Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Heading back to Harrow

Today marks the end of my Pennine journey.  The plan: I will take a bus from Bowes to Darlington and then a train from there back to London.  We packed up our things and switched packs so that Chuck could carry a lighter load.  We had our last meal together (at least for while) and settled the bill.

But, before I started on my public transport odyssey, we planned to go have a look at Bowes Castle.  For those who don't want to go read the history, Bowes Castle was built around 1187 on the site of an old Roman fort at the request of King Henry II.  We had seen the castle from afar as we approached Bowes yesterday, but rain and exhaustion had kept us from exploring.

It is mostly in ruins now. But as you probably realize, this makes no difference, as I love this history stuff. And I loved Bowes Castle.  It was the oldest building I'd seen on the journey.  I was dying to get inside and explore.
Guarding the fort
Unfortunately, we were not very sure when the bus to Darlington was going to arrive. From what we had been able to tell, it only goes through Bowes twice a day.  So, rather than explore the castle, we headed back to the bus stop.  Chuck hung out with me for a bit, but I could tell he was itching to get underway.  And so, I watched him with envy as he headed back to the castle.

I probably could have gone with him for a bit.  We'd uncovered a bus schedule from a couple of years ago that said we'd just missed the morning bus, and it was four hours 'til the afternoon bus.  But, I was too worried that the schedule was out of date, and I'd miss my ride. There was absolutely nothing to do in Bowes and no little shops to hang out in while I waited (not that I'd have gone into one anyway what with my concerns about schedules).  Funny how the prospect of returning to society brought an almost instant level of anxiety and pressure that I hadn't felt for weeks. Thoughts about work and bills and every day tasks started popping unwanted into my head. "Away! Away!" I thought and focused on willing those thoughts back into the recesses of my mind.

Throughout my long wait, which was almost exactly the four hours promised, and then the long journey back to Harrow, I tried to focus on the spirit of the trip instead of on what was awaiting me.  I scrolled through my pictures on my camera; I wrote in my journal; I read some Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island).  I watched the landscape pass by from the windows of the bus and the train.  I thought about what I might see when I go up to meet Chuck in Kirk Yetholm in a week and a half or so. For the most part, I managed to keep the unwanted thoughts at bay.

Overall, it was an uneventful journey, and I won't bore you with the details. This walk was something I will always remember and of which I will always be proud.  Had you asked me as a child or a young adult if walking 130-ish miles was something I could picture myself doing, I would have given you a resounding "NO!" My younger self has often been wrong, and I'm glad I was.  I've got the walking/hiking bug, and I don't think I want to be cured.

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