Day 0: How do you get two whales in a train?

The kindness of strangers began to manifest itself straight away.

Seeing my ungainly quickstep as I rushed for the bus, a woman pulled over and offered me a lift to the stop in the next town, which I gratefully took. On the bus an old lady struck up a conversation reminiscing about the days of her youth spent hiking in the Lake District and wished me the best of luck.

My route to North Wales took me through London. I dropped in on the Spinal Research team as I passed through, who were delightful. I was nervous about taking up more than my fair share of space on the tube with my huge backpack. Instead of being heckled and tutted at, though, I was asked about my challenge by the man next to me, who popped my first cash donation into my pot and said that good things would happen to me (his actual words were “good things happen to good people”, but I think the implication was that I was one of them). Good things were already happening, and continued to do so.

The collection pot stayed strapped to the side of my bag to show everyone what a good person I am

The sun was hanging low in the sky as I cruised along the coast of North Wales to Llandudno Junction. I hopped off at the station for my last change of train. A young couple slung me a few coins and we got talking. They were also heading to Betws-y-coed, so we sat together on the train and upon arriving, they offered to take me out to dinner. They were excellent company, with lots of stories of their own adventures across the world, which I was starting to feel must be full of wonderful people.

Sunset sky over North Wales

After saying goodbye to them, I looked at a map for a likely camping spot, and settled on a hilltop just outside the town. I climbed up through the forest until the trees opened up in a heathery clearing under a deep, dark sky glittering with uncountable stars. I eschewed my tent and bivvied in the pine-scented open air. Few adventures could get off to a more auspicious start.

Natalie and Jonny, the lovely couple I met on the train

Published by Alasdair Robertson

Hiker, birder, conservationist, and occasional comedian

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