This is the walking diary of Lonewalker. My real name is Stuart Greig and I’m an IT consultant specialising in the delivery of Salesforce solutions, working for a Manchester-based systems integrator. I walk the hills at weekends and try and spend at least two weeks of every year completing a long distance path somewhere in the UK. However, before I go any further you should be aware of some of my personal history….
My Early Years
When I think about it, I actually feel quite deprived. I only discovered the joys of the outdoors in my 40’s, many years beyond what most people would agree is my prime. My parents took us on day trips to places I now consider prime walking areas like the Peak District and North Wales, but we never ventured far from the car and although we were all quite trim and fit, it never crossed our minds to walk any further than we needed to.
I joined the cubs for a short period, but like many of the activities undertaken in my formative years, including the trombone and the air cadets, the cubs lasted only a few short weeks before I was bored and dropped out. This meant I never went on any of the camping or hiking expeditions that people of my age did at the time. I’m not sure I would have appreciated them at the time either. Although many of my friends spoke excitedly on a Monday morning in school of walks they had enjoyed to places like Kinder Scout and Mam Tor, I just thought “daft sods, fancy tramping across hills all weekend when you could be enjoying yourself”.
The Later Years
All this inactivity, however, inevitably led to middle age spread. My sporting activities may have included a good deal of local league football, in which I excelled, but the social side of the game (i.e. post match drinks and post training drinks) more than made up for any benefit the exercise may have been doing me. Mid-week I was to be found playing snooker, another “sport” that was surrounded by a healthy drinking culture. Long before the responsibilities of a mortgage and a job enforced an early night and sober outlook, I would be spending anything up to 16 hours at a time in the snooker hall playing “a pint a game, best of 19”.
University turned an “amateur” drinking habit into an almost full-time professional one. I was not an alcoholic by any means, but I don’t suppose that I went more than 24 hours in those three years at Preston without a drink of some kind or another. The drinking abated significantly once I was married, but was quickly replaced by food as Christine carried out what she felt were her wifely duties by having my tea on the table promptly each evening.
By the time I reached 40, I was about 25 stone and well on the way to diabetes, coronary heart disease and all sorts of other wonderful weigh-related illnesses. My three children were nearly all grown, the youngest was 13, the oldest 18 and I decided that if I ever were to see my grandchildren I better start to do something to turn my life around. The real catalyst for this was a photo my Mum took at my 40th birthday party.