Are there any problem solvers in the congregation? Then you'll know the old saw "Where are we now, where do we want to be and how are we going to get there?"
This map shows the fourteen start points on the west coast of Scotland. The green and yellow shaded area represents the countryside that Challengers must stay within to walk to the east coast. Rail and bus services are shown in red for rail and green for buses. Quite why red is chosen for rail services defeats me as I would have chosen black but this is a free country and Challengers are free spirits.
As you already know, if you have read previous posts on this year's Challenge, I'm starting at Acharacle - number ten on the map - and so my journey there ("where do we want to be") from the Thames Valley ("where are we now") is reasonably straightforward. The "how are we going to get there" bit results in a combination of trains to London, a hike across our capital city, the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William, and a bus via the Corran Ferry with an overnight stay at Salen as the hotel at the start point was fully booked, then the school bus the following morning to Acharacle.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before all this can happen there's the small matter of bagging up the food into the relevant parcels and sending them off to be collected by a ravenous hiker later on on the walk.
|CHOCOLATE, BREAKFAST BARS, TUNA, WRAPS, DEHYDRATED MEALS, SNACKS AND DRINKS
|DUTIFULLY BAGGED AND READY TO GO
|IT ALL HAS TO FIT INSIDE THAT LITTLE GREY BAG.
It never ceases to amaze me that it actually does fit in the tiny grey bag.
For those in the back pews fond of image intelligence, you'll note that the imitation white roses are missing a bloom. It is currently stuck in the innards of my Dyson. Any offers of help for its retrieval will be gratefully accepted.
And that's how you now find me hogging two 'priority seats' on a suburban train heading for Britain's largest and busiest railway station in reasonably good order, but blessed with zero fitness, not having carried a pack for a full year and having done no training walks whatsoever.
It has to be said, I struggled like hell carrying my pack across the Jubilee Bridge and then up the long slow hill heading north away from the Thames towards Euston, which seems to have relocated itself to the top of a very steep hill since I last frequented that Architectural Horror.
|LONDON, FROM THE GOLDEN JUBILEE BRIDGE SPANNING THE THAMES
|A LONDON PUB
|A RELAXED CHALLENGER
|RUSSELL SQUARE CABMEN'S SHELTER
|TAVISTOCK SQUARE: MAHATMA GANDHI
|ST PANCRAS NEW CHURCH
|THE BOWELS OF UGLY, UGLY, EUSTON STATION & THE CALEDONIAN SLEEPER
|DINING CAR DESSERT
|POST DINNER SNIFTER
|AN OVERCAST, COLD AND BLOWY SCOTLAND FROM OUTSIDE MY B&B AT SALEN
Here's one of my all-time favourites. They don't write them like this anymore.
In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertaintyI want to be in the warm heart of your loving mindTo feel you all around meAnd to take your hand along the sandAh, but I may as well try and catch the windWhen sundown pales the skyI want to hide a while behind your smileAnd everywhere I'd look, your eyes I'd findFor me to love you now, would be the sweetest thingT'would make me singAh, but I may as well try and catch the windWhen rain has hung the leaves with tearsI want you near, to kill my fearsTo help me to leave all my blues behindStanding in your heart is where I want to beAnd I long to beAh, but I may as well try and catch the wind