As we walked into Lothersdale on 25 May last year, we met two men standing at a gate, staring out over the field we had just crossed. As we approached they asked if we had seen the chap for whom they were waiting. They then explained that he was in the process of walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. “That’s a coincidence” we said…
Having given us the tip-off that they would be in the Fox & Hounds in about an hour’s time, we installed the tent in someone’s back garden, had the cup of tea offered by the house owner, and then hot-footed it to the pub to meet this chap.
And that was how we came to know Doug, the fourth end-to-ender we encountered during our journey. We continued to meet him on a daily basis until just after Haltwhistle, where Doug carried on northwards, and we stopped for a day.
Fast forward a year and a bit, and a few weeks ago I learnt that Doug had moved to Barmouth, but what I didn’t do was find out to where exactly.
On Saturday just gone, we found ourselves in Barmouth and having visited my father’s tree we were making our way back down into the town. There are any number of routes down The Rock, but we were gasping for a cup of tea, so we took the ‘top road’ – the most direct route to the Milk Bar.
As we approached habitation, near the bottom of the ‘top road’ I again wondered out loud where it might be that Doug lives and kicked myself for not having dropped him an email to let him know of our planned trip there. Mick asked whether I had his phone number, but I didn’t, and onwards down the hill we went.
(you can see where this is going, can’t you?)
Not three paces later I looked to my left and there, literally within spitting distance (not that I tested that out), was Doug, with just his head poking over his garden gate, which he was just in the process of repairing. It took him a few moments to place me (understandable as I had a beanie and wrap-around sunnies on at the time), and it took Mick a few moments to realise that I had stopped and to return to where I was standing.
A very pleasant couple of hours were spent chatting with Doug and his wife, and drinking in the fantastic views that they have from their most-lovely house.
It really was one of those spooky coincidences (we could have taken a different route down the hill, Doug could have chosen that moment to bend down to pick up his hammer), but it was great to get the opportunity to catch up with him and to meet his wife.
(At this point I would post a photo of Doug, taken on our walk last year, except that in our complete failure to take a sensible number of photos during that walk we didn’t take any photos of all of those people we met, who made the walk so memorable – hopefully it will be a lesson learnt for next year.)