It feels as if 2022 has been a year of endings, certainly this latter half.
Alex left school and went to University; Bella left one school and went to Sixth form at another; Edward left Primary school and went to Secondary school.
Queen Elizabeth II died and her son became King Charles III.
Penny and I finished cycling around the outside of Cumbria; and then, on what will probably turn out to be one of the coldest days of the year, we ran the final missing section of the ‘Cumbria Way in pieces’.
We started at Mosedale, ran along the road which runs parallel to the Caldew as it begins its journey down over rocks, then got on to the Cumbria Way and headed up towards Lingy Fell. There’s a bothy here, which wasn’t marked on our maps; we’d actually had to cut across the fellside to get to it as we had managed to lose the official path, but fortunately there were some walkers there who confirmed that we were in the right place.
The route then took us over High Pike, which is apparently the highest point on the Cumbria Way. We met some more walkers there, who again confirmed that we were in the right place: the waymarks were non-existent and I was glad I’d taken my compass (Penny also had hers, but it wasn’t as accessible as mine. We’ve hardly ever needed to use a compass before). Despite the cold weather we were warm from the effort of clambering up the fellside and then running along the track.
It was fairly ‘easy’ going from there until a mile or two south of Caldbeck, where again we questioned a walker who sent us on an easier route slightly further east rather than our clambering through more heather and gorse. There are loads of old mine and quarry workings up on Caldbeck Fell, and as we turned round past the last one the sun eventually tried to come out. By then my phone had died of cold, so the last photos are Penny’s.
We jogged down into the Caldbeck and warmed up with soup of the day at the Oddfellows Arms.
All those endings also represent new beginnings. What has less of a new beginning to it – though there is a sort of beginning – was that on Sunday December 18th I had just sung with some people at a church carol service when I had a phone call with my Mum. My Dad had collapsed and partly she wanted my reassurance that moving him to hospital was a bad idea – especially as she’d been told he might not survive the ambulance journey – but also it was to tell me that he was dying. With the help of Anne, who came back to my house with me and made me sandwiches and a cup of coffee, and made sure I’d got everything (actually I forgot a running jacket, but then I ended up not going running), I packed and then left for Somerset. I was at times tearful and at times hoping that it really was the end: the last time I’d seen him he had seemed so fragile and vulnerable, and I didn’t want him to get to the stage with his alzheimer’s where he’d be little more than a body surviving; a husk of a person with no personality left inside.
I had no idea whether he’d still be alive when I reached Somerset – it’s about a 6 hour journey – but my gut feeling told me he wouldn’t be. When I stopped at Strensham services, near Worcester, I phoned my sister and she told me Dad had died peacefully slightly earlier. He had collapsed just after breakfast and my Mum and my sister had been there as he passed away. For my mother it means an end to caring for him and worrying about him, and I hope that she can now spend some time enjoying her twilight years. I know that she will miss him more than words can express.
William Lewis 1935 – 2022. Requiescet in pace.