Lands End to Cape Wrath

      > Introduction
      > Getting Out There
      > 1. Lands End - Bude
      > 2. Bude - Severn Bridge
      > 3. Severn Bridge - Liverpool
      > 4. Liverpool - Arnside
      > 5. Arnside - Carlisle
      > 6. Carlisle - Ardrossan
      > 7. Ardrossan - Oban
      > 8. Oban - Mallaig
      > 9. Mallaig - Badrallach
      > 10. Badrallach-Kinlochbervie
      > 11. Kinlochbervie - Durness
      > Kit List
      >
Daily Schedule

 

Links on Walking Places



 

Lands End to Cape Wrath
 

LIVERPOOL TO ARNSIDE
Headlessness, The walking window, route planning out of Liverpool, landscape, Formby Point and Bowland.

Saturday 4 June

Walking a windy road on Exmoor and also perhaps in north Wales. I suddenly came across a strange distorted figure. Rounded by the convex mirror at a concealed driveway, staring out at me a wide eyed scrawny startled face. Pause lean on stick and study this apparition.

But all these days Iíve been everything else. Iíve been weather and path and green and stretched out to the horizon. Iíve been the struggle up a hill and the world in my pack. Surely I canít be the over there in the mirror looking out.

And of course Iím not.

Time for finding out what I am, to move into that headless state.

Excited and motivated, having an instinct that to be walking like this out here, to be getting out here in a sustained way was going to take me somewhere new. (Restless seeking for new experience or an answer).

I know that truth is in the everyday small and obviousness and not available through restless search and expectation.

But hey!                                  

Why not get into the everyday small and obviousness out here with the sky and one foot and then another foot.

See what happens with the accumulation of time and experience.

So here in Liverpool on a day off with the two books I have in my pack:

First; Douglas Harding. On Having No Head. Zen and the rediscovery of the obvious.

Engaging and revitalising; the discovery of headless-ness. The most straight ahead and on the line and of course obvious explanations of the human (my) experience.

Actually realising that my reasons for doing this walking, for getting out here, has always been to connect with and celebrate the truth that he pins down, click. Just like that.

Opening Paragraph:

ďThe best day of my life - my rebirthday, so to speak Ė was when I found I had no head. This is not a literary gambit, a witticism designed to arouse interest at any cost. I mean in all seriousness: I have no head.Ē

Itís all in there (nothing), and I endeavour  to spend my conscious moments in connection with this truth and I have found no better way of letting the world pour in.

Take away my head (and look up; take away body also) I am everything that is being seen smelt heard felt and tasted. Little me gone. Earth and universe just.

That is one extraordinary but in fact completely ordinary and of course thing. Take away all conditioning and learnt assumptions about what I am and where.

ďI have never been anything but this ageless, measureless, lucid and altogether immaculate VOIDĒ

Out here to: find out more about nothing; spend more time with nothing; look more closely at nothing.

Check it out and anyway if anything is going to do me in out here it is likely to be my head so ditch it.

Second little book in my pack;

Thich Nhat Hanh. The Long Road Turns To Joy. A guide to walking meditation.

Doing one thing. 4 months walking. Thatís all I have to do maybe eat and sleep and so on but really itís all to do with one foot then another foot.

ďWith mindful breathing,

practice touching the earth deeply.

Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet,

As if you are massaging the earth with each step.Ē

ďReturn to EarthĒ

ďImagine that you and I are astronauts. We have landed on the moon and we find that we cannot return to earth because our shipís engine is broken beyond repair. We will run out of oxygen before Mission Control in Houston can send another ship to rescue us. We only have two days to live. What would we pray for?

What would make us happier than to return to our beautiful planet and walk on it? When confronted with death we realize the preciousness of walking on the green Earth.

Now we have miraculously survived and been transported back to Earth.. Let us celebrate our joy by walking on our beautiful green planet with deep peace and concentration.Ē

So breath and smile and get into the walking window.

 

THE WALKING WINDOW :

The dynamic mixture of interconnections: Matrix plugged in all around in and out.

Body grooving with the Path grooving with your Thinking Mind grooving with your Feeling Self.

