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Poetry Pleases: Footsore And Free Of Fancy

Jean Cowgill's trek on Britain's premier long distance walk produced a crop of blisters on her feet - and this witty poem.

Long, long ago in far off times
I walked England’s premier Way.
With a seven strong team
Some tough, fit and lean
We were challenged for many a day.

From Edale up by Jacob’s Ladder
We did climb and groan and sigh.
With Featherbed Moss underfoot
The ground did tremble then it shook
‘Twas no bed on which to lie.

Groughs and dykes a barrier formed
I sank up to my knees.
A fool I felt there was no doubt
Took two large men to pull me out
Of the peat which tried to seize.

Ten days into the Pennine Way
Laying bare my inner sole
With half crown blisters on my feet
My spirit drooped, my eyes did greet
No chance to reach my goal.

Hawes welcomed me with open arms:
The chemist shop with soothing balm
And a bar-meal of Barnsley chops.
My mind was calmed, I did not stop
To consider future harm,

May drop upon my fallen arches
Or sheer stress fractures to my shin,
Of the repetitious hills with biting gnats
And woodland trails and men in hats
Who will shout trespass is a sin.

Future problems ne’er arose
Replenished then by foot and mouth
My thoughts were on the Cheviot Hills
The Border Fence, the sheep, the thrill,
Of the free pint before I journeyed south.*

*At the time of walking (1978) a pint was available at Kirk Yetholm courtesy of Wainwright.


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