IT WAS my intention to awake bright and early on the last day of my early August walking trip. And technically, I succeeded. I awoke bright and early, turned off my alarm and promptly went back to sleep. As you do.
It was a couple of hours later that I actually surfaced, roused by the persistent sunshine that was streaming in through my hotel room window. I decided to take the sun’s subtle hint — one ignores a thermonuclear fireball at one’s peril — and was soon kitted up, checked out and ready to perambulate. I would be starting my day with north-west England’s one and only proper set of sea cliffs: St Bees Head.
I SHOULD know better than to try to make plans. Staying overnight in Millom, for instance, so that I could just get up early and start walking. That was a plan right up until the day before, when my hotel turned out not to have an actual room for me to stay in.
Some last-minute problem-solving saw me staying at St Bees instead, which meant that my hotel was right next to a beach but not, unfortunately, next to Millom. My earliness would now be constrained by the railway and the rest of my plans would have to be somewhat fluid…
TOWARDS the end of April I returned to Carnforth with the express intention of leaving both it and Lancashire behind and striking out into Cumbria and the south of the Lake District. The sky was grey when I got there and I fully expected that any views of distant hills would be totally hidden by mist. Also, at some point it would rain.
I HAD a plan that, while not exactly cunning, had at least had some cunning described to it once. The plan was this: stay overnight in Llandudno, catch the train back to Llanfairfechan and then walk back to my hotel, where all the heavier things from my bag would be waiting for me. It was a good plan. I liked my plan. But it had one tiny little flaw.
WHILE the Lemming and I had both agreed that leaving his car at the end point of a walk and catching the train back to the start had been an excellent plan that had given us a much greater freedom with respect to time, we were unable to reprise this cunning scheme on the Sunday due to an annoying lack of trains. What we ended up doing instead was driving back to Machynlleth and walking from there in the knowledge that there was just one — and only one — train from Aberdovey back to Mach. If we were to miss it we’d be screwed.
WHEN I read that the weather forecast for my latest excursion would be enough heavy rain on the Friday to ensure ankle-deep mud all weekend plus recurring heavy showers just to make certain, I was not in any way deterred. Nor was the Lemming, who joined me again, although it did prompt him to purchase some rather more waterproof footwear.
As it turned out, it was mostly sunny but hazy with only the occasional shower… of hailstones.
THE penultimate day of February saw me once again arriving in Plymouth at an ungodly hour in order to catch the first train out to Redruth. Having arrived in this old mining town, I immediately tried to leave it again. On the wrong bus.
WITH the January weather proving variable, my forty-second birthday saw me ambling gently along five miles or so of the Thames from London Bridge to Greenwich in the company of two good friends. This was entirely lovely. It also reawakened my desire to walk around the coast again.
Thus, a week later, I found myself dozing fitfully through the eight hour overnight bus journey from London to Penzance.