Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
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|Sunburn and blisters in Lanark|
|Days N34 - N39 Southern Scotland|
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English West Country
North of England
April 29, 2007
April 28 was a rest day
Time of departure: 8.00 am
Time of arrival: 4.00 pm
Place departed: New Lanark, South Lanarkshire
Place arrived: Chapelhall (south of Airdrie), North Lanarkshire
Cum miles: 629.5
Percent complete: 67.9
Shawlee Cottage, Chapelhall ***
Cost for bed and breakfast: £35 ($70)
| Overview of both
What others say
|Upper picture: St. Nicholas's Church in Lanark. Lower: Not easily seen, but there are multiple switchback turns along this trail from the Clyde River up to Lanark, an ascent of about 300 ft|
took the hard way out of New Lanark by continuing on the beautiful
Clyde trail north. This is a climbing, twisting, turning,
descending then climbing-again, wooded trail on the east of the river,
now tranquil again after exerting itself over waterfalls and
rapids. The ascent of 300 ft to the town of (old) Lanark
fifteen switchback (hairpin) bends on a path through the woods and
bordered by grass, wild onions, and bluebells. These paths
have dirt steps supported by wood risers, hard to walk on but probably
easier than slithering on steep, dirt inclines.
It was most tasteful, and a must-see if you are anywhere near. I'm sure it draws a lot of outdoorsy folks when the weather is warm.
And warm it was.The Glasgow Herald reported that April was set to be the warmest on record, both here and in parts of England that I'd walked through. The previous records were set many decades ago (for Central England, in 1865), so it's most unusual to have such a summery spring. That said, today was too breezy for comfort.
In Lanark, I breakfasted at the Clydesdale Inn, since the youth hostel doesn't do breakfasts quite so early in the year.
It was an uneventful and uninteresting day. In fact, after leaving Lanark, it was quite boring. I had reached the latitude of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and that brought with it urbanization approximately similar to that between Liverpool and Manchester. While the route lay largely alongside fields, there were more towns and villages, more traffic, more litter, more housing developments and more commerce than I’d seen in quite a while. That would continue for at least another day.
In spite of my day off, my right ankle was painful through most of the day, and I got concerned about it. Having overcome blister and knee problems was no guarantee that something else wouldn't come along - or, indeed, that the knee and blister problems wouldn't resurface. I started to limp, but after a while took an Ibuprofen which helped.
My hiking stick had been a great success. For some reason, I used it almost exclusively in my left hand. It had unloaded my legs, and helped with balance especially when I was on uneven ground or navigating a slope or steps, or was just getting up from the ground after a rest. When my pack felt heavy, which was exceedingly often, I sometimes held the stick horizontally behind my back, clasping it there in two hands, enabling my wrists to raise the pack a little and take weight off my shoulders.
The rubber boot at the bottom of the stick had had a hard duty cycle - I calculated at least 500,000 jabs at the ground by now. That was not entirely a guess, of course, since I’d taken about 2000 steps per mile for 630 miles, and I jabbed the stick on the ground every second step, minus some steps when I was not using it or it was behind my back. (The things that occupy the hiker’s mind.) The stick’s first rubber boot had worn considerably, but it wasn’t worn through yet. I had two spare boots for the stick in my pack, and it was clear now that I wasn’t going to need both.
I was now about two-thirds of the way to John o'Groats. This seemed to hold more psychological significance than passing the halfway point. At two-thirds, it was easier to think I was nearly there – though one quickly realized there were 320 miles or so to go. Each day was a struggle, and the thought of another 20 or so days did not sound like John o’Groats was close, but it was clearly far closer than was Land’s End.
Mark Moxon, chronicler of this and other walks, reported that the last one-third was really tough on the body. I also think I'd noticed - not for Mark as much as for hiker-writers in general - that the zest can go out of their reports at this point. I can see why they felt as they did. The hike had become an occupation as much as a pastime - and hard labor at that. I was a prisoner of my commitment to finish. That was perhaps why Mark pointed out that to get to John o'Groats, you must really, really want to.
Just short of Airdrie, I stopped for the night at Shawlee Cottage B&B in Chapelhall. It was clean and well maintained, and pretty well on my route. Waiting for owners Sandy and Cathy Aitken to arrive home, I spent some time in the Railway Inn, where a crowd of locals, all men, were watching a soccer final of some sort. The all-male clientele made me wonder if Scottish pubs still reflect some past sexist culture. As recently as the 1960s, a woman who entered a Scottish pub was looked at suspiciously if not accompanied by a man.
|Day N38 © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May Day N40|