Yes…still an atheist…faith, for me, is a funny old thing.
When I started the walk all those years ago I had great faith in myself and others that this walk a mile gig would just work.
There was no science to it. It wasn’t an objective peer reviewed endeavour. I didn’t know it would work – but I KNEW it would.
And, as you know, my faith has never been tested.
However, Lyme disease and having this mental health problem – what I’ve called my triple dip recession – over the summer has taken it’s toll.
I have all the support I need – in Ella, and in you lot…I guess that faith’s still there…I think my faith in me has been a little shaken.
We broke me in gently, Ella came over with me to Pwllheli and stayed for a couple of nights.
I walked – she read her book – we met up at the end of the day…
How did it feel? I wasn’t entirely sure.
I wasn’t entirely sure until I watched her drive off, leaving me, Hubert and the gang to wander off into the sunny Welsh day.
As ever, I had stories, potential blogs, wrongs to be righted buzzing through my mind…but there was something new.
Just keep walking. One foot in front of the other. Think of the route. Should I take the designated path or…?
Over the summer I’ve lost a lot of fitness. Being locked in your own head doesn’t burn the calories, doesn’t keep those muscles twitching…
I had a couple of stumbling chats with folk during the day…it all felt a little unfamiliar.
So I just followed the path.
My mate, Derek and I have had a number of chats about less than legal camping.
At the time of the chats we agreed that a bit of illegal camping, a bit of conflict with whoever, would all add to the story…
There’s no right to roam in England and Wales, so I’m obliged to park in designated places.
Which is fine – I’ve had some donations.
I trundled into Black Rock Sands camp site at 8.30 that evening.
It was dark as I found my way into reception.
I spoke to the woman there, passing my card on to her, talking about the walk…
‘I don’t want your money,’ she smiled warmly.
I thanked her, ‘Where do you want me to pitch up?’
‘Anywhere you like,’ she enthused with a grand sweep of her arm.
I set about my task – a guy opposite asked if I needed some light – I didn’t, so he invited me round for a cup of tea in the morning.
Tent up, radio on…chilly…balaclava on, meds taken, using Darth as a pillow I dozed off.
The next day went completely walk a mile.
The campsite folk took my picture for their Facebook page…
Over a cup of tea, Big Pete the chef told me how he’d met Rosie Swale Pope, a woman who’d run around the world, pulling a trailer that she slept in…we’ve tried a bit of twitter linkage…
I walked the length of the beach east of Criccieth…hard going on the sand with Hubert, but he didn’t complain.
A couple stopped me – they told me there was no way ahead when I reached the end of the sands. I thanked them – stopped – had a drink – and looked at my maps.
It LOOKED ok…a guy bounded over – he’d heard the conversation – he was sure I’d be able to manage the small climb up onto the coastal path…
As I approached, it looked like a big rocky obstacle rising out of the beach.
I’m sure I can manage it…
Just as I arrived, a couple appeared rambling in the opposite direction.
‘Can I give you a hand with that?’ the older than me man asked.
In no time we’d negotiated a tricky rocky bit…where I found a lovely couple – who were enjoying the beauty of the day and the scenery.
Rule number 1 of the walk is that I tend not to forget people’s names.
However…these nameless folk talked with great enthusiasm – in amongst our chat, they told me how they’d been touched by mental ill health through their family…they thrust £10 into my hand, promised to join walk a mile, and off they went.
I met a guy, fleetingly, who told me how his mother had been in a psychiatric hospital for the first 15 years of his life…
How do you deal with that?
Well, he told me, it was just normal for him…
The path hit a rather steep bit – the track turned into a cross between stairs and slopes.
Halfway up I stopped to er, look at the scenery. Ok, I was knackered.
There I met the lovely David and his partner. We talked for a while and they carried Hubert up the remainder of the 20 odd steps.
They lived near the Polytechnic – now university – where I studied psychology in the late 80’s.
He hugged my sweaty form and thrust £20 into my hand – promising they’d join up and that I had somewhere to stay in London – he’d come and pick me up and drop me back off as I needed…
A while later, while I was lying around – a man (Mike) and his dog (Biggles the spaniel) came over for a chat (at Biggles’ insistence)
‘He’s daft,’ Mike smiled.
‘That’s not fair, you hardly know me,’ I came back with my rapier wit.
He and his partner Ann, invited me for a cup if tea – so, I thought, it would be rude not to.
Tea turned into tea, sarnies, pork pie and cake and a long lost friend kind of a chat.
They were renting the holiday cottage for a couple of weeks – a place with the most stupendous views of Tremadog bay.
Like so many folk I meet, they’d been touched by mental ill health – depression that had stopped them in their tracks – but a mixture of love, treatment and medication had started them back on their way.
Speaking of which, I should be on my way – but it was then I realised I’d lost my hat. We looked around – it had vanished.
Without stopping for breath Mike gave me his hat and sent me on my way.
Great weather, scenery and lovely people – to quote me a number of years ago – I told you people would be great, didn’t I?
I wouldn’t say my faith has been fully restored, but it’s certainly received a healthy injection of loveliness that’s going to help.
Walk a mile