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Hiking England's Coast to Coast Way: Landscape, Laughter and Love

Hiking England's Coast to Coast Way: Landscape, Laughter and Love

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Hiking England's Coast to Coast Way: Landscape, Laughter and Love

Longitud:
74 página
1 hora
Editorial:
Publicado:
Sep 19, 2013
ISBN:
9781483508580
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Walk with me across England’s lovely Coast to Coast Way. Experience the satisfaction of leaving the Irish Sea and in less than two weeks’ reaching the North Sea, having walked across mountains and valleys, rich agricultural pasture, dales, upland moors and fells.
Get acquainted with the gently humorous characters who share the journey, and notice how this simple act of putting one blistered foot in front of another can change your life.
Editorial:
Publicado:
Sep 19, 2013
ISBN:
9781483508580
Formato:
Libro

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Hiking England's Coast to Coast Way - Jean Goulden

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Chapter 1

In the Beginning

To pickpocket Dickens, it was a beginning; it was an ending. One August, Chris and I joined ten other mis-assorted people and a guide, to walk the Coast to Coast Way. This is a walk devised by British hiking legend, Alfred Wainwright, across the north of England from St. Bees on the west coast to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east. By walk, there is a little element of British understatement here: this is no meander along reticent hedgerows or a bucolic ramble across fields of wildflowers; it’s hard walking, often over very challenging terrain.

By some celestial coincidence, the stars for a dozen people had aligned; our lives would focus on this endeavor for a brief spell, before scattering across the globe.

It was the end of a lifetime of unplanned preparation. It was the beginning of a one hundred and ninety-two mile journey that ended in the North Sea, and also led us all to who knows where. Some fates or forces had molded us into the kind of people who would attempt the Coast to Coast. Some planetary congruence, some elemental finger had prodded, beckoned, tugged us toward this journey, simple and yet profound. Or perhaps, I romanticize, we met, when otherwise we would not have done, we walked, and then we parted.

We greeted our fellow travelers one evening at a Bed and Breakfast in St. Bees. We sized each other up—an odd lot, unremarkable in many ways. No Olympians or superheroes, just a bunch of tough folk, mostly peering at the wrong side of middle in middle age. No one said a great deal during that first anticipatory meal. We digested each other as we digested the Cumberland sausage. Like it, we were plain, yet spiced. Spiced with determination, apprehension, courage, awe, and fear. We were three men and nine women, (plus Pete, our guide), and we hailed from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Australia and the United States. Walking the Coast to Coast is not like scaling the Himalayas, but for most ordinary people nor is it something you do on a wing and a prayer; it is a response, a debt of gratitude that you choose to pay for getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other. Most of us, perhaps all, had already come a long way.

For me, as I suspect for many, it had all started years ago. Almost imperceptibly the hiking seed had been planted that one day would twine into the vine of this new adventure. Perhaps it was the day my dad had taken us for a little walk. We were on a caravan holiday in the Lake District. I was perhaps ten years old. The day dawned like a picture postcard, a blue sky decorated with Constable clouds (as so often painted by the late 18th century British landscape artist) and strung with birdsong. My dad led us on a path that wound slowly up a hillside. At first, the unaccustomed effort of it winded me, but after a while, the challenge of it excited me. I could go higher and higher. We walked for a long time on what seemed like a carnival day. Troupes of other walkers shared the paths with us, cheerily greeting one another in the uninhibited way of outdoors folk. The air vibrated as birds chirped, insects hummed, and languid sheep called each other without alarm. The grass was vivid green, the flowers streaks of sunlit yellow and laundry bright. All was very well with the world. Occasionally, we paused and debated whether to press on or turn back. I urged us higher, higher, yet higher until, at long last, to my mother’s shocked surprise, we came to Striding Edge, the knife-edge path that leads to Helvellyn, the Lake District’s highest peak. My dad delighted in regaling us with stories of hikers who had mis-stepped here and slithered to an untimely end. My mother quailed, but before very long we had somehow reached the summit and felt like conquerors of all we could see. It was my first taste of the thrill of hiking achievement: the endorphin rush, the wind in my hair, the glow of health, the endless possibilities. It was wonderfully heady stuff. It felt like clear, dewdrop joy.

We were utterly unprepared to climb Helvellyn, carrying, as I recall, neither food, nor water, map, nor compass. By all the lore and legend of hiking, we should have been in peril, but our luck held. The weather remained perfect; we were safe, our limbs ached but did not twist, sprain or break, and we even found a happy café in the late afternoon after our descent, that served us tea and bacon sandwiches. Ambrosia of the gods!

And so, in quite the wrong way, my love of hiking was spawned. Maybe it was inevitable. Fated. Programmed in the genes. Who knows what is predestined or the outcome of a string of inconsequential choices? I was raised in the curdling milk and gritty honey of industrial Yorkshire, but as I learned later, my predecessors had escaped the mills and the mines whenever they could to walk the fells and dales. They had courted with the open spaces, the whipping winds, the soft breezes—as they courted one another. Men who had returned from the insanity and gash

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