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The Freedom to walk differently. Diff-abled on tour!

Today I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston. It’s a 2.5 mile walk that passes 16 nationally significant historic sites from meeting houses to burial grounds and a ship, that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond. And I did it backwards (by this I mean I started at the end, not I walked backwards!)

Why?  Walking with hip dysplasia can be tiring. Or more precisely, for me, the time between feeling OK and feeling like I’ve walked too much and need to stop, is a very short window. So I’ve learned to plan my walk so I’m closer to home when I’m more tired. Or at least closer to places I can rest and people who can help me.

It was wonderful to walk a trail again – it’s been 5 months since I finished the South Downs Way and I’ve missed it.  I was glad that today’s Freedom Trail was just 2.5 miles not 100! Not least because my right hip (the one that hasn’t been replaced and is also DDH) is hurting me more these days, I’m conscious of the pain in a way I haven’t been for some years.  And so I was slower than usual, my differently-abled gait more pronounced.  But I really wanted to walk – I hadn’t had chance to do anything last week to mark Hip Health Week and I’d just seen on Facebook that Steps Charity is 40 years old in 2020!

It was a beautiful sunny day as I started at the Charlestown Navy Yard.  Sadly The USS Constitution Ship was closed but the walk over the Charlestown bridge gave me an amazing view of both the ship and Boston. I most loved walking around the Italian quarter at North End.  The architecture is closest to what I love about London (old brick houses, beautiful churches) and I loved the buzz of the streets full of pizza and seafood restaurants and people living their lives.  A few of the people on the same holiday tour as me were walking the trail in the other direction and it was lovely to see familiar faces along the route.  It reminded me of Sunday morning walking with the Bearcats.

But the highlight of this Freedom Trail is actually the juxtaposition of the old and the new. The old South Meeting House built in 1729 as a puritan meeting house where Benjamin Franklin was baptised, or the old State House – right amidst the sky-scrapers of downtown Boston.  Just like me, a 48 year old right hip that doesn’t rotate fully, next to a newer metal hip that works perfectly. 

Together, somehow, they work to keep me walking, giving me the freedom to walk differently, wherever I want to.  

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