There were no shortcuts or easy ways out; no way of reducing the hardship. The hardship would end when I had been through all of it and not before.
“See you on Ben Nevis in two weeks, then.” In my mind’s eye, a gauntlet thudded heavily to the ground at my feet.
Looking along the valley, I could see the smooth shoulder of Bowfell climbing into the clouds. That was my route up onto the horseshoe where the highest summits were to be found.
I came to a saddle between two hilltops, where a friendly-looking oak invited me to rest. I had time on my hands. I sat barefoot in its branches and played my whistle, looking back down towards the valley and the estuary. I ate my lunch with my back to its trunk, and read my book, “Fool’s Quest” (appropriately enough) by Robin Hobb. I was having a lovely day wandering through the Lakeland foothills.