All the physical bodily sensations from head to foot, especially foots. You are the only person ever to have sensations like this in your feet. Pain and pleasure, explore and dig every step. Different sensations with every step. Whatís the path doing to you? Is it making you work hard at this very moment, gradient and If it is then you very lucky; Gravity is a gift to enjoy. Touch the earth, kiss and massage it as it hangs on to you. It wants you back.

Then there is that wide open picture that you are seeing. You have no head so what you have is the void filled with sensation visual, auditory, olfactory and no possible distance between you and everything out there. That point up ahead, that tree or way off person; no possible distance between that there and the point of youíre awareness. You are absolutely more out there than you are in here, in some kind of supposed head thing.

The path is moving towards you, flowing under and through you.

Hearing, smelling, loads of stuff going on there as well. Pay attention.

The walking window.

Underneath or on top and or inside or outside somewhere of all this your hard working mind. Watching and reacting to all thatís going on. Delighting, grabbing, complaining, rejecting, singing, free-floating or preoccupied.  Concentrating probably on the path, consumed a good deal by micro navigating, next few steps. Working very hard if youíre in waist deep heather and rocks.

Always behind and all around this with varying intensity a background of overall-ness. Energised positive through too flat tired miserable whatís the point?

This is the walking window. Inhabit it. Give it all your attention.

Remind yourself with a song, (well just a repeated grove actually, perhaps sung by Jim Morrison with a swirly psychedelic guitar drone and Hammond organ)

Youíre in the walkin window

Youíre  in the walkin window

 

Slow walkin window

Slow walkin window

 

Sunday 5 June

Evening still Liverpool

Trying to decide what to do, route planning. Evening of a day of rest sitting in a Thai restaurant in the twilight zone close to the Youth Hostel on the edge of the town centre.

Sunday in a big city, wandering looking for fruit, dismay in the city centre shopping nightmare. Iím a city dweller but after 6 weeks of green this has been rather too much.

Compensation though this afternoon at the Tate Liverpool: Jackson Pollock Number 14 (1951).

So thinking now with the map. I have to go north through a built up and flat kind of zone towards Preston, western bridging point of the Ribble. 2 or 3 days walking anticipating it as just somewhere to get through.

(Thinking just for a moment about bridging points. They play a leading role in determining my route of course. More about this, ďBridging points I have knownĒ).

Planning then to head out north east and up across the Forest of Bowland. Somewhere hilly that I know nothing about but crossing the flat lands first, three options Iím thinking:

First: and my original vague plan when I set out, make a straight B-line on mainly roads directly to graze Prestonís eastern suburbs, round and up. Shortest and quickest but somehow cynical; making it a chore and road painful on my feet.

Second: Take a route kind of northeast out of Liverpool and across 10 or 15 miles of mainly roads to meet the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Burscough and follow that north and round to the river Ribble and through Preston and on. This again would be a bit of a push out through the city and I donít fancy that, maybe half a day just to reach the suburbs. Out along those endless anonymous Holloway Roads that brought me in through Birkenhead yesterday. The sort you zip or bumper to bumper down in a car and itís just a bit dull. A painful slog to walk them.

Third then: I could walk out following the coast, north out and around to Formby and Southport. I donít know, probably not the most thrilling coast but some footpaths and sand dunes marked on the map. Also it might be an interesting part of town, out along the coast through the old docks. Or perhaps just long straight roads under high walls concealing container depots. Trucks and then miles of bungalows.

Anyway. Coast for a day and a half ish then cut east across from Southport to the bridge on the river Douglas near Tarleton and up round to the Ribble and into Preston as in option two.

This third would be the longest by perhaps half a day or more but Iím erring towards it. Wandering up the coast, re-connecting with the sea, a different kind of coast to Cornwall explore that and always preferable to anonymous suburban countryside.

Iím not in a hurry, more chance of a BnB up the coast if I fancy it. Mud flats, birds, camping in sand dunes. Yup looks like Iíve decided.

Liverpool? Mm, canít really get hold of it. Youth Hostel in a building zone close to Albert Dock and the water front. Big roads and that word again: anonymous. The city centre? No, to be avoided. Beatles yes, Beatles theme park no.

