Why do so many Canadians go to England to walk when Canada has such a vast countryside?
That’s the question Vancouverite John Cherrington heard often when he was interviewed by English journalists about his book, Walking to Camelot. It’s a good read about a fascinating, colourful journey on the Macmillan Way across England, from coast to coast.
Ten years ago, at age 54, Cherrington and his irascible 74-year-old buddy, Carl Yzerman, walked the 290-mile Macmillan Way.
Cherrington took copious notes during the walk, recorded his impressions every evening, and thoroughly researched the history of each place he passed through, including his ancestral village.
After almost a decade, he realized his journal, and the interplay between the two men, would make a book in the tradition of Bill Bryson and other low-key adventurers.
The famed Macmillan Way links footpaths, bridleways, byways and, when necessary, country roads as it winds through historic villages, private estates and pastures with rampaging cattle.
“I do not exaggerate when I say there are more injuries and deaths from bovine attacks on the Macmillan Way than there are injuries and deaths on African safaris,” says Cherrington.
So why do so many Canadians go to England to walk?
“Nowhere else do you have the ability to walk over private land,” explains Cherrington.
The Macmillan Way is 90 per cent private land.
1. Travel with at least one companion.
2. Wear rain-proof clothing—Gore-tex is ideal.
3. Carry a walking stick; light telescoping ski sticks are easily stowed on the plane.
4. Carry a compass, water bottle, small pack, guidebook, and land anger map, plus field binoculars.
5. For a long distance walk, book your B&B’s ahead of time—at least four to five nights in advance. Depending upon the season, these tend to fill up fast.
9. Build up callouses on your feet before you travel and wear well worn in hiking boots. Try to purchase blister prevent spray which is sold in some British pharmacies. The spray will coat your feet in the morning and washes off at night.
10. Do not expect locals to tell you about what lies ahead—they often don’t know whether the next village, for example, boasts a pub, grocery store, or telephone booth. Rely on your guidebook materials.
11. Buy a British cell phone when you land if you are planning an extensive stay; alternatively, have your phone equipped with a chip from a UK mobile shop that will allow you to use it there. More than 50 per cent of the telephone booths throughout England are no longer operational.