In aid of bereaved parents

Walk4Louis 2011 Diary


Blackpool - Sunderland

Day 1 North Pier, Blackpool - Preston North Premier Inn (15 mile)

Well it was finally here; Walk4Louis 2’s first day was upon Paul and Phil as they arose from their slumbers. They met up in the restaurant and Paul started telling everyone about his exploits from the night before from around Blackpool. He must have had a good night as on the way back to the hotel Paul had had 2 kebabs and can’t remember either of them. The only way he knew he had one was the sauce stain down the front of his t-shirt. Phil’s wife Charlotte even told Paul what time he had come in and when Paul asked how she knew she told him she had heard him walk down the corridor trying to be quiet but failing miserably.

Everybody had a good breakfast after which Paul and Phil had some photos taken with the staff from the Premier Inn and the staff from the restaurant before they returned to their rooms to get their bags ready. Paul then brought his bag to Phil’s room and then set off into Blackpool on foot, as he wanted to pick up some rock for friends and family. Phil put the bags into Charlotte’s car before they set off with Maureen, Charlotte’s Mum into Blackpool. They parked the car up and met up with Paul by Coral Island and then made there way down to the tower to start their walk. Once they got to the tower unfortunately a lot of renovating work was going on so the guys decided it wasn’t best to start their walk from here but to go down to the North Pier. With all the renovating work going on along the Promenade they were unable to get down on to the beach either. So after a few photos outside North Pier they were ready to start. Charlotte, Maureen and Paul’s friend Shaggy set them off on their way at 10:30am. So off they went, next stop, the east coast of England and the North Sea only 157 miles away.

As they made their way out of Blackpool they reached a traffic island at Poulton, which they began to cross. After getting half way there was a white van in front of them, Phil went around the back of the van and on to the pavement the other side and looked around but could not see Paul. Where had he gone?? Paul had decided to go around the front of the van but as he walked along the side of the van it started to pull forward so Paul, realising this broke into a jog to try and get round the front but the van was going too fast and Paul ended up jogging along side the van. Paul looked up and the driver of the van put his thumb up and smiled at Paul as he jogged along side him. So Paul stopped, let the van carry on then went behind it like Phil had done originally. Paul couldn’t believe the cheek of the driver and told Phil about it but all Phil could do was laugh at the thought of Paul jogging along side the van.

A little further along this road in Poulton the heavens opened up and down came the rain so Paul and Phil took shelter in a petrol station forecourt to put on their wet weather gear. The rain was really coming down so decided to give it 5 minutes. After 5 minutes with no real let off in the rain they set off again. They got to Little Singleton 5 miles up the road and it was time for the first bag change, so Phil passed the rucksack onto Paul and was glad to have the weight off his back for a short while. They had a quick break then carried on.

Over the next 5 mile the weather started to brighten up and by the time they got to the next bag change at St Michael’s On The Wyre the sun was shining. So they decided to take a break on a log in a field and put their coats away. After a welcome bite to eat and a little rest they set off again with Phil taking over the bag carrying duties. At least it wasn’t far to Bilsborrow now Phil thought. But a couple of miles down the road disaster struck.

About a mile from the Premier Inn and the end of the 1st leg Phil misread the map and took the guys down the wrong road and they started to walk in the wrong direction.

Day 2 Preston North Premier Inn - Swan and Royal Hotel, Clitheroe (17 mile)

After a sound night’s sleep after the first days exploits Paul and Phil got up fully refreshed ready for the day’s endeavours and went for some breakfast. They were greeted in the restaurant by the waitress and given a table in the window. So they filled their stomachs up, paid for their breakfast and left the restaurant. As it was a sunny morning they decided to do their warm up routine outside in the fresh air before heading back to the room. Paul wished we had gone straight back to the room as, when he was doing his stretches a bird decided to fly over and poo on head and shirt. Phil found this really funny but Paul didn’t quite see the funny side. Phil told Paul this was suppose to be lucky but Paul said the bird wouldn’t think so if he caught it. After their warm up they returned to the room to fetch their bags and went to reception to hand in the key. The gentleman at reception was quite interested in what they were doing and where they were going, so the guys stopped and talked with him for a while. The gentleman said it was a tough days walk as the route they were taking was quite hilly and he suggested they went along the main road route. After a bit of consultation they decided to keep to the planned route as it worked out about 6 mile shorter in distance. After this they said their good byes and he wished the lads good luck. They then went to the local shop to get some supplies for the day, and then it was on the road out of Bilsborrow. After about 5 minutes of walking Paul remembered he hadn’t given in the thank you letter from the charity. So they backtracked to the hotel to hand it in. Just as they were leaving for a second time Mike Arkwright pulled onto the car park. Mike had kindly volunteered his time to move one of their bags to Clitheroe and then he would move it the next day from Clitheroe to Skipton. Paul and Phil thanked Mike for his help and set off again out of Bilsborrow.

