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  • dave7057


A few years ago we won an Aston Martin DB9.

I say won. It was the use of a DB9 for a few days off the back of a charity auction, when myself and Rebecca, my other half, got into a bout of drunken one-upmanship that ended with us having to dig deep after bravado and alcohol trumped the size of our wallets.

A week later we picked up the keys to our car and were told the ground rules: treat it right; watch the fuel; and "don't do anything crazy with it - like drive to John o' Groats".

Oops. It was almost as if the car's owner had read our minds... So we thanked him, got settled into the deep leather seats and fired up its engines for one of the least fuel-efficient journeys of my life.

Over the next 12 days we clocked up 2,000+ miles, driving from Penzance to John o' Groats, then back down the west coast of Scotland. It was a fantastic trip and it sewed a few seeds in my imagination.

Wouldn't it be great one day to do the same journey slowly, I thought. To walk it on footpaths and tracks and canal towpaths. To watch the countryside change and the counties slip by. To pace through rain and sun and winds as spring became summer.

I started walking more.

I completed all 214 Lakeland 'Wainwright' fells in 2014 (on Bowfell - pictured below from Crinkle Crags). When they were done I started exploring Lakeland outliers; neglected fells and quiet valleys that tourists bypass.

While I walked, my thoughts kept returning to the idea of that Big Walk. One that would take months, rather than hours. A proper journey. A walk that would test me. That would be the kind of achievement I could look back on and smile (or weep, depending on how successful it was!).

When work gave me an opportunity to take a few months out, plans that had once been daydreams became concrete. Finally I booked my one-way ticket from London Paddington to Penzance.

So it is that I hope to follow in the footsteps of people like Mark Moxon and Ian Botham - to do my own long walk. I'll check out as many live music sessions on my way and I'll do my best to forsake lager in favour of local ales to get a taste for the different beers of the country.

I may fail on the walk; I have put no pressure on myself to finish if it stops being fun. Although I can't promise to chronicle my days with the kind of rich narrative of Mark, or Andy Robinson, I will do my best to keep a route diary, if only for my own memories. And I'll take a few photos en route too.

Who knows, I might just finish it, albeit 60+ days later than we did it in that DB9 all those years ago...

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