Post 50: 23 January 1993
The nagging pain in my knee returned, making me feel quite depressed; I couldn’t understand why it was still there. I booked in to see the Doctor again. Again, he advised keep walking.
25 January 1993
Utter despair. I walked 4 miles on Saturday and Sunday with no problems, but by Monday I was in agony again. I was ninety-nine per cent certain my walk would be off.
28 January 1993
A small miracle seems to have happened. After over four weeks of pain, this is the first day I haven’t had any. I spoke to a former colleague, now a physiotherapist, who advised frozen peas to reduce the swelling and it worked!
He also recommended special leg exercises, which also helped. I was still waiting to hear from the National Health Service physiotherapist. I have never fully understood the NHS waiting list system, which seems to work on the basis that you get better before you are attended to; no wonder statistics show waiting lists are coming down, everyone is getting better before they are attended to. Time can be a great healer.
31 January 1993
By this time I was very optimistic about doing the walk. All pain has gone from my knee and I had done some reasonable walks with my dog. I was really excited at the prospect of two weeks of walking on a virgin route.
1 February 1993
However, there was now a setback. Alfie didn’t think he could make the walk as he was smitten by a new lady in his life; it sounded very serious. The matter was put to the ‘Ethics Committee’, which ruled five years could be given off from long-distance walking for marriage, provided members were invited to the wedding. Alfie was left with no choice; he proposed, she accepted and he was therefore excused from the walk. I couldn’t help but question his commitment to long-distance walking, but then he hadn’t had the best of times on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk.
5 February 1993
I woke up with a sore throat and aching all over, a virus? Wainwright used to say that he never had a day off work and put it down to the beneficial effects of walking. I also had an excellent attendance record at work and again felt this was due to the health giving properties of walking, minimising the effects of viruses, colds and other ailments that seem to keep other people off work for days. Statistics show that the average person has something like eight days off work per annum, whereas I averaged one day every three years. Usually, when that aching feeling comes over an early night and lots of fruit juice seems to cure it. I desperately needed to get out for a long walk on Sunday to test my knee, otherwise I couldn’t go for another three weeks.
7 February 1993
I was now feeling much better. It was glorious February morning, mild and sunny. To test my knee out I went for a walk from Crosscliffe Viewpoint on the North York Moors. The smell of the pine trees and morning dew seemed so strong. It was great to be out in the country again with its smells, sights and sounds. I didn’t feel one hundred per cent, but we pressed on for 8 miles and my knee was okay. Only seven weeks to go and, although I’ll never be as fit as I hoped, there was a good chance I could at least start the walk. If Ranulph Fiennes can walk unsupported across Antarctica, surely I can walk coast to coast?
28 February 1993
Snow everywhere so we couldn’t go to the North York Moors as planned but still managed a 15-mile local walk. Knee okay, things are looking good.
6 March 1993
Went to the North York Moors for another walk, near Dalby Forest, My knee was okay apart from one or two twinges in the evening.
13 March 1993
This was my final walk on the North York Moors, before embarking on coast to coast. No problems with knee.
28 March 1993
This was the day before coast to coast. Weather forecast is for an unsettled first week. I felt a little anxious. Would my route and knee hold up? However, once I start walking there would be a sense of freedom and excitement, similar to when I hitch-hiked solo to Europe when I was eighteen or when I toured New York and Canada at the age of twenty.