The bare numbers don’t tell much: 81 days, thereof 3 walking-free, 2260 km or 1404 miles, roughly 55565 m or 182300 ft of ascent.
Was it the challenge I expected it to be? The answer depends a bit on the aspect concerned and the time in the walk, but overall it’s more a “no”. The really pleasing and not at all natural outcome was the physical one. After all the health hassles and surgeries of the last years it was a relief that the body proved to be up to the task. I had no problems to motivate myself into walking except for the last two or three days, and I think this was partly due to the boring road walking and partly to the feeling that these few miles couldn’t really matter that much – which of course they did, just as the very first ones. For many people it seems to be difficult to be on their own without company for such a long time. I’m quite used to this and don’t miss anything when being on my own, although I also enjoyed the parts when others joined me. But there was no challenge on this level either.
Were my expectations met? They definitely were in terms of the walk being a unique experience unparalleled by anything else I’ve done. Still the overwhelming feeling is relief to have completed the walk, it’ll turn into joy later, I guess, when the experiences become memories, filtering out the lesser nice parts or at least softening e.g. the feeling in the swamps of Glen Dessary. But a more “rational” consideration will have to wait.
Would I do it again? This is difficult to answer. There had been times during the walk when I would have and in fact had answered “yes” without hesitation. Right now I’m unsure. Perhaps this also requires a time gap to feel attracted by a project like this again. That’s not completely unlikely, the planning and preparation of this trip has been a part of my life for about two years (in increasing intensity), so having completed it leaves a void I’ll have to fill with something new.
One observation which isn’t too surprising when thinking about it but never fails to fascinate me (knowing it to a lesser extent from my previous walking holidays): how disparate time perception can be. On the one hand it feels like the really long period it was, being away from everything which makes up my usual everyday life. On the other hand it feels like I just had set off in Land’s End yesterday, so it can’t possibly be that I walked the whole length of the country since then. Synchronising my time perception and the time elapsed will be another task back home.