They walked down a few country lanes and passed through a little village called Inglewhite. Phil stopped to take a few photos and quite liked an old fashioned AA sign, which mentioned how far it was to London, Phil thought perhaps they should walk there instead, it wasn’t too far. Before they reached Clitheroe they crossed a bridge, which had a tight bend at the end with a steep incline just after. They had heard from the gentleman on reception that morning that it had been named Devils Bridge and that a lot of motorcyclists had died on it due to not realising how tight the bend was at the end of the bridge. We managed to cross it without incident (I think the bird poo was proving to be lucky).

They finally made it to Clitheroe and crossed the River Ribble into the town. They came across a church that was called St Paul’s, where the saviour wanted his photo took next to it so people could see that he had returned. They carried on up past the Castle and with Phil managing to read the map correctly today got to the Swan and Royal Hotel. They walked into the bar and ordered a drink and asked if the owner Terry was in, but they had just missed him as he had popped out for a short time. So they went and sat down with their drinks to wait. Not long afterwards he returned, Paul and Phil introduced themselves and thanked him for the help he was giving them. He gave them their room key and said he would see the guys later at the disco they were having that night and got his son Tez to show them to their room, The Winston Churchill Room.

They soaked their feet in a cold bath, had a shower to freshen up, got changed and went to grab some food. The Swan stopped serving food at 5 so they had to walk out into Clitheroe, which Phil wasn’t best pleased about as his feet were aching. They found a pub, which a lad called Tom, who worked behind the bar at the Swan and Royal had recommended, had some food and a pint and returned back to the Swan and Royal. They ordered another couple of drinks and while at the bar Phil noticed a woman at the bar reading Paul’s T-shirt. Phil mentioned it to Paul who said she might have just been checking me out. When Phil had picked himself up off the floor from laughing they struck up a conversation with her and found out her name was Julie. She works at the pub and had lost a baby and this is why the owner Terry had decided to help the guys. While talking with her Paul mentioned he had washed some of his clothes in the room (the t-shirt with the bird poo on being one and the other with the kebab stains on), Julie said to go and fetch their dirty things and she would wash them properly for them. Phil went and fetched them and gave them to her to wash. When she came back she noticed Paul and Phil’s awareness bands and asked if we had any more. They gave her one for which she paid £5. After his shift had finished Tom came and stood and had a drink with them and had a chat. The pub started to fill up as the Disco got going and Julie asked if they had any more awareness bands, as she would sell some for the charity. Phil went and fetched a bag full out of their room and gave them to her. Then anyone who came into the pub if they didn’t have an awareness band when they arrived they had one by the time they had left. Julie had done the guys and the charity proud and they were very grateful. Later in the night one of the bar staff came over to Paul and Phil with her hands clasped together then opened them to put quite a few pound coins into Phil’s hands, they asked what this was for and she said it was their tips from the week and they wanted the charity to have them, what a touching gesture the guys were very grateful. Paul and Phil then thanked them all for there generosity and mingled with people in the pub as different people came over to talk to them after being intercepted by Julie to find out more about the charity. The guys also learnt that the pub was haunted, but luckily it wasn’t their room but the Miss Whiplash room, thank god they were in the Winston Churchill room as Phil hasn’t had the best experience with ghosts but that is another story. After the disco drew to a close the lads, a little worse for wear, retired to their room but not before thanking everyone for their support especially Julie who had done a sterling effort with raising money.

Paul and Phil would like to take this opportunity to thank Mike Arkwright for moving their bag and also thank you to Julie for all her efforts.

