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Thursday, 6 December 2012

“How did it feel when...?” (final leg - Lancaster Canal - Carnforth to Kendal)

That question has been asked by every sports presenter since the 1948 Olympics.

 The modern day answer is inevitably, “Amazing”.

At the end of my Pennine Way (1987) I was emotional. That was my first proper backpacking trip. It had been a long thought about ambition, and the twelve days leave delicately negotiated from the restraints of family life with young children.

I had heatwave weather until Byrness, the start of the arduous final section over the Cheviots. Here, Wainwright says, “ Gird up your loins as they have never been girded up before”.

I arrived at the old railway wagon refuge, still four miles from the finish, in the dark, and  spent a foul night in a wet sleeping bag and no food, with a gale rocking the shelter.

At 9:54 on a Sunday morning, I walked into Kirk Yetholm, and, yes, I had a tears in my eyes. Everybody was at church, and the silence was palpable. I hitch-hiked home in time for Sunday lunch.

I’m not sure if that describes how I felt, but subsequent long distance trips have usually left me less emotional, and more with the feeling of a job well done, except for my 2009 intended walk “Lowestoft to St Bee’s Head” which had to be renamedThe Broads to The Lakes”, after falling and cutting a vein on my shin descending Nan Bield Pass, therefore finishing two days early.

This last leg of my canal walk to Kendal, is one of those, where the end is not the end. Like climbing the final  Munro, the return to the day’s starting point still has to be made, so there is inevitably anticlimax, and so it was yesterday as I returned through the centre of Kendal, and down the squelchy path alongside the River Kent, in increasing rain.


This old boy wasn't for moving

I was asked why the canal was filled in - here's part of the answer

Coming into Kendal - a short stretch of road linked by canal path converted to cycle track

Some fancy wrought ironwork - it was solid, not cable

The bridge mentioned is the next photo - (click to enlarge if too small to read)

The terminus of the Lancaster Canal - Canal Head, now taken over by Kendal waste disposal

Kendal Castle taken from the same spot as the canal terminus pic above.

Kendal dry-ski slope - a bit of an eyesore

Kendal panorama from the castle - normally the background would show the Lake District hills

Kendal Castle - once you've seen one...

Down to the canal terminus, now the recycling depot

I returned through Kendal back the River Kent. After a stop at this Costa coffee shop, I trudged back down the river to the car in squelchy mud, and ever increasing rain

Here is one person who made a good stab at answering the opening question: 

We had suffered, starved and triumphed

groveled down yet grasped at glory,

grown bigger in the bigness of the whole.

We had seen God in his splendours,
        heard the text that nature renders.

We had reached the naked soul of man.

                                                  Sir Ernest Shackleton 

With acknowledgement to Robert W. Service - The Call of the Wild.
The whole poem is worth a read - click here:


Roderick Robinson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roderick Robinson said...

Perhaps Happy Birthday would be better.

Anonymous said...

It,s only the beginning!
Congrats on a birthday?

Anonymous said...

that's the first time I've come across arriving in Kendal being considered in the same breath as that in Stromness or Grytviken - but the desolation you show at the old canal basin is certainly mirrored in contemporary pics of those latter 'stations'!

Sir Hugh said...

RR - Thanks for that.

BC - Tony always said you were positive. It reminds of the guys we climbed with in Spain who were always chanting Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Gimmer - I get your second reference, but cannot tie up the link to Stromness. I don't think it is on the Pennine Way!

Anonymous said...

The Pennine Way was my first multi-day trip, Easter 1985. I think we were quite elated when we finished - also relieved after a very long, hard day.
Since then I've often found the end of long walks to be a bit of an anti-climax: not that I've done half so many as yourself.