'The scribbles and scrawls in the red notebook represent unevenly spaced and slippery stepping-stones between initial ideas and final published copy. They were written very hurriedly, either at the end of each day of walking or as transcripts of voice-memos made on the moors and hills. As is usual in my journals, the punctuation and spelling are all over the place. I’ve always had a slightly lawless approach to word-formation and have wondered on occasions if I’m partly dyslexic; for me, spelling is to writing what speed-bumps and traffic-cameras are to motoring. When composing poems by hand I’m more determined and careful, mindful of a poem’s geometry on the page and enjoying the physical draughtsmanship of scripting. But with prose I know the real construction will only happen at the word-processing stage (along with the spell-checking) so the Pennine Way notes were panicky attempts to catch phrases, sketch out paragraphs and seize ideas before they perished in the memory.
As early as day one on the walk I realised that making hand-written entries on paper was going to prove completely impractical, partly because of the weather and partly because it involved stopping every half a mile or so, thereby delaying the schedule, disrupting rhythm and momentum, and breaking the emotional spell of the journey. Speaking ideas into an App on my phone – something I’d never done before – was a way of filing contemporaneous reports without breaking stride, and once I’d overcome the self-consciousness of talking to myself the memos became second nature, even a form of company. The recordings also captured more contextual elements of the journey such as the sound of the weather and my mood at the time, and the transcription process offered an early opportunity to refine or delete certain passages, or to skew others in line with my tone of voice and the background sound effects. Sadly (for me, at least) those recordings did not survive later upgrades between mobile phones and the computers they were paired with. Or they’re lying dormant in a Cloud storage facility on an industrial estate somewhere in New Mexico, in which case I’d be interested to hear how they might be re-awakened.'