Sunday, July 07, 2019
Before I Grow Too Old - A walk from John O'Groats to Land's End
Posted by JaneGS
For years I have been talking about wanting to walk the length of Great Britain, from the tip of Cornwall to the top of Scotland. Knowing this, my daughter Sarah lent me a book she read by Pat Jilks, who did just that, except the reverse, taking a couple of months to walk from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in Cornwall.
Before I Grow Too Old - A walk from John O'Groats to Land's End is not your typical book--no chapters but rather a collection of diary entries, without dates, in which Pat chronicles the path she took, where she slept, ate, had tea, took refuge from the rain.
I couldn't do what Pat did--I don't mean the actual walk, that I can and will do--but the lack of structure to her journey. She did map out her route, with alternatives, but she wanted maximum flexibility and so didn't book any B&Bs or hostels ahead of time, which meant that on occasion she was forced to sleep rough or find shelter in barns, hay lofts, woods, parking lots, etc. Many of her days were spent trying to figure out where to rest that night, where to eat, and where she was. She did get lost a fair amount, and at one point her precious maps blew away. She often relied on her compass to get her back on track.
One of the things I learned about the north-south trek, unlike the Hadrian's Wall Path trek that I started exactly two years ago tomorrow, is that there isn't a set or preferred or marked or even suggested route. Pat ended up walking along fairly major roads more than I would feel comfortable doing, and it's easy to see how she got turned around and missed critical turnoffs.
Apart from reading about her experience with the actual walk, I really enjoyed Pat's offbeat sense of humor. She has a light, bright way of looking at obstacles, and she often mentions chatting with people she met along the road as well as having friends join her for portions of the walk. She seems to have a gift for making friends, and much as she loves and depends on solitude to regain her energy (true introvert), she is such a social, interesting person.
I took my time reading this memoir--probably reading it at the same pace she walked it--and found it a very pleasant way to end my day, reading a few pages before I went to sleep at night.
For my own Land's End to John O'Groats walk, I need to do more research and planning but this memoir was a lovely way to start my really thinking about the walk.
BTW, I had to employ the hated approval on comments because I was hit on July 4 with some idiot who added a viagra comment to virtually every post on my blog. It took a fair amount of time to cleanse my site and I don't want to have to do that again. Please let me know at janetgs05-at-gmail-dot-com, if you are unable to post comments now.