Hats off to our fellow hikers

Hats off to our fellow hikers

It’s interesting what you learn about your fellow hikers as you pass them and are passed by them over the days. Sometimes these short exchanges by the trail are filled out by longer conversations over a meal in the pub or a breakfast at a shared B&B. There are so many people out on the C2C this time compared to the two previous journeys when we walked early in the season and often had the trail to ourselves. So, it’s been unusually and unexpectedly social. We’re quite solitary walkers so this has taken a bit of getting used to. Fortunately people mostly follow the rule that you walk separately, at your own pace and in your own space; socialising is saved for the evening wind-down and post-mortem over a small libation (a pint of Timothy Taylor, when available, for Himself while I partake of a wee half of some light and refreshing lager).

Walking styles vary, but in couples the men are usually out in front. Also true of us as Jim maintains age-defying speed while I have to pace myself slowly, urging some of the more recalcitrant organs to do their stuff. I have no idea if other women walkers are similarly afflicted by ‘long-term conditions’, which is my excuse for being the back marker, but you can see this pattern repeated in other couples: he’s out front pace-setting, usually doing the map-reading and clutching the trail guide while she’s bringing up the rear. Makes you wonder about nature and nurture, about gender and ageing, about roles….

We encountered two of the Canadian contingent again today and I finally put a name to Mr Debbie…. Garry and Debbie, stoic, steady walkers whose commitment we had doubted early on when Debbie seemed very anxious and we had tried to reassure. We could not have been more wrong. Her vertigo notwithstanding, they’re in for the long haul and are now nearing the end of the journey. In just a couple of days they (and we) will be strolling along the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay. Hats off – how someone with even the tinies touch of vertigo does some of this trail defeats me. There’s brave. And what a thrill to hear how much they are enjoying themselves.

What you hear from others, too, is stories of how the C2C journey is affecting them. You hear them say how long ago it seems since we started out on this walk. It’s two weeks that seems like an age because time changes when you take life at walking pace. You hear them say how much they will miss the routine of each day, the walking from A to B, the intensity of the journey and the incredible intimacy you have with your ‘self’. It’s such a journey of body and mind – their strengths and weaknesses are put to the test.