Walking The Bryson Line: The Path to Cape Wrath

I treated myself to a little pre-birthday gift: a light travel laptop. It drove me crazy not to be able to write on a computer. My hand was transforming into a claw from holding the pen, I dreaded writing longhand, and I craved starting the process of writing the book about this trip. And a laptop (my other laptop is too heavy to take along on a long foot journey) also enables me to finally post a new blog.

At this point, I’m only a relatively short distance away from Cape Wrath, my destination, having made it to Blair Atholl, the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. My foot journey so far has brought me through astonishing landscapes and beautiful towns, and it’s only getting wilder. I’m grateful that I’m able to do this – health-wise, but also financially and mentally – and am determined to make it to Cape Wrath.

It’s sometimes easy to lose track of why I’m doing this – the solitude and the sheer boredom encountered along the way are elements that demotivate the long-distance hiker. Yet, there three good reasons to keep going.

The first one is of course to produce a stellar book about Britain, and the material I’ve gathered so far is extremely promising.

The second one is to become the first person ever who has walked every inch of British soil between the two ends of The Bryson Line, which is a nice asset to the story in the book if The Bryson Line ever becomes a classic like the End-to-End Trail – or how the brave and cool challenge of the American expats, my Silent Antagonists, walking in the other direction, gives form to TBL by doing the equivalent of its length throughout Britain, which enables to do it within a timeframe.

The third one, and a very important one, is to pay tribute to three awesome travel writers: Bill Bryson, who inspired this trip; Paul Theroux, whose book Riding the Iron Rooster was the first-ever travel book I read and inspired me to start writing such stories myself, one day; and Dervla Murphy, whose endurance and solo trips on foot or by bike are an absolutely rare feat in travellers these days. 

I left Bognor Regis on the 1st of May at 10:00am, and I could not foresee which great conversations, inconveniences, amount of blisters, plasters, incredible views, new insights and so much more would befall me. It has been an absolute joy to encounter the greatest characters. I’m taking notes and photos of everything, the smallest details, in order to include it all in the book later. 

Most of all I’m meeting very friendly people, and since a traveller, who is by definition in a vulnerable positions, depends on the local people for many, many things (on a level deeper than just flashing the credit card), I feel blessed being surrounded by the British. Being humane is not as rare a quality as many people seem to think these days.

That, at least, is one lesson I’ve been able to draw very early on in the trip.

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