North To South

July to September 2004

My last walk in 2002 was from the most easterly point on the British Mainland, to the most westerly (Lowestoft to Ardnamurchan Point). It was only natural that the next one would be between the other two ordinals, Dunnet Head, the most northerly point and Lizard Point, the most southerly. I stepped out of the car at 9:45 Friday July 23rd, I would travel at no more than 4 mph till I got into Mike Tobin's van at Lizard Point 64 days and 1052 miles later on Friday September 24th. En route I took 6 days off (1 in Beauly, 4 in Dollar waiting for Nicky to return from her holiday in Canada and 1 in Bradford on Avon with sister, Diana). I climbed a total of 117,681 feet which is equivalent to 27 times up and down Ben Nevis!!

Lighthouse at Dunnet Head
The start on a sunny August day at Dunnet Head, with Orkney behind.

Highlights of the walk include the cliff walks on the first and last days, both sunny calm summer days along the edge of Dunnet Head and the South West Coast path to the Lizard. The traverse of the Lairig Ghru was another memorable day as was another old track, High Street in the Lake District. Surprising (to me at least) was how rural the walk around Birmingham was. The Heart of England Way took me through deserted fields with the sounds and sights of civilization in the distance, to meet the Stratford Canal, another rural corridor. However I was disappointed with The Cotswolds, very nice weather and scenery but walkers poorly catered for with very few campsites and expensive B&Bs.

Forth Bridge
Crossing the Forth Bridge in the August Rains on the way to Edinburgh and a night at the Festival.

The low points of the trip centre on the wettest August for many a year. I endured several very wet days, where it was difficult to tell if I was walking up a river or a path! The worst moment was waking up a 2 am camped in the Forest of Bowland and thinking why are my feet wet? They were wet because the heavy rain which had started about 5pm had saturated the ground and I was lying in a pond. I had to sit for 4 hours until the sun rose drinking coffee to keep warm and another hour for the rain to stop before packing a wet rucksack and heading for a hotel in Clitheroe the dry out. Once into September and south of the M62 the sun came out and I enjoyed 2 weeks of cloudless days. Any rain after that seemed just a shower!

The Lizard
The finish at Lizard Point and 2 stone lighter!!

The most exciting moment was in Glen Tilt when I had to cross the headwaters of the River Dee and its tributaries which were in spate after heavy overnight rain in the Cairngorms. I was standing in the middle of the river nearly up to my waist in water which was trying its best to drag me downstream and balanced on both walking poles thinking one false move here and Ill be found in Aberdeen harbour next week!. By the 3rd crossing Id got the hang of it!!

A full report will appear here soon.