Daring to dream

Friday 26th March 2021

Covid restrictions had already put my Spring 2021 project on hold. Limited travel meant staying local so the project was postponed – maybe in 2022? And then another idea started to bubble up, and a chance encounter led to a conversation and an email enquiry, and well, this is what happens when you follow your dreams.

It felt so close. My swimming was in a good place, with regular outdoor visists to Woburn Lido – a beautiful place. So close… and then. My last official swim was at Woburn Lido on the afternoon of 5th January. The latest lockdown took effect a few hours later. It looked as Covid would continue to put all our dreams on hold.

Flooding in Bedfordshire meant that river swimming was out of the question – the flow, the mud, the effluent, the danger. Events 1, Helegant 0. For Spring 2021. But hope springs eternal (see what I did there?) and dreams die hard so with a bit of imagination, a bucket of optimism and a bit of tweaking I realised that the bubbling-up alternative might still be possible. And even, maybe, sooner than 2022.

And now? The dream feels so close again. Outdoor swimming restarts on Monday 29th March, and I’ve booked swimming slots from now until mid June at Woburn Lido and at Box End Lakes. And the bubbling-up plan?

I’m delighted to announce that I have secured a place to swim in the English Channel* as part of a relay team going from Dover to France in September. Boat 4 to be precise. So much is still unknown and tentative, but I’m going to train ‘as if’ it will go ahead. Because that’s the way to make stuff happen.

My fundraising this time is for a wonderful charity called COSMIC. COSMIC supports children’s and neonatal intensive care units at St Mary’s and Queen Charlotte’s Hospitals London, helping frontline intensive care staff deliver vital critical care, and supporting families with children on the units. It also supports research initiatives to improve intensive care.

No pressure, but if you would like to donate, this is the link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/helen-gardner19

I’ll post occasional updates on training and preparation here. I need to join the CS&PF (Channel Swimmers and Pilots Federation), pass a medical, pass the swim test, do the training and then hope for good weather.

Those who have follwed this blog from the beginning will know that I had a long-held ambition to swim the English Channel. Jellyfish, oil slicks, tankers, bad weather, cold water, salt mouth, sea sickness, chafing – what could be more appealing?

Dreams don’t disappear just because our bodies get older. And while it may not now be possible to reach the standard required to achive a solo swim there are still opportunites to be claimed. By doing the challenge as a team I can have the eperience, and raise some money for a good cause at the same time. Wish me luck.

That was fun

Monday 7th September 2020

Coniston Chillswim was on Saturday 5th September. I’d been looking forward to this swim and preparing for it since last year.

The day was breezy and overcast, and we were rained on, heavily, during the swim, several times. I’d been expecting the water temperature to be around 16 degrees, but local rumour said 15.3.

Basically it was cold, and I was swimming skins (no wetsuit).

The knowledge that I’d trained enough to complete three miles was tempered by awareness that this would be my lowest temperature swim since March and I was uncertain what impact the cold might have. It meant that when I walked off the road and into the water at the start it was with some anxiety about my decision to abandon the wetsuit. I needn’t have worried. Last winter’s acclimatisation was still in my body. Nine out of the forty-six women swimming the three mile (shorter) option were swimming skins and I was seventh finisher in that group (thirty-fourth overall). Which doesn’t really mean much except that it’s always a bonus not to be last.

Cold water and a dreek day set the scene, and the swim was very hard work, but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t long before the water and my arms felt the same temperature, although my feet felt cold all the way through – (maybe I should use them more while swimming!) The prevailing wind was from over my left shoulder which added a chill factor. The water surface was showing around Force 3-4 with frequent areas of additional bounce from the steamer ferry and various motor-powered boats creating waves and chop.

‘Waves and chop’ meant occasional face and mouthfuls of water instead of air. It was good experience for ‘something’ in the future, but not so pleasant at the time. Some of the motorised craft appeared to be running on two-stroke, if the fumes floating at water level were anything to go by. None of that made a huge difference though and most of the time the water and air were clear and clean.

The route instructions boiled down to ‘get into the water and swim north about 50 metres from the edge of the lake for three miles, missing the island, then get out and go over the finish mat smiling because there will be a photographer present’. So I did. I found it easy to spot the support kayakers and hundreds of other swimmers in multi-coloured hats, and mostly orange tow floats.

