This article has been updated on 16/02/2018 to reflect new developments
Check out this line.
This, my friends, is the Bryson Line. Named by and after Bill Bryson. In 2016, I came up with the idea to walk the line south to north – from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath.
Walking The Bryson Line
Many people have walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats along the End to End Trail, and surely many people more have heard about it – one of those subjects people talk about on birthday parties (“My cousin’s neighbour, John, is one of those nutters to hike the End to End Trail”).
Anglo-American author Bill Bryson came up with another end-to-end itinerary: a straight line from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath. In his book The Road to Little Dribbling, he has christened his line “The Bryson Line” and stated that he wants it to become ‘generally known’ as such.
Toward the end of the book, he says that he might not be the first person to touch both ends of The Bryson Line (this is true: Paul Theroux has done it before him in The Kingdom by the Sea), but certainly the first one to do so while knowing it.
Yet there is one minor detail: he has touched both ends, but has not travelled between them as his book consists of many small trips to places all over England, Wales and Scotland – Mr. Bryson travels to Cape Wrath on a night train out of London in the last chapter.
The Bryson Line, therefore, is still pristine, untouched, and I might become the first person to walk it, from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath, only pausing to walk Hadrian’s Wall when I hit it coming from the south. In saying that I might become the first person to walk The Bryson Line, I’m not saying that I feel any inclination to run through England and Scotland. I won’t. But there’s definitely a real possibility.
Writing a book on the United Kingdom: In Britain
Much more important is my real goal: to have an adventure in a civilized country and write an entertaining book about it. I’ll be intentionally living on a very limited budget and camping wild while religiously taking notes for the book, entitled In Britain. I feel that the book should combine a Dervla Murphy-like adventure with the detailed storytelling of Paul Theroux and the high volume of jokes found in books by Bill Bryson.
In The Kingdom by the Sea, Paul Theroux starts his journey on the 1st of May and then circumvents the British coast. I’m going to do the opposite: cutting right through the island he saw from its edges. I like the contrast, and not only that: I will also set out on the 1st of May. As such, I’m symbolically uniting my two favourite travel writers in this project.
This does not mean that the entire book is going to be a tribute. I might compare their impressions with what I find on the spot, but other than that, the starting date and the itinerary, the story will be entirely mine and entirely about the United Kingdom and my adventure in that country.
Not the only one walking The Bryson Line
There might be some confusion as there happen to be two parties announcing their walking The Bryson Line. Besides the plan detailed on this page, there’s also a small group of American expatriates walking The Bryson Line. Their website, http://www.thebrysonline.com, which is definitely worth a look, details their plan.
They emphasize that they are Americans living in Britain wishing to give back to their adopted home country by raising money for five UK-based charities. They are not walking along The Bryson Line, but rather the equivalent of its length, starting on Cape Wrath and ending in Bognor Regis. They have set themselves a time limit of 30 days to walk that equivalent, which is 915 kilometres.
If you wish to support this brave and extraordinory challenge and donate to their five charities, click here.
Here’s a list of all articles so far written about this upcoming adventure:
January 27th 2018: Walking The Bryson Line: Deciding On The Route
November 4th 2016: Up Next: “In Britain: Walking the Bryson Line”
(please note: that’s on my old blog, which is no longer in use)