Trailtrekker live: Weatherbeaten but triumphant, the walkers return (with video, blog and gallery)

WEATHER-beaten and weary but buoyed with personal triumph, the teams of walkers trickled back into Skipton one by one. Some were stumbling, most were hobbling – but all were rightly proud of what they had achieved.

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A non-stop 100km walk across the beautiful but challenging peaks of the Yorkshire Dales sounds like a near-impossible task for most people, and a truly amazing level of mental toughness was clearly required from many of the participants to complete the course's final stages.

Though the trekkers started off on Saturday morning bathed in sunshine and with a real spring in their steps, many later spoke of having had to force themselves onwards as night began to fall. While the glorious heights of Malham Cove and the other key peaks had all been conquered early on, by all accounts the toughest section came towards the end as blisters and sheer exhaustion began to take their toll.

Leading by example for Oxfam was the charity's national director of policy, Phil Bloomer, who finished the course in just under 26 hours. A proud Yorkshireman, Mr Bloomer said it was the Dales themselves which helped him through the hardest parts of the course.

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Earlier coverage and photo gallery

"It was hard going," he said. "To be honest the only thing that keeps you going is all the nature and the beauty of what's around you. You see oystercatchers and skylarks swooping and it is just beautiful. As we were coming down into Conistone the dawn chorus started up and honestly the din was just incredible."

Two of Mr Bloomer's team mates were unable to complete the course due to blisters and other injuries, however, and in total 387 of the 537 walkers completed the course - a success rate which starkly reflects the challenges of the 62-mile circuit.

Kathryn Eddy was one of the first women to finish, with her Mountain Goats team coming home in ninth place at around 5.30am, having completed the course in just under 22.5 hours. She said a strong team spirit was essential to making it all the way round.

"We are very, very happy," she said. "We got in much earlier than we thought we were going to. It got a bit rough around midnight, but everyone managed to rally around despite some pretty grumpy moments. We had a system where the slowest person sets the pace and that helped keeps us all going and made sure we didn't leave anyone behind.

"One of our members almost didn't start at all because of various limb problems, so the fact he even made it round at all was really great. But that meant that even right towards the end we couldn't be sure we were going to make it."

The beautifully warm June sunshine of Saturday did not last the entire weekend, and the drizzle which began to fall on Sunday morning offered a further barrier to trekkers who had been walking for well over 24 hours. But still they arrived, panting as they crossed the finishing line.

Perhaps the bravest of all was bringing up the rear - 27-year-old Caroline Bett, who insisted on taking on the challenge despite a knee injury. She completed the course shortly after 2pm yesterday, after more than 31 hours of walking.

"The last part was the hardest," she said. "I just feel relieved to have got around. But yes, of course I'd do it again."

Video by Jonathan Walton and pictures by Bruce Rollinson and Gary Longbottom. Buy Yorkshire Post pictures online

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