Home from a long distance walk, I’m aware that the equinox has passed; autumn can be seen in conkers on the ground. It’s a time of rest, of rotting leaves, and new beginnings. The golden colours of this fruitful season glow. This is my season, my time of year.
I’ve been out walking, alone, today. There’s a joy in solitary walking that’s quite different from walking with others, even when they are good friends. Walking in a group brings companionship and common purpose. Walking alone brings solitude, and rhythmic thinking space.
This month, along with Mr A and friends, this granny walked the West Highland Way. Conditions were good: the weather, mostly dry; the few midges remaining at this time of year were kept at bay by a generous supply of Avon ‘Skin so soft’, a thoughtful gift from my neighbour.
We walked the route backwards: North to South. Sometimes it seemed to me that we were rushing, ticking off each of the 96 miles as we made our journey homewards, minds focussed on the end. Were we just trying to get this job done, out of the way, ready to move on to our next task?
Existential moments of simply being in the landscape, of walking at a steady thinking pace were too few for me. Time to enjoy the journey, to breathe along the way, felt in scarce supply. It’s left me wanting to return, to walk the other way, unwind the path and straighten out my mind.