Unlike running events there was a noticable silence. Given that I was wearing earplugs and a swimhat that may not be surprising, but with no spectators, no cars, no footsteps, no sound of breathing, there were just silent arms in and out of the water, some splashier than others, and a sea of towfloats to follow.

I soon lost track of time and distance, and going in a straight line in an unfamiliar place with no landmarks was quite disorientating. The blood that would have served my brain had obviously been directed away from thinking, because I was wearing a watch and all I needed to do was look at it to get information! However, there were guide buoys with numbers on them, which led to a confusing experience when I approached one expecting to see a number five, only to see a number four. I had a mile further to swim than I’d expected. A mental ‘ho-hum’, and I carried on.

We had tyvek wrist bands with our swimmer number on them and at one point mine came off. I managed to retrieve it from the water and was busy treading water, pulling at the neck of my rash vest as I tried to stuff the number down the front of my swimsuit, when another swimmer stopped and asked if I was OK. I assured him I was fine, just readjusting my clothing, and he asked again. Eventually he was convinced that I didn’t need help, and we both swam on. Later it was explained to me that when someone gets hypothermia they feel hot and start taking their clothes off. The other swimmer must have known this and I thank him remotely for his concern.

Consiton, like Windermere is beautifully clean and clear and some of the swim was in very shallow water. I enjoyed watching the stones beneath me appearing to move backwards as I swam – sometimes the underwater view was the only clue that I was moving – it was always calm regardless of the surface. The Lake District is a spectacularly beautiful part of the country, and the views looking around from the water (when I could see because my goggles fogged up quite early) were wonderful.

The event provided fuel stops in the water, and although I can’t imagine being able to eat jelly babies, swim and breathe all at the same time I had decided I’d try to get one drink because I’m always very thirsty at the end of a swim. I stopped at the last boat and after quite a long wait, was handed a paper cup of watery sports drink. There is no way of knowing whether it had any positive effect, but at least I can now say I’ve tried refuelling in the water and it didn’t have any ill effects. Knowing I was only half a mile or so from the finish also made it feel like a bit of a treat.

At the finish the water was very shallow and we had to swim for as far as possible ‘like a whale beaching itself’ before standing up. I did as instructed and the photographs of me standing up are too like the instructions to be posted here. The joy of hot blackcurrant drink just after the finish was out of proportion to the sense of achievement at finishing – I now have an alternative to black coffee for my post-swim warm-up.

Overall I was pleased with my efforts. I’d managed a relatively steady pace and, when I got tired, focused on technique in the hope it would stop me getting too scrappy. My time was roughly two minutes a mile faster than usual so, once again, the adrenaline effect of an event kicked in. No wonder my shoulders ached afterwards!

Unlike last week’s training swim I didn’t experience any afterdrop and speedy refuelling with hot food meant that a lot of the usual tiredness was also missing. It was an enjoyable event and I’ll be looking closely at further adventures in the wet stuff. My aim over winter now is to keep the cold acclimatisation, and to speed up a bit (a lot actually). Wish me luck :-)

Position: 50 (out of 67 people starting the 3 mile swim)
Number: 517
Elapsed time: 2:21:24
Age Group: 60-64 (4th out of 4 women in my age group)
Start time: 11:48:50
Pace: 2:55 min/100m, 47:08 min/mile
Westuit or skins: Skins (7th out of 9 skins in the 3 miles)

Getting Colder

Sunday 30th August 2020

Today was my last full training session for next week’s adventure. The temperature has dropped a lot and today, although the lifeguard said the thermometer measured 15.6 degrees below his chair in the sheltered shallows, it felt colder in the deeper water. I’ve never had ice-cream-face in temperature that warm before(!) and watching my arms turn red and then white suggested it was a tad cooler than advertised.

After two and a quarter hours in skins (not the same as skinny dipping dear reader, it means ‘no wetsuit’) I’d completed my goal for the session, and was aware of the impact of my first cold-water swim since March. The wind blowing across the top end of the lake made the water very choppy and bouncy so all-in-all it was exactly what I needed to experience before entering the water of Lake Coniston next week.

Covid-19 has played it’s part this year, not just the lack of training because swimming pools were closed, but also three weeks with the illness and then even more weeks to recover fitness, so I took the option to drop down from the full 5.25 miles to the shorter 3 mile option when it was offered. Today that decision feels absolutely right, and I’m now looking forward confidently to whatever* the Lake District has to throw at me.

See you on the other side.

