It was around lunchtime on a hot, bright Saturday when we crossed the churchyard at Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim, threaded our way with difficulty through the crowds gathered under the imposing frontage for the penultimate day of St Olav’s festival, and finally caught sight of the last stone distance post. ‘0km til Nidaros.’ After over four hundred miles of walking, Dave turned to me and we shook hands.
The thing about coming to the end of an adventure is that I always think I’m ready for it, but I never quite am. As I write this I’m sitting at the kitchen table at Glebe Cottage. My filthy clothes are all clean and folded on my bed, my camping equipment is packed away, my boots are oiled and back on the rack, and my sleeping bag is drying on the whirligig outside the window. The beard is trimmed to (more or less) civilised proportions, shirt sleeves conceal my terrible tan-lines, my smell is at worst inoffensive, and the stone and a half in weight that I lost somewhere along the way won’t be staying off for long if my mum’s roast lamb and galette Normandie have anything to do with it. There are jobs to do, invoices to send, pitches to write, bills to pay, estate agents to deal with – a month’s backlog of life admin to clear.
But when I woke up this morning, my feet still wanted to move. My shoes feel too light, and at nearly four o’clock in the afternoon my shoulders aren’t aching from the weight of my pack. The miles are all done, for now, and I miss the feelings of simplicity, contentment and gradual, inexorable progress that came with my temporary tramping life.
So here’s to the pilgrim trails of St Olav’s Way. To the beautiful fells, fjords, fields and forests of Norway. To all the kindness we received from so many lovely people along the way. To my two splendid travelling companions, Dave Tett and Dave Briceland. And perhaps to the next adventure, whatever and whenever it is.