JOHN O'GROATS TO WATTEN
At last the preparing is over, the talking, the trepidation and the planning! Only thing left now is to get on with it and just put one foot in front of the other! SIMPLE!
I slept pretty well alone in my 4 bunk dorm and started the day by wrestling with my rucksack trying to cram in everything i had been carelessly bringing along as extra twiddly bits in a carrier bag! It was a battle but it did all fit although i wasnt expecting to break into a sweat before leaving the bedroom!
I was wished Good Luck from the fellow guests i had met and then Charlie took the photo once i was all ready to set off! His final parting words once he'd perused my map seemed a little disconcerting (G*D that is a souless terrible road that just goes on for miles and miles and miles!!) Hmmmm!
However, nothing could dampen my enthusiasm for this momentous day 1, even the drizzle that gently fell from the skies as i began my walk....
I was fine with the map reading today and felt perfectly safe on the empty roads... in fact my biggest problem was the number of people i kept bumping in to who wanted to stop and chat!! I certainly didnt want to seem rude and welcomed the conversation but had one eye on my Garmin and timekeeper, knowing full well that my average miles per hour were dropping through the floor with each conversation i had!
Still, the whole journey is what i came for and part of that is meeting all the lovely people on the way.... Today i met Morris Puttinger, a charming spritely 80 year old/young gentleman who updated me on all his blogs and historical sites he is writing about!
Next on my country lane was a lone cyclist who slowly edged closer as i walked towards her! 'She' turned out to be Brigid, a wonderful 75 year old lady who was on her last leg of cycling up from Lands End!!!!! Wow! How impressed was i?!! She went to get me out one of WI toffees but we got so caught up in her journey & conversation that it went completely out of our minds sadly... She had stayed in the place i was walking to this evening so after updating me on how to flush the loo in Room 3, i congratulated her on such an amazing feat and cracked on with a few more miles, hoping i will also be as fit and as adventurous in another 30+ years!
I alternated between listening to my radio, checking out the scenery and talking on the phone which worked wonders on keeping my spirits high. My next lady i met was Jane and again she was at the end of her travels and i felt inspired to find another fellow walker ...... she was on day 76 and luckily had her husband in a support caravan not too far away so she hasnt had to carry much on a day to day basis - i asked if he was for hire but she didnt think he would fancy turning around to head South with the same task! (Shame!)
I finally trekked into The Brown Trout Hotel in Watten, just past the Lake, around 2pm with my first 15 miles under my belt! I was very relieved to find my room all ready to check in to and spent 10 minutes peeling off all my extremely soaked clothes!! It took a further 2 hours to finally leave the room long enough to venture downstairs for a hot bowl of soup and 2 pints!! (soda water & lime!!) in a pub full of (Scottish - surprise surprise!) locals and dogs! I havent had to divulge my English accent much so far and am not always sure of the reception for Southerners so far North but i must say that all i have met so far have been most welcoming!
I can certainly say i have enjoyed Day 1 and feel very pleased it is out of the way and i am started. I am sure i will be incredibly stiff in the morning in my feet, legs and back/shoulders but hope i will harden up as the days and weeks go by. Off to lay down (again!) and prepare for Britain's Got Talent .... need to keep some creature comforts and help me feel at home!