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Ancient Feet: 24 - Travelling In Opposite Directions

...It was another glorious day and, after spending about half of the first two days walking on my own, it was great to know that I would have company all day...

But there are worries and concerns when out on the northern fells with you mates.

Alan Nolan continues his highly-entertaining account of a coast-to-coast walk.

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Signed copies of the book are available from Alan http://apn.thelea@yahoo.co.uk

Signed copies of the book are available from Alan http://apn.thelea@yahoo.co.uk

It was another glorious day and, after spending about half of the first two days walking on my own, it was great to know that I would have company all day. The two legs of the day's walk are similar in that they involve long ascents followed by long descents to the destinations of Grasmere and Patterdale, so putting them together makes for a tough day and once again I wondered how many of us would reach Robin Hood's Bay, what with Andy having dropped out already and Don threatening to go home. Without Andy, we were down to five and I was not so sure about Don's capacity to keep going with all that weight and, of course, he had already threatened to go home.

I didn't doubt Tom's determination, but it was clear that his knees were giving him more trouble than he would admit to us, and I knew that Joe had struggled on the first day resulting in his attack of cramp which had prompted him to send Andy on his shopping spree, spending an indecent amount of Joe's money. As for me, the pies and pasties had clearly done the trick from a physical point of view, although I would have been forced to admit, if pressed, that I had entertained some doubts on that long ascent of Red Pike the day before. Of course, I blamed Paul for failing to keep his promise to walk at my pace and forcing me to walk slightly faster than was comfortable. Paul himself seemed untroubled as I watched him disappearing into the distance as we climbed towards Greenup Edge. So, I was not concerned about Paul; it was the other three who were worrying me. Had they been eating enough pasties?

Mind you, Tom's leg would have to fall off before he would even begin to consider whether he should give up, so perhaps I should not have worried about him. He is a determined character who enjoys life to the full. He had an extremely stressful job which threatened to steer him towards setting a new record as the world's youngest ever grumpy old man. As Production Director, he was under immense pressure to deliver and was under fire from all sides. He arrived at work early and was immediately faced with the problems associated with employees arriving late, or not at all. Machinery would break down, halting production, suppliers would fail to deliver, the sales force would accept orders that were impossible to make, and customers and his Co-Directors would expect unrealistic production times.

As a result, his days were spent arguing with employees, suppliers, customers and, worst of all, his fellow Directors. It was during this stressful period that he turned to fell walking as a means of relieving his tensions. He had done a little walking on the Lake District fells, although nothing very serious but, when he heard of someone who had climbed all two hundred and fourteen Lakeland peaks described in Wainwright's guides, he could not resist the challenge. He now had a motive for visiting the Lakes on a regular basis and he found that the beauty of the area, combined with the physical effort involved took his mind away from what was happening at work. Indeed, there were times when he had had enough of work by late morning and would drop everything and drive up to Cumbria and knock another of the two hundred and fourteen off his list.

He was about fifty-four when the business was sold, still young enough to start again, but why subject himself to more stress? He was in a position to do what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it, and he was determined to take advantage. He had re-married a couple of years earlier and Pam was still in her twenties and climbing the career ladder. She enjoyed going to work and was not about to give it up. Sure, she enjoyed holidays, but not all the time. This was a potential time bomb which ticked away for a number of years, threatening to explode and destroy the marriage. She was ambitious and wanted to climb to the top, whereas Tom had done all that and had come down again. It seemed they were travelling in opposite directions. But, as they say, love conquers all and they had worked things out over the years.

Pam is now a Director of a household name company and still loves going to work each day, but can find time for several super holidays every year. As for Tom, as well as holidays with Pam, he visits relatives in Australia and the States on a regular basis and fits in lots of expeditions such as the Coast to Coast with his pals. Fortunately, he loves cooking and is happy enough to do some of the other household chores. As if that is not enough, he is always involved in some building project or another. If it's not a new bathroom or a new kitchen, it's an extension or knocking one room through into another. Whenever he runs out of ideas for knocking about (sorry, I mean improving) his own house, he'll be doing the same for one of his family or friends. He's probably busier than he wants to be but it works for both of them.


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