Driving back from Yate down Sandpits Lane, 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”. Is he lost? I wonder, and stop the car for a chat.
Not at all, it turns out. Chris, for that is his name, has just chosen a spectacular route for his epic journey, including the Cotswold Way. (He’s clearly a man of taste.) I slip him a few quid for his sponsorship fund and invite him to my house for a cup of tea, if he feels like making a detour. Realising it would be cheating if I offered him a lift, I drive off, and that is the last I see of him.
So you can imagine my delight when our lovely postie, Ray, delivers to me a few days later a cheery postcard thanking me for my donation and offer of tea and giving me his web address so that I can follow his progress. Here’s 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. 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. As the parish mag goes to press, he should just be passing through Derbyshire. If you’d like to follow his progress, here’s his blog address which also tells you where you can make a donation: