I've made it through Pembrokeshire with an incredible amount of help, being passed, basically, from person to person, just walking the miles between houses. It's not that my life has been easy; but it could be much much harder. I'm already thinking ahead to future walking challenges abroad and knowing that I'm having a relatively gentle time of it on this one, home turf.
I only have one tiny drawback to all this lovely help - no time to myself. No time in the evenings to sit and stare, to think, to process and no time to write.
It's a worthwhile exchange, swapping comfort for the lack of writing time - I camped last night for the first time in a month and had the usual return to uncomfortable sleep, waking up over and over again, hips aching, condensation dripping on me from the inside of the tent. I just feel like my experiences are slipping away - days pass where I walk, I look at the scenery, I meet new people. They're all the same, nothing to report.
It's hard to keep a record of what I do every day. There's never enough time to sit and write it all down, especially when I'm spending so much time with other people in the evenings. The days pass, I walk, I rest, I meet new people and somehow, when I come to look back on it the minutiae have slipped away. Does it matter where I sat to rub my feet? Or the ten minutes I spent watching seagulls curve upwards on clifftop wind currents, swooping and jockeying for territory. Or the packet of sandwiches wrapped in paper, secured with a rubber band that I opened under the table in a cafe, only drinking tea because it was too wet to sit outside for free. All these small details of every day, wet grass shedding water into my boots, a line of sheep standing patiently with their backs to the wind, the heavy ache of my tired thighs as I pull up onto another stile, a line of steps stretching up into the side of yet another hill; they are indistinguishable, undescribable. Have I been doing this too long? Am I no longer able to document it? I eat my breakfast in a field, finding a suitable flat rock to sit on, swilling out the bowl from my water bottle, drying it on my knee, repacking it as I have done hundreds of times over. The extraordinary has become mundane.
I've had a good few days making 20+ miles in Pembrokeshire, something that, for my body and level of fitness is brilliant. Walking 21 miles in a day is, for me, a case of keeping up a steady rhythym, watching my rest breaks, timing myself on my hourly mileage, keeping it going , rarely stopping. It's not that it isn't fun - the sense of achievement at pushing my body to this sort of mileage is high but it's not relaxing. I spend much of the time watching the ground under my feet, especially on a cliffside path it can be rocky, unsteady, with unexpected animal burrows and when I'm walking at speed there's little time for changing footsteps. So my eyes remain downwards, rarely looking up to feast on the fantastic coastal surroundings. Do I miss out? I'm not sure. I get what I want which is to walk miles and miles every day; this isn't a holiday after all.
I suppose it's another stage, another state to experience. Gone is the euphoria, gone is the struggle, gone too is the majority of the pain. I'm hardened, deadened in a way. A machine, just making its way towards the predetermined destination.
A happy machine. Satisfied with its simple, mechanical life.