How I Started This Madness

In 2004, I spent an exhilarating nine days walking part way across northern England on the Coast to Coast footpath which encompassed spectacular scenery, surprising ruggedness and that unpredictable British weather. Here is my story.

Several years ago, I saw a magazine article about the Thames Path. “What a great idea, I want to do that.” A year later my wife, Cathryn, and I were in SW England and Wales when I stumbled on a copy of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast book in a used bookstore. “Wow, this walk looks even better.” The next year, spring 2004, I cut my teeth on UK walking by taking an Irish “culture” class, six days of hillwalking, while Cathryn was in an Irish language class. This was at Oideas Gael, a small college in Glen Columcille amid some of the most severe weather to ever hit Ireland in April. The walking was brutal, but I was hooked!

We returned home to Sonoma wine country in California and I immediately started making plans for a C2C walk in the fall. I found a friend and mentor in Richard Hayward of British Footpaths in Washington State. He provided invaluable advice, the best of which was “travel light, best keep to 8 pounds”. He sent me OS maps and his C2C guide which was a good supplement to Wainwright’s book. The Ramblers website and Sherpa chat room were also very helpful.

I am a retired thermodynamics engineer, working 2 days a week in a wine tasting room, pouring wine and chatting with tourists. This fun job gives me the flexibility to travel frequently with Cathryn, mostly alternating between the British Isles and Asia. I am used to walking in the mountains of California, mostly day hikes now that my days of packing a tent are over. The anticipation of walking a long distance path in England with B&B overnights, was quite exciting. The whole idea seemed revolutionary to this American.