The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Why Walk From Land's End to John O'Groats?

The question that Alan Sloman had for me when I met him during his big walk was ‘why?’. An obvious question: ‘why are you going to spend three months walking the length of Britain?’.

It turned out to be a very difficult question to answer. I can say what led us to make the decision to do the walk. I can say what prompted doing it next year. But other than a flippant ‘because I can’t think of a better way to spend three months’, I don’t have a good answer to the ‘why’.

How the plan came about
Two or three years ago (time flies so fast, it may even have been four), the concept of long distance walks was almost alien to me (obviously, I’d heard of people walking LEJOG, but I didn’t think that it was the sort of thing that Ordinary People would do). The notion of me spending months completing a single walk had never even entered my head.

My first awareness of the formal long distance trails came by reading an article about the Appalachian Trail in a book (The Winding Trail) which fell into my hands. It was a single article and was scant on detail, so whilst being interesting, it didn’t make me leap to thinking ‘I could do that’.

Then, thanks to Podcast Bob’s Podcasts, one of Chris Townsend’s ‘Handbooks’ and other articles that I read, I came to know a lot more about the American three – and the idea of undertaking such a long walk really appealed to me.

The only problem that made turning an idea into reality was the ‘America’ bit, which presented me with three problems: 1) trying to arrange the logistics of a walk on a different continent was just too daunting to contemplate – way out of my comfort zone; 2) there are bears and cougars and snakes and other things that may kill you in America – a scary thought for a worrier like me; and 3) the USA does have a little bit of a reputation for being a dangerous place - the thought of having to hitch a ride into towns for re-supply was again a step too far.

Maybe one day I will become a brave person who isn’t daunted by all of these things, but that day seems a long way off.

Then one day (and I can’t recall how it came to pass), I Googled ‘LEJOG Walk’. Suddenly I had realised that I could do a long walk in this country, where logistics, re-supply and wild animals are not so daunting.

The Google results led me to a few diaries of people who had taken on the challenge. By the time I had read the first one I was absolutely certain that this was something that I could do and that I wanted to do.

Fortunately, Husband was just as taken with the idea (big sigh of relief: could have been a bit awkward otherwise!)

The LEJOG plan was born.

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