Monday, March 19, 2007

Day 56 : Alness to Dornoch

Sunday 11th March 2007

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Distance Walked: 20.9 miles
Start Time: 8:49
End Time: 15:24
Elapsed Time: 6:35
Weather: Overcast and windy
Distance walked so far: 1101.3 miles

Weekly Audio Update: Dave on The Steve Show - Day 56

She leaves in the morning, quietly, and is away. Though I relish the company, it only feels right that I finish this alone. One of the appealing aspects of the Walk was that it seemed like something that could be achieved with no support or preparation and, with the end almost in sight, I’m keen to push myself as hard as possible to see just how much discomfort I can withstand.

I’ve had no sensation at all in my big toes for about a month now, which is probably lucky as they’d be furious if they knew what was going on down there. I have adopted a walking technique which can only be described as “upright indifference”: arms folded, head back, spine straightened, eyes fixed down the length of the enormous nose. This form of arrogant plodding seems to alleviate the pain in the left shoulder but gets me some funny looks from the passing traffic. To hell with ‘em. Let see how they look when they’ve walked eleven hundred miles.

Today’s morning miles are rain-sodden and drab, along back roads between forest and farms. The thick cloud presses down and all is gloomy. Reaching the outskirts of Tain by midday, with the expanse of the Dornoch Firth beckoning before me, I join the A9 for the first of many miles over the final few days, this time as it heads over the bridge towards Dornoch. It’s a smart, elegant town, enticing visitors with its seaside location, impressive accommodation and world class golf course. It feels like I’ve walked into another world in a single day.

The minor celebrity that has been plaguing me on a weekly basis continues to interfere. Completing the walk is not enough to keep him entertained, it seems. Now there’s an artificial deadline and the spectre of charitable donations if the deadline is met. Not only is he trying to turn me into a performing monkey, he’s also trying to make me dance. Worse, he’s trying to add meaning to the Walk where previously there was none. Yet, as much as I’m indifferent to the notion of charity, the prospect of forcing such a Scrooge-like character to dip into his money-bin is too enticing to dismiss. It will involve completing the final five days worth of walking in three and a half days, but I suspect that I won’t be the one in the most pain at the end if I succeed.

Song of the day:

Rickie Lee Jones
“After Hours”

All the gang has gone home /
Standing on the corner /
All alone /
You and me, streetlight /
We'll paint the town - grey /
Oh, we are so many lamps /
Who have lost our way

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