Saturday, 5 May 2012

From Edinburgh

I finally reached the Scott Monument on Princes Street yesterday afternoon, at the conclusion of my 600 mile walk. I should like to thank everyone who donated to the cause, and those who bothered to read these rambling (in both senses of the word) scribbles from along the way.

I greatly appreciate your encouragement and support over the past seven weeks: thank you so much.

Friday, 4 May 2012

From Musselburgh, East Lothian

Upon leaving the tiny village of Aberlady this morning, I at last saw Edinburgh on the horizon across the Firth of Forth; thus I have just ten miles to cover tomorrow to reach my journey's end at the Scott Monument on Princes Street.

I deliberately planned relatively shorter walks for the last few days of the journey so that I could try to compose myself before returning to "normal" life after nearly two months in my pleasant pedestrian limbo. I had also intended to close this blog with a few thoughts distilled from the past seven weeks, but alas I find I am too tired for anything like that. Instead, as one tends to do after a particular chapter of life (or in this case paragraph) draws  to a close, I have been looking at the photos I snapped along the way. For the most part, they are banal pictures of the countryside and coast line. But there are also a few shots of objects, faces or places that impressed me for some reason or another at the time. Here I should like to refer to one of them, in the hopes that someone else's words might compensate for my own dull headedness.

One rainy Monday morning in early April I found myself trudging through Hull (yes, it rhymes with wool, and the "H" is silent) in cold, steady rain. Dripping and despondent, I happened to spy a fine statue erected in memory of a Hull inhabitant named James Stuart (1836-1922), and crossed the road to inspect it. Since then I have tried to learn something about the civic worthy who merited this grand tribute, but he seems to have vanished into history, and is no doubt long forgotten. However, on the statue's pedestal are inscribed the following words, taken from one of Stuart's speeches (or perhaps a written document), and dated 1906:

"I also remember that I had a father to convince me that as I began mature life I was a citizen of a nation governed by democratic principles and that it was my duty, as it is the duty of every man according to his ability and his opportunity, to do something in the town, the the neighbourhood, and in the nation to promote the wellbeing of its inhabitants".

That, I think, is very well put indeed...

...and, on that note, I shall now head for a pub for my last (on the hoof) refreshing, rehydrating pint.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

From North Berwick, East Lothian

Stumbling clumsily along a pebbled beach south of Dunbar yesterday morning I met an elderly gentleman who, in the course of asking about my health after such a long walk, introduced me to a Scottish word that I hadn't heard before -- hirple (it rhymes with 'purple'): "Ha'e ye not got a hirple?" he enquired. Wondering what on earth he was talking about, he explained that it means walking with a limp, and that hirple can be used either as a noun or a verb. I googled it later, and found that indeed the word does exist. Further research turned up a rather curious Scottish ballad, "The Legend of Stumpie Brae", which contains the word hirple. The relevant verse goes as follows:

Quo' she, 'Gude man, an' it's o'er the linn,
And it's up to the meadow ridge' -
'Aye' quo the Stumpie, hirplin in
And he gie'd the wife a slap on the chin,
'But I cam roun' by the bridge'.

I am not quite sure what any of this is about, but Stumpie's explanation/excuse "I cam roun' by the bridge" sounds quite a good one to me.

Looking at my map I find that I have completed my northerly wandering, and that over the next three days I must head west and south along the coast to reach Edinburgh. Not so very far to go now, which is just as well. The mechanics of rising early, packing, walking for five or six hours each day, finding the B&B, foraging for an evening meal and then waiting anxiously for the weather forecast after the evening news is starting to grind me down. Physically I seem to have managed OK, but mentally I am a bit hirpled.