I couldn't decide whether I wanted to do another long walk or not. The best way to work out what to do for the best in any situation is to note down all the for's and againsts, then make a final decision, so I asked myself these questions....
(1) Do I really want to trek mile after mile, carrying a heavy rucksack, through wind and rain, hoping that the sun may shine on me and brighten my day?
(2) Do I really want to be looking for a place to sleep each night, knowing that I may have to keep walking mile after mile untill I find one?
(3) Do I really want to wear the same clothes for a week or more because I don't have enough room in my rucksack to carry more?
(4) Do I really want to have to piddle behind hedges every day because there are no ladies facilities in the middle of the countryside?
(5) Do I really want to search for a shop to buy food every day because I can't afford the time or the money to sit down in a cafe or restaurant to eat?
(6) Do I really want to make an early start every day because I may need to walk twelve hours or more to cover the distance?
(7) Do I really want to put myself through all this?
These are my answers......
(1) I enjoy walking and before you know it the miles soon rack up. You can cover quite long distances without even noticing because looking at the surrounding countryside is a great therapeutic distraction to the tiredness you may feel. The wind and rain are part of the challenge, changeable weather presents opportunities to divert from the original route, low level walking is more sheltered than battling over blustery hills. Sunny conditions may be more enjoyable the higher you go, and gives better views.
(2) I enjoy the total freedom of setting off each morning not knowing where I am going to end up each night. To be completely alone and relying on ones own intuition and wits to get the job done. There is no one to show you the way, the piece of paper in your hand is the only guide you need. When it's time to stop walking and find a bed, I ask a stranger where to look. There could be a place close by or I may have to walk further, that's the name of the game.
(3) Every day I get a bit sweatier. I shower each night when I reach a B & B and hang my clothes up to air while I sleep. I take one extra pair of lightweight trousers and one teeshirt, just in case I find myself in someones company after the days walk. When I am out walking I don't care what I smell like or look like.
(4) Piddling behind hedges has been an activity I have been practicing for years as a lorry driver, There are no toilets in laybys. Just get on with it and watch which way the wind is blowing, ha ha.
(5) Eating small amounts and more often is my normal way of eating, except when I have a big plate of veg, which goes through quite quickly. I can't be doing with platefulls of stodge. I do miss my veg though while I am away, but it's only 9 or 10 days, no big deal to make a few changes in the diet as long as it is good wholesome food.
(6) Yes, I love getting up early, I am not a wallowing in bed type of person. I wake up each morning with a fresh new vigour, every day is a fresh new start and I look forward to new challenges.
(7) Yes, I have just talked myself into it, ha ha. Stepping outside my comfort zone is not something that worries me, as long as it is a challenge I am fairly confident about completing. I could possibly go for the big one, walking end to end as they call it, top to bottom, but I don't want to set myself up for failure. I believe if you have a mountain to climb, and that mountain could be anything in your life, it's best to chip away at it bit by bit. Any goal you have in life, any task you set yourself, need not be smashed down in one go. The way forward is small steps, with each stage resulting in a mini success. Confidence boosting is what I aim for. This in turn spurs me on to the next challenge and the next. I don't ever aim to stand still. My last walk was 162 miles, I shall be disappointed if I dont reach that this time, so I am going to try my best to beat it. That's all I can do, my best.
I am used to this kind of gypsy lifestyle, wandering from place to place, what's the alternative, sit around, don't go anywhere, and do nothing? Or maybe book a package tour and be ferried round the country on a bus. Or sit on a train. Or have a lazy relaxing holiday reading a book on the beach? No no no, I would be bored out of my brain. So the planning begins. I have already made a first and second draft of the route. Laid the maps out on the floor.
Next I will print out the sections of maps I need to take with me, cellotaping them together in groups of four. Then I will mark out the proposed route with a coloured marker pen. This will definately change as I go off route many times. As I walk I will mark the actual route with a different coloured marker, then when I get back I will be able to work out the exact mileage on the web site www.bikehike.co.uk , and keep my fingers crossed that I have done enough.
I've told you about my next challenge, now what about yours? What's giving you a buzz at the moment?