11 Jun Journey’s End
Reaching the end of the C2C you feel relieved and bereft all at once; a strange mingling of mirth and melancholy. A bit like finishing a really long novel that’s engrossed you completely, you close the book and feel a sense of loss. It’s been a part of your life and now it’s over. So finishing the C2C is both climax and anti-climax; all you do afterwards is go home. It’s the doing that’s the buzz, a doing that has been so utterly absorbing that you are sad to let it go.
I have conjectured in other musings from the trail that doing a walk like this makes time take on a different quality. The world at walking pace is a different place. It’s also the simplicity of a life where your daily task is to get from A to B; there are no complications to confound you, no competing priorities or demands, no needs other than some food and a place to sleep at night. There is just walking. Walking, together with seeing and being. It’s a routine, a routine made magical by the sublime beauty of the landscape, elevated by the challenge and effort, especially in the first few days, and enhanced by the spirit shared with other walkers.
The Coast to Coast is a journey through geography and history. You are never in any doubt about that throughout the whole 200 miles. And because walking is slow, compared to all other forms of transport, you have the time as you go to look with care at what you see, to contemplate the span of time laid out before you and ponder what has changed and what has remained untouched. We passed through landscapes that seemed to be empty but never are: there is always something happening in nature and often there’s the evidence of man’s impact now or in the past.
As well as a passion for walking and a love of the beautiful British landscape, Jim and I both love the particular challenge that a long walk like this entails: the daily routines; the sense of achievement at the end of a long day; the response to the unexpected; the succession of cheese and tomato sandwiches! It’s quite a thing spending every moment of every day for 16 days with one person, whether or not you’re married to them. It’s more than just ‘getting along together’. It’s about the conversations and the silences, the togetherness and the aloneness that such long days of walking involve.
The Coast to Coast is also a journey into yourself; for all we did it together, you are also doing it alone, dealing with your own demons and doubts. This was our third C2C. It was harder than I remembered; maybe, because of that, it was more satisfying; it was definitely more joyous. It’s also addictive. Third time yes, but perhaps not the last….