We never expected him to do it. Right from the beginning the plan was for Grandpa (probably with Uncle to keep him company) to take a taxi for at least part of today. Grandpa is 84 years old and had major spinal surgery just over a year ago. Recovery time is supposed to be two years, but for the past three days he has been pain-free. And today he walked 28.6km including a stony hill climb in the middle of it. Towards the end we were road walking because the track was a swamp – a few cars passed and I offered to stick out my thumb for the Old Fella.
“No way,” he insisted. “I’ve got this far and I intend to get to the end under my own steam.”
And by golly he did!
He had started off the day less than positive. We’d passed a sign to Linores and he’d asked if we’d be going through that place.
“We’re not going through anything today,” I’d explained.
“Except agony,” he had retorted.
A little later he commented on the sun shining up ahead and I suggested it was drying out the puddles on the path. No, couldn’t possibly be doing that, it barely had enough strength to hit the ground.
He must be fearing today’s climb or the sheer length of the day I reasoned. Best I walk on ahead and keep my happy thoughts to myself;-)
But by the time we hit the climb we were walking in step again. Many years of serious cycling have given him the ability to keep a very regular cadence. And I’ve learnt to do the same at his side. Today I was thinking about what a privilege it has been to walk together – just a few days ago we heard a guy saying a real pilgrimage could only be undertaken alone, not as a group. I guess he is unfamiliar with the history of pilgrimages and how pilgrims used to gather together in bands for safety. I guess he is an example of our modern individualistic society. For us, walking together has been a very special thing. Even when we got caught in the rain for the last kilometer today. If we had walked at our own (not Grandpa’s) pace we’d have arrived before the rain, but none of us regrets having him along!!
Distance: 28.6km Total Distance: 398km
PS As we approached the top of the climb we could hear a sound – somewhat like a busy motorway or aeroplane that wouldn’t go away or a rushing waterfall – look what it turned out to be:
The cloud was swirling, and occasionally the sweeping arms of the windmills emerged. Then suddenly – for less than a minute – the cloud cleared completely and we could see right across the tree-dotted plain which extended as far as you could see. It was an amazing vista granted to us for just a moment. Then we descended and started walking through it. The countryside rolled very gently in large sweeping expanses. Stone walls dissected the fields. Wildflowers bordered the roadside in dramatic displays of colour and filled fields with soft hues of yellow and purple. Gray clouds chased us above….and as you already know, caught us!