Last week, driving back from Yate down a country lane that coincides for part of its length with the Cotswold Way, I slow down to read a message on the backpack of a lone walker: “Land’s End to John O’Groats – for Derby Cancer Research”. I’m intrigued to encounter someone on a rather longer journey than the horseriders and dogwalkers that are commonplace on this route. And it’s not the most obvious route between the two famous points, either.
In 20 years of living near the Cotswold Way, this is only the second time I’ve come across someone who is including it in an LE-JOG trek. The first time was when my husband was stopped by a pair of young lads looking for the local campsite, which had ceased to exist some years before I moved here. We let them camp in our garden instead, rustled up an impromptu supper, cooked them a hearty breakfast and filled their backpacks with snacks to keep them going. We felt like surrogate parents as we sent them on their way.
This time, I slip the lone walker a few quid for his sponsorship fund and invite him to make a slight detour to my house for a cup of tea, giving him my card so that he’ll know the address. I realise it would be cheating if I offered to drive him there. So this is like hitchhiking in reverse – stopping to refuse him a lift.
All credit to him, he resists temptation and continues on his planned route, veering away from the village and cutting across fields to stick with the Cotswold Way. Over the next day or two, from time to time I wonder idly how he is getting on. So I am delighted to receive, a few days later, a cheery postcard from him, thanking me for my donation and offer of tea, and giving me his web address so that I can follow his progress.
And here is a snippet of his blog:
“I’m dedicating this walk to the memory of my late brother-in-law Michael, who lost his fight against cancer in October 2004 aged just 51 years. There is a special magic about the phrase ‘Lands End to John O’Groats’, conjuring up images of challenge and adventure. My immediate challenges were planning the route, contacting and booking almost 80 B&B stops, and having to cope with my failing eyesight. Having to retire early from teaching has allowed me to delight in my favourite passion …. walking. I’ve walked several long distance trails, on my own and with friends, but 2010 is the really big one. I will be walking 1,150 miles in 79 days (11 weeks) … 15 miles per day. I leave Lands End on March 29th and cross the ‘finish line’ on June 15th (Lucy’s birthday, Mike and Jane’s eldest daughter).“ What a very special birthday present that will be for Lucy.
If you’d like to follow Chris’s progress too, here is his blog address:
I’m sure any donations would be very welcome too. Well, you can never have too much cancer research, can you?