how it went - matt's big m60 walk

Yesterday (Saturday 30 May 2015) I started, and finished, my 79km walk around the outside of the M60, Manchester's orbital motorway.

Rather than repeat myself in slightly different words, I'll just cut and paste most of the account I wrote for the home page of the project's blog.

Before that, this is far from the end of the project. Part of the purpose behind this was always to create art from the experience and to get a substantial piece of writing out of it. To this end I have a sizeable amount of audio and video to edit into something once I've checked what I have. At the moment my thinking is along the lines of a walking rhythm - I know, shocking, right? I also have a lot more journal to write.

At the same time, in the last week I decided, perhaps stupidly, to undertake another ambitious walk. In around six weeks time, in mid-July, I want to walk from Porthmadog in the west to Skegness in the east.

Although in this case since it will take so long, and since I can't plan my route in shorter preparatory walks beforehand, I won't be concerned if I don't finish the route. To express it in cliche, the journey is more important than arriving.

And so, along with some photos also posted on Twitter, here's what I had to say about the walk earlier today:

I started and finished the big walk yesterday. The weather was ideal – while there was direct sun most of the morning and into the early afternoon, it was mostly overcast, but not dark. There was periodically a cooling breeze, and the day was dry.

It being the end of May, and knowing I’d be out in the daylight for 15 hours I made sure to wear a hat and suncream which I topped up every four hours.

By the end of the walk although the soles of my feet ached a little, as you’d expect, I had no blisters, no sunburn, and no other pains. In fact, if I wanted to (and I did, I wanted to make-up time) I was able to jog short distances.

In the second half of the walk I did lose around an hour, but that wasn’t a problem, and I expected to take a little more than my projected time anyway.

Early on I was joined by my brother Joel from the start round to Besses O’ Th’ Barn, and also got a lift from Joel and his partner Emma to the start point. We got there in plenty of time, and I did a brief telephone interview with Eamonn O’Neal for BBC Radio Manchester. Eamonn also acted as unofficial official starter.

Later on, from Drury Lane/Manchester Road (just outside the M60 from Hollinwood Metrolink), my sister Hannah and her baby daughter Jessica joined me on the mainly downhill walk to Ashton, and from there along the Peak Forest Canal to Woodley Tunnel. They were then picked up 10 minutes down the road outside Bredbury Station by Hannah’s partner Marshall.

All three later picked me up from the end of the walk.

While I’d expected the walk to be 14 and three-quarter hours, as mentioned I did lose an hour, so it took 15 and three-quarter hours. That’s starting at 6.30am, and finishing at 10.15pm.

The only thing that really went wrong was my camcorder developing a fault. For a while, after only using it twice for short periods, it showed the light indicating it was in use despite the viewscreen being closed, and was unresponsive when I tried to use it. Whether that drained the battery or there was another problem, after the indicator went out the camera claimed it had a low battery. It had only been charged the previous night.

Even so I managed to get quite a lot of video on my phone, and still didn’t use up all of its battery. But then I got much less video than I otherwise might have.

The walk was tremendously enjoyable, and I’ll certainly do it, or something of similar or longer duration again.

I have a lot more journal to write, and I think some outstanding to add. The next stage though is to get all my photos, audio and video downloaded, and start editing some art from whatever I have. At a guess I have around an hour plus audio, probably somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour’s worth of video, and about half a dozen photos.

And that's that. My next creative moves immediately are I want to get back in my studio and start making something. I have a number of jars collected I want to do something with. I also want to get back on track with my Islands project which has taken a hiatus recently. Most things have - it's been kind of busy start to the year. My mother's terminal cancer entered its last stages, my old job ended, I spent five weeks looking for new work, and in the space of a week I got a new job, my mother died, I started the new job, and took possession of a new housing association flat.

But anyway. Aside from all that I have some sound ideas I'd like to get down before long. Plus there's a couple of recordings from gigs I haven't uploaded yet. Anything else? I dunno.

Today, in the afternoon after I finished changing my bedding, washing-up, doing laundry, writing my post for the walk's blog, sending a mass of tweets and texts, and downloading all the video and audio from yesterday to my Mac I took a walk of a little over three hours. It was nice, much more relaxed than yesterday, and I felt I could have carried on for a while longer.


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