About this blog
The journey from John o'Groats to Land's End took place in 14 sections, starting in 1996 (a week or so each year). The idea came to me in 1995 and I completed the British JoGLE Watershed in June 2009.
I was joined by a number of relations and friends from time to time. Most notable among my walking companions were my son Tim (7 sections) and nephews Peter and Jonny.
After walking the first section in 1996 I discovered that Dave Hewitt had already pioneered the Scottish Watershed (to Cape Wrath) in 1987, and had published his excellent account Walking the Watershed in 1994. We have been in touch since then, and he has been a great encouragement.
A simple definition of the watershed is that any rain falling to the left of the path finishes in the North Sea or English Channel, and anything to the right flows into the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea or the Bristol Channel.
I believe that this was the first walk along the full length of the British JoGLE Watershed. I became aware just after I completed the journey that the late Mike Allen walked a slightly different version (from Land's End to Cape Wrath) between 1988 and 1994, so he will have covered the same ground apart from the most north-easterly 220km.
There have subsequently been several walks and publications about parts of the JoGLE watershed, including Peter Wright's 2010 Ribbon of Wildness account of his Scottish section walked in 2005, which has brought the subject of watershed walking in the UK to a wider audience.
I hope you enjoy this blog. I'm planning to publish a full account in 2013/4. A summary of the walk appeared in The Angry Corrie volume 76 in 2009.
Monday, 19 September 2005
Day 86 - redundancy and mortality
I perused the Lickey Hills visitor centre for a few minutes before setting off on the Watershed at about noon - on the North Worcs Path apart from essential stream-avoiding detours, until lunch at the Peacock in Forhill. The afternoon was solid road-walking - Birch Acre, over the M42, Branson's Cross, Wood End, then over the M42 again, immediately followed by dropping down to a short stretch of bridleway alongside the motorway.
Towards the end of the bridleway I found a parked car with its engine running and a tube from the exhaust into a window - a suicide attempt in progress. There'll be more about this in the book, but suffice it to say that the man thought better of it and drove off after he realised I was there. I told the police, and they later phoned me so say that there'd been no suicide attempts elsewhere in the area during the following couple of days. Obviously this episode was a real shock, but I was relieved that my intervention had made a difference.
I then crossed the M42 for the 3rd time today, and got talking to a jogger - he slowed down rather than me speeding up! He'd been on the Great North Run the previous day, when 4 runners had died from heat exhaustion - another reminder of mortality. A footpath took me to Umbersdale Baptist Church (see photo) which looked redundant, but was about to get a makeover by the Historic Chapels Trust.
The night was spent in the most luxurious camp setting of the Watershed, on an immaculate lawn between a putting green, a swimming pool and a tennis court! (The book will explain how). The location was 157715.