As we were ambling along a gravel track through the conifer forest above Loch Ness on The Great Glen Way, a long-distance path from Fort William to Inverness, we met a woman who was walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End. We were impressed. Two days later a fit young man with a large backpack overtook us. He was walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats. As he disappeared into the trees ahead we discussed the feasibility of doing the walk ourselves.
Rosalind and I had been walking together for about 15 years, meeting up once a year to do a trek. Sometimes we would tackle one of the many long-distance paths which are way-marked and maintained; sometimes we would plan our own route, using the 1: 25,000 Explorer maps which now cover the whole country. We wouldn’t be able to attempt the whole Land’s End to John O’Groats trek in one go because of the constraints of time and money, but we could do a section each year, starting with the more challenging and leaving the easier ones until last, to be mastered with the help of our Zimmer frames if necessary. We could incorporate some of the walks we had already done and would not need to keep to the ‘official’ route.
The decision was made, and we had a target. We would walk Land’s End to John O’Groats in easy stages the Pretty Way and aim to complete it by Rosalind’s 80th birthday in 2019.