Woke up feeling a bit hungover. Probably a good thing as I needed distraction from the nerves over whether ankle/knee would hold up or not.
Another full English breakfast (conversation was about Glastonbury and The Rolling Stones. I wonder how many other people of my generation gut-hate the Rolling Stones because they sued Carter USM in the 90s. Thinking about it now it’s highly unlikely that the Rolling Stones themselves were actually involved, but it was done in their name) and faffing about with pack and a bit of a late start at 10:30am. Ankle strapped up inside walking boot, and knee supports on both legs. Today was a relatively unchallenging day’s walking. 14 miles, nothing too steep. Resolved to go slow, each step carefully considered. Ankle sore, but mostly managed to tune it down to a low hum. Very long gentle ascent out of Horton-in-Ribblesdale and I was on my way. I was back on the Pennine Way and whilst careful to check myself from getting too carried away, was nervous about knees, but frankly loving it. The Pennine Way had broken me, but I was back. Would the Way respect this and treat me favourably. (Of course not, the Way is not a sentient being. It’s this kind of superstitious nonsense that shows if we didn’t already have religions, we’d soon invent them).
A few little descents and slight grumbling from right knee but nothing major. Left knee seemed to be holding. Occasional high notes from ankle, but I reminded myself I am my sister’s brother and she’d have two broken legs and still complete. Other times at testing moments I remembered all the kind wishes, messages of encouragement, and general support from friends and family. Emotionally overwhelming to have so many fine people wishing me well. And energy levels soared.
As I slowly progressed I went deep in thought, about how at 38 years of age, having worked at the same job for 10 years, I came to be doing this walk. Taking apart my life so far, my attitudes, the choices made from school right up to my current life situation. My friend Tom and I developed a pretty negative philosophy of life when in the second year of school as a way to survive the hell that was secondary school. But how much of that philosophy had I continued to carry around after it was no longer useful?
At one point I realised I’d been busy thinking and not paying any attention to the route. I’d just passed a gate so turned round to see if there was a PW sign on the gate. There was no gate. There was no gate in view… (and the view was enormous).
Having come so close to complete failure, I examined why it was so important to me to try and finish this walk if at all possible. Maybe I’m good at starting projects… writing books, decorating the house etc. But not so good at finishing things. I know (and am thankful) I have managed to finish music, a few albums and a few pieces of writing over the years, but so many more things got lost along the way. I remembered the screenplay I was writing when still at school. I remembered the novel I was writing when I was 19. It was like the walk was representing all the unfinished things. And if I could complete the walk it’d somehow make up for it… or at least chalk up one more finished thing against the list of unfinished things. (Btw I have a six-episode tv series called, ‘All The Missing Things’ practically ready to go if anyone’s interested)
I thought about the projects I want to do in future. The last thing I poured my heart into was the last History Of Guns album, ‘Whatever You Do, Don’t Turn Up At Twelve’. I really felt it was the pinnacle, accumulation of everything HOG had achieved so far… our greatest work. So I took it hard that it turned out to be a dismal failure and less liked than practically everything else we’ve done. (It’s still available from Amazon btw!). I don’t know what I want to do musically any more. I have recorded a solo album, ‘Tales from Exile’ which hopefully the lovely people at Line Out will be putting out later this year. I have a few new HOG tracks written on the guitar. But what to do with them? (SPUCKTUTE remains a joy to be involved with because I just do the music and not lyrics, themes, concepts etc, at one EP per year it’s blissfully easy and requires next to no thought for me to do.)
Grey threatening clouds, that thankfully threatened but never delivered. Some tremendous wind that threatened to blow me over. (Apparently the hottest day of the year back home!).
A slow pace, taking 6 hours to walk 14 miles but such joy in my heart to finally make it to Hawes. The B&B wasn’t ready for me and they sent me for a pint over the road whilst they prepared the room. I’m not ashamed to admit I had tears of happiness in my eyes over being able to continue walking. (Yes I am a drama queen, what do you mean you’ve only just noticed)
After Skype call to family, the silence in the room was overwhelming so I went out to see if I could find anyone to talk to. Met a lovely Yorkshire couple who run a b&b in Wales. (see: www.castle-mill.co.uk )
They had two beautiful dogs, Charlie was one year old and from the German Shepherd Rescue centre. We talked dogs for a while, then it was revealed that E____ was a guitar player and we talked music. Really enjoyable conversation, and then it was back to the b&b for an early night. (no dinner)
Right now it’s chucking it down with rain outside. I know I say every town is great, but Hawes is lovely. Yorkshire is rightfully proud of it beautiful and friendly towns and villages. Tonight I sleep underground in stone. A beautiful prison cell. Tomorrow 16.5 miles and a big ascent over Great Shunner Fell to the legendary Tan Hill Inn. Not sure what the weather is going to do… I’m going to take it slow.