The Long Distance Walkers’ Association walk 100 miles in Lancashire

PUBLISHED: 16:10 14 August 2015 | UPDATED: 16:10 14 August 2015

The walkers passing the Pigeon Tower at Rivington

The walkers passing the Pigeon Tower at Rivington

Steve Clark

Hikers completed a 100 mile non-stop route march with Uncle Joe’s Mintballs to help them on their way. John Lenehan reports

Starting the 100 mile hikeStarting the 100 mile hike

And so they came to Lancashire. Not since 1991 had there been such a gathering in the county. They came from Scotland, they came from Wales, Yorkshire and London to be greeted by enthusiastic Lancastrians bearing gifts of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.

They gathered at The Anderton Centre near Horwich, a place not really known for epics, but on this day one began and ended there.

Just over 500 of the country’s finest set off with the intention of walking 100 miles non-stop in whatever the weather would throw at them in 48 hours or less.

Each year, in a different part of the country, the Long Distance Walkers’ Association arrange a 100 mile flagship challenge. This year Lancashire was chosen and the challenge bore the name Red Rose 100.

The walkers taking up this challenge have all completed qualifying events, but even so, this cannot detract from the toughness of the task they embarked upon.

So in good weather 503 happy smiling walkers set off at 10am heading for the first of 14 checkpoints and feeding stations at Slipper Lowe near Tockholes.

Given that Lancashire was chosen it was only right to provide food with a north west flavour - Chorley Cakes, Eccles Cakes, pies, Lancashire Hot Pot, all washed down with Vimto.

Blackburn was the first and last major town the walkers passed through before entering the Ribble Valley and more refreshments at Whalley. The 503 had by now broken in to smaller groups and, skirting the edge of Pendle over Apronfull Hill, they arrived in Barley.

The Lancashire flag carried to the finish lineThe Lancashire flag carried to the finish line

From here there was the sting of the big end of Pendle Hill an almost vertical 1090 climb to the summit. Lancashire was prominent again as a Lancashire Witch greeted every walker on the summit. It would have been head torches in the dark for most of them from then on.

Downham, Bolton by Bowland, and Tosside would be passed before the dawn air filled with the aroma of a Lancashire fry-up from the feeding station at Slaidburn.

This was the main feeding and clothes changing stop on the challenge and psychologically from here the route was now heading back to the finish. Physically though, there was a long way to go and, for some, another night would fall before the end.

The challenge carried on through Dunsop Bridge, Chipping, Hurst Green, Mellor Brook, and Hoghton, before reaching the penultimate feeding station at Brinscall. From here adrenaline and the knowledge the Red Rose 100 was almost in the bag would have driven the weary legs to the finish at Anderton.

The walkers do not view the event as a race but a personal challenge so position is not important but some of the statistics are, to the average walker, amazing.

The 100 miles of tough walking claimed 142 casualties but of the 361 that finished, Nathan Walsh was fastest in 23 hours and 40 minutes and John Cunnane finished last in 47 hours 25 mins. For most people, it would have taken a week.

The youngest entrant was Kieran Ryan from Exeter at 18 years old and at the minimum qualifying age. He completed in 36 hours 1 minute. The oldest entrant Patricia Seabrook from Somerset at a very youthful 75 completed in 47 hours and 1 minute. w

For more information about the long distance walkers go to www.ldwa.org.uk

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