 

*Call me a wimp if you like but I draw the line at thunderstorms.

Getting wetter

Monday 13th July 2020

Last night I watched the tracker from a boat crossing the channel. It was accompanying a swimmer, Sarah Poll, who walked into the sea at Dover in the early hours of the morning and after swimming for a mere 16 hours, stepped onto a beach in France.  Well done Sarah.

Watching the tracker was an emotional experience, not just because Sarah swims locally to me so I felt a connection with her efforts, but because it touched my long-held dream of swimming the English Channel. I suspect I’ve left it too late to achieve that goal as a solo swimmer.  In practical terms I’m not fast enough and age is now against me.

Anyway, despite that little blip I’ve been enjoying doing what I can do; getting back into the water for some proper outdoor swimming after a lockdown experience that included a bout of Covid-19. The joys of working in the NHS are tempered by the risks, and the virus left me with has a ‘long tail’ of weakness that I’m working to overcome. My swimming  strength is taking a while to return but I’m on the way.

Lockdown and illness created a hiatus in my training for this event https://chillswim.com/chillswim-coniston-5-25-miles-end-to-end/ and I’m unsure whether I can get back up to full strength in time to swim 5.25 miles in cool water or whether it is best to postpone for a year.

Time will tell. Meanwhile, wish me luck.

Bantham Swoosh – Sat 6th July 2019

12th September 2019

6km, open water. Current assisted.

Amazingly, I didn’t even blog much here about this at the time, yet it was a most enjoyable event, in the most excellent company of some local fellow open-water swimmers.  My entry had been confirmed very late, and other activities meant that I only managed 12 miles of training, fortunately most of it in open water.

This is an edited version of a blog I wrote elsewhere – no extra photos I didn’t even wear a watch.

This year Mr, Jet and I took our tent ‘big blue’ and joined the other Fetchies camping in a field at Bantham in Devon. Unusually we took too much kit and had to lug it from the car park. I’ll know better if I do the event again.

864-ish swimmers today, and enough safety people on paddle-boards and surfboards to check that every one of us was safe and headed in the right direction. Superb organisation.

We had agreed not to try to keep together in the water as we swim at different speeds, and one yellow hat among hundreds looks much like another! We stood together for the inaudible safety briefing then wished each other a good swim, with many fishy puns from K, which helped to settle the nerves, and prepared to set off.

I watched K, E and N join the middle wave of starters. They said S had moved to the rear of the pack but I couldn’t find her. As a newbie I chose to start at the back.

There was one woman who had determined to be the last one into the water, so she and I, both in our wetsuits, stood on the jetty with four men ‘skins’ swimmers behind us. I think they might have been the equivalent of tailwalkers. The official photographer clicked with phone and SLR and then it was time to go.

I’d chosen to go barefoot rather than add another layer to the unnecessary (but mandatory) insulation provided by my wetsuit, which was a good decision. It was a very hot day, the water must have been in the high teens, and I’d been worried about getting overheated on the swim. The water was around 15 degrees, and I  was just OK, although on a couple of occasions I pulled the neck of the suit to get more water through it to cool down.

The tide was retreating fast so I had the benefit of the river current and the tide from quite early on. The water was very shallow and for much of the early part of the course it was possible to stand up, even for me! Lots of swimmers took advantage of this, as did I when my hat and goggles started to peel off and needed adjustment. It was in the muddy bit though and the squelch between my toes wasn’t something to savour or prolong. Who knows what lives in there! Weaver fish?

Starting at the back meant I passed quite a few slower swimmers and found myself targeting individuals to ‘pick off’ throughout the race. It was a deliberate tactic, and the right decision, because I wanted to start slowly and not race away then feel exhausted, and it boosted my confidence to be overtaking people.

The first tributary is muddy, murky and slightly salty, but we then joined the main part of the river, and I found myself swimming (breaststroke) through a lot of surface debris, mostly foliage and weed. It soon cleared and became much more interesting and comfortable. Back to front crawl.

We switched sides of the river a few times, swimming over sandbanks from one channel to another to stay with the faster current. As the water cleared I was able to see fish swimming across my path, crabs running along the sandy river bed, muscles/oysters(?) on some rocks and even a jellyfish float past underneath me – there are advantages to wearing a wetsuit! I even spotted the ‘oldest water skiing club’ sign and the samphire beds.

