Walking through remote landscapes and reflecting meditatively on life has become my new way of life. In 3 month periods I explore and make pilgrimage, meeting fantastic people along the way. Then I return to my home in Edinburgh to write about it. Through this I weave Shiatsu: teaching and giving sessions as I go.
Throughout my childhood my mother gave me books and I am so very grateful to her for that. Among them were first-hand accounts of adventure in foreign lands: ‘My Journey to Lhasa’ by Alexandra David-Neel, ‘As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee, and ‘The Songlines’ by Bruce Chatwin.
At this impressionable age who knows how much I imbibed. I certainly remember sitting on the train as a young teenager on my way to school and longing to jump off, run across the fields and be on my own.
I craved to go beyond the garden gate, to follow the road that passed it by and to set out for the unknown. Alexandra David-Neel
Exploring is my way to search, to understand. Walking is my teacher.Sarah Marquis, uber-explorer
I wrote some of these blogs when I was away, and added to them on my return. Each one covers a place (or more than one) I visited, and are numbered according to the order I visited them.
‘But we are all …too, travellers with a donkey; and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend. He is a fortunate voyager who finds many.’ RLS *
* Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (incidentally a son of Scotland). https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Robert-Louis-Stevenson-and-His-Walk-with-a-Donkey
In January 2019 I discovered the Scots word for a donkey – cuddy – when I came across The Cuddy Trail on the Berwickshire Coastal Path in England.
I was not able to stop walking when I first returned to Scotland, and so set about exploring my home city and further afield with ‘a new eye’. I have given this group of blogs a slightly different name, in recognition of the fact that most people I meet are out because they have a canine friend to take with them. Me – I’m just crazy about walking and need no excuse.
Scotland is as spectacular as Spain, although it must be said that the sun does shines a little less.
I have always enjoyed a good conversation, and now I have discovered a joy of writing – inspired by the places I have been and the wonderful people I have met.
‘The words simply tumbled out of him and he listened to them in astonishment as they lined up, seemingly of their own accord, to create a meaning that became apparent to him with surprising clarity only after he had spoken them.‘ p 31-32 A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler.
Happily, I was asked to teach Shiatsu in Paris and as I was already on the continent I thought I would walk in Normandy. Another lucky co-incidence then occurred: I had been working on a Shiatsu mobile application, Tsubook, and was invited to visit its creators who live in Normandy. When I searched on the map I saw that they lived on the coast only a few days from Mont Saint-Michel. I immediately knew I needed to go there and so, another walking project was born. That was where I walked in May 2017.
I walked from Agon-Coutainville to Mont Saint-Michel along the Randonée GR223 and then inland to Pontorson. I also had a beautiful day on the Brittany coast.
Later in 2017 I visited Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and France.
Then in 2018 I went to Spain and France again and started the Fife Coastal Path. May saw me trek the St Magnus Way (Orkney) in Scotland, my home country. I also added photo essays and other blogs of London and Edinburgh.
I have been meditating for over 20 years and visited retreat centres for brief periods and this is connected to my more recent attraction to pilgrimage.
It is said that the hardship of a pilgrim journey invests the path with its power and that each step is an offering.
‘My Journey to Lhasa’ Alexandra David-Neel p. xii