Random Memories from 25 Walks

Published 26 May 2024

Abandoned millstones at Stanage
Abandoned millstones at Stanage

I’ve now either finished, or are part way through twenty five long distance trails.  This is the first thing that sprang to mind for each of them:

  1. Berwickshire Coastal Path: a woman with a mug in her hand standing outside her house in Eyemouth, telling me the road I was heading down was a dead end.
  2. Clarendon Way: llamas in a field near Salisbury.
  3. Cleveland Way:
  4. Coast to Coast: a man and a woman in their twenties walking near Grosmont.  She had the smallest rucksack you’ve ever seen, coupled with a bum bag.  The effect, from behind, looked almost beetle-like.  The man on the other hand, walking a way behind her, had headphones on and appeared to be oblivious to the world.
  5. Cumbria Way: getting lost in the rain, getting completely soaked due to crappy waterproofs, and ending up changing all my clothes whilst sheltering in a toilet block at a car park.  I wasn’t the only one to do this.  A man turned up on a bike, waited for a bit until a car came along.  After retrieving a bundle of clothes from said car, he too changed into dry stuff, got on his bike and headed on into the rain.
  6. Dales Way: a group of four teenagers near Kettlewell, presumably doing their Duke of Edinburgh.  One was using a bright orange survival bag as a rucksack cover.
  7. Downslink: getting on a very noisy and dirty bus to Guildford.
  8. East Highland Way: staying in a lovely (and now closed) B&B in Laggan that had a massive whisky menu, wanting to order some, but finding the owner was nowhere to be found.  It was probably a good thing as we may never have got to bed that night otherwise.
  9. Glyndŵr’s Way: wandering round the tiny village of Abbeycwmhir in the evening, admiring abbey ruins and puzzling over the village pub’s sign which featured a man in a top hat riding a goat.  We never found out why as the pub was closed that night.
  10. GM Ringway: setting off on a walk for the first time after the first Covid lockdown.  And doing a section near our house in the midst of another lockdown, and I could do it without having to travel.  How little did I know that whilst I was dutifully obeying the rules, there were parties going on in Downing Street.  (I’ve not finished the GM Ringway yet, but it’s going to take something seriously big to replace that one.)
  11. Gritstone Trail: wandering around a hilltop near a giant radio transmitter, to the noise of angle grinders and machinery belonging to someone doing some work at the transmitter.
  12. High Peak Way: a graveyard of giant millstones near Hathersage that had been carved, but seemingly never used.  Was it because they were not good enough?  Did they just not get bought?  Did the quarry go bust?  Who knows. 
  13. Limestone Way: oh so much snow and ice.
  14. North Downs Way: the roar of road and motorway traffic for much of the traffic.  And the joy when you reached a section where it wasn’t so pervasive.
  15. Northumberland Coast Path: walking along the coast in thick cloud, with the ruins of a castle looming out of the fog.
  16. Offa’s Dyke Path: staring at the ground, trying to avoid slipping in thick mud, and managing to walk into a big tree branch, resulting in blood pouring down my face.   
  17. Pennine Way: staying overnight in the remote Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in England, and being told to serve myself as the staff were having their tea.  The last time I’d used a handpull had been behind the college bar at university, many, many years earlier.  But it all came back and the resultant pint of Old Peculiar was served like a pro.  And tasted amazing.
  18. Ridgeway: six of us turning up in our accommodation to find the pub had no record of our booking due to the previous landlord having abruptly scarpered, and hadn’t left any details of any bookings.  The temporary manager had already left out the rooms to someone else, leading to much stress and worry until a plan was finally worked out where we could all manage to stay if four of us shared a family room.  Then there was a big battle with Booking.com to get a refund as it had been the temporary manager’s last weekend, and she wasn’t around to confirm what had happened.
  19. Sandstone Trail: sitting on the hill overlooking Frodsham, admiring the view towards the Mersey Estuary that was covered in low cloud.  Still not sure how a landscape featuring oil refineries and power stations can look so good.  Nor why people think wind turbines are an eyesore when the alternatives are hardly pretty.
  20. South Downs Way: walking most of it in February and March, going along the stunning downsland in the bright Spring sun.  The South Downs Way was one of the first walks I did, and I regularly think about doing it again because it was simply lovely.
  21. Southern Upland Way: getting to the end of an amazing walk; the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, and feeling so glad I’d done it. And especially glad I hadn’t given up early on when it looked like the weather would be completely awful.
  22. Thames Path:  doing a stretch with my son who had recently started walking, and watching him bounce along the path with a big smile on his face.
  23. West Highland Way: oh so many midges.  And then some more midges.
  24. White to Dark: sitting on the side of a hill comparing Bakewell Puddings (no, not tarts.  Puddings) from the two different bakeries that claim to have originated the delicacy, and trying to decide which I liked the most.
  25. Yorkshire Wolds Way: staying in a B&B where the owner was incredibly proud of the marmalade they served at breakfast. It was made by the owner’s mother, and only available at that B&B. They’d secretly submitted it in a prestigious marmalade competition, and it won an award, which they surprised the maker with. It was an excellent marmalade.

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