I recently spent 7.5 days walking coast to coast through England’s northern heartland, following the path of the Roman emperor Hadrian’s Wall. Nearly every one of the 84 miles was beautiful.
I loved the soaring vistas of the crags and moors, the quiet lakes, the cozy pubs where I’d put my sore feet up and drink pots of tea or an end-of-day pint of real ale.
And of course, being me, I loved the ancient history.
Me and an ancient Roman fort at Vindolanda.
But one of the things I loved most was the people I met along the way. Doing something like this – well-trodden enough to feel safe doing it alone, but not overwhelmingly crowded because I guess most people aren’t into old Roman walls as much as I am – means I mostly met cool and friendly people along the path. They cheered me as I teetered on wobbly stones over mud pits, as I slowly climbed down stairs big enough only for nimble cat feet, as I slogged through wet fields in my sodden sneakers.
My blisters remain, 6 days after I finished my last steps of the 84 miles, but so does the confidence I found in the endless rhythm of those steps.