The first ink lines have appeared on my LEJoG map, after so many weeks of pencil lines and draft marks I have at last plotted the first route; from my home in Cheshire to my Mum’s house 15 miles away. These are all metaphorical marks of course because I’m using Memory Map, but the familiar blue punctuated line that identifies a route is now visible over the rough red track I have been using so far.
The fact that I have started in the middle of the walk with this section near the house in which I was brought up, rather than plot the first 15 or 16 miles from Land’s End is significant as it’s one of the driving forces behind my doing the walk at all.
There’s a section of road in Knutsford, where I used to live, that runs from the A556 into the town centre. To locals it’s called Northwich Road, on a road atlas it’s labelled the A5033. I used to travel along that road a lot and I would often see men carrying large backpacks, walking slowly under their great weight, either to or from Knutsford town centre. I would wonder where they were going with such a large load, they would generally look very weary, sometimes scruffy, obviously well travelled, purposeful and determined.
I liked to think they were walking LEJoG; many routes pass close to Knutsford and Northwich, it’s a hard area to avoid if you’re trying to link up Offa’s Dyke and the Pennine Way. So I know I’ve always been aware of the end-to-end walk and I always knew that if and when I walked it I would have to walk along Northwich Road into Knutsford.
So I’ve plotted my route from my current home to my old family home, it’s not the obvious route – it has more road walking than I would like and it’s not the shortest route by a long way, but it ticks the box. It completes the years old fantasy of walking down that road, weighed heavy by a travel worn backpack (not too heavy!) well on my way to John O’Groats, purposeful and determined.
The reality of course is far more mundane (isn’t it always), there is a link road off the A5033 to Knutsford Services on the M6, an obvious place to hitch-hike from or be dropped off at. The people I saw weren’t walking LEJoG, they probably weren’t walking at all – they were hitch-hikers walking to or from a lift at the service station – I should have realised, I used to do it myself – in the kinder days of my youth.
That doesn’t change anything of course – we can’t let reality to get in the way of fulfilling a boyhood fantasy can we?!?