Nancy’s take on the mission:
We, the two grinning goons in the picture above, have embarked on an unusual but by no means unique mission to walk the British mainland coastline. We decided to begin somewhere symbolic and near where we live, so Beachy Head was chosen as we both like the thought of returning to the classic cliff of death in our dotage. We settled on heading west as, being realistic, we may never finish but at least we’ll get to Devon and some other beautiful rugged county coastlines.
We both have full time jobs, partners, children and various other interests that take up the majority of our time. As a result, our current availability to walk together, further and further from home, is limited. At the moment we can manage 15 or so days of walking a year, up to 16 miles a day – or many less dependent on the amount of steep ascents and descents! My job often highlights the tension between process and product in education and I personally champion the process. So, it doesn’t matter if we don’t finish this mammoth endeavour as it’s all about the process: the planning, the execution, the enjoyment and the companionship of each individual walk.
Barbara’s perspective: Sea to the left
Nancy is the dedicated walker of the pair of us. Me? I am a fair weather walker, prone to complain at great volume at both the prospect and reality of steep hills and endless mud. Not, I feel, someone who is asked along for a lifetime commitment of walking. That saying, I am rarely one to say no to things either, especially when it involves the outside, something ridiculous and, above all, the company of a fine friend. So, one day between winges about work and over a ciggie (me) and coffee (both), Nancy proposed. Or at least it felt a little that way. The wording was something like ‘walking the coast of the UK has been on my bucket list for years and after thinking long and hard about who should come with me, I have chosen you’. Now how can anyone refuse such an offer? My immediate response was to remind Nancy of my inclination towards wild positivity one minute and outright rage the next, but after being assured that actually this made my company all the more appealing, alongside the reality that this wouldn’t be taken too seriously (a lifeblood sucker if ever there was one), well I was game. And still am. I am sold. I love it. I love the sea and endless sky. I love the stunning areas already found just miles away from what has been home for so long but not seen until now. I love the walking, the almost meditative one foot in front of the other and that end of day ache. I love the almost impossibility of it all. And I truly love the fact that this is, as I see it, a way of cementing a friendship until the bitter end. We will just keep walking until minds or bodies give out and will do so as and when we can. That and this blog may actually prompt us both to write! Bring on the next.