The sociable aspects..
Yes there were some!
One of the spin-offs from my blogging and fundraising was that people knew where I was, and were able easily to get in touch with me. So I got lots of requests to meet up and walk sections with me.
First off, my wife drove me to the start, and picked me up at the end. She also came and met me briefly en route, at Glastonbury, Wigan (where we had possibly the most un-glamorous wedding anniversary imaginable) and in Glasgow. It greatly cheered me up, knowing that I’d have a friendly face to see every three weeks or so. Though it was a bit of a strain on her, having to travel, quite literally, the length and breadth of the country to meet me. I’m eternally grateful.
My two sons also met me en route – our younger son joined me for the ascent of Ben Nevis, and then my elder joined me for the last few miles to Dunnet Head. I really appreciated their company.
And the Scouts were extremely generous with their time. In all, Scouts met me on no less than eight occasions – which made me feel much more immediately connected with the cause I was supporting. The “Scouts” page has all the details.
And it wasn’t just family, but friends who also joined me. In north Wales, Lancaster and then in the wilderness of Scotland. Fantastic support, and really reassuring to see familiar faces when I was so far from home.
The only downside with arranging to meet people was that I wasn’t quite certain exactly where I would be, and when. I only planned my exact route a week in advance, whereas the people who wanted to meet me often needed more notice. So occasionally i did irritate people a bit by not being where I thought I would be. And on a couple of occasions, I had to hang around waiting for people to meet me, when I arrived earlier than planned.
Along the way, too, I met literally hundreds of interesting people. Either on the path itself, at the campsite, or in the pub or cafe in the evening. Everyone wanted to know what I was doing, and seemed genuinely fascinated when I recounted my story. I met nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – other than friendliness and helpfulness – along the way. I’d anticipated problems from grumpy landowners or from farmers who didn’t want me tramping through their fields, or from angry dogs. But, apart from a few over-inquisitive cows, I had no problems at all anywhere.
In fact, towards the end, when I was getting physically tired, I began to wish well-meaning and curious people would stop talking to me in the pub in the evenings. Sometimes I just wanted to be left alone to get on with my blog, and to escape into a reflective reverie.