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  • Chris Jones

Day 95 & 96, Wed 28th, Thurs 29. Bettyhill to Eribol.

As the end of my sixth month on the trail approaches, I've been reflecting over these past few days on the journey so far. For the first five months, it has felt like I'm always cold, getting out of the tent in the morning, every time I stop walking for a rest and most notably, in the evening when I'm done for the day, tired and hungry, I'm always cold. Before I set out in January, I did consider swapping my sleeping bag for a lighter, summer bag as the warmer months arrived but I'm glad I didn't, to date, there has only been one night where I felt warm enough to sleep with my bag wide open, every other night I've been snuggled up in my toasty cocoon which nearly always ensures I get a good nights sleep, if I am woken up it is because of the wind or rain and not because I'm cold.

I still haven't completely overcome the daily anxiety I feel not knowing where I will be sleeping that day, I constantly reassure myself that, 'something always happens' and so far, that something has mostly always been good. As I'm walking, I watch the couples in their motorhomes, feeling jealous knowing that wherever they end up, they've got a fridge full of food, a hot shower and a nice comfy bed to sleep in. If I'm honest, my jealousy is probably more about that fact that they are sharing their adventure with their significant other and I'm experiencing all of these amazing places and meeting all of these lovely people, with nobody to share the experience with, except of course with you lovely people, taking the time to read these blogs. 😍 Michelle and I have spent many happy years travelling around in our motorhome, we both loved sharing the adventures and me now seeing all these couples doing exactly that, it hurts a bit...

I'm also very conscious that my journey so far has been incredibly busy. Whether I'm visiting Masonic Lodges or being met by Freemasons on route, stopping in pubs and chatting with complete strangers. I've never really spent a lot of time on my own, until now that I've got onto the North coast of Scotland of course. Each day, I'll set of walking alone but usually, the day ends with people to talk to, to have a beer with, to share my story and to listen to their story. When I started the walk I was a little worried that I would often be very lonely and I wondered what impact that would have on my emotional/mental health. In reality, I still yearn for the peace and quiet, while I love having people to chat to, I'm learning so much about myself now I'm getting the chance to have longer periods of time by myself. I'm slowly unpicking a lot of the nonsense I have floating around in my head, with the help of some audio books and some amazing Blogs I've been listening to, I'm beginning to understand what most likely caused my mental health to deteriorate and more importantly, I'm learning more about how to self help going forward and hopefully, how I can help others. The counselling I received, provided by the MCF most certainly helped, especially when I was in a very dark place but to stay away from that dark place, was always going to need much more than the help provided by the counselling.

I never thought for a minute it would be a straight forward process, for 53 years my brain has been developing, at some point it started going wrong and I figured something must have caused that to happen. It's clearly not that simple, unlike me of course.... I'm discovering some answers with the help of these books and blogs and from the many conversations I'm having with people who have found their way through, found whatever helps them to maintain their emotional health. I think I'm beginning to understand some of the changes I will need to make and will need to work really hard to live according to those changes and it won't surprise any of you to learn, none of it is rocket science, most of it has always been there in front if me but I've just not seen it. That can wait for now, the book will review all I promise....

I walked from Bettyhill to Tongue, mostly all roads so nothing particularly exciting. I stopped in a campsite in Tongue, no pubs so I had a nice big chicken salad from the shop with a large pasta soup, a hot shower and turned in. A mile down the road in the morning, I thought it was a mirage forming on the bridge in front of me... surely, it couldn't be a NAAFI wagon, could it ??? It was, Oliver's, a large coffee with a bacon and mushroom bap, on the house, that's how we should start every day... Cheers Oliver. 😍 a chap standing at the counter ordering his breakfast commented that he liked my hat !!! The handshake followed and this brother, uncomfortably at first but gradually relaxing into our conversation about Freemasonry, shared a few stories over our brews.

I knew I wouldn't make Durness today so I'd be wild camping somewhere, with a warm drink and a big breaky bap inside me, I trudged off up the hill into the sun and what a hill it was... I think I walked up hill for about 3 hours !!! As the afternoon drew into early evening, I began the hunt for a suitable place to pitch, I did think about going out onto this headland which protruded out into Loch Eribol but it was still a bit early so I kept going.

An hour or so later, I found the perfect place, elevated from the road and the water and in lea of a disused stone quarry which protected me from the cold wind coming down off the hills. I pitched up and for the first time ever on this trip, I walked down to the shore and collected a load of timber that had washed up, built myself a little fire place with some rocks and heated the water for my dinner over an open fire. It started raining at around 9.30pm, just as I'd run out of firewood so I cleaned up and hit the sack.

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Cousin Janet
Cousin Janet
Jul 12, 2023

Wow amazing


Jul 11, 2023

You tease, but well done for plugging the book. I always thought this would be the hardest for you. The distance to lodges and the time spent alone will see you get deeper within yourself, but keep up the good walk.


Jul 11, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Any chance when you get back you can take the dog for a walk……… just asking! X

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