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?