I have spent much of the past couple of weeks both literally and figuratively gearing up for this little ramble through Britain. I have sought the advice of friends much more skilled in mountaineering than I am, and they have zealously motor-mouthed lists of technical equipment and names of synthetic fabrics, all of which might stand to serve some overly-specialised function. And as ever in the free market, this one does something better but that one does another thing best – yet both pale in comparison to the other one which does whatnot.
Also, as things start to take shape, the immense difficulty of walking through Scotland in Winter has become very clear [sub ‘difficulty’ for ‘stupidity’]. Even though I’m hopeful of finding accommodation on each night of my walk, the weather is so unpredictable that it makes much sense to make plans for emergencies [sub ’emergencies’ for ‘my poor navigation’]. So amongst my most happy purchases over the past fortnight have been: a completely waterproof backpack, a pop-up emergency survival shelter, and a mountain rescue approved survival tube. I’m not quite sure how or when to deploy these last couple of acquisitions, but I think that something about the word survival was attractive.
Well, here is the first post. Having considered the idea for this project through plenteous permutations over the past months, and after some more serious development work over the last fortnight, I am now fully committed to this project. I am certain that I don’t entirely comprehend the enormity of whatever behemoth adventure lies ahead; all that I do know is that I have managed to clear away the obligations of my life and now have a dreamer’s capacity of time, finances and hopefulness.
I have been much emboldened by prayer, the earnest words offered by good friends, and a copy of Ben Okri’s short essay, While the World Sleeps, encountered entirely by chance (you can read all three parts here).
I’m presently working towards a provisional departure date of January 1, 2015. However, bearing in mind the logistical difficulties of getting up to Dunnet Head around the New Year festivities, a start date of January 3 or 4 is more likely. This would mean a finish around mid-April.
Now begin the processes of rough route-planning and gear-shopping. I have a waterproof top, but I suspect that full-body coverage would be wise for a long Winter walk, as well as some thick insulation layers.
Expect some intermittent updates over the coming weeks, and then (internet access permitting) daily postings once the walk is underway. Thank you – the first of many, I am sure – for all of your interest and encouragement.