On 18 June 2005, the three extreme cellists, together with three singing friends (Chris and Rachel Tyler, and Laurie Cottam) undertook a sponsored walk of massive proportions for a single day: we walked the 45 miles from Manchester Cathedral to Sheffield Cathedral to raise money for Sheffield Cathedral Choir! We were joined along various parts of the route by friends, and were supported by two vehicles driven by Peter Heginbotham, then Assistant Master of the Music at Sheffield Cathedral, and Angela Rees, mother of James.
Along the way, we performed Byrd's Mass for Three voices at various locations (one movement at each stop). In some places, the movements were sung by the entire walking party; in others, they were played by the three cellists. Details are given below!
We started the official proceedings of the walk with a planning meeting and rehearsal the night before. After an early finish, to allow us to get at least some sleep, we rose between 3.00 and 3.30, so we could start the drive to Manchester as early as 3.45 a.m.!
We arrived at Manchester at around 5.20, and having negotiated the tricky one-way system close to the Cathedral, we managed to sing the Kyrie from Byrd's Mass for Three Voices at exactly 5.30. Having done this, we set off on the walk!
The first few miles of the walk were through central, urban and suburban Manchester, and were relatively dull in comparison with the scenery we would see later in the day. Therefore we started at a quick pace, enabling us to get a good few miles under our belt before we'd even realised it!
After about six miles, the scenery changed and we had some relatively green surroundings (including a section by the River Tame whilst passing under the M60). The remainder of the stage was a mixture of countryside and suburban areas, and we finally completed the 12 miles of the stage in three hours, twenty minutes - arriving at Compstall at 8.55 a.m. to play the Credo from the Byrd mass.
The second stage of the walk was in some ways the easiest. At 6.75 miles, it was nearly the shortest stage, and the terrain was certainly easier than that which was to come! However, the increasing heat, the beginnings of tiredness and the thought of Kinder Scout to come meant it felt far from easy.
We made our way through a series of small hamlets, by roads and footpaths, with some relatively gentle climbs and descents, in just 2 hours and 5 minutes - again, a good pace!
We arrived at Hayfield to discover there had been some miscommunication about the exact location of our meeting point - however, a couple of phone calls later we met up with the support vehicles and sang the Sanctus from the mass. Some "extreme" words of encouragement from Peter Heginbotham ensured we were all fired up for the tough third stage!
This one was tough! The weather - forecast to be 27°C (81°F) - began to live up to its billing. This coincided with the longest climb of the walk - out of Hayfield, up the side of Kinder Scout, to Edale Cross - about 540m up. Understandably, our pace dropped substantially compared with the previous stages, but we were prepared for this.
What made this stage even tougher was the subsequent descent - Jacob's Ladder, on the way from Edale Cross to Edale - is a tough descent at the best of times, but with 24 miles worth of aching feet and tired legs, it is that much harder. Nevertheless, we all managed it successfully, and (having met the support vehicles for a very welcome water stop at Upper Booth), we arrived at Edale at about 3.30.
Our welcome at Edale was one of the nicest things about the walk - we are immensely grateful to the owner of the Fieldhead Campsite for making us so welcome, allowing us to use the camp facilities and making us drinks, and for the donation to the fund! We played the Benedictus to a larger audience, composed of various campers and friends!
We left Edale with our numbers increased: Dave Cottam (Laurie's dad), Ella Taylor (Clare's daughter) and Neil Taylor (Master of the Music at Sheffield Cathedral, and Ella's dad) all joining this stage. The stage began with the steep climb up to Hollins Cross - with the sun now beating down, this was especially difficult. However, we were rewarded with some wonderful views, and a pleasant walk along the ridge before a quick but gentle descent to the village of Hope.
The journey from Hope to Edale was one of winding country roads and pleasant fields, much of it shaded from the sun (which was still strong even after 6.00). We arrived in Bamford at just after 7.00, to be greeted by many friends who had come to listen to us sing the Agnus Dei, and offer some very welcome refreshments!
Having already walked a little over 32 miles, this last stage of 12.5 miles was always going to be difficult. Amazingly, we all made it intact to Bamford, but here we suffered our first casualty - Clare dropping out at this stage. We think it was a stunning effort that everyone managed to walk these 32 miles in the soaring heat! We were joined for the final stage by Zoe Rees (wife of James).
The stage began with the climb up Bamford Clough - definitely the steepest climb of the day, and one which had more than one member of the walking party struggling for breath! A more gentle climb, first on roads, and then up Stanage Edge in beautiful evening sunshine was followed by a descent to Redmires Reservoir, where we met the support vehicles for a water stop.
After this, however, things got more difficult. As we were all very tired, the pace slowed, and after a few more miles two members of the party - first Laurie and then Jeremy - had to drop out when already in the suburbs of Sheffield. The remaining walkers were joined by Peter Heginbotham and Emily Tyler (one of Chris & Rachel's daughters) for the last two miles to the Cathedral.
On arrival at the Cathedral at around 1.00 a.m. we were welcomed by the Dean and Canon Paul Shackerley, and by Dave Cottam - who had brought apple pie and champagne to celebrate! All of the party - including those who had had to drop out of the walk prematurely - finished the day by singing the Gloria in Excelsis from Byrd's Mass for Three Voices in front of the high altar.