I couldnít get out to explore any further today, feet up first priority. Never been here before, exciting to be here but happy to move on.

Wo, but very excited crossing the Mersey day before yesterday. Just having to tell people what I had done, - what I was doing. Super ego inflation! Feeling very good about it all. So much achieved by getting here and so much more to get into.

 

Monday 6 June

Hereís a day.

Up at 8.00, breakfast in the Liverpool Youth Hostel, pack up and out by quarter to 9.00.


Day 48 Leaving Liverpool.

Goodbye to room mates. A couple of friendly and relaxed guys from Columbia and Spain. Good company with long talks, sharing our stories. They said yes write it all down. ďwrite something to everybody, you have to share you experienceĒ.

Bright sunny morning. Down to the water front and north. Past the Three Graces and on on. Crumbling old docks Beautiful massive warehouses yet to be reconstructed into bijous flat-lets. Finding the anticipated long straight road with a high wall on my left concealing the docks. This opening out to 20 foot fences after 2 or 3 miles to reveal huge mountains of scrap metal. Tonka Toy cranes scooping it up and tossing it into ships.

These bound for India. Crunch up your old car and put it in a ship and send it off to India cos they want it over there, fine.

Standing peering through railings I seemed to arouse curiosity of a couple of characters in a Mercedes. Some kind of dockside Mafiosi, suspicious it seemed of my interest but then offering me the job of driving the crane. I took up the offer and spent the next 6 months living and working in Liverpool, driving a crane and eventually shipping off to India where I retired to spend my days fishing for prawns off the coast off Carrella.

On on , Liverpool becoming Bootle. Steered away from the old docks out onto a dual carriage way to skirt the container port.

Seaforth and at last back to the shore. Long long tarmac path by the ďDanger no bathing dangerous mudĒ beach. Path ending at dunes between Crosby and the Alt estuary at Highton.

Stepping out all this time, high spirits through the morning. Roads and grimy but happy with this, accepting. The thing of walking through what ever comes along.  Contrast, change and seeing it all, time and change. This trip has to be about that; all different kinds of country and why ordinary might not be ordinary.

But very groovy piles of scrap especially the mountains of  enormous compressed cubes.

Round the Alt estuary and a mile and a half of absolute straight path beside the railway line into Formby at about 4 oíclock. No way to follow the coast here due to M.O.D firing range. Rattle and clatter of busy people with guns all the way up there and home time boys on bikes coming the other way.

Formby. Now thereís a place. Just like (on the surface), one of those California towns in films. Maybe Stepford, everything perfect with your little shopping centre. Nicely laid out all very new, plenty of money around must be.

Along streets with big detached houses set back. Neat mown lawns that come out you know, to the side walk then go on another 20 feet to the road. Lovely and smiling happy people cycling with tennis racquets etc.

Such venom! Where did that come from? A lovely place to live Iím sure

and most especially because down to the shore and Formby Point! What a fab place.

Encore:           You know what

Ah hu?

Today has been the biggest surprise

 

Did you get it?

Do you get it?

Ah hu


Formby Point.

Lovely the way the sand dunes have been colonised and grown right over with grass and all kinds of stuff. Rich fauna, Ox-Eye Daisies and Birdsfoot Trefoil and ferny things. Behind this a forest of short pines bordering the dunes, getting into full prostrate mode as it edges forward. Also I did see (hearing first oink oink), a Red Squirrel as I walked in last night, well hello there little fellow.

All this tumbling over to the huge flat pristine beach and big sky.  Delighted at discovery of this spot which will have to be on the list to one day revisit.

Morning time now, a quarter to ten with tent nestled in the sand dunes.

ďDanger private golf courseĒ (!?) Pringle patrol.

Not a cloud. A slow start after 19 Ĺ miles yesterday.

The recipe for today (Jim), along to Southport and across to a camp site.

Mad Wharf, Ainsdale Sands, Birkdale sands and Ocean Plaza.

 

Wednesday 8 June.

Preston Pizza Express.

Comfortable familiarity in an unknown town. Sore feet still with bruised on the sole feeling. 5 minutes walk up the high street from the BnB. Pizza Express down a side street, thatíll do.

