Deep breath. Ok, here goes.
I’m going to do a very long walk. I am going to walk the length of Britain. On my own.
I absolutely love this country. And ever since that thrilling, joyful, surprising, magical night of the Olympics Opening Ceremony in July, I’ve had that phrase ‘Isles of Wonder‘ spinning around in my head. So I’m going to pull on my boots and see these Isles of Wonder properly, close up.
I’ll start in late February in the Scilly Isles, get the ferry over to the mainland – Cornwall – and then walk north during the spring months through England and Wales to Scotland, get to the top of Scotland, and then catch the ferry to Shetland, and finish my walk at the top of Shetland. I intend to have a wiggly route, keeping to the hills and National Trails where possible, so it’ll take me up to 4 months. I’m doing it on my own, mainly camping, but my ultra supportive and totally wonderful husband will visit me every week or so and we’ll spend the night/s under a roof, as he’s not a camper.
I read an article in the about 6 months ago, called the Five Regrets of the Dying. It’s written by a nurse, who recorded the most frequent regrets that people discussed with her. Since I read the article, I’ve been pondering over the most frequently expressed regret:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.
I have spent far too long sitting at a desk, driving my car for 16 hours a week, feeling tired when I get home, and sitting down some more. There’s a phrase, ‘the fatigue of the sedentary‘. It’s time to feel alive again. Time and years have a funny way of rolling by unnoticed. Right now, my legs and arms seem to work fine (touch wood), so I want to make sure that I take advantage of that. It’s not something that should be taken for granted. And a very big challenge like this is, to me, scary but also a hugely invigorating idea. Michaelangelo said that the greatest danger for most of us in our lives is not that we aim too high and we miss, but that we aim to low and we reach it. So….
I absolutely love walking, especially A to B hikes. There’s something so natural about it – I think it is in our genes. Long ago, it’s what our ancestors did. I’m thrilled about planning my route, and about the fact that I’ll be outside for several months in wind and rain and hopefully a bit of sun. Although I’m doing the walk solo, I am hoping that friends may join me for a day or two every now and again. Also hopefully I can cadge a night on some of my friends’ sofas, when I pass near where they live. I really like the idea of the walk being sociable. (Although at work a few people have called me Flora Gump. Hmm :-))
In addition to satisfying my need for adventure, I’d like to take the opportunity to raise some money. Two years ago my husband Ian had a heart attack. It was completely out of the blue and a big shock to both of us. He had no muscle damage and after a year he had recovered his full fitness back again. But that he had no muscle damage was simply down to luck – we both thought he had a bad indigestion and I only just drove him to hospital in time. At the moment, when people get muscle damage, it can’t be mended – this means that people can’t lead a fully active life again. The British Heart Foundation has a major research project called Mending Broken Hearts. They hope that in 10 years time they may be able to mend damaged heart tissue. If you’d like to contribute to Mending Broken Hearts then please visit my Virgin Giving page.
I am hugely grateful to my husband, my family, and my fabulous friends in their encouragement and support for my decision. And my boss and my boss’s boss have been amazing. Full of guilt and nerves, I explained what I was going to do, and they showed me such humanity. Thank you both – you have no idea what a weight lifted from my shoulders that day.
So, mid February, 2013, Isles of Wonder, blisters, feeling alive, adventure….here I come.
If you’ve any advice, please pitch in with your comments. I really would love to hear from you.