The Pennine Way

IMG_2444En route to Glasgow from southern Scotland a few weeks ago, I decided to hitchhike. I could have taken a bus and then a train, but it was a nice summer day, I was in no rush — and thumbing a ride is always interesting. The bloke who picked me up, a picture framing machine repairman (because, of course, we all know that picture framing machines exist, and that on occasion they need to be repaired) was awesome. He drove me right into downtown Glasgow, where I had a meeting set up with a researcher who studies impact of walking on mental health. (The research is fascinating and very promising, especially because Glasgow has the dubious distinction of being the most unhealthy city in the U.K. — much more on all that later.) While driving, Neil told me that he had recently had back surgery, and that his goal when leaving the hospital was to be able to walk to the top of Helvellyn, one of the highest peaks in England’s Lake District. Neil indeed made it to the top, a walk I had done just a couple of days earlier with a legendary mountain guide named Chris Wright, who is in the above photo, enjoying a post-walk pint. Neil also told me about a British poet named Simon Armitage, who had hiked England’s 260-mile Pennine Way without money, giving poetry readings along the way. I’m looking forward to reading Armitage’s book. And I love the poetry of one walking experience opening up a pathway to another.

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