A pushing on through flat lands on a hot summer day. Roads and dykes by the Ribble. Walking east in towards Preston this evening on the widest and highest dyke Iíve ever seen. (never been to Dutch polder-land or to New Orleans).

Having no head and to be walking, itís a strange sensation. What I have is a complete nothing void situated up here between and a little above my shoulders; really really nothing but that no-thing void explodes out into everything so in fact every-thing everything is there between my shoulders.

A wide high complete blue ceiling with no limit 180į sitting on the flat horizontal line of the Ribble Estuary flood plane. Grass, cows, fences and a few clumps of trees high tide blue river to the left and this wide plum straight dyke maybe 50 yards wide and 30 feet above the fields and water; my path east in towards Preston. And in this whole exploded everything is also a rhythmical wobbling jongling collection of arms and legs and flappy cotton and nylon and multiple sensations that I seem to have some connection with.

Everything explodes out from where I am supposed to be and what is apparently me explodes out of it as well so where am I?  

Much to ponder.

 
Dyke up to the Ribble.

Through the middle of a Pylon Party. I counted 65 pylons (fully grown), trotting in from all directions, clearly enjoying the bright blue afternoon sky just as I was.

There must one of those miraculous spots where the electric comes bubbling out of the ground. They canít resist to dip there noses in and do that purring with delight.

Sluggish today, without the zip of the last 2 days.

But the decision made in Liverpool to go up the coast rather than straight across to Preston. Oh yes a good decision.

The walk out of Liverpool, discovery of Formby Point walking all morning yesterday bright sun north along enormous (enormous) endless beach towards Southport. Pier and roller-coaster rising a wobbly mirage out of the sand. Blackpool tower and that other hugest roller-coaster off across the flat calm Ribble estuary to the north east. Horses and buggies also, father and son racing up and down the hard smooth sand and for a while I followed a Peregrine. As I approached it would up and fly a hundred yards or so further on and land on the sand or driftwood and again as I caught up. This 4 or 5 times. Tantalising.

Into Southport and suddenly drinking a latte in Cafť Nero under the main drag Victorian colonnades. Another one of those unexpected out of the blue kind of days. Fish and chips accompanied by an ďI did it my wayĒ karaoke star at the foot of Southportís strange no water pier.

Long excited conversation with an ex fireman poet on my way out of town through the suburbs. Keen to hear about my doings and to tell me his stories, recite me his poems and how he got it together to get them published. His advice (accompanied by wild gesticulating): ďif you are going to write about your trip; you have to get into all the emotional stuff, that would be what he would want to read aboutĒ. ďThe ups and downs and struggles and jubilationsĒ. Also a great story of a friend of his who sailed his little boat one day off up to the mouth of the Ribble and out and on until he was in the Caribbean but after a year or two had to come home after getting ill. But with the message of just go off and live your dream.

In fact meetings with several nice people during the last few days out of Liverpool. Seems Iím more noticeable in these non-walkery areas. Folks see me and want to know. ďwhere you going and blimey with that enormous pack?Ē I like it. I like to talk with random people as I cross their turf.

And, here we go; as I tumbled out of the sand dunes down onto the beach at Formby Point yesterday morning and the following item was just there in my hand as if by magic out of the sand. A rusty padlock, completely rusted up, a hefty hunk of rust with the bar frozen for ever open like a closed fist with your index finger lifted and bent.

In my excited imagination this was clear; doors for ever open, nothing ever to be locked up again. Eternal freedom.

(SUI)  but very welcome Marc Bolan

Oh god life is strange

Some are fat and some are thin

Some wonít even tell you where they bin

 

Oh god life is good

Some are fast and some are slow

Some pretend they donít even knowÖ

 

Thursday 9 June.

The thing (a thing), about losing things. From early on I was thinking that at some point I would lose something. Iíd suddenly find that I had parted company. Minor occurrence or larger impact. (disaster?)

Iím carrying approximately 123 items. (This not including food) each with a particular role to play in this smoothly running machine.

Itís gone 10. still light, sunset at 9.30 and I canít find my woolly (fleece in fact) hat come snugly neck. (black tube converted by elastic draw string at one end).

