Monday, 17 December 2007

A crossed line

The excellent Moxon got me started on this one: He said I would never look at the BBC weather map ever again without drawing my 'line' on it - my Lands End to John O'Groats (LEJOG) route.

Well, it's true. I even find myself thumbing through other peoples road atlases, as they drive me somewhere nice to have a walk, and find myself tracing my line with fondness. (I am sure they won't mind if I just pencil it in? Will they?)

Then of course there's my Wainwright's Coast to Coast line and goodness knows how many TGO Challenge lines across Scotland! It does drive Lynnie slightly potty as we drive up the A1 and cross under the road bridge immediately to the south of the River Swale. Even she now knows when we cross that particular line.

Driving down the M4 this last weekend, to see the daughter and the outlaws, we crossed my LEJOG line just to the north of Pucklechurch. A few weekends ago on my way to Keswick we crossed it again, on the A66, just to the north of Sleightholme Moor and God's Bridge. A week or so ago I spotted the over-bridge a few miles south of Knutsford Service Station on the M6, where I had plodded across. My diary for that day (April 5th - the last day of the tax year) said:

"It is a cold and misty morning with not a lot to see. Farmers are busy rushing around in their tractors pulling huge muck-spreaders behind them. I crossed the M6 motorway and stood and watched for a few moments as the whole of Britain seemed to charge beneath my bridge, supposedly separated by two chevrons.

They all have somewhere pressing to get to at all costs. I feel strangely alienated from this culture - an outsider looking over the parapet at an unreal world. My world is in the bubble that the mist allows me and it seems okay."

Well, I am now a member, once more, of the 'whole of Britain' and it does all seem surreal. But now, as I cross my lines, I can visualise miles and miles of wonderful walking either side of my current headlong charge.

Every now and then I think back to my wonderful walk - especially so when I cross the line. The difference now though is that now I do feel more connected with my country. I feel connected by crossing and re-crossing my crazy wobbly thread of a route that seemed to zig-zag madly across and up the country. It's a bit like meeting old school friends from forty years ago. We are just the same, we have just got a bit more wrinkly; a bit more knocked about. But the character is still there - it will always be there.

When I cross these lines, it is a wonderful moment. Memories come flooding back. It's like remembering your first girlfriend, your first kiss. Your first goal in playground footie.

It's not a bad life really.


  1. Alan,
    The more I think about your blogs on the LEGOJ the more I'm convinced that at some time in the future you should use all that information and write a book. Yours would not be a travelogue in the normal sense, it would go much further and illostrate your inner feelings of many more things than I walked from A too B today.


  2. You're so right, Alan - I have a similarly memorable spot near Penkridge, not far from my parents' house. I also get the same effect every time I travel out of London, from the London Loop and the Capital Ring. Ah, the memories! :-)

  3. I sense a long walk coning on again. Another chance to reconnect?

  4. Sadly John I cannot afford to take anything like the time off work I need to do my next big walk, so my next little bit of sanity will be in May on the TGO Challenge - a wonderful walk.

  5. That just about sums it up perfectly Alan. My thoughts exactly. Nicely put.

    Merry Christmas.


  6. I remember driving up to Montrose for 'my' start of the Challenge last May. At home I was following you on your LEJOG blog but I had to leave you for my travel to Scotland. I knew however that I would cross your line at Byrness and St.Boswells. I was wandering at the time : do I see a lonely walker along the road ? Could it be Alan ? But, belonging to the real world you don't have time to look for people in the natural world. Them are two worlds apart.


  7. That's interesting Theo - I suppose I do the same when I cross under my Wainwright Coast to Coast bridge on the A1: I am on the lookout for rucksack carrying walkers on the bridge - but as yet have never seen one, which is surprising, bearing in mind the popularity of that particular walk.

    Have a good Christmas Theo

  8. Dave
    I have just spent a happy hour or so re-reading your last two weeks of your Lejog (see 'I'm so Dave (Lejog blogger) in the 'Great Places to Visit section to the right on this blog for the link, everyone)

    A wonderful account of what it feels like to do this walk - all the self doubt, becoming an automaton, and the relief at finishing.

    Beutifully put - I only managed to read snatches of the last two weeks of your walk as I had by then started my own.

    Cheers Dave


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