20.9 miles – warm, sunny, virtually cloudless
Maybe it was the tranquility of the morning, or the sun on the lush, dewy grass, or the scent of honeysuckle and warm bracken that sent my mind flying homeward (and perhaps even to a mythical youth that never existed). Whatever the reason, my thoughts that beautiful morning were of homecoming, and I realised how incredibly important this aspect of the walk is to me.
Home to Sussex, home to Hastings, home to Rachel… and beneath these, I realised, at the kernel of my walk, is the journey home to myself (perhaps all journeys have a parallel inner meaning).
In coming home, you see, there is a releasing of everything which is not of home, or not of myself. So as the old skin of Cape Wrath, Ben Dreavie, Loch an Nid and the Knoydart Peninsula fall away into the past, so too do the operas I never wrote, the operas I never sung, the sermons I might have preached to shock good Christians, but now never will, and the beer which I never brewed. All these partially-fulfilled dreams fall from me with the advancing miles… as do the opera I did write, the roles I sang with joy, in England and Russia, and Toby the wicked baritone in Serbia! the celebrations of the Eucharist at which I had the great honour to be the celebrant, and the beer I did brew, albeit at home, and which I, rachel, and my friends consumed with deep pleasure. What is left is only that I-ness, stripped of its worldly festoons, and thus in this sense, my homecoming is a kind of a death (because I die to what is not of me). And so each death, I hope, can be viewed as a joyful homecoming.
Emerging from this reverie, I found myself on a Loch Lomond beach with a public toilet. They were offering free sanitary pads and tampons in the gents!
Farewell to Loch Lomond
I turned from the loch and entered another world altogether, of different landscapes and textures, and later suffering with the same old aches in the same old places. But that’s the story I’ll pick up tomorrow. I was diverting from the West highland Way to Balloch to visit my friend, Jason,