comments iconDay 33: People Eclipse Places



Today walked: 13.20 miles

Total walk:  480.90 miles

Today raised:  £830.00 +  ¥ 3,266.00

Total raised : £10,518.09 + ¥ 79,823.45

I don’t think I have ever worked as hard for a modest 13.2 miles of walking. I had felt so good yesterday that I put in 6.5 miles of today’s walk. That was before picking a ‘short-cut’ across Bainbridge Outlet Park.

I should have known by now that ‘short-cuts’ spell only one word ‘trouble’. I took a brilliant short cut from Sarajevo to Mostar and found myself in a mine field; I took a scenic short-cut across the Alps at Simplon and found myself in hospital in Brigg; I took a short cut at Crezancy between Reims and Paris and ended up sleeping rough in a disused barn; I took a short cut in Santa Catarina in southern Brazil and ended up being confronted by an extremely angry armed farmer and his guard dogs.

Still I went for it. Two hours later I arrived at our B&B ripped by barbed wire, brambles, stung by nettles and having damaged by back and my ankle when falling crossing a stream. Xuelin asked what all that ‘red stuff’ was on my trousers–it was blood? I felt like a little kid rather than a 56 year old grandfather. I knew I would pay for it and today was the day the cheque was cashed. I felt awful from the moment I woke up.

There were some uplifting moments in the day and they were the people I met:

We had stayed at Hilltop Lodge in Bainbridge. It was amazing. I don’t know how Xuelin finds these places but I am very glad she does. Our hosts, Ernie & Iris, were perfect. In fact everything about Hilltop Lodge was just perfect from the view of the Mountains of Mourne down to the Chocolate Éclairs on the tea and coffee tray. We were sorry to leave but they were fully booked otherwise we would have happily driven back from Lisburn for a third night.

As I began walking (hobbling) along the A1 it came on to rain and the spray from the lorries was getting quite bad but after the experiences of yesterday I wasn’t going to deviate one inch from the route set out on Google Maps. After an hour of so a car pulled in the side of the road where I was walking and out got Don McBurney.

I knew Don as the co-ordinator of the Olympic Truce Facebook Group which has a great following and which Don had used to highlight my walks for the Truce from Greece to London (2012) and Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro (2016). Don had followed my latest walk on Facebook and saw that my route took me through his home area and so drove down to say hello and to deliver a donation from him to the UK Solidarity Fund.

Don is a teacher by training and is also UNESCO Youth Ambassador for the Culture of Peace. Through his charity ‘Ray of Hope’ has helped bring many amazing projects to fruition including a world children’s choir and numerous education and development projects around the world. It was a great privilege to meet up later for a coffee with him at the Thyme Café in Dromore.

As is the way in Northern Ireland one encounter invariably leads to another. The local MP for the Lagan Valley is Sir Jeffrey Donaldson who I know well from Westminster where we have a great mutual friend in Gary Streeter MP. Even though Jeffrey had a very busy diary of constituency engagements he insisted on making time to meet up with Don and I which we did. It was good to catch up on a bit of politics which we all miss during the long weeks of recess.

It was then back to the slog up to Lisburn arriving in just in time to see the Total Eclipse of the Sun by the Moon. Even with all the scientific knowledge we have this still an event that stops us in our tracks. I remember watching the last Eclipse to pass over the UK in 1999 from Christ Church Meadow in Oxford.

Last night I watched a fascinating documentary by Sky at Night presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock–about the Moon watch it again is you can here  Maggie’s fascinating documentary explained how the Moon is currently at the perfect distance from the Earth to support life through its magnetic pull on the oceans which control the tides. the Moon is also at just the perfect distance from the Earth to keep the earth titled at 23 degrees which is critical to supporting life, but….

The Moon is gradually moving away from the Earth and in time (1 billion years) the Moon will lose its stabilising effect and Earth will resemble Mars. However, don’t be alarmed firstly you will know nothing of it and second, it took less than a century to move from the first flight to landing astronauts on the Moon so my guess is that in 10 million centuries time humans will be long gone in their space capsules and off to a new cosmic home where they watch old newsreels about Lunar Eclipse back home?