As I posted about earlier today, tomorrow I march to my doom, my PhD defence at the University of Chester. This is where all those years of preparation, research, testing ideas, and writing will come to a point of decision. It would have made perfect sense to sit at the desk in my room at the hostel and study my material. Or even to work on getting my classes ready for the fall term and checking off some of my to-do list in publishing. Instead, I decided to walk all day, first along the silty but nonetheless romantic canals of Chester and environs, and then into the footpaths of Chesire.
So after tidying up email and packing a lunch, I loaded thesis prep materials on my iPod and downloaded some related books on Audible. I left my desk behind and headed into the wilderness. It was not a long journey, in the end. I think I walked about 7.5 miles, 12 kms. After leaving the canals, I only met one party–one group of three people in a half-day of walking, and this only when I came close to Tarvin. It was beautiful land, with quaint lock houses, old Roman roads, medieval bridges, churches and communities cobbled together from the past, farmland and riverbeds and homesteads.
Perhaps my favourite moment was having my lunch beneath an old bridge–what was once a “platt” they say, a reed-woven bridge–and soaking my feet in bone-chilling cold. Though that moment competes with the end of the foot journey. I landed in Tarvin, at a pub called “George and the Dragon”–how many pubs are named that?!–and met a highly intelligent barman and was able to shelter from the rain. The rain didn’t amount to much, but it was enough to get me on a bus back to Chester–after a pint or two in this historic pub.
It was the perfect day, weather-wise: cool, sunny, and almost completely dry from the day before’s rain. The trail was pretty poorly marked and I made some wrong turns. The biggest challenge was deciding, when the paths diverged, which was the most likely one to follow. It turns out my instinct was almost always correct. I wish I hadn’t watched Stephen King’s Children of the Corn last week, especially as I guessed my way through large fields some miles after the last available mobile data point. And running shoes are not the perfect instrument of support for a journey like this. But, otherwise, it was almost idyllic.
Alas, my future still awaits tomorrow. But if you can excuse the indiscriminate nature of my joyful picture-taking, you can walk through my journey below.