Another start in the dark. A dull moist morning too. I am getting the hang of this now. Saturday rather than Sunday but there is something very similar. It used to be that six or seven am was early morning at the weekend and it still is for some. The people, mostly immigrants who use public transport to get to jobs with unsocial hours. But nowadays it is also still the night before for clubbers. Off their faces youths, a bit loud and wasted. Two worlds ignoring each other as the day begins to dawn.

View Harpendon to Harlington in a larger map

It hasnt exactly been a great summer but this was the third sunny walking day in succession. This time was a Sunday in late September but it turned out just as hot as the last two Saturdays.

Aware that I had further to go to start I got up really early this time. Too early it transpired. Archway tube was shut. So was just about everything else. But eventually I got a 390 down to St Pancras and just had time to buy a cappuccino before my train took me back to Harpendon.

Planning is essential in any endeavour like this. Without proper planning it is unlikely that I will succeed in my ultimate objective. So I sat down to plan the next leg carefully. There are three words that I like to use to describe my approach to planning. Vagueness, indecision and contingency. These shall be my watchwords.

So here we go. One sunny day in September 2009 I set out, with my friend Carole. The first part of the walk was very familiar, from my house to Hampstead Heath. A walk that I have done hundreds of times. I live in Archway, in Islington, not far from the Holloway Road,  And I plan to walk every step off the way to my mum's house in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Well, every step of the way apart from when I have to get a ferry!

Door to Door

I had this idea a year or so ago. I live in North London and my mum lives in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. I do a lot of walking around London and hillwalking in the Highlands and it occurred to me a good way to get fit and lose some weight whilst seeing more of the country would be to walk from my house to my mum's.

My mum is a prodigious walker. Here she is in Stornoway, the oldest participant in a charity walk around the Castle Grounds. So I hope that if I make it she will meet up with me for the final stage at least.

It is quite a way and the prospect is a bit daunting. For a while I considered doing it in one expedition but that had several problems. I would need to find the time away from work, I would have to keep slogging on whatever, through bad weather etc. I would have to go the shortest, quickest, reasonable route with little time for side expeditions.

View Archway to Stornoway in a larger map

                                                                                                                                                                                      Doing it in stages has its drawbacks too. It won't be half so good for getting fit, indeed I expect that I will
have to keep getting fit and then losing fitness again before the next stage. Also the feeling of satisfaction if and when I do complete it, is bound to be less than if I had done it in one big run. Still, the advantages of a multi-stage walk became even more seductive when I realised that I could begin by doing walks from London and get the tube or train back for the night.

Less nights in expensive b&bs or sleeping in my bivi bag, definately appealed.

So there we have it. I am going to try to walk from North London to the Outer Hebrides, taking as long as I like, in as many stages as I choose, and taking time off to visit places of interest along the way. Part of the whole appeal is seeing the country, which I have whislted though in cars, coaches, trains and flown over in planes, many times, at walking pace.


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