19 June 2011

My best buddy

It's 2 years since I first wrote this and 9 since we went to the RSPCA and came away with a little scruff-ball we called Jess. She wasn’t our first choice. Oh no, we’d got our eyes firmly set on another – a sweet little puppy with take-me-home eyes – but when I knelt down to say hello, Jess jumped onto my knee and she’s never got off.

Jess 10 weeks old
She was the oddest looking pup – huge head, short legs, bent nose and when she walks her back legs wander along a good six inches to the right of her front ones. She looks like a bendy bus or Slinky from Toy Story. She’s also the happiest little dog I’ve ever known. Every day’s an adventure, everybody she meets is her friend. She's walked all of A Dales High Way, the Dales Way, the Cleveland Way and many many more. She's shared tents, slept in the van, kipped under the bed when B&B's would let her and in sheds when they wouldn't - in short she's been everywhere that we have. Until this week.

This week, for the first time, I went walking and left her at home. It was a very sunny day, we were going high onto the fells with no access to water, she's getting on a bit now and she's a hairy dog who hates the heat - need I go on?

I know it was the right decision but boy did it hurt. 

15 June 2011

One foot in front of the other ....

Mike Brockhurst’s Walking Englishman is one of the most popular walking websites there is. There’s always something to enjoy as he shares his old favourites and new discoveries. This time Mike’s really gone and done it. He’s about 3 weeks into a 3 month trek from the far north-west of Scotland to the most southerly tip of England, or as Mike calls it, his 1,000 mile walk in 80 days.

A thousand miles! I’ve never done anything like that. The furthest I’ve walked in one go is the Coast to Coast path. It took us just under a fortnight and it rained every single day. Even so the whole experience is right up there in my top ten of the best things I’ve ever done. There is something about setting off and not coming home that is quite different from even the greatest of day walks. You leave home and your everyday life behind and around day 3 something happens – to me at least. I stop worrying about whether I’ve left the gas on and what my boss said and everything concentrates down to the single fact of putting one foot in front of the other. Walking becomes who I am - what I do. Nothing else matters.

Friends have asked me what I think about when I’m on a long distance trail. The answer is not a lot. Occasionally the thought of a mars bar might float into my head but mostly my mind just empties and the rhythm of the walk takes over. A kind of detachment sets in and I end the walk calmer, more relaxed and at peace with myself and the world.

So Mike, I wish you the very best of luck and if you’re anything like me, by August you’ll be so laid back they’ll have to hang on to your backpack to stop you slipping off the Lizard and floating out to sea.

10 June 2011

Chance encounter

We’re still quite new to this writing lark and I’ve often wondered what I’d do if I actually saw someone with a copy of one of our books. What do you say? What’s the protocol? Do you stroll nonchalantly by or rush up shrieking? Smile and nod or run in the opposite direction? Well that moment has finally come. The other day we were walking from Settle towards Malham on a lovely route that started with a steep climb out of the town and headed past Sugar Loaf Hill to the foot of Attermire Scar where it joined the path of A Dales High Way.

Warrendale Knotts and Attermire Scar

Ahead we spotted a lone walker and soon caught up with him when he stopped to consult his map – our map! And yes – we spoke to him. Well, we had to didn’t we – if only to make sure he wasn’t lost! I was so excited. It turns out he was from California and was walking the DHW backwards having joined it at Appleby after spending a week on the Cumbria Way. What a trip.

We walked together for a while, parting above Malham Tarn where we joined the Pennine Bridleway for a lovely walk down to Stainforth. It was easy going all the way with the most beautiful views of all 3 Peaks ahead of us for most of the way. A picnic by Catrigg Force was followed by a welcome pint in the Craven Heifer in Stainforth. It’s a great little pub that gave us a fright earlier this year when it suddenly closed for business. It’s always a worry when village pubs close. Without pubs and schools the heart is knocked out of a village. Welcome back Craven Heifer – we missed you.

7 June 2011

My first post


This is the first post on my brand new blog head in the clouds.
There that's the scary bit over so I'll just say hi. My name is Chris and I love to walk.

Sometimes I look like this: 

but often I look more like this:

The dog's called Jess and she's usually around somewhere. Thanks for reading.

Back soon.