Helmsdale

The days since I last updated have taken me through a lot of different terrain. I’ve followed another long distance trail from Fort William up past Loch Ness and finally to Inverness. From there it’s been mostly road walking to where I am now, on the northeast coast of Scotland.

I am about 55 miles from John O’Groats as I type this, which should take roughly three days to complete. If I can stomach it, that is – this far north there really is only one road, and it’s still fairly busy. The weather is also very unpredictable. In general at this point I’m trying to get to the day’s destination as fast as possible to get it out of the way.

I spoke with a man a few weeks ago who told me it was his father’s dream to walk the West Highland Way (95 miles) before he died, a life ambition that I completed in four and a half days. The Great Glen Way (70 some miles) took four. I don’t know how I feel about that, really. I guess I should be proud. Yesterday was the longest confirmed day of the hike so far, clocking in at around 31 miles.

More generally than the route and the weather, though, my haste is because of the fact that I want my feet back. It may sound strange, but I really miss sports and other activities. For the most part all I have been doing for two months over here is walking, and it’s left me able to do little else. I think the bones of my feet are bruised, but I can’t tell because they’ve been numb for a few weeks now.

I could think of more to write but it’s getting late. Time to call an end to the 54th day of my hike, and prepare for the third from the end.

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5 Responses

  1. If my math serves me correctly, at this moment you should be quickly approaching the end of your journey. So barring anything bad, let me be the first to congratulate you!

    Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  2. And let me be the second to congratulate you, Alex! This has been such an incredible undertaking, and I appreciate that you have been sharing it with us all.

    I’m looking forward to seeing at least one more picture – you at the Finish Line.

    Bravo!!

  3. Hey, quick! Switch to satellite view on the “Where I am” map and zoom in to John O’Groats. I could swear I just saw a person flash past at about 30 mph followed by a pretty dogged other individual in a near second place! I think Alex is a John O’Groats!!!!

    Put up the flags!

  4. Suspense! Well, what’s the news? Fait accompli? We’re all on pins and needles…..which, in all actuality, is what your feet feel like too.

    Or could it be it really has taken you 3 days to walk 6 feet 9 inches and you’re still on the shortest street in the world?

    Word up? (aren’t I just the hippest Aunt?)

  5. If I had maintained some familiarity with the computer after Microsoft introduced Windows, grandma and I would have been the first to congratulate you. As it is, I have only just learned how to make comments on your blog, so we may well be the last to hip-hip-hurrah you over the Ethernet! We are in any event incredibly proud of you. You are the only one we know, who has done such a thing (and we are, after all, old enough to know almost everyone), I have to claim to have walked part of your route myself. It was in the opposite direction (from Sheffield to Leek), so you could justifiably say that I was walking downhill, which everyone knows is much easier. It is also true that Grandma was the destination, and I was about your age, so I was flying east with the jetstream behind me!

    I’m sorry you missed seeing my old friend Peter, who would have been interesting company for an evening. He and his wife, Jean, also had 3 daughters (all a year or so younger than your mum and your aunts), so we all got along well together! Peter has a chain of men’s clothing stores, but in recent years has written books on gardens, one of which won him the gold medal of the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. It was the first time in its almost 300 year history that it has been awarded to a non-Russian.

    We can’t wait to hear first hand of your exploits when you get home!

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