The rules…

Torridon, Isle of Skye, 2012

Three Points of the Compass -Torridon, Isle of Skye, 2012

The rules…

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.

The Stray family, West Country, 2009

Three Points of the Compass and family, West Country, 2009

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, head west initially to the Lizard and Land’s End, swing round and then advance, with spring on my back, up through the country via Offa’s Dyke and Wales 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 Poole Harbour.

I shall walk unsupported. I will buy my food as I progress. I am not dehydrating food or sending care packages to myself, though Mrs Three Points of the Compass will post a few maps on to me as my walk progresses. Cooking will primarily be done via gas stove or wood burner. I shall carry what I need which will include camping equipment. Therefore a (fairly) lightweight ethos presents itself. Once I set off I shall not use any mechanical means on my route other than a few short ferry crossings where necessary, so no lifts, no buses, no trains, just my old knackered body.

Camping on a caravan park. Wherrymans Way, 2014

If not wild camping, any convenient site will be used. The genteel folk may not be amused to find what is in their midst. Wiki-Up 3 on a caravan site, Wherryman’s Way, 2014

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 am I only walking to three points of the compass and not four? Because I have to work and I intend to complete this in less than four months.

Wild Camp with Z Packs Duplex on the Icknield Way in 2017. This is the shelter Three Points of the Compass will use on his 2018 hike

Wild Camp with Z Packs Duplex on the Icknield Way in 2017. This is the shelter Three Points of the Compass will use on his 2018 hike

My walk will begin at the start of the South West Coast Path. From Poole, I shall walk toward the Lizard, the most southerly point of mainland Britain. This is my First Point of the Compass. I will then walk toward Land’s End and continue following the north coast to Minehead where I will strike inland, taking in Bristol before swinging back round to follow Wales north along Offa’s Dyke Path for its total length. Crossing into England, I will work toward the spine of England and 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. This is my Second Point of the Compass. 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 (my Third Point of the Compass) via John O’Groats. So not only will it be a wander to the three compass points but between these, it will also be a LEJOG, or Land’s End to John O’Groats.

All easily said, lets see how it goes. I have given myself targets on my route. My first is the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path, a challenge in itself, others follow. Oh, and one other thing, if I choose to break any of my rules, I will.

Royal Military Canal walk- June 2014

Royal Military Canal walk- June 2014

15 thoughts on “The rules…

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  4. helegant

    Just realised I can’t see any contact details. I’m also planning an end-to-end, so am reading this to boost my own knowledge with other people’s experience. Thanks for this blog – I’m now following.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jools Post author

      Hi helegant
      great to hear of your plans. A work colleague of mine has just completed a somewhat daft ‘challenge’ in aid of charity- She walked 62 miles in 23 hours… I sit in awe at her achievement. “It’s only walking” she said with confidence prior to her setting out. I nodded sagely as I sponsored her ambition. I could not, can not, ever, ever, even dream of completing such a challenge myself. The knees are not up to it, the legs are not up to it, this knackered old body isn’t up to it. I wish I had her years, I do not. However. I do actually feel that with careful planning, preparation and easing myself into my own personal challenge, that it is achievable. Best of wishes for your own walk. I won’t say best of luck, as it isn’t about luck. Enjoy your journey, ‘it’s only walking’, apparently…


      1. helegant

        Thank you. I completed the Oxfam Trailwalker in 2004 (62 miles in 29 hours – we took long breaks) and recall saying ‘never again’. I salute your colleague.


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  8. dave

    Hi Jools.
    Have enjoyed reading your blog about your long walk. It’s exciting now the start day has arrived. Will be following you as you progress along the way. Enjoy the kindness of strangers and smile at whatever each day brings forth. Cheers and good luck from Dave and Dot.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Stephen Leathley

    Hi Jools
    Left you at Kirk Yetholm yesterday, my taxi arrived and you had left the common room so didn’t get to say good wishes. Hope the rest of your journey goes well and I will check out your updates from time to time.


    1. Jools Post author

      Thanks Steve, it was good to meet up with you periodically over the Pennine Way. Well done, four times completist! After all that good weather, I now have rain at Jedburgh


      1. Stephen Leathley

        Hi Jools
        Congratulations on completing it all. Scotland sounds really superb – perhaps a bit of adventure for next year….Guess you are back at work now – that will be a shock to the system.
        All the best.


      2. Jools Post author

        Thanks Stephen, it was a fantastic walk, having been back at work for only a week, I am already missing the trail and the daily regime


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