As I tap this out in my long-suffering iPad, England is rushing past the train window, courtesy of Virgin Trains. I can’t help thinking that “Virgin” must be the worst name ever to describe a train service — if accurate, one would expect the train to never come! Nevertheless, here we are watching a very bucolic and still-United Kingdom enjoy a lovely autumn day, while Paula and I look at each other across the table and wonder what the hell we are doing.
The idea of a walking holiday together certainly predates my Camino. We can blame our optometrist for planting the seeds, because he dismissed Paula’s unwillingness to rough it on the Camino by talking about the fact that he and his wife and some friends had just come back from the Coast to Coast. As usual, the seeds of this trip were planted even before we left for Eastern Europe last year.
When I left Paula and Liam in Madrid last year, my one fear was that I would be lonely on the walk to Santiago. In the end, of course, nothing could be further from the truth and I have carried many of the people I met with me in my heart for the last twelve months. Indeed, I am wearing the cheap scallop shell I bought in Foncebadon when we took refuge from the freezing fog in that amazing bar.
This time, the feeling is strange, because walking has a strong association with all the people I met and shared time — Beth, Tobias, Paige, Wilma, Paul, Maria, Bianca — and they won’t be with me! It hit me recently that, while I always say that I would go back to the Camino if I had five weeks and a couple of grand, all of my expectations were based on the amazing times we had together. If I did it again, it would be different faces and so different experiences. That is, I suppose, the mystery of life.
So Paula and I sit here, nowhere near as fit as we should be, wondering if our post-flu bodies (yes, we both got it this year) will cope with the walking — and whether we will still be talking to each other at the end of each day. I think it will be an amazing time together, because we have not had much time in the last couple of months. But watch this space.

For the record, here is the itinerary:

Sunday 21st September
Travel to St Bees where your first nights accommodation has been booked

Monday 22nd September
Walk St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge 14 miles (22.5 km)

Tuesday 23rd September
Walk Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite 14.5 miles (23 km)

Wednesday 24th September
Walk Rosthwaite to Patterdale 17.5 miles (28 km)

Thursday 25th September
Walk Patterdale to Shap 16 miles (25.5 km)

Friday 26th September
Walk Shap to Kirkby Stephen 20 miles (32 km)

Saturday 27th September
Walk Kirkby Stephen to Keld 13 miles (21 km)

Sunday 28th September
Walk Keld to Reeth 11 miles (17.5 km)

Monday 29th September Walk Reeth to Richmond 11 miles (17.5 km)

Tuesday 30th September
Walk Richmond to Ingleby Cross 23 miles (37 km)

Wednesday 1st October
Walk Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top 12.5 miles (20 km)

Thursday 2nd October Walk Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale 18.5 miles (29.5 km)

Friday 3rd October Walk
Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay 19 miles (30.5 km)

Saturday 4th October
Depart from Robin Hood’s Bay after breakfast