August 27th, 8am. Got up. Had breakfast - 3 Weatabix, 2 pieces of Sainsburys extra special butter fudge, 2 ibuprofen. Put trainers on for the last time and packed novelty outfit. Ten weeks ago to the day, I walked the first 12 of 500 miles from Linlithgow to Falkirk. Now I just had to walk another 12 miles to finish it off.
I’ve been blessed with superb weather for about 450 of the miles done so far and the last day was no different. In the morning I walked 10 miles from the Scottish Parliament down to Portobello and back. With the end in sight, it was possibly the easiest walk I've done and just seemed to fly by.
At lunchtime, with just 2 miles left to do, I stretched my weary leg muscles and shook out my skinny ankles for the last time, ready to set off on the home straight. To finish in ‘style’ I had a quick change of racing togs before my assault on the Royal Mile.
At the top of the Royal Mile my mum and dad and Stuart and Lorna were waiting to walk the very last mile with me, down to Holyrood Palace.
The finishing line. Dad confessed that his first thought on seeing me was – ‘he’s growing his hair again’. On the one hand, that’s even more bonkers than it sounds as dad had seen me just the week before. On the other hand, my hair did look exactly like that in 1993. (Sadly I’ve never been able to grow such a cracking moustache though).
Way – hey!!!!! Can hardly believe I made it. 500 miles in 10 weeks, never going the same way twice. Get in there!!!
It’s been a pretty big undertaking, more of a mental challenge than a physical one in the end, (though without the help of a sports podiatrist I would never have made it). Just a few things I’ve learned, looking back:
- Places seem much closer together if you walk between them. Walk from where you live to anywhere that you’d normally think was too far to walk to and you’ll see what I mean.
- Walking isn’t the most stimulating of sports. Personally, I just couldn’t have done this without all the support I got. The miles seemed half as far when walking with friends and knowing I had so many people keeping an eye on my progress was a real driver – guilt is good!
- If you are going to dress up in a ridiculous costume, the best time and place to do it is on the Royal Mile in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival. You just blend in…
I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who’s tuned in to the blog. A big thank you too to everyone who’s donated and an extra special thank-you to all the walkers: Adamski, Tom, my uncle Tom, Sturt, the Jaxster, Kate and Tony, the Svenster, Stuart and Lorna, and lastly my mum and dad who deserve a big thanks too for all their ‘logistical’ and other help in the last couple of months.
I was determined and eventually relieved to make it to the end as – happily – fundraising success had piled on the pressure! As of writing this, I had raised £3022.44. I’m very grateful for all of this, it’s much more than I’d hoped for. After much thought, I’m going to use the money as follows:
* £2150 to CWW to pay for my project.
* £55 donation to Climatecare to offset the 7.25 tonnes of CO2 Emissions that my round-the-world flights will cause (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/climatecare)
And the rest will be put into a mini-donation fund that I’m going to use as best I can to support local projects as I travel about, for example, in Peru, Bolivia and some of the poorest parts of Africa. I’ll keep a record on this blog of all donations spent.
So that’s it! I can kick off my shoes and lie back on the sofa…
…except that I fly out to Belize next Monday (via 3 days much needed holiday in New York). And that’s where the real hard work begins.
I could write some more at the moment about what I’m hoping to do, but I think I’ll now leave that until I get there. This seems to be a good point to sign off for a couple of weeks. After that I’m going to keep the blog updated with how I’m getting on in Belize and beyond that over the next 12 months. The itinerary (at the moment) is…
September to November – charity project in Belize.
December – Peru, Bolivia.
January – Chile, Easter Island, Tahiti.
February/March – Australia.
April – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos.
May – Nepal, Tibet, India.
June – Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda.
July – Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe.
August – Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
Next stop New York…
12 miles done… for a total of 500 miles. Time for a nice lie down.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Sunday, August 27, 2006
It’s the Fi-nal Countdown (well Sven is from Berlin. Oh no, wait a minute. Don’t they do Take My Breath Away…?)
Aunt May will be 90 in January. When she was 84, she walked 14 miles from Kinlochleven over to Fort William, which I think is amazing. Well done Aunt May - that easily surpasses any of the walks that I’ve done. And many thanks for your donation, I am very grateful and will try to put the money to the best use that I can.
By the Tuesday morning my legs and feet were very weary again. They'd never fully recovered from the River Ayr Walk. I had a day (and night) off on the Tuesday and went to see Beck and Radiohead at Meadowbank. Good gig.
Fake Plastic Trees. "It wears me out, it weeeeeeeeaaaaarsssssss me ou-out." (I know the feeling)
On Wednesday night, my good friend from work Sven, and I, took the train to North Berwick. Our biggest achievement was arguably to get the dodgiest close-up photo yet. The plan was to walk along the coast to Gullane and then inland to Drem station to catch the last train back into town. Unfortunately, we found ourselves scrambling over rocks and picking our way along heavily overgrown coastal paths (why is the tide always in when i go walking?). This all took longer than planned and by the time we left Gullane, we had to hitch a ride to the station. Still managed 9.5 miles (excluding the hitching).
As they say in West Germany, Sven is a bit of a character. Here we can see him demonstrating his penchant for dogs and large rucksacks.
The weather was fabulous.
On Thursday and Friday lunchtimes, Sven dragged me on two different routes round Arthurs Seat for 4.5 and 5.5 miles. I say dragged because I was pretty knackered by this point, running both mornings, (2 and 2.5 miles) and evenings, (6.5 and 8.5 miles) too. The evening runs took me back to the Pentlands - though on a couple of different routes, to stick within the 'rules'.
The glum look in this photo was not intentional, so it kinda nicely sums up how knackered I was at this point!
With just two days to go to complete the 500 I did a testing walk on Saturday along the length of the Water of Leith from Currie just outside Edinburgh down to the Firth of Forth at Leith docks (and then back to Gorgie). A total distance of 18.5 miles.
Costa del Leith
This all totalled up to 65.5 miles and took me to a tantalising 488 miles in total...
... with just one day to go.
The groom and his best man/brother Gregor look relaxed in each others’ company. Mind you, that was before the speeches…
The happy couple.
What a great night we had as well. In spite of the hangover, I did two walks on Saturday. In the morning I walked 12 miles from my folks house in Ayr down to Alloway and then down along the shore past Craig Tara Holiday Park (formerly Wonderwest World (formerly Butlins)). And then in the evening I did 7 miles in the hills above Ayr.
Ruins of Greenan Castle (complete with reappearance of giant sea slug in top left hand corner).
On the Sunday I finally completed the length of the canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh. To do the final stretch, I drove into Glasgow, dumped the car and caught the train out to Croy. From Croy, it was 16 miles to Maryhill and then another 2 miles into town.
Again the canal was quite beautiful in places. The canals have been perfect for long distance walking – flat and free of traffic.
Gonnae gie us a chocolate mulkshake man. After 16 miles trekking along the canal I reached the mecca that is McDonalds Maryhill. An extra large shake was a great reward. Mmmmm…
By the Sunday night I was up to 422.5 miles. But with only 7 days to do another 77…