Walking through history

I won’t be posting a blog piece for a week or so, while I’m doing a long walk through Cumbria, from Carlisle in the north to Ulverston in the south, via Caldbeck, Skiddaw, Rosthwaite, Elterwater and Torver. For those of you who know this region, those names have meaning. For those who don’t, aren’t the names themselves wonderful : a mix of Norse and Celtic and Saxon. All along the route we’ll be walking on trails first travelled centuries ago – tracks and bridleways and coffin roads – through settlements that date back hundreds of years, and landscapes that have evolved with changing times.

That’s part of the reason I have to live in England, where such a rich history is right under your feet. We’ll walk to the Victorian station early tomorrow, take the train to Carlisle, come out of the station, turn towards the south and start walking. For the next six days the concerns will not be deadlines and logistics and work plans but the more basic matters of weather, physical effort, food and water. We’ve booked accommodation along the route, so at least we know where we will sleep, but the rest will just happen.

What interests me is what will be in my head as we walk. Will my mind turn only on the here and now, or will it default to the usual agenda: new characters in the next book, or the plot, or how best to promote my completed trilogy beyond Cumbria to a wider readership? It would be really good to have a break from all that and live a more elemental existence for a few days, but I don’t know whether my over-active brain will agree. One of my fellow-walkers has been reading ‘Fallout’. Maybe he’s finished it by now. He may want to talk to me about it, and I know I’ll enjoy that, despite the desire to focus on the landscape, or the clouds, or what to have for lunch and where to eat it. We’ll walk and we’ll talk, and sometimes we’ll be quiet, and it’ll be great.

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