Iíve got 4 hats. (see ďon having 4 hatsĒ section). Each with a different role. Losing one not such a disaster?  Well itís more to do with the being organised and together thing. Robert De Niro in the Deer Hunter not lending his spare boots to his hapless friend thing. Keep your shit together, look after yourself.  Loosing a hat, well systems breaking down Ė something not right.

Actually I lost the pouch for my sun glasses last Friday somewhere along the Wirral coast. So 2 trusted companions gone astray.

Must have left the hat in last nights BnB in Preston. Shameful! You shall not go to the ball.

Does it matter? I can get another one. (And Iíll play for Magdalena as we ride).

Coming home with everything I set out with. Not going to happen. In fact never was, (hair long gone).

ANYWAY!

Camped on a farm just a few miles north east of Preston. Short day, 8Ĺ miles. Tired after excitement, riding a wave of energy and enthusiasm since before Liverpool. On a bit of a come-down from that. Bit of hollow-ness, telling myself thatís how it goes, inevitable swings.

Going through the motions today but lifted a little this evening by an excellent Chilly Moroccan Sausage and Apricot Bulgar Delight with a bunch of crispy fresh radishes. Visit to the excellent Preston indoor market this morning.

56.5į in the tent. A heavy dew, tent quite wet. Another full on deep orange sunset right down to the horizon and the crew mooching across the grass and taking over the trees at the top of the field.

10.48pm and silage making still going. Tractor and trailers back and forth and busy little scoop up machine doing the do in the clamp. Just behind where Iím camped. Almost dark, surely about to stop?

 

Friday 10 June.


Bloke on Beacon Fell.

Sitting on Beacon Fell. 226m perty little country park hill 15 odd miles north east of Preston. Looking north towards the lumpy brown Forest of Bowland. Blindhurst Fell, Fair Snape Fell. Iíll be going over them tomorrow. (Rain forecast). 1.30 in the afternoon and having a very lazy day. Dark clouds looming and muggy. Midges getting  into my ears, might have to move up to a more windy spot.

Thinking about the pulse, the ebb and flow of energy with stages / phases that are evolving as I wander along.

(Try some Ylanylang, see what they think of thatÖ.. no apparent effect, so a chance to practice some kind of tolerance of midges meditation in preparation for Scotland.)

Right on top now. Wind all but gone and more midges here than there were down in the Heather and Bilbery. Swarms Ahh! A taste of things to come.

About having expectations.

This is what the experience is.

Whatever is going on right now. This is what it feels like to be doing this walk. No shoulds although they are often around.

When I canít get into it and thereís an empty flat disinterested feel: thatís as much a part of it as when Iím so excited and stepping out and being the adventure. What is it like to do a long walk? This here now all the time is what itís like.

I had 4 or 5 days full of energy and right inside it. Into and out of Liverpool, open to the wonder and full of surprise. Then it seemed there had to be a reaction to that excitement and I had a flat tired day yesterday. Off the wave.

In this state Iím getting into a negative attitude. Things to come have a different colour and I canít believe Iíll find the energy again.

Find myself worrying that the high spots have already happened. Scotland especially seems more daunting. How will I cope when food is harder to find?

(no more Marks and Spencerís Belgian Chocolate Coated Brazil Nuts).

Do I have the energy for the really wild country?

 

Saturday 11 June

Under siege tonight. 8.30 in tent and zipped up. First serious encounter with Midges.

A nibble of them yesterday and full on this evening. Dense seething swarms that are making this lovely gentle pitter-patter in the tent like misty drizzle. I didnít anticipate this until Scotland but midge net in Hildeberge Acto is doing itís job.

So sitting watching this pleasant evening from inside. Cooking stuff strewn around, nothing put away. Untidy, shocking but I had to get inside to eat, seek refuge double quick. I just managed to cook before swarms arrived, the word got around.

They bite and itís a youtch as they do it but itchy lump not too bad. I was trying to let them do it.

Relax yeah, it tickles, itches but thatís Ok, I can handle that, let them do their thing, lose the fear of it. But NO!

Shoulders hunched up, stop breathing, slap and wriggle, twist and run up the hill.

Zero tolerance.

