I’ve written about our walk along St. Cuthbert’s Way and how we all got on, but I’m going to have a self-indulgent post which is just about me. I like a little introspection and, frankly, posts about me are my very favourite.
For anyone wanting a moderately challenging, but not excessively difficult, long distance trail then this is one to seriously consider. It’s not technically difficult either in terms of the ascent or the navigation, with accommodation at what are pretty pre-defined points along the walk being relatively easy to find. One of the most interesting aspects has to be that it’s a pilgrimage route which ends at the beautiful Holy Island, so there’s certainly no anti-climax when finishing this walk.
I didn’t walk this as a private pilgrimage (it would have been hard to, with Gordon falling over and yelping at regular intervals), but there are reminders of the Christian heritage of this part of the country all along the route, not just at the end on Holy Island itself. However, it’s hard not to think of those pilgrims who have walked routes like this towards Holy Island for centuries and I like having that connection with the past. Pilgrimage routes have become increasingly common recently and there are numerous ones being established in the UK, it’s a shame perhaps that the tradition died out following the Reformation.
We had one member of our group who had to withdraw at the last moment and we were very sad that Bev couldn’t make it. Not least as she would have kept Gordon under control if nothing else, although she’s perhaps quite a bad influence on some of us. But she was there in spirit, so very much there (and we kept in touch with her throughout so we could pass on her rude messages about Gordon to him). Other people were there in spirit as well and we were keeping them in mind, such is the indulgence that you’re allowed to lavish on others when you’re on a long walk and have lots of time to think. I can think of a few friends who are suffering physically and mentally at the moment, I hope they can fight their battles with the courage that I know they all can.
It looks like the world is slowly, but surely, opening up again, although goodness knows what challenges lie ahead for the world. It will hopefully mean that international travel can resume soon enough, not least as I have a flight to Gdansk with British Airways in a few weeks that I’m still planning to go on if I can. But this trip has been a reminder of how much more there is for me to explore within the UK, with so many remote villages and towns.
There is an element of starting off on one of these trails with the end seeming so very far away, with every step seeming almost irrelevant in the journey of getting there. At the bottom of the Cheviot mountain range (apparently they’re hills, but I’m redefining them for my needs) it seemed that there would be a lot of difficult steps to get to the top. But, stopping to enjoy the view, carrying on with the journey however slowly is all there perhaps as a metaphor for life. Sometimes there are great prizes over the top of the mountains, it just takes a big effort to get over them. Sometimes the path isn’t always clear and choices have to be made which seem unpalatable (like the decision to walk up a mountain) but the fight is worth it.
We didn’t see that many people on the walk which means that anyone wanting to walk alone and meet people en route are going to be mostly limited to finding that company in the pubs and cafes in the evening. This is a trail which can really only be walked in one direction, as few people are going to start on Holy Island and walk back to Tweedbank. For those who like their long distance paths quite solitary in terms of meeting others, they are unlikely to be disappointed here.
Being a little less prosaic, for those who like craft beer, they’re going to struggle a little en route, although the welcome that we received in bars, cafes and restaurants was always friendly. As an aside, there was a stand-out restaurant during our journey, which was the Milan Restaurant in Wooler, and I’d happily go back there again for one of their calzones. But I digress, as these journeys can’t always be all about the food and drink.
Anyway, these long distance trails walked with friends can be calming, exciting and give time to pause for thought. For those who fancy a little adventure, head on out there as there are experiences to be had everywhere and stories to be told. And you don’t have to be like Dave Morgan and find the biggest hill you can find and march up it, there’s a lot to be said for the flat as well. Sometimes it’s right to take things easy 🙂