH officials, for information from the various authorities
regarding the status of footpaths, and full surveys of all the paths on
the route, the event did take place.
The traditional BSH anvil was struck in Hazel Grove, Stockport, by
Scout District Commissioner Ian Howells, at noon on Saturday
1st September to start a slightly reduced field of 149 walkers and
runners on the 56 mile cross country event.
Whilst the conditions were
excellent in the afternoon, there was a deterioration in the night with
visibility on the higher sections of the route being down to a few
yards, creating some navigational problems for a number of the
participants. Even so, a below average number of entrants, just 23%,
had to retire from what is considered by many to be one of the tougher
events in the annual walking calendar.
Ian Howells was back at the headquarters on the Sunday morning to present trophies to the successful winners and to congratulate all who completed. The route passed through the Peak District check-points at Bow Stones, Chinley, Edale Cross, Edale, Castleton, Peak Forest, Millers Dale, Near Chelmorton, Earl Sterndale, and the brand new section via Brand Top, Cumberland Cottage, Walker Barn, Whiteley Green returning along Middle Wood Way to Hazel Grove. All successful entrants received a certificate.
We are always listening to your views about the event and in general you seem to approve the 'tail-end' part of the route, introduced last year, although one or two commented about the never ending disused railway Middle Wood Way section to Poynton. We think their memories are short and they've forgotten the drag along the A6 through High Lane on the old route!
Rice pudding and tinned fruit went down well at Edale - so well in fact that we ran out! We have made a note to double the quantity next year. Some enjoyed the pork pies at Walker Barn whilst others wanted more savoury items and some even suffered 'Penguin bar' withdrawal symptoms (the machine broke down and we only had a 100 this year.) Sorry. We are listening, so please let us know what you would prefer. Of course we realise it is difficult to please everyone all the time but we'll keep trying.
There were the usual stories but top of the agenda was the Foot and Mouth disease and many felt, due to the path closures, they had not done the training needed to undertake such a challenge. Others from Hexham (the area of the current outbreak) telephoned to say they would not be participating. These people will receive a full refund. A large group of LDWA Irregulars appeared and were seen visiting a number of bars on the way. A group from Yorkshire headed by Jacqueline from Shipley was also seen to quaff large quantities of Marston's best in the bar at The Quiet Woman in Earl Sterndale! It is gratifying to see everyone enjoying themselves, including Jerzy 'George' Matuszewski who completed his 26th BSH and all those other regulars who turn up year after year.
A huge thank you to those dozens of helpers who turned out to provide assistance with transport, at checkpoints, catering and safety control. Without you wonderful people we would not have such a successful event which was appreciated by many of the participants. "Please convey our thanks to all for their efforts" was an often-repeated statement by walkers as they left to go home.
To all the participants, we hope you enjoyed yourselves, thank you for your support, and we look forward to meeting you next year on the first weekend, 7th and 8th September 2002.
Peter Wood, John Corfield & John Feist - Hike Organisers.
And the verdict of the participants....
"Just a quick note to say that it was as usual a wonderfully prepared and executed event. Please pass on our regards to everyone of the organisers and helpers. A job well done. This was I think my 5th time and as usual I uttered those words "NEVER AGAIN" but this morning we were talking of where we could save a little time on our legs around Rainow".
" May I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for another memorable and slickly-run Hike. This still remains my favourite challenge "walk" as it was the first one in which I ever took part, back in 1996. I was so green and unaccustomed to challenge events in that first year that I completed it wearing jeans - luckily it didn't rain - but to think you actually let me loose into the hills wearing such inappropriate attire! -:) I am now the proud owner of six BSH certificates with finishing times ranging from 20hrs 24mins to 13hrs 55mins.
I always find this event to be a happy reunion and social gathering of many familiar faces. However, this year I think the number of familiar faces outnumbered those of previous years, probably due to the continuing cancellations of other events. Congratulations in keeping your event on at the tail end of the dreaded F&M.
I and my three companions, Phil Musson, John White and Peter Schick enjoyed 56 (or is it really 58?) miles of ideal routefinding without any hiccups or deviations. The burst of rain that caught us at Brand Top soon abated and wasn't too much of an inconvenience. The moon even came out later on after Walker Barn.
I am very grateful to all your checkpoint volunteers for the willing help and support they offer. In particular I'd like to thank the helpers at Cumberland Cottage who brought liquid and solid sustenance out to Peter and me as we were taken ill outside with sickness. The mug of soup, two slices of bread and the 15 minutes' support offered by a convenient tree worked wonders for me. Unfortunately Peter was somewhat worse off, but his sheer grit and determination, and the support from your volunteers, helped the four of us to a satisfying finish at 1:55am.
Many thanks also go to the breakfast staff. I calculated that they must be on duty for 16 hours or more to cater for the fastest and the slowest arrivals, plus the getting ready and tidying up. You know it's the thought of that fry-up, bread, rice pudding & fruit, cereal and lashings of tea at the end that spurs us on to the finish!
I seem to wait so long for the BSH to come around each year, then it's all over in a flash and I'm suffering withdrawal symptoms as I wait for the next one. Roll on September 2002! Until then, thankyou for six years of happy memories and personal discovery. Long may they continue."
" Just thought I'd send you this to record our appreciation and thanks for everybody's hard work at the weekend. This was our first long distance walk, 20 miles being our previous best. We set ourselves a target of 28 miles thinking we would take it one checkpoint at a time after that, never thinking we would finish it! We were amazed to complete the whole walk. We thought our time, 23 hours 5 minutes, was quite respectable for a first attempt.
It was a fantastic experience, the most incredible 24 hours of our lives. Completion of the walk was due to the assistance of a chap we met at Millers Dale, known to us only as Owen, who guided us through the darkness and the cloud over the trickiest parts of the route, until we got to Cumberland Cottage at daybreak. Unfortunately, my son Stephen had to retire after a very creditable 35 miles but he has vowed to complete the walk next year!
We thought the organisation was brilliant, a masterpiece of planning and execution. Please pass on our thanks to the many volunteers who spent long hours at the checkpoints and the others involved in arranging such a successful event. Also, our apologies to those who waited to cook breakfast for us at the end. We were so emotional we just could not face food!!"