A Walk from London to John O'Groat's eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 348 pages of information about A Walk from London to John O'Groat's.
the unrestful spirits of the old Vikings and Norse heroes were walking up and down the scene of their wild histories and gibbering over their feats and fates.  Spent an hour or two in writing letters to friends in England and America, to tell them of my arrival at this extreme goal of my walk, and a full hour in poring over the visitors’ book, in which there were names from all countries in Christendom, and also impressions and observations in prose, poetry, English, French, Latin, German and other languages.  Many of the comments thus recorded intimated some dissatisfaction that John O’Groat’s House was so mythical; that so much had to be supplied by the imagination; that not even a stone of the foundation remained in its place to assist fancy to erect the building into a positive fact of history.  But they all bore full and sometimes fervid testimony to the good cheer of the inn at the hands of the landlady.  There was one record which blended loyalty to palate and patriotism—­“The Roast Beef of Old England” and “God save the Queen”—­rather amusingly.  A party wrote their impressions after this manner—­“Visited John O’Groat’s House; found little to see; came back tired and hungry; walked into a couple of tender chickens and a good piece of bacon:  God save Mrs. Manson and all the Royal Family!” This concluding “sentiment” was doubtless sincere and honest, although it involved a question of precedence in the rank of two feelings which John the Dutchman could have hardly settled by his eight-angled plan of adjustment.

The next morning, for the first time for nearly three months of continuous travel, I faced southward, leaving behind me the Orkneys unvisited, though I had a strong desire to see those celebrated islands—­the theatre of so much interesting history.  Twenty years ago I translated all the “Sagas” relating to the voyages and exploits of the Northmen in these northern seas and islands, their explorations of the coast of North America centuries before Columbus was born, their doings in Iceland and on all the islands great and small now forming the British realms.  This gave an additional zest to my enjoyment in standing on the shore of the Pentland Firth and looking over upon the scene of old Haco’s and Sigurd’s doing, daring and dying.

Footed it back to Wick, and there terminated my walk, having measured, step by step, full seven hundred miles since I left London, counting in the divergences from a straight line which I had made.  In the evening I addressed a large and intelligent audience which had been convened at short notice, and I never stood up before one with such peculiar satisfaction as in that North-star town of Scotland.  I had travelled nearly the whole distance incog., without hearing my own name on a pair of human lips for weeks.  To lay aside this embargo and to speak to such a large congregation, face to face, was like coming back again into the great communions of humanity after a long and private fellowship with the secluded quietudes of Nature.

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A Walk from London to John O'Groat's from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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