Gabriel Stewart decided to walk 1,000 miles around the UK on his gap year. His book I Went For A Walk describes the story of how it all went spectacularly wrong. The book is currently partly funded on Unbound. Pledge to support it here
He writes: “I Went for a Walk describes the idiocy of attempting to walk 1000 miles around the UK on my year off before Uni. The book is full of sarcasm and self-depreciation but hey, it wouldn’t be British without those. I wanted to see the country I grew up in, meet its people, end my long, tiring days in random local pubs, dancing along to acoustic nights. I met kind people, strange people, I saw the entry to the Channel Tunnel, I almost fell in a river and I joined a covert mission to close a coal mine. I set out to discover the UK but in the process, discovered truths about myself, my mind, my body and their limitations that surprised and changed me.”
EXTRACT (Warning: Includes hipster-baiting and sweary words).
I began to see the South Downs rising into the distance, this was my rite of passage to Brighton. I would climb the wall of green in front of me, it would be my final challenge to conquer. It was a bloody steep challenge, but I began to find the rhythm I’d been searching for over the previous couple of days. Step by step I climbed with little stress apart from a slight lack of breath. My reward: a stunning view over the miles of ground that I had just conquered. In actual fact I took little notice of the view behind me and focused on marching across the hills that lay ahead of me. Looking across the hills, you get an admiration for the beauty that stands in front of you. Hills as smooth as a baby’s bum; horses standing in ownership of the land around them; trees rising into the sunset beaming down on them. You could spend a day here and not be bored of staring and admiring the stunning design of nature. My feet seemed to have found some sort of inspiration by the setting around them as they turned up the heat. Then I saw it. Brighton. The edge of the city stood staring back at me. Tears began to arrive in quick succession. My arms rose into the air as I afforded myself a little jump of joy. I had done it! I had walked from London to Brighton! Fuck Edinburgh, I had walked from fucking London to Brighton.
It’s a unique experience jumping, screaming and crying with joy whilst standing on a hill with no humans in sight. Your screams of happiness are heard by no one but yourself. It leaves the concept of being self-conscious miles behind you with the last individual you saw. The screams and jumps can be as high as you want. No one will judge you because no one will see you. Of course, I was reminded by a stranger that ‘you still got 2-3 miles to go’. My blister oozing out the puss that had encompassed it didn’t exactly help. Burst blisters aren’t the most appetising things, both in looks and the temporary agony they cause. I still hobbled on, however slowly. Seeing the arches of the raised railway towering above the road ahead raised my spirits, I was close. With a little break, about 5 minutes away from the station, for some inspiration from Flo, I climbed the steps to collapse into the hug of the concrete block in front of me (Brighton Station). It was cold, but it was comforting. Almost as comforting as the sandwich that Stan provided me on arrival at his house. It was definitely an improvement on the extremely average bagel I had purchased inside the cold concrete block. You know those really shitty mediocre bagel shops? The ones that sell bagels as if they are a luxury good and try to do things to bagels that should never be done to bagels. A bagel does not need to be changed. It is a treasure trove of sweet delight. Just leave it alone you wanky hipity hop bagel twats (they’d probably call it something like a ‘Bagel Bar’. Wankers.) But yeah, Stan’s sandwich. That was nice.