Yesterday, I was caught talking to a stone post. I am spending a lot of time on my own on this trip and often find myself having conversations with animals, trees, and inanimate objects like the said post. I had booked into a hotel again as the weather is so cold and wet so I was off any way-marked path. I reached a point where I needed to refold my map within its weatherproof sleeve and saw a convenient place to lean my walking poles. ‘Hello nice stone’ I said, ‘do you mind if I lean my sticks on you?. It was at this point that I noticed the woman trying to squeeze past me and giggling. This was all very embarrassing but you will understand how amused I was to read on Facebook that, around the same time, Kerriann had caught herself chatting to herself in our kitchen.
Staying in hotels and B&Bs has a lot of disadvantages – they are seldom in nice places and are usually next to main roads. This usually means that you have to walk some miles on roads and often in a direction you weren’t planning on going. They also cost money but of course they do provide a nice warm bed, bath and breakfast.
Yesterday, had the weather been better, I would have wild-camped on the banks of the lake and remained on my original path. However, because of the overnight stay I re-planned my route and yet again was amazed that I could walk from South Chorley into central Preston through green countryside. I mainly followed the Number 55 cycle route. I chatted to a few dog-walkers, one of whom waited for me at a gate to let me know that a set of stepping stones had been washed away and she pointed me in the right direction for the diversion. Another dog-walker had always wanted to do some long distance trails but had slipped a disc in his back and was struggling to motivate himself into getting fit enough again. I hope I inspired him to step out that little bit further on each of his walks.
Following Kerriann’s appeal on Facebook for someone in Preston to act as a mail drop and collection point for my maps and medication, Jan and Brian in Fulwood kindly volunteered their services. Not only this but as the weather is still dodgy they offered their spare bed for the night. Lancastrians are a very friendly and helpful bunch!
The planned route registered within my GPS seen to have stopped 20 miles north of Preston and I cannot reload it without my laptop (or another with Garmin Basecamp on it). This does not bother me too much as I am re-writing the route based on local knowledge as I go along. For example Brian has recommended that I follow the Lancaster Canal from here to Lancaster and I may even continue on it up to Kendal to collect some mint cake.
A huge thank you to all the people, animals and things that I have had nice conversations with and a very special thank you to Jan and Brian for sharing their lovely home with me.