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

Day 60: Wednesday 15th June

With Kevin – made it !

At 1pm today I arrived in Land’s End, accompanied by Kevin McPartlan.  12.5 miles and we managed to avoid the A30 for almost all of it.  Hoorah.  The weather reflected the good fortune of the whole trip; forecast thunder and lightning with torrential rain; actually mixed cloud and sun with a cooling breeze.  We have been truly blessed with the weather.





Massive surprise to be greeted by brother Dave, and of course by Hazel and Kevin’s wife Jane.  Just time for the mandatory photos and then back to Penzance to relax before heading home tomorrow.


The pure walk was 1,061 miles or 1,982,746 steps, but if I add in the 3 peaks (which seems fair) then we have 1,089 miles or 2,034,530 steps.  In summary; over 1,000 miles, 3 peaks, and over 2 million steps.

Have I lost any weight?  I’ll let you know when we get home.


I’ll write a final blog entry when we get home and have time to reflect, but for now we are done !  A final homage to Sir Ian Botham for being part of the reason I got into this.

Day 59: Tuesday 14th June

A calm sort of day today.  20.5 miles to Penzance Station.  Weather was actually quite pleasant despite the forecast.  Not a great deal to report from the day.  I met Hazel for an early lunch and we met an ‘adventure cycling’ support crew who had 44 people riding from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 12 days.  And I thought our logistics were complicated.  The parent’s of one of the lady cyclists were very kind to donate £10 to Hazel.  Many thanks.

St. Michael’s Mount with the causeway just visible below the water.


It was a thrill to see the sea and walk along the coastal path.  St. Michael’s Mount is always eye-catching.  Plenty of people wind surfing and kite surfing.  Hazel even managed to find a parking space and treat me to an ice cream.  Lovely.

The final surprise of the day came via a text message from an old colleague, on holiday and following the blog.  We met up with Kevin and Jane McPartlan for a nice dinner, and Kevin is going to walk the final morning with me to Land’s End.

Mixed feelings tonight as I contemplate the final walk tomorrow.

The penultimate change of footwear in the car park at Penzance Station.

Day 58: Monday 13th June

A really short blog today.  19 miles from Indian Queens to Redruth, mostly in drizzle and with a rising breeze.  Sadly there are only so many minor roads that track the A30 and so, inevitably, almost half the distance was down the A30; without doubt the most dangerous road I have walked down.  Yuk.

While I was battling traffic Hazel managed to visit the magnificent Truro Cathedral.

One full day to Penzance, then half a day to Land’s End.  Almost there.

Day 57: Sunday 12th June

Before today’s walk update a quick mention for the staff at Colliford Tavern and Holiday Park, near St. Neots, where we stayed last night.  A few little issues with the room when we checked in were dealt with promptly and with a smile.  Then, when we turned up an hour early for breakfast, the owner stepped in and made us a lovely breakfast.  Great service and a lovely location.

1,000 miles at grid ref:  SX 028 640



There is only really one big thing from today.  I passed 1,000 miles.  No fanfare.  No flypast from jet fighters.  Just a none-descript road in Cornwall, ¼ mile up the road from a landfill site 🙂


Overall the day produced 22 miles to Indian Queens in drizzly rain.  One explanation for the unusual name is that it was frequented by both the daughter of Pocahontas (a ‘queen’ from the North American Indians), and Queen Victoria (Empress of India).

In the mid-afternoon I was a bit surprised when a chap honked his horn, stopped, and got out of the car for a word.  Great surprise to recognise Chris McArdle, a friend from University, who had been driving around hoping to find me.  Chris now lives in Looe and thought he would intercept me on the way to Indian Queens.  Another surprise when two more University pals also arrived; Paul and Anne Bradley who live in Plymouth.  A nice dinner all together and a good old reminisce.


Day 56: Saturday 11th June

Be careful what you wish for.  I welcomed the gentle summer rain yesterday, and was rewarded with a deluge for most of today that left me soaked to the skin.  We got the 21 miles done though to St. Neots, and the sun came out for the last hour, so I was reasonably dry by the time I stopped.  Route today was very up and down, and across part of Bodmin Moor.  I managed to stay clear of the famous ‘panther’, or whatever it is that lives on the moor.  Creepy.

Now that we are in Cornwall there is all kinds of strangeness.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Be afraid.  Be very afraid.


A whole family of manakins outside the farm shop

Day 55: Friday 10th June

Across Okehampton Golf Course


Oh joy of joys.  Rain.  So nice to be able to step out and not feel like you are about to melt.  Almost a record day at 23.5 miles to Tin Hay.  For some reason the other me (the one that is very poor at planning) made the final few days some of the longest.  I have no idea why.



As well as the much needed rain, this morning’s walk was adventurous.  5 miles along the road to Okehampton where I met up with Hazel for a coffee.  Then expert navigation required (follow the big purple line on the Garmin) to find the footpath out of Okehampton and across Okehampton Golf Course.  There was a pleasant surprise when I came across a major feat of engineering above me.  The happiness didn’t last long when I realised I was supposed to be on top of this viaduct, not underneath it.  Fortunately someone had provided a handy footpath to get up top and 20 minutes later I was back on the right road.

Met on the road:  Andrew Bennett helping his cousin




Either I’m lost or this path hasn’t been used for a while
How cruel

Day 54: Thursday 9th June

A lot cooler walking as it was quite misty for most of the day.  A good old fashioned walk through fields and across open pasture for the 21 miles to North Tawton.  Not a car in sight.  Lovely.  I got lost a couple of times but never wandered more than a couple of hundred metres off the route.  Good old Garmin 🙂

1.75 million steps racked up today and hopefully less than 1 week and less than 100 miles to go.  I wonder if I’ll go over 2 million steps?  Judging by the photo below I may have already gone further than I thought !!!


Day 53: Wednesday 8th June

Short blog today as the internet is playing up.  22.5 miles to Rackenford in the steamy heat.  Exhausting.  I could wring out my shirt when I stopped for the day.  Probably too much detail but a good indicator as to how hot it gets walking in this weather.  We broke the 900 mile barrier and passed into Devon.  Onward, ever onward.


Day 52: Tuesday 7th June

Wonderful walking today over the Quantock Hills.  22 miles to Milverton means we are bang on schedule.  The weather was a mixed bag with the morning undecided if it should rain or not, and an afternoon of lovely sunshine with the perfect breeze to keep the temperature acceptable.  It was all so nice I met up with Hazel for a celebration ice cream sundae at Daisy Cottage Tea Shop in Bishops Lydeard.

The day has been topped off by a brilliant piece of accommodation management by Hazel.  The Fitzhead Inn is marvellous and great value.  The food in the restaurant was spot on, and the friendliness of everyone was a joy.  Special thanks to Jill and John Taylor, and to Stephen Hoole for the pleasant conversation and the donations.

Two things of note from the walk today.  The entrance to Cothelstone Manor and Church was a nice surprise, and walking over the Bishops Lydeard to Minehead steam railway with a train about to leave was a trip down memory lane.

Pasties and cream teas to look forward to 🙂