Much of the river bank was heavily wooded and I found it impossible to know how long I had been swimming, or how far I’d travelled, but I did notice that the scenery was passing faster than usual, thanks to help from the retreating tide. The occasional seaweed plants were trailing in the direction of the exiting water and whenever I looked up I could see the yellow hats ahead of me and the safety crew on each side so spotting was very easy and I never struggled to identify the route.

The water speeded up until I could see grains of sand being bowled along the bottom; I saw Bantham village, then the boats, and suddenly the swim was coming to a close. The pink boathouse, the swoosh and then there were marshalls standing on paddleboards directing us to the beach. Just like that it was over.

At this point I discovered that I couldn’t stand up for dizziness and spent some time on hands and knees in the water with a marshall holding my arm and telling me to take it slowly. When I said I was OK and tried to stand up he still held my arm and said he wouldn’t let go until I proved I could walk in a straight line. It was an effort!

I’d just convinced him that I could find the finish mat on my own when the shouts of the support group got through to me and I saw my fellow Fetchies and Mr waving to me, with Jet straining on his new lead to reach me. Pose for photo, stagger over the mat and then rejoin the group to wait for S who arrived a couple of minutes later. She had the biggest grin. :-)

… I’m home, sunburned, salty and tired. But fellow Fetchies, ‘I Swooshed’ :-)

Results:
Bib #90 , Female
Chip time 01:41:06
Finished 10.0 KM <— I think this is a mistake as my understanding is that the course is 6k-ish
Speed 5.93 km/h <— based on 10k?
Pace 10:07 min/km <— seriously current assisted!
Wetsuit Full length wetsuit
Position 525 of 747
277 of 444 women
5 out of 8 F61+

That’ll do.

Do more of what you love

Saturday 6th July 2019

Last month I took part in a Super-Sprint Triathon at Tallington Lakes, which I thoroughly enjoyed in retrospect. My cycling was better than expected but the heat made the run difficult. Despite that, I finished. The swim had been part of my training for the next event.

Tallington Lake Super Sprint Triathlon

Today’s effort has been the Bantham Swoosh, a rather nice river swim in the Avon estuary in South Devon, assisted by the outflowing tide.

Bantham Swoosh

And now… to focus on getting some running form back. I have a target for 2019 and we’re already half way through the year 🙂

Anniversary Challenge

Friday 15th March 2019

On St David’s Day (1st March) 2019 I achieved a goal that has been outstanding for a while.

During my late mother’s last illness we talked about her childhood memories of swimming in the River Teme at Ludlow on 1st March* each year. This would have been in the 1930s and 1940s.

At the site, near Dinham Bridge there is a cafe with some information boards showing photographs of schoolboys in the 1930s enjoying the water.

It occurred to me that my father, who was also born and bred in Ludlow could easily have been one of the boys in the photograph, so this seemed a good year to complete the challenge I’d agreed with my mother, that I too would swim in the River Teme on 1st March.

Some kind swimmers in Bedfordshire had helped me to acclimatise in the River Ouse over the previous few weeks – my first swim was at around 6 degrees and lasted a very few short minutes. This group then put me in touch with the Shropshire wild swimmers who agreed to meet a stranger and swim.

Wild swimming is best done with other people for safety reasons, so the risk was reduced and the fun increased by having company.

 

We met on a chilly damp day, swam, then shivered and recovered with hot drinks in the cafe.

1st March - River Teme
18 minutes at around 7 degrees C

River Teme 1st March 2019

From the weir to the pontoon

It was my longest river swim, and the view of Ludlow Castle and Dinham Bridge from the water on a peaceful morning was wonderful. It must be one of the most beautiful swimming spots in the country.

Thank you to all who helped me achieve this challenge in memory of my parents.

*This seems rather early but I asked the question several times and she was adamant that there was no mollycoddling of children then, and a bit of cold water was deemed to be good for people.

A few weeks later

Friday 8th February 2019

The objective to walk every single step of the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats was achieved. After arriving home from the long walk I thought I would have time to relax and catch up with life-admin and hobbies, return with my dog to agility competitions.

Sadly, only a couple of weeks after I arrived home, my father was taken ill and it was just a few weeks later that he died in hospital. Christmas and New Year were very different to our plans. There is the usual significant clearing out, tidying up and paperwork to do, so much of my time is being spent on that at the moment. This too will pass, but it makes the simple days of walking seem a long-lost memory and is a reminder that these types of project are a luxury to be enjoyed at the time.

