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Day 13 - Bellingham to Byrness

Well, the good news first - it didn’t rain…all day. And I actually sat down made a cup of tea, ate and took in the view. The bad news is it did rain quite a lot, especially during much of the afternoon and you guessd it endless BOGS! Ahhhh! My camera is still not working properly because of the moisture, but if you’re unsure what I’m talking about search it up online.

It’s definitely getting harder to get ready and get going as the days go by. I’m slow and keep forgetting things that I need to do, including foot prep before the boots go on.

And then it takes at least 20 mins of walking to actually look like a 50 year old rather than a 95 year old. I know this might sound strange, but today was the first day I felt really mentally tired during the aafternoon and would have liked to just sit down and rest and look around. But it was raining so I couldn’t/didn’t.

The morning - after a very painful start - was actually quite pleasant. Sorry no photos ( my new photographer, son David is with me tomorrow so we might get some) but it was so nice to be able to look around 360 degrees and just see gently rolling hills, under not in, leaden clouds with squally showers drifting from one to another like mists. And I saw the sun and a patch of blue sky for a moment. Sad to say the rest was drudgery, especially the last 5 miles on a gravel road through a commercial plantation in the pouring rain. 5 miles! I just thought, here we go again, I’ve done this before - switched on autopilot and trudged until I got to Byrness. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but I knew I’d faced worse and survived.

Tomorrow the final stretch through the Cheviots starts. There’s nothing up there until I reach the finish line at Kirk Yetholm so we’ll camping somewhere as yet undefined. And there is unlikely to be water, although after the last days who knows, so we’ll have to carry enough for 2 days. What I am sure of is that there will be some BOGS.

The last 3 days have been really tough. Maybe it was always going to be, but the rubbish weather and being on my own as well just made it super testing. But I know it could have been worse as all the evidence was that the first week might have also been awful before the warm weather at the start of May.

I was struck today as I sat with my cup of cofftea (work that one out :-) ) that as I looked around at all these beautiful hills and the Cheviots in the distance that I had no real sense from the landscape before me of all the paths that I’d followed to get here. The Peak District, the moors between Manchester and Leeds, the Yorkshire Dales and Malham, Penyghent, the Tees valley, the Tyne valley, Hadrian’s Wall - they were all well out of sight, but they each in turn brought me to this tea stop in that location about 5 miles outside Bellingham.

It’s important to remind our young people of the journeys they’ve been on. Sometimes when your in the moment, maybe in a bog, it’s important to recognise that you’re not in your first bog, but your 101st and that you came through each of the previous ones to be here in this one. Marking achievements including 12 months out of custody (or even 6 months), new college starts, new jobs, birthday’s and anniversary’s and countless others are all good opportunities to yes celebrate, but also to reflect back with them on how far they’ve come. You can only really see what your capable of when you can recognise what you’ve already come through.

The fundraising total is ticking up really nicely. I wonder if some people are now wondering whether I’ll just keep walking if we don’t make the target. Well I might. 😋

I have no idea of the network situation up there in the wilds of the Cheviots. It will either be nothing or 5G I imagine, but I may not be able to post tomorrow evening. If not, hopefully I’ll be back in contact sometime on Sunday.

Can we get to £20,000 or even beyond by then?

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Millions of congratulations Mark on your epic journey .. all so inspiring. Noticed the comments on the Bible Society's notes today and the comments re: Mary Jones walking barefoot 26 miles! She walked close to Cadair Idris, aged just 15 .. very similar terrain to you on the Pennine Way. She was inspired by her love for the Bible. It was costly. She’d spent six years saving up as much money as she could. Then she set out on the long walk across the rugged terrain of the Welsh mountains, all to be able to have God’s word in her own language: Y Beibl Cymraeg. She must have felt like you at times especially when it rained!! But she sh…

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Go Mark! You are doing brilliantly!!

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Will be there at the end of the road.

( With apologies to Harry Lauder.)

Uncle Mike.

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Well done, Mark! I really admire your determination and steadfastness in battling on in the face of rain, hills, bogs and blisters!.. I also greatly admire the way you relate your journey to the trials, challenges and opportunities facing the young men you are working and walking for and Indeed championing.

You're nearly there so:

Though you're tired and weary still journey on

Till you come to your Kirkby abode

Where the cash that you've earned and been walking for

Will be there at the end of the road..

(With apologies to Harry Lauder.)

Your old Uncle Mike..

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Good luck. The longest mile is the last..

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