21 degrees, ice creams all round and a dog called Molly…

- A blog by Paul Iredale

On Wednesday 18th June it was a beautiful evening in North East England as 13 colleagues and Molly the dog banked the very first 130 miles towards the Hike for Health target – can you believe one of us did it in three inch heels?  We told Keith Inkster sensible footwear was optional – ha!  The planned starting point was a local landmark, a white-striped lighthouse built in 1871 with amazing views from the top if you dared to climb the 74 steps. It was only when we began to congregate at 6pm that we realised the car park would close before we would finish our hike, however there was no need to panic! Our Hike Leader and ace organiser Sharon Mullen quickly guided everyone to a perfect starting point which was only 800 yards away and next to a traditional British pub overlooking the coastline. A perfect starting point and an excellent finishing point as the thought of further refreshments cheered us on.

The weather was magnificent, almost 21 degrees, no clouds and a warm breeze to help push us towards our ten mile goal. It has to be said that this type of weather is unusual for the North East of England and I’m sure many of us were slightly disappointed having brought along our rain jackets, umbrellas etc.. Our hike took us among the craggy rocks and nesting seabirds of a particularly beautiful stretch of North Sea coast. Passing The Leas and Marsden Bay which are like islands of nature. Marsden’s limestone cliffs, which have been sculpted into strange shapes by the waves, are a nesting ground for many different kinds of seabirds. The pub-in-a-cave is also pretty extraordinary and we managed to resist dropping in on this occasion.

Conversation along the way quickly moved from the World Cup (had the Dutch team won their game?) and on to “are we going to pick up some fish and chips or ice creams at some point?” Not to mention the nervous discussion about the England football team “will they crash out of the World cup or not?” We somehow agreed that it would be ice creams and using our local knowledge noticed that there was a world famous (well maybe within a five mile radius) ice cream parlour, Mincellas at the five mile point – an ideal opportunity to have a rest and enjoy some refreshment before the sun went down. Molly wolfed down her own ice cream with a chocolate flake and monkey’s blood (North East term for strawberry sauce).

At around 7.20pm we entered the second half of our hike taking us back along the coastline , spirits remained high and the sun began to set. Amazingly the pace increased as we started to break into smaller groups, we continued to help each other along with encouraging words and good old North East humour! The outstanding achievement award has to go to Sheila who completed the hike, apart from the last 50 meters in her three inch high shoes – the challenge has been set for Hike for Health week!

Well done to the Geordies! The first leg is complete and the baton is passed to the rest of the world to help us reach our target.

Our group consisted of Keith Inkster, Tony Charlton, Stephen Ramsey, Paul Cowe, Sharon Mullen, Steve Horn, Sheila Elliott, Anne Thompson, Kath Sanderson, Helen Smith, Julie Rhodes, Denise Ridley and me.