Day 3 Swan and Royal Hotel Clitheroe - Skipton North Premier Inn (16.5 mile)

As Paul and Phil woke up to rain tapping the window they knew they were in for a wet day. They got up and got dressed into the clean clothes that Julie had laundered the night before and went down to see Terry and Carol for breakfast. Carol came and took their breakfast order and brought them their food. While they were tucking in Terry went to them and asked if he could have a word when they had finished. The lads looked at each other wondering what could be wrong. Even though they had had a bit to drink the night before they were sure they could remember everything and were certain they behaved; Paul refrained from his usual Saturday night pole dancing routine, Phil hadn’t been dancing on the tables and they had left the room in a clean and tidy state. So they finished their breakfast and waited for Terry. He came through and pulled up Paul who was ready to be questioned for something he hadn’t done but it was to tell the guys to get the charity to apply for a Masonic Lodge for a grant, interrogation over. They said thank you for a great stay had a photo with Terry and Carol who wished the lads good luck and out of the door they went, next stop Skipton.

As they walked out of Clitheroe they saw a sign for a witch on a broomstick, having never seen one before the guys looked at each other puzzled and Phil decided to take a picture of it. A little further up the road it all became clear to Paul what the sign meant as they came into a place called Pendle. He remembered watching a Most Haunted show, which Paul enjoys to watch, about the team visiting Pendle Hill, which was infamous for its witches years ago.

As they left Clitheroe behind and were about to join the A59 the heavens opened. As they took shelter under a tree to put on their wet weather gear Phil had a calamity. As Phil got the coats out of the bag he gave Paul his and as he was putting his on he was unaware that he had stepped into some dog mess, Paul noticed the smell and tried to warn him but as he turned round he kicked the rucksack and got it on the bag he then panicked and tried to move to the grass to wipe it off only to kick the bag again. He got to the grass and wiped it off his shoe then got some tissue and water and cleaned the rucksack. Paul was just glad it was Phil’s turn to carry the rucksack.

On the lads trudged up the A59 it seemed never ending and the rain kept falling; sapping the guys’ energy and morale levels. Finally, after missing the 1st turn off they turned off the A59 at Marstons Both. They decided to take stock of where they were on the map and took shelter under a tree. Hanging from the tree was an old rope swing, which Phil decided to sit and have a rest on. They were on the right track so they set off again and headed out into the sticks.

What is it with signposts and distances in this area; the lads passed 1 signpost, which said 8 miles to Skipton and another further on which said 8 ½ miles? Can they not work out distances around here? Phil had a phone call from his partner Charlotte and was talking for a while so Paul, after going a bit stir crazy from the rain and walking in single file most of the day really wanted someone to talk to, as Phil wasn’t available he starting talking to the different animals in the fields from sheep to cows. They weren’t half giving him some funny looks.

Over the last couple of days the lads noticed that they kept seeing sheep in the fields with different numbers on the side and decided to start to make a note of them and put them on the lottery the following week in case it was an omen from above.

As they neared the outskirts of Gargrave the sun decided to finally come out, typical! The lads, who hadn’t stopped all day because of the rain decided to keep going instead of stopping as they weren’t far now plus they wanted to get to the hotel for the football, as it was the last day of the season. They passed some ramblers going along the canal and headed into town over a bridge. They turned onto the main road through Gargrave and continued up it. Looking at the map it didn’t look far to go but as Paul looked up the road he couldn’t see any Premier Inn sign. Paul got to a canal bridge and decided to stop for a breather for 2 minutes, as he was certain Phil had gone wrong with the map again. But as they plodded on round the next bend the Purple Premier Inn sign came into view, what a welcome sight, that last stretch had seemed to take forever the lads thought. They checked in and retired to the room to watch the football.

Paul had had a bet with a Newcastle fan he knew at the beginning of the season that who’s ever team finished higher in the League at the end of the season the other one had to give them £10. Well for Paul to win Aston Villa had to better Newcastle’s result. At half time with Newcastle winning 3-0 and Villa drawing 0-0 it didn’t look good and Paul was already resigned to paying out. At this point Phil went to fetch a heater from reception to help dry their wet clothes out as well as get a needle so Paul could burst some blisters on his little toe. The second half came and went and Paul’s disappointment changed to jubilation. Newcastle had thrown away a 3-goal lead to draw 3-3 and Aston Villa had beaten Liverpool 1-0 (Apology to Mike Arkwright who is a Liverpool fan). So Paul had won his bet. To make things even better Birmingham City had lost 2-1 and due to results elsewhere it meant they were relegated. That bird pooing on Paul came to be lucky after all. After the football the lads got showered, changed and went for something to eat. After their food they decided to have a couple of games of pool. Paul won 2-1 after some exceptionally jammy shots and Phil was hoping that this bird poo was proving to be Paul’s lucky omen. They then retired to their room early ready for the tough day to follow.

Paul and Phil would like to Thanks to Dan for moving our bags.