The Walk Is Done

So here we are.  3 weeks to the day since the walk ended at Land’s End.  We had our celebration charity dinner on Friday evening.  The 150 guests all seemed to enjoy themselves.  The venue and food were excellent.  Mike Stoner (a local up-close magician) bamboozled people with amazing tricks.  Resident Heroes were the band who kept people up on the dance floor until closing time.  Perhaps most importantly the Money Tree, Silent Auction, and Live Auctions raised an additional £5,500.  I’ll update this on the home page as soon as I have everything confirmed but our grand total looks to be over £22,000, which is fantastic.

I wrote a piece for the school magazine this week that gives a nice summary and some reflection.

When I first started planning my charity walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE) I had no experience to draw on that would help me understand what it was really going to be like.  Now that it’s all over I can say that some things were not as bad as I imagined, and some of the not-so-good were things I hadn’t thought about at all.  But before reviewing how things went let me summarise what was achieved.

Including the mountain climbs:

  • 1,089 miles walked, or put another way, over 2 million steps
  • 3 mountains climbed; Ben Nevis (1,345m), Scafell Pike (978m), and Snowdon (1085m)
  • > £20,000 raised
  • Hazel drove over 3,000 miles supporting me

The whole thing took 60 days; 54 days walking at an average of 19.3 miles per day, 3 mountain days, and 3 rest days.

Overall the journey went almost exactly to plan.  We changed the daily route a few times for various reasons;  the unseasonal snow in Scotland, local advice about the unpleasantness of the Clyde Tunnel in Glasgow,  and my absolute refusal to repeat walking along the A30.  The weather was unbelievably kind with only 5 really unpleasant days; 1 day of very strong wind, 2 days of blizzard, and 2 days of torrential rain.  I had no serious injuries, and there were no mechanical or electronic failures, and no natural or man-made disasters.

So, as I look back over the whole trip what are the things that leap into my mind?

  • Climbing Ben Nevis in such awful conditions was probably the most challenging thing.
  • Scotland is bigger than you think.
  • A random encounter with Wayne Russell, who is running round the coast of Britain, was inspirational and humbling.
  • Land Rovers and Garmin GPS Navigators are both brilliant bits of kit that never let us down and did everything asked of them.
  • New born lambs are the cutest things ever, and we all need to find ways of getting closer to wildlife.
  • Things are easier with a friend by your side.  I’m so grateful to Mike, Tony, Rob, Phil and Kevin for each walking a few miles with me; and to the 10 people who joined me for the climb up Snowdon.
  • Vehicles are a necessary evil.  I don’t know how we would manage without them but when you are walking alongside the traffic you experience the air pollution and the noise pollution in a whole new way.  You also get to see the result of dozens of daily ‘roadkill’ incidents, which upset me in a way I would never have believed.
  • Hazel is a genius.  Even when we encountered unexpected festivals in Kinlochleven (motorcycle trials), Keswick (jaz), and Hay (literary) she always managed to find us somewhere to stay, and took care of everything so I could focus on walking.

What was the best moment?  Seeing the coast at Marazion near Penzance.  I knew then that the end was very close.

And the worst moment?  There were 2.  The first was when Hazel and I couldn’t find each other at the end of one day, and neither of us had a phone signal.  I ended up hitching a lift and saw Hazel pulled up in a layby, so all ended ok.  The second was the terrifying experience of walking down the A30 with the traffic coming from behind me.  Truly horrible.

Hardest thing to deal with?  Missing home and the dog.  9 weeks is a very long time to be away and never in my life have I been so desperate to go home.

The very last thing to do is say a massive thanks to everyone who has contributed:

  • All at Breast Cancer UK, Cure Leukaemia and The Holt School
  • Richard Roll (chiropodist) and Sophie Acarnley (sport psychologist) for keeping my feet and head together
  • The Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors for their generosity
  • All the local businesses in Wokingham and our friends who contributed gifts to the auctions and the money tree.
  • Brother Dave for keeping everything in order at home
  • Hazel for supporting me so brilliantly and keeping me sane
  • Everyone who donated and / or attended the dinner

P.S.  I Iost just under a stone.  A bonus 🙂

Merlin says well done

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