We had been suffering with colds for a few days and feeling generally a bit rubbish but it was half term and we were in the Lake District to complete our sponsored climb of Scafell Pike, to raise money for the amazing Writer’s Room. We were there for three days so we could pick the best weather day but luckily the weather was fantastic. Unusually warm and settled all week. It was just us feeling under the weather that determined the day of the climb. We woke up on Tuesday and decided we wouldn’t make it so we gave ourselves a rest day. On Wednesday Lily woke up at 4.30am determined to make the climb. I convinced her to give me another half an hour in bed and then we were up and preparing for the climb.
Lily had dressed the night before to avoid any SPD (sensory processing disorder) issues with getting dressed in the morning, that would slow us down or put a stop to the climb. We packed our bags, a backpack for me with all the recommended essentials plus a change of clothes and a spare pair of shoes in case Lily struggled with SPD up the mountain and needed them, and some other SPD essentials like a piece of fluffy material to help calm sensitivity in her hands. Lily took two small shoulder bags, as a backpack touching her back doesn’t work for her. We grabbed some breakfast and were on the road by 6am. The drive took a while partly because we were stopping to admire the views in the early morning sunshine and partly because of sleeping sheep on the road.
We set off on our climb soon after 7am. We decided to take it steady and have plenty of snack breaks. We still weren’t feeling 100%. It was quite a steep walk right from the start and soon after we got going Lily had a nosebleed and then a worse one about half an hour later, but she bounced back well and on we went. The sun was shining and the sky was clear making for some incredible views which got better and better the higher we climbed, so we made quite a few photography stops too.
As we got further up the steep but walkable path turned to rocks to be scrambled up, some sturdy and some wobbly. The small stones underfoot were also sliding away beneath our feet making it hard to stay upright. Because of SPD Lily struggles to touch earth or dirt with her hands and so was trying not to put her hands down on the rocks. She was managing well so the fluffy gloves we’d packed for this reason stayed put in her shoulder bag. We stopped to take photos with the sun over the summit in the background. It looked like a long way still to go but Lily’s determination was unfaltering. We stopped for a rest but soon got moved on by a swarm of midges. At this point the path became less clear and we relied on the small piles of rock, or cairns, to show us the way.
Luckily for us we have a group of brilliant, supportive friends who sent us encouraging messages all the way which made a huge difference to our motivation levels.
As we neared what I thought must surely be the summit Lily started to get really uncomfortable as her SPD was kicking in. Her clothes were becoming intolerable on her skin and she was then on a mission to power through to the top. I couldn’t keep up with her as she sped off up to the large cairn ahead of us where a small group of people had congregated making it look even more like the summit. When she got there she found a spot on her own behind the cairn and then my phone rang. It was Lily trying to call me but when I answered I couldn’t hear her. I assumed she was calling to say she’d made it to the top and where was I. As she rang again I spotted her up ahead and shouted up to her that I was nearly there. As I climbed up further I realised to my disappointment that this wasn’t the summit, there was another stretch of tough climbing to do before we’d get there. Deflated I went round the cairn to see Lily but she was crumpled in a ball sobbing. As if the day wasn’t challenging enough for Lily she also had her period which is not the easiest thing to deal with up a mountain let alone if you have SPD to contend with as well. This had set off a chain reaction of sensitivity making anything touching her skin (including her clothes) unbearable. We had brought a big pac a poncho in case of rain which served as a one person private tent for Lily to change in and to take off her top, jumper and trousers which had become intolerable.
We looked up towards the summit and there was no question of turning back. We set off again for the last push with Lily wearing just her fluffy boots and the pac a poncho. With our friends messages of support flooding in we finally made it to the top.
Exhausted, relieved and with a huge sense of achievement we sat down for a rest and took in the amazing views from the summit. We got to the top around midday and had our packed lunch at there. After some pictures it was soon time to head back down and we set off with our already tired and shaky legs. By this time Lily had managed to get her top back on but still couldn’t manage her trousers so she made the descent in the pac a poncho.
The climb down was less exhausting but even harder on our legs and knees. Especially the top section where we were skidding on the moving gravel and trying to find footholds on the steep flat rock and the smaller wobbling rocks. Each time we turned a corner or scrambled down over a ledge we saw the path stretching out in front of us. I was struggling but Lily’s encouraging words kept me going.
As we both had sore throats we had drunk our water much quicker than we would have normally and were completely out. We joked about drinking from, and jumping into, the cold clear river that ran alongside us for part of the way but that just made us feel more thirsty. We decided when we got to the bottom of the mountain we’d get lots of water and an ice cream each from the shop near the carpark, but it shut at 4 and it was 3.30 already. At the rate I was going we would miss it. Lily mustered up a final burst of energy and ran down the last bit of path ahead of me to get us supplies. When I finally made it back to the car there was Lily with cold bottles of water and ice cream for us. It was an unbelievably welcome sight.
Lily was amazing that day, her determination and courage were astonishing and her stamina even surprised me. The most amazing thing though was that, despite all her challenges, by the time we got to the last stretch she was the one cheering me on to the end.
Written by Laura and Lily.
Everyone at Creative Walden would like to express their admiration and gratitude to Lily and Laura for completing this amazing feat.