The remains of lunch and three half-eaten birthday cakes are packed away.
“Decision time,” says our leader. “This is where we part. Those who want to go the short way take this path. If you want to do the full eight miles – follow me. We’ve already done tw0 and a half, by the way.”
I hesitate. My legs and feet are hardy. My lungs less so. But really, five and a half miles is not much for me.
“There’s only short steep bit.” She seems to read my mind.
We wave to the others and start up a piece of open peak, into a bitter wind and light but penetrating drizzle. No one says a word. We are all thinking that maybe we shouldn’t have attempted this.
Two weeks ago, still mid-April it had been warm and pleasant here. Now, the day before the May bank holiday it is cold and damp. Even more so than in Rainy City. We are high up here.
We turn around the peak. We are no longer going up and the wind is behind us. The rain stops. We become almost warm. We take it in turns to lead and there are moments of doubt but we trust our collective consciousness. We don’t worry. Oddly, though it is grey and there is no sun my reactive lenses go dark.
We reach the part where we have to climb. I’m the last to arrive at the top and breathing hurts. But folk are patient and they don’t actually have to wait long. Besides others complain of a struggle. Then we’re on the home straight and I’m actually in the lead more often than not.
We join the short-walkers at the café in the park and drink cups of tea. We finish off the cake. Gradually we drift apart and make our way back to cars and the train station. But not before friends of friends have become close friends.
The next day I’m barely stiff and my feet don’t hurt. Several others are complaining. Do I have Peak fitness?