Day One: Doing it my West Highland Way

Now, I realise that it is bad form to talk about an ex whilst on a date, but I don’t think, in this instance, I can help it. The Coast to Coast holds a special place in my heart and it is the standard by which I will judge my new acquaintance. (In this metaphor, The Thames Path Challenge is a regretful one night stand for which I don’t have the emotional intelligence to deal with, so shall insult and ridicule it when I think it can’t hear therfore relinquishing any responsibility I may have for agreeing to do it in the first place).

I started this adventure in the same place as the last: the First Class Lounge at Euston Station as it’s now so difficult to go back to cattle class.  Interestingly, I shall be passing within a mile of Shap, my B&B rest stop after the toughest of my Coast to Coast stages (ahh, the C2C!).  Anyway, looking ahead, my 18.3kg pack, which I have dubbed Gigantor as I am to it,  what Ben Stiller was to Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan, has been successfully carried for 90 minutes and walked with for around a mile or so between home and Shenfield Station and between King’s Cross and Euston   and I haven’t snapped in half as concerned friends have feared. This is good news. Actually the pack itself isn’t quite that heavy as I make out, it is the sum total of the backpack; my waterproof map holder and contents; water bottles and shovel. Yes that’s right, attached to my belt is a shovel, the sole purpose of which is to dig holes for pooing in.  This caused much hilarity at work and was the talking point of the office for all of 30 to 40 seconds.  The thing is, how do you know how big it should be? (The hole, not the poo). And what was it Yorkshire Chris said back in Borrowdale in August? ‘The art of going has been lost’. Is it an art I want to master? Probably not and to be honest,  if I see a pub with a porcelain throne, that’s where I am going for all my ablutions needs: like a pacifist in a war, I truly hope my weapon remains holstered throughout.

Anyway, focus Timothy. . . so, back in the First Class Lounge, I glimpsed the weather forecast for the first time this week. I had been ignoring such things to avoid raising anxiety and was obviously delighted to hear the words ‘sunny spells’ hop, skip and jump from the lips of the weather forecaster (actually, they trickled through the fingers of the subtitles typist, as the sound was down and the captions on). I too could draw on empirical evidence gained through my mile and a bit walk earlier to confirm this most wonderful news.  Trouble is, I was less delighted to see all the other words used in the ever increasing Bank Holiday Forecast of Doom:

  • Rather cold
  • Rainy spells

It gets worse: the following news story was of talk of a strike on Virgin East Coast – my train operator of choice for the way home. Frantically, I scanned the subtitles looking for dates of said industrial action until breathing a sigh of relief after determining it is scheduled for the following week. These dramatic and saddening stories are exactly why I haven’t watched the news since 1993 (I assume Bill Clinton is still Pres of Usah and John Major is still wanting to be a part of a new Europe – if not I am sure nothing much has happened in the intervening period)!

Anyway, not much in the way of walking in this blog and I need to catch my train so I can eat my weight in First Class food and drink, but before I go, I will update you with what will, erm, has happened during the rest of the day. Drank booze on the train (Lent is over: time to dive back in); got a taxi to Milngavie (or train, I haven’t decided yet – I mean I can’t remember which); found the Hotel; drank more booze; probably had burger and chips (no, actually had) and wrote this (obviously).

Getting Ready

Leaving Home

First Class for the next five hours

Glasgow Central Station

Milngavie welcomes me

Brentwood to Milngavie

409 Miles