Well, everything needs rules, doesn’t it?
Possibly not. But what Three Points of the Compass has chosen to do is have a set of guidelines to work to when, eventually, I take off on my Three Points of the Compass walk. I had originally intended to walk the length of Great Britain when I completed my army service. I was discharged in August 1985, instead I concentrated on finding a job, a home and a girlfriend. The girlfriend eventually became my wife, the years rolled on and we had a beautiful daughter. My career path altered and progressed and my planned ‘long walk’ got put on to the back boiler, again.
I started walking again, frequently joined by my family, especially on some of the longer walks. It was time to begin planning again, particularly as the body ages and I slip, far too easily, into enjoying a comfortable life.
Back to the walk. Three Points of the Compass has certain things in his life that are difficult to ignore. There are demands on my time, both personal and professional, that are going to take my attention for the next good few months. I had originally intended on setting off in the spring 2017. But circumstances changed and this got put back. Only by a few months but I wish to set off from the south west of England in the earlier part of the year, advancing with spring on my back, up through the country until I arrive in the Scottish Highlands with, hopefully, good weather.. and midges. So, the walk was not delayed by a few months, but a year. Which is why there is a counter on this site taking me down to the day in 2018 when I set off from the Lizard.
I shall walk unsupported. I will buy my food as I progress. I am not dehydrating food or sending care packages to myself. Cooking will be done via meths or wood burner. I shall carry what I need which will include camping equipment. Therefore a lightweight ethos presents itself. Once I set off I shall not use any mechanical means on my route- no lifts, no buses, no trains, no boats, just my old knackered body.
I will walk every step of the way, so I won’t be using ferries but bridges are permitted and even the odd clamber across lock gates is OK (I already have one in mind north of Fort William).
I love history and I am fascinated by my country and it’s past. The social fabric of these three great countries that I shall traverse- England, Wales and Scotland are interlaced, yet separate and distinct. I look forward to experiencing the best and worst that both planning and serendipity shall put in my path. I have an interest in geology and natural history. My route will have to be both practical and fairly direct. Yet I also want to take in some of the best of countryside that is on offer.
Why only three points of the compass and not four? Because I have to work and I intend to complete this in less than three and a half months.
My walk will begin at the most southerly point on mainland Britain. From the Lizard I will follow the South West Coast Path west to Land’s End and continue following the coast to Barnstaple where I will strike inland, taking in Bristol before swinging back round to follow Wales north along Offa’s Dyke Path before leaving this at Knighton. I still have some route niceties to sort out but, via Ironbridge, once I hit the spine of England I will follow a mixture of trails to Jedburgh. Scotland will be a challenge that I should now be fit enough to handle, if not with ease then certainly with confidence. The West Highland Way will see me to Fort William where I leave any sensible route by seeking out the most westerly point in Great Britain at the unpronounceable Corrachadh Mòr. Battling my way back to the Cape Wrath Trail, I shall follow this to Cape Wrath where I may use the North Highland Way round to Dunnett Head (the most northerly point) via John O’Groats. So not only will it be a wander to the three compass points but between these, it will be a LEJOG, or Land’s End to John O’Groats.
All easily said, lets see how it goes. In the interim, I need to keep myself fit, continue enjoying my walks and trails, improve my kit and reduce the load both on my back and belly. I also need to improve my skill set, navigation could do with a bit of work.
Oh, and one other thing, if I choose to break any of my rules, I will.