The day is fast approaching when Mike and I depart Boston to wing our way to Manchester England and thence to the village of Orton in Cumbria to resume our Coast-to-Coast Walk across England.
If you followed our exploits last September you will recall I had fixated on the task of undertaking Arthur Wainwright’s path across the waist of England from the Irish Sea in St. Bees to the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay and that I recruited my brother to tag along. We reported exciting adventures along sea cliffs above St. Bees Head and as we traversed the picturesque (and occasionally stormy) Lake District, climbing steep mountain passes and walking the shores of serene high-altitude lakes to emerge on the verge of the Yorkshire Dales in the sleepy town of Orton. And we reveled in the companionship of fellow travelers. It was when we arrived in Orton that we received distressing news from home which necessitated that we abandon the hike to return to Rhode Island to care for loved ones.
Mike and I made an immediate pact to return to complete the challenge and, after a year of planning, we are ready to go. On September 3, Aer Lingus will carry us from Boston to Dublin and then from Dublin to Manchester where we will land at 7:30 AM on Labor Day. Train transfers have been secured to bring us northward to Penrith. Then we will hire a cab to take us back to the George Hotel in Orton.
The proprietors of this country inn, Andy and Bruna were so kind to us when tragedy struck last October 1 that we felt an imperative to reunite with them as we begin our walk. Last year, because we had to depart on such short notice, Bruna patiently guided us through the online process of booking train passage to the airport (a skill that was redeployed to book our current travel) and Andy upended his work day to pack our things into his car and to drive us up to Penrith and the train depot.
Both of us have been preparing for the return taking special care to attune old bodies to the rigors of long-distance hill walking. We have both redoubled our usual exercise routines (swimming, walking and gym workouts) and, on multiple occasions, we have ventured out onto the DuVal Trail in South Kingstown. This is the jewel of the trail system that is operated and maintained by the South Kingstown Land trust – a favorite charity of ours. The trail meanders through hardwood and rhododendron forest and provides challenging climbs as it crisscrosses the glacial moraine that bisects the southern part of the town. The total elevation gain on this path is 435 feet – enough to make the calves ache for a few days.
Of course, the body benefits from these walks and the muscles strengthen, but perhaps the most interesting and helpful aspect of undertaking these local hikes has been how the mind adjusts to dealing with the unknown. The trail is so convoluted and the terrain so varied, each of the outings is like the first – totally unfamiliar. At first, the unfamiliarity is daunting, even frightening, and the body responds to that fear with fatigue. But the mind adjusts with each successful completion. And thus, both body and mind get a workout.
We feel ready!!!!
The George Hotel – Orton, Penrith, Cumbria UK