Monday, 23 October 2006

I have probably bored you all to death by now with talk of sleeping bags, titanium stoves and fancy American tents. Men with beards who bang on about walking spend an amazing amount of time not actually banging on about walking at all. Why is this? What is it that sends these beardy ramblers into gear nerds? All that countryside out there to bang on about and he bangs on about fill power and silicone coatings and titanium. Good Grief!
Its time to get down to the nitty gritty. So - to cut to the chase - Why on earth am I doing this?
That's a good question, and not an easy one to answer, but I will start at the beginning and ramble in a chronological direction. If I lose you at any point, at least I won't be boring you about gear.
I suppose it all started with my Dad's new bookshelves. We had a house with a central chimney - and the six children used to race round and round the house on our own race circuit. Dad had a lot of books (he was a teacher) and in an effort to keep Mum sane he decided to build a set of bookshelves right across the finish line. It killed two birds with one stone - the races stopped (and Mum kept her sanity) and it housed the seemingly vast collection of books he had acquired.
I think he belonged to a book club - and amongst the beautifully uniformly bound books there was a world of adventure for a young boy - 'King Soloman's Mines', 'Whisky Galore', Hunt's 'Ascent of Everest' - You can see where this is going.
I was hooked. I was signed up for the Cubs, the Boy Scouts, the Veture Scouts (whilst also taking on the church choir and school theatre productions) Before long I was on Dartmoor, the Pennines, Brecon Beacons, Black Mountains and Corsica.
I had a paper round to supplement the wages from the choir to raise the readies - I put in half and Dad & Mum would put in the balance - the first major purchase a Blacks of Greenock 'Tromso' sleeping bag - it was heaven. My mate Bob had an 'A' tent. I had a pint Primus paraffin stove. We were lords of wherever we travelled in our cotton anoraks.
Then came university, marriage and children. Mortgages, work and more work. More mortgages. Walking became Sunday afternoons at Wandlebury with pushchairs, graduating to the six-mile Hemingford Round. Holidays in the Lakes, the children climbing their first Mountain.
Eventually they were off doing their own thing around Europe and I was off across Scotland - with Bob again! This time it was in a fancy geodesic tent with an even fancier Primus between us. (Back to gear again).
But - Take time to stand quietly in the middle of Rannoch Moor. Watch the ragged purple clouds tear across the shivering bog and tussock. In the distance, grey curtains walk like giants across the hills. Smell the far off rain soaking the moor, smell the new growth all around. Kneel amongst the flowers of the moor and listen to the first hiss of the incoming showers. Hold your face up to the weather and laugh.
Then get the hell out of there or get the tent up!


  1. Positively poetic!
    However would need a significant quantity of a sinlge malt before i canconjure up an image of you as a choir boy!

  2. Dearest Uncle Alan
    Wowzers, your really meant it then! Perhaps I thought the 'walk talk' was a whimsical dream, but now i see it is a true feight of your amazing (and somewhat perculiar) character. I shall hopefully see you before you embark, but I'm very proud of you and will follow the blog with interest in the knowledge of a hearty drink celebration when you return.

    Good Luck!

    Lots of Love
    Your most favourite Niece
    Kate xx

  3. I don't know about shivering bogs but I usually find standing in the middle of Rannock Moor reduced me to a sivering wreck :-)

  4. My 'Most Favourite Neice'!

    (Amongst all my other favourite neices... Ooo Err)

    Lovely to see you on here! How is the house move going?

    This walk has been a whimsey of mine for quite a few years now, so it's a great feeling actually to be planning it properly now and getting my teeth into it. Only three and a half months to the 'off' now.

    I will probably see you at Christmas at Blagdon - the next time will be In Bath on the walk itself, when I am going to have a day off at your cousin Rachael's.



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