It’s been almost a week now since the end and I’ve been gathering my thoughts together to write some sort of conclusion – partly for myself but also partly to answer the questions people are already asking.

Did I find what I was looking for? Kinda. I did get to a point of calm and contentness: it took a while of shedding distractions and finding the right balance in my walking ‘style’, and even after all that it came in fits and starts.

However what I found was less of a ‘thing’ and more of a ‘process’. This means that unfortunately i can’t bring the feeling back to London wholesale. Because the walk was far more about the journey and not the destination, an experience not a goal, I reached John O Groats not with a feeling of euphoria but sadness because it meant it was all over. I won’t be going back with a constant beautific Buddha-like smile but I will be returning having gained a set of aims and techniques that enable me to achieve that feeling. Now I have to go about doing these things in the ‘real world’, which is going to be much harder than walking 1,200 miles.

I also found that you can’t walk away and sweat out regret and guilt. Walking 1,200 miles definitely changes your present, potentially your future, but doesn’t change anything about the past. Secretly (and naively) I’d hoped this might be the case. The sense of peace is more a respite from these more negative feelings rather than something which erases them.

Now many aspects of returning fill me with sadness and anxiety. This sounds incredibly spoilt and ignorant to people who have spent the last 12 weeks working, but I’m scared that I’ll forget all these ideas and within months everything will be back to how it was before, except with the addition of a savage bite taken out of my savings. The main benefits of the walk – the freedom, simplicity and calm – were so intangible that I can already feel the memory of them slipping away.

However, I did have an amazing time, and it has refreshed and rejuvenated me; these were the original objectives and they have been met in spades. Thus the next big challenge really lies back at home. It lies in tinkering with the bits of my life that undoutably need improving, (for example learning how to drive before before I turn 31 next February is a priority) and it lies in making sure I don’t lose the feeling and forget the lessons of my time away.

Beyond that, I’d definitely love to do more ‘lightweight’ backpacking-whether for a weekend or a month. I’ve definitely got the bug – after 12 weeks l feel like i’m just starting to get it right. I’ve even said that I’d do the return journey – JOGLE – when I’m sixty because there would be such an elegant symetry to it (and because it would be great fun). However, If i do get that chance i might choose another of the big’uns. Suggestions would be welcomed!

On re-reading my epilogue the conclusions do sound a bit obvious. I can live with that-i gained something hard to put into words (despite my best efforts on the blog along the way!), something intangible that you have to actually do first-hand to fully understand, and even then struggle to understand what it was. Which is why it was definitely worth doing and will stay with me hopefully forever.

Right, having answered the questions I needed to deal with first I’m going to move onto the questions everybody else is way more interested-what were my favourite landscapes/areas, and what were the worse bits. I’ll get this written up by the end of the week as I go back to work next Monday (!!!!) and will need all my energy for that.

PS thanks for all the emails and texts of encouragement and congratulations over the last week, they were lovely!

Sent from my iPhone

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