Mmm? Iíd like a fennel tea and chocolate Hobnob but thatís all outside. Perhaps itíll get really windy in just a little while and theyíll all get blown off to Yorkshire. Midge net and preparations not arriving until the first Scottish parcel in Lochmaben. Naked in the jungle.

ANYWAY.

Camped in a delightful little valley off the top of the high plateaux of the Forest of Bowland. In the trough of Bowland actually. It says on the map. (came down to find water, should have stayed up in the wind).

Walked north today over these wide flat topped hills after a nightís respite. Picked up in the valley below Beacon Fell yesterday afternoon by Joan and Arthur, my parentís in law, fed and watered and looked after at theirís near Blackpool, very nice and delivered back to the same spot this morning.


North from Blindhurst Fell.

Up onto Blindhurst Fell and on to Hawthornthwaite Fell, 12 Ĺ miles. Rich green bilberry, in and out of deep black gullies cut in to the peat. Curlews up and shouting and this evening a hen harrier as I came down into Black Clough.

So the Forest of Bowland. Didnít know anything about, but a richer landscape than I was anticipating. Big views west down to the coast and north to the Cumbrian hills. On the agenda for next week!

(How am I going to do the washing up? Total systems failure. Will they still be there in the morning?)

And thinking about Landscape

Out walking to get absorbed into the landscape; Gently be on the move across it, feel all the connections, just dig it and be a shadow moving across, let it in, touch it, be it.

Itís the shape and texture of the surface of the earth and the experience of being physically present in it. Dwarfed by it always and tuning into that; beneath a hill, gazing out across hills or along a cliff top sea to the left rolling hills to the right.

The experience of cutting across that steep hillside to follow the winding of that gentle valley to dip down into that gully (but what made it cos thereís no stream?). Underneath a hill feel itís size and walk round it and get up on top to get your working body feeling it and check out the shape of these hills and the layout of this part of the world.

Itís all a big maybe Henry Moore so dig it and connect with the emotional and aesthetic reaction itís bringing up. Music captured in stone like a piece of art created with a message and a projection purposeful expression. interact emotionally and cognitively with it and connect with my reaction. Boredom, fascination, disgust, something strange I donít know ooh thatís very groovy. 

These Bowland hills theyíre just so round and soft with flat tops that dip away gradually at first then suddenly quite steep. Convex and then a long gentle concave out to the plane below and folding into bouncy plump gullies. I love that; the different shape and character of all the hills and letting them dictate my route and feeling my response. Sweating and no way Iím going up over there I canít be bothered. 

But flatland to, thereís a strange power being dwarfed on a table top with the sky somehow bigger. The sky and the weather which will change the mood of any sculpture. Being in the weather and feeling what it does to me, it always gets me going in some way.

And itís the geology that puts on this show, marvel at that, the earthís crust, gravity water and time. Put them together and let them get on with it.

Being with trees. Weather geology and people will conjure up the vegetation and thatís such a complicated intricate story. On these islands just knowing; that the whole aspect, the whole appearance and nature of the whatís growing there and why, is a result of people doing the do for so long and making their presence known.

Thereís a story to be told in the corner of every field and the shape of each little copse sitting up there on the side of that hill.

Wander through it. Struggle in a tangled wood, wade through long grass, follow a hedgerow skip across open heather. Theatre, but an interaction; a two way thing not a passive observation.

Water plays such a big part and Iím often drawn to walk along the coast. Feeling that meeting of land and sea, earth and universe and enjoying the particular physical result of the meeting; cliffs and beaches and salt marsh.

Interesting dimension being on the edge of things and neat. You just canít go over that way, path dictated by the boundary. But getting into it if only up to my knees for a shift of perspective and waking up.

Human presence past and present. The weight of history there to be seen and present impact there to be coped with and sometimes enjoyed.

Often walking past or through a graveyard and feeling, knowing that the landscape holds the lives and hopes and everything of generations. Lives lived around here, looking out across that valley.

