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Pennine Way
Alston (ill)
Monday 25th August.
Day:5 - Distance:0 miles

At around 04.30am I awoke feeling unwell, and within a few minutes was violently ill. This was not good sign. Over the next 3 hours things went from bad to worse. At 07.30 Catherine used her mobile phone to call home and ask for someone to come and pick us up. At this point it was obvious we could go no further and the walk was over. I fell into exhausted sleep until Catherine woke me at 11.30. We packed up our tent and walked the short distance to the road where we would wait for our ride. We waited nearly an hour. It was cold, it was damp, and I was lying at the side of the road feeling completely drained.

As I lay there I began to realise that I couldn't give up. Having got this far with the walk it would be a total waste to quit. When our ride arrived to pick us up we made a decision to travel to the nearest town, which was Alston, find the campsite and take a rest day so that I could recover. So we travelled to Alston and eventually found the campsite behind a scrap heap.

We set up out tent and wandered into the centre of the town to find a shop and something to eat. I was feeling a little better but still unwell. It became clear to me that my illness was due to ingesting some kind of bug, probably from my hands. I thought we were being meticulous about cleanliness by using wet wipes to clean our hands before easting, but something had gotten through. So in the shop in Alston I brought a bottle of disinfectant and a cloth. We soaked the cloth in disinfectant and keep it in a zip lock bag in my jacket pocket. From now on we would clean our hands very thoroughly and very often.

Looking back I can see that there was a high chance that a problem like this was going to happen. The fields and pastures through which the Pennine Way passes are littered with animal droppings, and there had been no rain to wash the mess away. Shoes, socks and trousers must have been contaminated and it was impossible to avoid transferring the contamination onto hands.

We sat on the station at Alston through the afternoon and watched the steam trains on the Alston steam railway come and go. I was still not feeling good, but I thought that a good evening meal followed by nights sleep would have me feeling well enough to continue the walk. We were now a day behind schedule so we had some catching up to do. Trying to add extra miles onto each day was not going to be possible as our night time stops were dictated by their scarcity. So it was heads down for a good nights sleep and hopefully feeling fully recovered ready to continue south the following morning.

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