My parents were both very keen long-distance walkers and had completed over 60 of the classic long-distance walks in the UK, many with the same core group of friends. I’ve enjoyed going through their photograph albums and recognising many of the places that I travelled through.

So in retrospect, what did I enjoy most?

Firstly, the simplicity of one task to achieve each day. Occasionally dangerous, often physically difficult or uncomfortable, and equally frequently, spectacular, awe-inspiring, and very satisfying. Nevertheless, sleep was always at the end of the walk, and the only way to get there was to keep putting one foot in front of the other until it was time to stop.

Secondly, the people, the people and the people. It was a year of smiling and kindness. So many delightful, interesting and interested, all different, almost exclusively friendly and helpful. So many strangers who looked for ways to help, to join the adventure They caught the sense of fun and determination. I hope I mentioned everyone in my blogs as I travelled, and it’s been good to hear from some of those people since I got home.

Many times over the last few weeks, as I’ve driven up and down the motorways to Devon, I’ve passed under or over or part parts of my route and my memories of many wonderful variety of landscapes have been rekindled. My imagination is sparked again and I dream of the places I haven’t yet visited, the smell of wet grass, bog, shady forests etc. My soul begins to sing.

There is a part of me that would like to be ‘out there’ again, but I have new adventures to find. Cold-water wild swimming, maybe a return to running again?

Both have been started, and my next target is to swim in the River Teme at Ludlow on 1st March and then to join the Parkrun on Saturday. And on the Sunday of that same weekend, an outing with the Long Distance Walkers Association. So far a number of ‘strangers from the internet’ who also happen to be wild swimmers have offered to join me in the water. Once again, people are joining the adventure. And that makes me smile.

If you’re reading this and we’ve met on the walk, do please keep in touch and tell me – what is your next adventure?

Coming Home

Wednesday 17th October 2018

111 days of walking. 1184.14 miles walked.

In an earlier blog I noted that

I inhabit an internet world where
extreme achievements are normalised
by some amazing people.

Many of those people record their activity at Fetcheveryone.com, and have been really positive supporters of this challenge. They understand what it means to push boundaries, and have been the people I turned to when I had problems that required knowledge and encouragement, and some have also provided practical help (Walk Day 63 is the most obvious example). They shared many more of the problems than originally appeared in this blog, and they also understood my caveat to any question that “Quitting is not an option.” It was therefore delightful to find that Fetch (Ian) had created a personalised congratulatory banner for the site when I finished. Thank you all 🙂

There was a warm glow as I read all the comments and congratulations, and I slept well on Friday night.

First thing on Saturday morning I went down to the Seaview Hotel to sign the visitor’s book and collect an ‘arrived in John O’Groats’ certificate. There was a similar ‘overcast and uninhabited’ end-of-season anti-climax feel to the place as I’d discovered at Land’s End last year when I started, but my reward was in knowing I’d achieved my objective. I’d finished what I came for and chose not to walk the additional distance to Duncansby Head or to find somewhere to dip my feet into the sea.

Freda and her husband Ronnie were kind enough to collect me from John O’Groats and drive me to Wick so that I could catch the bus through to Inverness. Thank you both. During the two hours sitting still on the bus my legs went to sleep so that I hobbled off the bus. It didn’t look very heroic!

I’d booked a room at the Black Isle Hostel before they opened their new rooms in a separate building above the Black Isle Bar. I occupied one of the new rooms… I had been unaware, when I booked, that the Bar was a popular nightspot, or that the window of my room would open onto the same level of decking as the rooftop bar – open until 1am. On this occasion the industrial extractor fan and noise of people enjoying themselves wasn’t a problem because I knew there was no need to get good sleep in order to be able to walk the next day. It meant I could sleepily enjoy the buzz.

Having promised myself a decent scotch once I finished the walk, I went down to the Bar to see what they had to offer. Their range of beers was so impressive that I chose a wheat beer instead, and really enjoyed it.

The rain made my exploration of the town centre a bit gloomy, and I was suddenly and unexpectedly tired, so retired to my room to watch Strictly Come Dancing on my phone. It’s the first time I’ve used it to stream a television programme and it felt quite decadent after saving all my data for essential use on the journey up to that point. What would we do without our mobiles?

On Sunday morning I attended Choral Eucharist at the cathedral.

