Your Trips

Near-death experience at Nenthead

January 26th, 2015 by

I was on the 2nd day of the c2c from Whitehaven to Tynemouth. The first day went without any problems but on the 2nd day on the descent into Nenthead I soon started to realise my brakes were not working. I had noticed the signs on the approach so was taking precautions as soon as I started going down into the village as I was aware it was quite steep.

I quickly began to panic as my brakes were barely working and I just couldn’t slow down. I considered throwing myself off but was worried what would happen to me so to be honest I just shut my eyes and remember screaming that I couldn’t stop. I was approaching a T- junction and that is the last thing I remember. The first I knew was a couple of days later in hospital. I think because I had been given so many painkillers etc that I have no recollection of this nor the air ambulance attending to me at the scene. I had apparently gone straight across the T-junction into a yard where there was a boat on a trailer. I hit this at speed and was told if the boat wasn’t there I would of gone down a 40 foot drop on the other side!

I was airlifted to Newcastle RVI & they attended to my many injuries which included a broken collarbone that had to be plated, broken shoulder, six broken ribs and two fractures to lower spine. I also broke my femur which has now been nailed, my fibula and my tibia was an open fracture that also had to be nailed. If that wasn’t enough I also ripped a large area of tissue/skin off my knee/shin area which plastic surgeons spent 8 hours in theatre basically putting me leg back together. I had a skin graft off my left leg to repair the area.

I spent 11 days in RVI following three operations and then, once stable, I was taken by ambulance to Preston Royal in Lancashire. I spent a further 3 weeks there. I am still off work (five months later) however my physio is going well and I hope to return to work part-time in March. As discussed, this has been a very traumatic time for not just me but also my family.

I would just like other people considering this route to take the utmost care when descending into Nenthead, so please put the awareness out. I also wondered if any further signage could be put up? Or whether you can add this into the Sustrans guide/webpage? I consider myself extremely lucky and thank goodness I am still here to tell the tale. This could so easily have had a much worse outcome.

My bike was taken away & inspected by the police who said they couldn’t find any technical fault with the brakes, the cabling etc was fine it was the brake pads that suffered “fade” so can only put it down to the heat/amount of usage on that particular day. Ironically we had planned to call in at the bike shop in Nenthead as I’d had a puncture that morning so wanted to obtain some spares, obviously this never happened!

Helen Barron