Sunday, September 20, 2009

Test Way #16: Sense of achievement

Does completing this walk feel like a sense of achievement? Well, I guess there have been thousands before us, and there will be millions after us, so in that sense we were just following in the footsteps, quite literally, of others.

The reason, though, that I do feel like we've achieved something is quite a personal thing because, as someone who has never been a big walker, I didn't really do this for the achy legs and the rucksack-on-my-back style of rambling. For me, this walk - no, this adventure - was aimed at seeing the countryside that is right on our doorstep. Like the nature reserve that I still drive past every night on the way home from work, along with thousands (probably tens of thousands) of others, there is mile upon mile of fantastic, peaceful, beautiful, calming, stunning English countryside that we allow to dissolve away in our peripheral vision. On this walk we crossed two very big roads - the M27 and the A303 - plus several smaller A-roads, and were never far away from an access point onto the arteries of the transport network. This means that, just like us, hordes of people drive straight past and through this countryside every day but, probably, don't have a clue that it's there.

So my personal achievement was to put the time aside to see some of this, much of it for the first time, and the last mile when we caught side of the semi-circular ridge that took us around to the end point, and the view in either direction from that point, was well worth 49 miles of walking.

Quite apart from all of that, this was a project, something that my wife, my dad and I undertook together as a team, and it brought us together in that sense. We walked and talked, and at the same time my dad's partner took our kids out for days out and spent quality time with them. So, we all enjoyed it, we all achieved something and got something out of it.

It's taken longer than I thought but that is because of the busy lives we lead, and it's those lifestyles which, if we're not careful, mean that we never see the landscape and the sites that are right on our doorstep.

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