After that I explored around the river,

noting the Great Glen Way signs relating to a walk that suddenly seemed such a long time ago. The castle is the starting/finishing point of the Great Glen Way.

All the local tourist attractions were closed for the weekend, so coffee and chocolate cake at a cafe were then followed by a trip around the shopping centre. This is the Unicorn and Falcon statue in Falcon Square.

Outside one of the shops I saw a slogan that made me giggle.

Then, another treat. I met another ‘stranger from the internet,’ (Fetchie) Laurie, who lives in the area, and we went for a coffee and a chat before she gave me a lift to the airport. Thank you Laurie.

There were some items that I knew I couldn’t take on the plane, so I donated the MSR gas bottles to the ‘Help Your-shelf’ at the hostel and handed in my spare food to the cathedral for their food parcels. By the time my rucksack had been wrapped in clingfilm at the airport it only weighed 6kg.

Luton Airport was wetter than Inverness, and we finally arrived home just after midnight on Monday morning.

There was no lie-in on Monday because I had to prepare for a talk at the Rotary Club on Monday night, and my laptop had three weeks of updates to install, with associated interruptions in operation. Eventually everything worked and I had an enjoyable evening. The Rotary Club made a donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Thank you gentlemen.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was finally an opportunity to catch up with the family, drink the champagne that had been in the refrigerator for months, and to feel that I had finally come home.

I’ll blog my reflections, and update some of the static pages with learning along the way, but for now, thank you for reading, thank you for your comments, and good luck with any adventures that are currently stirring your hearts.

Walk Day 111 – Keiss to John O’Groats

Friday 12th October 2018

9.04 miles today. 1184.14 miles total.

In the hotel last night I met Carol and Nick, last seen in Dunbeath. They had been walking the John O’Groats Trail, and we had walked some of the same route. We spent some time catching up and sharing walking stories and tips.

They were going home so we said goodbye after breakfast and I set out into the rain and wind for my last day of LEJOG.

The rain stopped but the wind was very strong and made walking ‘difficult’. (British understatement)

I managed to avoid being blown under the wheels of approaching vehicles, and to enjoy the scenery, when I could see it.

This herd was lined up waiting for the farmer (behind me) to drop the straw bale over the gate for it.

The sea was being blown into choppy waves.

The weather for most of the morning was overcast and raining, with very strong southerly winds gusting to 70mph. I was glad to turn north and have the wind behind me.

In a break between showers, finally, on my last day, I found a long horned cow to photograph!

Eventually the worst of the rain passed and the sun shone for a short time.

The signpost said 3 miles. It was a bit further to my destination.

The wind died down to ‘strong breeze’, which was quite enjoyable, and the rain had passed over, so with clear views I stopped here to record a Facebook live video to test the technology for later.

This was the scene with about three miles to go to the end. I turned on the Google location tracker so that my family could see my progress.

The road still showed the aftermath of the rain.

This was my first sight of my destination.

The multi-coloured huts were my target. Finally I could see them.

This was the first of the John O’Groats signs. It’s about a mile from here to the famous fingerpost.

I passed the Seaview Hotel with its invitation to join the LEJOG Association. But I still hadn’t arrived at the end of my journey.

Then, looking across to the brightly coloured huts, through the car park, I thought I could see the finger post.

Despite wearing a rucksack and a waist pack I had looked forward to running to the finish, and the adrenaline kicked in.

Not only did I run, holding my walking poles in one hand and my phone in the other hand, but I even managed to record it as another live video. Go me!

I’d been a bit uncertain about how it would feel to finish such a big adventure and not have anyone there to share it with. Then just as I crossed the car park entrance a voice called my name. It was Freda, the mother of another Fetchie. She had come to meet me at the finish, and it was lovely to see her.

I found it very emotional to finally reach the finger post. It symbolised the end of an adventure, a journey, and a time of separation from ordinary life. The walk had been a dream and a plan, and I didn’t know when I started whether I could or would finish.

And here I was; slightly astonished to have succeeded, and very thankful to all the people whose kindness and generosity made the journey easier, and helped my soul to sing.

Thank you Freda for taking the photograph.

The harbour looked really calm, in contrast to the waves further out.

Freda and I went into the cafe for a hot chocolate. While we were inside another rain shower came and went.

A final picture before leaving. The wind speed had increased again and was doing its best to remove my hat.

There is more to say, but for tonight I’m resting before a long journey home.

If you would like to contribute to the work of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, the link is here.