Put all this stuff together and add the extra delight of all kinds of birds and beasts buzzing around. Go out and get lost in it. Be part of it and this summer out here tracing a path for all this time, I feel how it changes like a long slow piece of musicÖÖ

Out away from fences and restrictive agricultural land, let the landscape take you for a walk, flow with it. Follow the line of natural boundaries and edges, follow the coast or the trees meeting the open heath, let it meander you; A to B not important just see what kind of a journey you have. Get the feel of why the vegetation follows that line, the margin of boggy ground, below the shelter of the hill, igneous on your left sedimentary on your right. Get into the detail, there will always be loads of it and for all the senses breaking on your consciousness, let it all in.

Follow contours round the hills in and out of gullies across steep slopes and out onto terraces. The right to roam.

Throw all that and follow a straight transect compass bearing and cut across, let it all go through you. Play time.


Bowland Curves.


Falling In love with Sphagnum.

 

Sunday 12 June

Another midge party. Got the measure of these guys though, treat them like rain, get inside and do the do.

Second day going over Bowland and discovering these hills. Big and round and actually making me work quite hard.

Enormous sponges with a fantastic variety of flora. A rich carpet for walking over. Iím colour blind so if I wax about the colour of things just go yeah yeah like Vivienne does. But the luminous green of the bilberry against the darker green of the heather and the dancing white bog cotton flags. Trees, birch and oak nestling in the steep valleys. All very entertaining. Gulls and curlews non stop today and the treat also of a swirling rookery.

Keeping in tune with maps and compass. Concentrating, with an eye on the weather. The promise of rain so needing to know where I was heading.

Large scale, taking wide sweeps around the top of water courses. Surprisingly steep off the top into the valleys that slice into the cake, adding that contrast to the overall wide open gentleness. Great hills and only 2 other walkers all day on a Sunday in June.

Over the top of Mallowdale Fell and suddenly thereís the north country spread out ahead. The Yorkshire Dales, big lumps out to the north east, the Lake District hills to the north west being doused. Weather that reached me about 3.00 horizontal hail and chilly, feeling safe and under control though. Down off the top and into the Roeburn valley. Lush and green and dripping sunny again by evening glimpsed through midge swarms and zipped up tent.

A shot today of the big country to come, grander scale. Getting into wide open spaces and mountain ranges.

 

Monday 13 June

In the mood at the moment to record every day. Around half way and wanting to get hold of it all. Sense of every step being sacred. Feel of it slipping away.

Coming down of the Bowland hills and looking back to say goodbye. A passing on ritual; a bow and a wave and a sincere message of thanks somehow keeps hold of them and at the same time allows me to face forwards and move on.

Hills hidden today though; heavy grey swirling cloud, stormy weather.

Walking by 8.00, Earliest start out of the tent yet. Driven into action by midges still there. Thinking Iíd also get going early to ensure easy link to the next parcel pickup point. Burton-in-Kindal to be there before 5.00 and post office closing.

So out through the Roeburn valley. Dense mossy woods and rushing rocky river. I lost the path and ended up bush-waking. Steep cut valley ferny and I think a Black Redstart darting upstream above the rapids.

I go out walking in the morning

Satisfy my soul

I go out walking in the morning

Satisfy my soul

Coming round the evening lord

Know just where to go

 

I go out walking in the morning

Walking aaaaall through the day

I go out walking in the morning

Walking aaaaaaaall through the day

Coming round the evening lord

Gone put my walk awayÖ.

(Got John Lee Hooker along for this one or Muddy Waters with me on harmonica)

Down to Wray by 9.45. out across rolling farmland stormy wind and rain. Up and down to Burton and on another couple of miles for a room in a Pub in Hale, 16 miles.

Walking into Burton along a narrow path between high hedges and suddenly there at my feet are 4 perfect little 50p sized wren chicks, sitting there looking up at me. Oh goodness whatís this! ďZip Zip!Ē and mother in the hedge. I dodge around and get out the way sharp-ish. Bit scared of mum, but what a cutie little sight!

Six weeks ago exactly; on the Monday I was walking into Bridgwater, I was the heroic saviour of a lamb that was stuck in a drain culvert. I risked the stinging nettles to climb down and grab a handful of wool, lift it and toss it out. Today I had to walk away from a lamb flat out not long for this world. All alone on the top of a wet and windy hill pneumonia I guess making feeble attempts to bleat as I stood over it. No where near a farm, nothing I could do?

