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  • Writer's pictureDee Crute

The Unexpected Journey: The End?


Huzzah! Huzzah! Huazzzzzaaaah!

I did it! Heck! I did it!

Okay... Calm down...

Let's start again... with a little bit more decorum...


Rock formation resembling dragon's tale - snorkelling dragon's tail
The Dragon's Tail, South Devon, near Dartmouth ©Dee Crute

Welcome, my dearest Folks, to the almost-FINAL episode of the Unexpected Journey!

On Thursday, the 29th of June, after 71 days of walking along the 630-mile-long South West Coast Path, I finally reached my destination!


A monument showing hands holding a map
The South West Coast Path Monument, Minehead Promenade ©Dee Crute

Or have I?


Indeed, I completed this National Trail, but the Unexpected Journey has not finished yet.


Those who followed my journey from the beginning know that back in March this year, I reached the nadir of my health – physical and mental.


Herein I shall take you back in time to put things into perspective and prove that when the going gets tough, the tough get going – and it’s bloody worth it!


So come on – get into my time machine!


March 2023…


It was so bad that I was very close to losing so much more than just my home and my husband-to-be. Tremors and body spasms caused me to seize, and I fell down the stairs – luckily, I only hurt my leg, but it could have ended up breaking my neck!

Things were getting serious…

And I could not cope with it anymore… The bullying, disability harassment and victimisation at work pushed me further into despair. I don’t think I have shared this before, at least not here… But I was thinking about suicide. I actually made a plan of how and where but not when. That freaked me out, and I called my family doctor.


I sat, and I cried. Not sobbing, but cathartically weeping until I knew…


Sunset on secluded rocky beach
Peppercombe Beach, near Clovelly, North Devon ©Dee Crute

Until I knew that what I was doing, the life I was living, was wrong.


This was when The Unexpected Journey came into being.


The title was derived from The Hobbit (yep, I am a Tolkien girl!).


Initially, it just meant a new adventure – and by adventure, I meant how I reframed the pickle I found myself in. I needed to rethink and rebuild my life. No actual journey was on the table yet.


I had ideas aplenty! Which I did share with you! I even planned phases, or stages, of going back on track! But none of these worked!


And now, I know that it meant not to work – well, keep reading…

Side of the backpack with Dartmoor Ponies grazing in the background
The path is ahead and Dartmoor Ponies behind ©Dee Crute

Trying to distract myself from the dark thoughts, I decided to rewrite my article about the hike commemorating the Solomon Browne tragedy I had walked with my ex in November last.

This is when The South West Coast Path (SWCP) popped out from the text, and I knew what needed doing.


I ‘click-and-collect’ the SWCP guide, grabbed Lilith (my mountain bike), and, with my hurting leg, cycled from Hove to Lewes in East Sussex, England. It was actually an adventure in itself as wanting so much to ride off-road, I lost my way. I got to the outskirts of Lewes 5 minutes before the bookshop closure. I called the shop, and they super kindly waited for me.


I did not even read the guide! I decided not to plan the journey – just walk it – with a tent on my back – and a good job that I did not do as planning would probably put me off from doing it. I ordered some gear, and once it arrived and the house was cleaned and redecorated, I got on the train to Poole and thus started my adventure.


I don’t think I realised what I was doing. I did not realise how tough it would be.


My Hashimoto autoimmune condition made me constantly catch colds and chest infections. It was scary – I remember two nights being delirious from the fever – one in the hotel, another in the tent when my money was gone. The weather was cold and rainy. But my body somehow got stronger, and halfway I stopped getting ill.


Autism and ADHD, too, were not making it easier – sleeping each day in different places was yay for ADHD and nay for Autism, often causing clashes and meltdowns. Lack of self-care, self-advocating skills, AND naivety were also quite precarious to my wellbeing and safety.

But I learnt how to survive and how to thrive.


My physical disabilities: Fibromyalgia, suspected neurodegenerative condition, Endometriosis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and Developmental Hip Dysplasia made it rather tricksy to walk, climb and do anything really. Not to mention carrying a 4 to 4 ½ stone (25-28 kg) backpack – Mr Baggins the Big Bag. Every step was painful, and on some days, it was agonising and, on others, excruciating.


A pair of walking boots dangling from a monument
Stinky Boots proudly dangling from the Finish Line. ©Dee Crute

Closer to the finish, my hip was very much in mind to just pop out of its socket – I guess for shit and giggles – it wasn’t funny for me, though.


I also missed home. Home, I did not have any more. I missed having a home. I missed being able to shut the door from the world – tent was not giving you that option. Not when safety was involved. I was not afraid of animals but of people. I craved being able to make a cuppa – to warm myself up or soothe myself.


My self-esteem was in pieces. I felt like a vagabond, and my anxiety was quite high. I hated it. I was happy amongst the wildflowers and animals but panicked upon closing on any town or village.

But I did it.

I finished it.


This adventure gave me the strength to confront my life, face the closure, and kick-start my healing. Within and without.


That’s why this is not the end. It is just the beginning.

And I would be so much privileged if you could walk with me till the end.


Because without you – I would not finish it.

I did it with your help.

And you told me that I helped you too!

And I want to continue to do so!


Ripped walking boots on the monument
Ripped and smelly - thank you for carrying me to the end. RIP Boots.©Dee Crute

And always remember this – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Upon setting off, I thought I was alone. Living with neurodivergent conditions can be very isolating. After losing everything, I did not have family, friends or acquaintances I could ask for help.


It turned out I had – and I made many more friends on this expedition.

Thank you for being there for me. Thank you.



The South West Coast Path Start/Finish Monument
I bloody did it! Start/Finish Monument in Minehead ©Dee Crute

So, what is the takeaway?

There are quite a few…


Don’t let the disability and circumstances define you – yep, it is tough.


No one said it would be easy, but it will get easier – because you will get stronger.


Please, please trust me on this. But for this to happen, you have to have faith in the process.



Trust your inner voice, God, or the Universe.

If you want something badly - everything will conspire to help you – cliché?



Well, you know, I think the actual word cliché is overused…


This is precisely what I meant, and I will not use fancy synonyms to make it sound nicer or more original – because my story is not about nice – it is about REAL.

I had very little on my adventure, yet, when I was really in need – I got help. The serendipity never left me during the adventure. People who popped out of nowhere when I was exhausted offered me room, food, or a lift from the middle of nowhere when my hip popped out. I met so many people and received so much help it would take me days to list it here. Not to even mentioned thousands of signs and coincidences. Something or someone wanted me to complete this walk.


Dee's face against the monument
Me - your nincompoop! In the Finish line! ©Dee Crute

No mountain is too high, no obstacle is too great.


Sometimes it will take time to climb it. Or, sometimes, the obstacle is the actual way.

What if these obstacles are actually the way life dares us to do something?

I dare you – to live the life you want.

The future is up to us – no one else.

Walk with me!


I want to tell so much more about my adventure – and I am going to be painfully candid.


I will tell you when I won’t be able to share or disclose matters if these will relate to other people. In my book, you will get every detail - I want you to know what to expect on the unexpected journey, but I still want you to try it yourself.

Of course, you don’t have to walk the same route, you don’t have to spend 71 days in a tent, and you don’t even have to walk. But do something that will challenge you, ideally go out and live so close to nature. You will be surprised how your brain will change and how you will gain perspective on your life.


"We have two lives; the second begins when we realise we only have one". - Confucius

Oh, and don’t be afraid to shake the boat too…


I will leave you with these words and your thoughts tonight…


Love,

Dee




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summersunday
11 jul 2023

Amazing woman! You continue to inspire and challenge me and many others as well as yourself 💚🌿

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