Porthleven – Lizard (13.9 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 294.6 miles / Distance to Poole– 330.4 miles
Today has been a bit like Piccadilly Circus– lots of different people coming and going and a great deal of diversity. We started out with 7 people walking from Porthleven, which after Loe Bar became 5. At Polurrian we gained two more who walked with us to Mullion. Here we were joined by a further 10 for a picnic lunch. Some of us had sandwiches, some munched on saffron buns and some had hampers complete with real crockery, cutlery and wine glasses!
After our lunch break, which had involved folk from 5 different churches, 8 of us set off in search of the Lizard Point. However, just before Kynance Cove we were joined by another 4 walkers.
So the total number of people walking at some point today was 16, with the largest group at any one time being 12. The difficulty in walking with a group of this size is the differences. Some people have long legs and therefore long strides. Some have little legs and struggle to keep up with their smaller steps. Some people like to march on and reach the destination, while others are forever stopping to admire the view. Some people like to chat, whilst others prefer a quieter way of walking. I learnt very early on that you can’t please everyone!
In addition to the varying preferences in walking styles, we also had to address the issue of health. A few of today’s walking participants have serious health problems which could have become a major problem on the isolated coast path. But the thing that I loved the most about today was the sense of unity. Throughout the day people were coming and going, joining in and walking a little or a lot. People were eating together, walking together, chatting together, laughing together and at one point singing together. At the beginning of the day no one in the group knew everyone and we had locals alongside people from Exeter, London and Manchester. I loved the fact that there was such diversity in age with teenagers walking alongside people in their 70’s (and all the ages in between I should probably add too!). I loved the fact that people who must daily face problems and challenges were determined to be a part of this great journey. I loved the fact that it didn’t matter if people walked for 5 minutes with us or for 5 hours, whether they had sandwiches or a plated luncheon, everyone was part of something bigger.
To be honest I am slightly relived that it is not this chaotic every day that I walk, and there are times when I am sure I will be glad to be walking on my own once again (I can get grumpy and anti-social when tired!). But the knowledge that people of all ages, all abilities, all different characteristics came together today to walk for the benefit of others, warms my heart and makes me feel proud. Everyone today has been a vital part of The Leprosy Mission’s work because they brought something of themselves to the day. It is not about how many miles they walked (although I guess it is for me!) or what time they did it in. It is not about how easily they strolled up the hills or how red-faced and puffed out they became. It is the fact that, with a love and a joy which encourages and inspires me, they all gave it their all and got involved.
I hope and pray that long after this walk is completed I remember the example of these 15 walkers, that I am not hindered by my differences or weaknesses, and that I am courageous enough to get involved and be part of something bigger than me and my little world.