Walking into the Lakes tomorrow. How can that be? How did I get here? And till the end of my days I can quip; ďThe Lake District for the weekend? yeah itís not so far, you can walk there in 8 weeksĒ.

 

Tuesday 14 June

Mid morning still lying on the bed in my Pub BnB room.

Plan. To do just a short day today, over to Arnside then across the sands tomorrow.

Thinking about tiredness and managing energy.

Iíve found that I can keep going when Iím feeling knackered, walk myself into the ground but not really notice it until I stop. More than a nightís rest and I can hardly move.

15 miles a day, breaking no records but about Ĺ way up now and covering the ground. I know I can do it, Iíve done all this. 8 weeks out 600 miles, I must have a system that works, found that rhythm.

If I wasnít looking after myself and managing things Iíd be getting into trouble, making more mistakes, falling over perhaps, developing injuries and feeling fed up.

Instead Iím moving along and feeling good inside the slow fluctuations in energy levels and enthusiasm. So something about listening to when I need to rest and to what my bodyís telling me. Taking rest days once a week or so or doing short days, pacing myself. Averaging less than 15 miles a day at the moment. Marathon walking this is not but never had that intention. Just to be out here a wanderdoodling all summer. No deeds to do no promises to keep.

But Iíve been so exhausted.

One evening on Offaís Dyke. The day out of Monmouth so fourth after a rest day, I seemed to lose the power of thought. (melodrama).

I managed to cook and eat but then found I couldnít hold thoughts in my head. Sitting in Llangoed church yard at dusk hardly able to move and going round in circles and trying to work out what it was Iíd been thinking about, like not understanding the language of my thoughts. Treacle. Then having a strange blip or zone of distortion spend half an hour working itís way across the vision of my left eye like when you press and run your finger over a lap top screen.

And where on earth did this one come from? Neil Diamond, what a great song. (SUI)

Cracklin Rosie get on board

We gonna ride till there ainít no more to go

Takin it slow

We gonna go

Tell me a lie Iím gonna ask no questions,    Na na na na na na na Ö.

PM now and Iíve come over to Arnside. Lovely walk, Slack Head, Fairy Steps and Hazel Slack. Up through a dripping wet fairy woodland of yew and oak amongst rocky outcrops and cliffs, suddenly coming out onto limestone pavement. Clink and Groik country above the Fairy Steps. Deep deep cracks with young trees sprouting out. yew, hazel, silver birch, rowan; new to me limestone pavement being colonised by trees like that. A wood actually, growing on solid rock with a path; the Limestone Trail winding through, treacherous and slippery in the rain.


Limestone Pavement on the Fairy Steps.

 
On into Arnside.

On  down through woods and very neat farms into Arnside with the plan to check out the Youth Hostel, have this short day for a rest. Youth Hostel full with a school party so booked into another BnB on the water front.

Advice down here that the treacherous Morecambe sands are best avoided even in this narrow spot, Ĺ a mile odd across here at the Kent river mouth.

The Youth Hostel man gave me the number of Cedric Robinson, local sand pilot. I umíd and ahíd for a while then phoned him. Spoke to his Mrs (I assumed) who explained that he wouldnít be able to take me over till the weekend when I could join a group he was guiding. A busy man out everyday walking the sands, must get lots of folk like me expecting him the drop everything and rush to their aid. Embarrassed to phone really but I was intrigued by the idea of being guided out across the wide open Morecombe Bay, over to the Lakes. Itís not going to happen so disappointing.

But in the spirit of compromise Iíve decided to take the train. 5 minutes over to Grange-Over-Sands. I donít fancy the idea of the walk up the road to the A6 bridge.

So cheating? But probably Iíll end up walking further so thatís my justification (to myself).

Once again feeling daunted by getting into the mountains. Pack up to full weight again with the new food parcel.  Itís cold; I want to wander in the sunshine, not keep going through rain all day just to stay warm and then dive into the tent with all my clothes on in the evening.

So come on! Iím waiting to frolic through summer days 

< Previous          Next >

    

© Copyright Walking Places 2006