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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

An end and a beginning

Updated: Jun 26

Last summer I had planned to take the journey back from John O Groats very slowly, driving down over three days as a way of decompressing after the adventure. Of course those plans were curtailed by my hasty departure home, but we have done a similar strategy in reverse since Friday, heading slowly North.

Aside from walking, I spend my time running choirs and music festivals. My lovely women's choir, Village Voices ( is going to York in October to sing in a couple of events organised by Jessa, a wonderful fellow MD whom I met online during lockdown. So Friday night and Saturday were spent checking out restaurants and venues, and making exciting plans.

Then on Saturday night we moved further north to Catterick, visiting Richmond yesterday and Leyburn today, checking out similar things for the tour my men's choir Seer Green Singers ( are doing in September. Another exciting day, meeting Debbie who is another online MD friend. Lockdown was difficult for everyone, but being a choral director when singing was thought to be the prime spreader of Covid was especially excruciating. The contacts I made through a supportive group online will be of lasting benefit to me and my choirs.

Then this afternoon we made the last leg of the journey north. We had a wonderful moment with the Angel of the North, enjoying the scale of the iconic statue, and almost equally enjoying the fact that the car park was equipped with a fast charger for our EV.

We continued for an hour or so, listening to the excellent The Rest is History podcast, until suddenly I needed silence and the ability to completely focus on the outside. We were coming into familiar landscape, where it had been so very difficult last year. We passed the entrance to the forestry road from which I emerged broken from that tough stretch of the Pennine Way. And then to the tiny village of Byrness, and the Forest View B and B. Laura the landlady had been so kind last year, and it had been really important to me to see her and Ollie again before restarting. They greeted me as an old friend, and I was back in my right place, surrounded by walkers. But this time at the beginning of a new journey, with a much more functional leg!

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