This is a post written on the train as I head to Poole to start “the big one” – the South West Coast Path. 600+ miles of plodding.
I’m doing it in 2 sections due to Covid replanning. Part 1 – Poole to Plymouth over 3 weeks, clockwise. Note to self – keep the sea on the left. Part 2 – Minehead to Plymouth over 5 weeks, anti-clockwise. Note to self – keep the sea on the right.
Whilst I think about what’s ahead of me, and whether I’ve managed to make my pack light enough, I thought I’d try and explain (perhaps remind myself?!) why I’m doing it.
I left a good job in a team I loved working with. Agonised over that for a few months. Hard decision to make.
But the location was a problem. 2-4 nights a week in hotels 220 miles from home for several years had lost its allure! Easy decision.
Plus – It’s ten years since I had a proper ‘adventure’. I’m not getting any younger and I don’t think my knees will be up to this by the time I can retire. Easy decision.
In short I decided that there will be another job, and I hope I’m lucky enough to find another good one as well. But – I’m not gonna regret a year spent walking on the byways, bridleways and footpaths of the UK when I look back on life.
The plan for a full-year-off, walking as many trails as possible came when the idea to do the SWCP or bust stuck with me after a couple of pints of mind altering 8% Blueberry Waffle Breakfast Stout and a bad slice of reheated pizza. I mean if you need 8 weeks off work to do just one walk, you may as well have 52 weeks off and try to do them all! The seed was planted.
The UK to Oz “big trip” I did in 2010 was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m hoping (am confident…) I’ll feel the same about 2020.
I’m probably not going to remember too many business meetings on my death bed. Not even the really good ones where I scored the Jammy Dodger from the biscuit tray by getting there early. You snooze you lose.
But still – a very big decision with very big consequences if finding work (in a likely Covid/Brexit recession?!) is in itself hard graft.
Learning from my experience post 2010 (when I’d started this blog originally*) tells me that experiences are as important as anything else when job hunting. And so, in the end it was an Easy Decision to take. And I’m backing myself to find something to do work wise when I need to.
Back to my death-bed for a moment. It better have one of those TV’s that rise up from the floor like in MTV Cribs, and it also needs to jiggle mechanically for relaxation like the one in Trains / Planes / Automobiles, otherwise it’s not a very good place to die in my opinion. I hope I’m not mis- remembering that bed jiggling device, I’m sure it was in that Candy-classic, I’ll find a link!
In between asking Nurse for more jelly and plumper pillows I *may* just about remember a perfect sunrise over Durdle Door, a sunset at West Shag, or an ice cream at Splatcove Point. I chose these place names from the map at random knowing nothing of the south coast. They could all be terrible places blighted by eyesores, canibalistic seagulls and chemical factories, for all I know, but I suspect not.
Kermode (from the films show on the radio) has a saying which can equally be applied to blockbuster movies and time off work with all the accompanying life concerns – “it’ll all be all right in the end, and if it isn’t all right, then it’s not the end”. Sound advice and it’ll do for me. With that in mind I can focus on what I love….
The Walking. Can’t explain it but the slow plod plod plod is what I need. Ever changing views of the countryside feed me like chips and gravy. Long multi day walks are the best of all. Lots of them linked together even better. Seeing stuff in the distance and walking towards it** is heaven.
So – here we go, the longest multi day walk I’ve ever tried and I can’t wait to get going. I follow people on Twitter doing longer, more dangerous, more unusual, harder hikes and am in awe of them. I’ll post links when I remember. Amazing people doing truly amazing things, not just plodding between National Trail Acorns like me! I’ll be slow but steady and be happy if I get to the end of what will be a challenge big enough for me.
I was trying to think of a suitable lyric / song to quote as I head off. But most with the word walk / road / trail / footsteps etc would be unbearably cheesy. I could have gone for ‘Walk On’ by Jimmy Barnes for the killer vocal delivery. I could have chosen ‘Walk Away’ by Funeral For A Friend for the feels. In the end the Twinnys have given me a tune that sums up my mood today, and it just cheesy enough without going totally Camembert…
“When you said you would travel the world
I never knew you would make it so real
Coast to coast like I’m chasing the sun
You need to know that this is the deal”
“You need to live in the moment
Instead of hoping
Your future is waiting for you
And know that someday
The things you’re wanting
Are your actions that echo from you”
Absolute Banger. Newly added to the Plodding Playlist. This should be a link to the tune!
* – this “blog”, is basically an online travel diary for me which I’m am undeniably terrible at keeping up to date. I have no aspirations for it to be successful beyond tickling my memory when it eventually needs a nudge. I’m happy with zero page views, but if you’re reading this I hope it raises an occasional smile. My blog isn’t one of those helpful ones with detailed descriptions of each leg of a walk, informative kit reviews and recommendations for newbie walkers**, or otherwise helpful advice. Sorry about that if you’re looking for tips for your own big walks. The most you’ll find here is my daily route info and the occasional rant. Neither of which are very helpful! I do occasionally mention a pub / hotel / campsite if it’s good. I’ll never mention them if they’re bad. Caveat Emptor!
**having just said this is not the place for newbie advice I will just offer 2 pieces. Firstly look for the most distant / steepest hill in front of you. That’s the one you’re walking up. Navigation 101. Secondly, it is almost always a false summit, so don’t get your hopes up.