Walking across England – again

Walking across England – again

Back at St Bee’s. Back again at the start of the famous walk across England, the Coast to Coast (aka C2C or even 2C2 which, if you say it out loud and quickly, trips nicely off the tongue). This is our fourth time. I love it and keep wanting to come back; Jim says he’s still making up his mind. In the past I’ve been blithely convinced he’s teasing but now I’m starting to wonder if I could be wrong. Like me, he’s sounding unsure. This year, in a very big departure for us, we’re walking with friends. We met Liam and Jilly on Day 1 last year and a friendship flourished. They too have been entranced by the C2C/2C2 journey and are mad enough to give it another go. So, we thought, let’s do it together.

Even without the novelty of having hiking company this year it would be different. It’s a different walk each time though you start and finish in exactly the same places and, broadly, cover the same ground. There are small, obvious shifts. You make overnight stops at different points, altering the pattern of the days. The weather is better or worse; the hedgerows are fuller; the wild flowers more abundant; the beds more comfy or the breakfasts more fully English! But mostly the difference is that each year you bring a different ‘you’ to struggle across the hills and stride through the valleys. The inner journey is the unpredictable part, the mood music that accompanies the days of trudging and grunting and aching and puffing and soaking in hot baths when you can give yourself over to wondering where it was that you mislaid your saner self. This year I feel more anxious about the challenge, physically so ill-prepared and emotionally much less confident. My mind has been full of other things, of caring for Mum through strange, sad, difficult days. So I don’t know how my mood music will play these next 15 days nor how my mind and body will respond to the demands and the delights of this adventure. I am, though, an optimist.

I’m writing this from a humble room in the Seacote Hotel hard by the coast where strong westerlies will bring heavy rain tomorrow. Uff! But that weather has not yet arrived and now, if I lift my head from the iPad screen to look out the window, I see a narrow sandy path that leads up to the clifftop. The path is not that steep and the cliff not that high. It looks ridiculously easy, a gentle climb to the brow …. and then the path disappears on its, on our 196-mile journey.

I’ll keep you posted.