Good question – where to start?! Well, I have always enjoyed walking – I have done most of the well-known long-distance paths in the UK, and many interesting hikes and climbs overseas. These have not always represented easy option holidays, but I have certainly always returned home having savoured the open air exertion and the exhilaration of completing a trek or a climb, along with a desire for more. Accommodating this mindset within our enforced restricted lifestyle throughout the pandemic has caused me to dream ever more of my next trek and to ponder my limits of endurance. Could my increasingly long daily walks during lockdown carry me further than before, and would nordic poles enable me to cover greater distances each day? Certainly I have improved my fitness and have lost some weight during recent months, so just perhaps . . . ? Reading about the ‘End-to End Trail’ (aka Land’s End to John O’Groats) last winter I set, and accepted, the personal challenge.
And what if I could use this situation to raise funds for some worthy cause, or causes? We have all seen the importance of the healthcare sector in these last 15 months, and there are a number of charities who have touched my life and to whom I might be able to offer some support.
Locally, The Hospice of St Francis, has a strong ethos based around getting end of life care right for their many patients and families – my wife is part of their team whose detailed thought and care is reflected throughout their day-to-day work. The other two charities I’m supporting are national organisations. Parkinson’s UK not only supports research into treatments of the disease but also strives to change attitudes towards the condition. I have close friends who have a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, and anything I can do to support their cause through this walk I offer willingly. I have first-hand experience of Mind, having suffered myself from anxiety – their service was there when I needed it, some years ago, in the form of self-help group sessions and a yoga course. The opportunity to give some support back to Mind means a lot to me, as I know the breadth and depth of care in the community that they offer.
For me, LETJOG therefore provides a platform for supporting three excellent and life-enhancing charities, whilst offering an opportunity to fulfil a personal challenge. To add a distinguishing feature to my walk I have based the route around one of my other passions, with my proposed visits to many breweries and distilleries offering possibilities for discussion, common interest and camaraderie along the way.