Tuesday 12th November – with Zoe
9.08 miles … 23,749 … 1,047’ ascent … 1,334 calories … 3 hours 31 minutes
Another windy and wet start from the dramatic location of Freswick Castle on the wild coastline. It was particularly appropriate that I walked this last section with Zoe, as she set me off on my way at Lands’ End, almost 2 months ago on September 20th. I looked at a photo taken on that day … it almost looked like we could have been brother and sister. Now 48 days of walking later I could very easily be Zoe’s great grandfather! It certainly must be strange to passers by, that there’s a picture of somebody completely different on the van, to the person walking … maybe they think it’s a relay?
As we walked past a few more dramatic cliffs, with many more seals on the beaches below, the strong wind made conversation difficult … but plenty of time for thought. When I woke up this morning, my right foot found it difficult to get from the bed to the bathroom and I had genuine doubts about walking these last 9 miles. Amazingly, AS I started walking, my foot was fine… although possibly numbed by the cold water in my socks and trainers.
Making good progress at 4km/hr, we reached Noss Point, where the final lighthouse warns off shipping in wild weather. In 1959, the year of my birth, a trawler from Aberdeen was a victim of the elements and 13 lives were lost at this point. Just a short walk in a westerly direction, along the beach, with the Orkney Isles to the north, and we could see the iconic buildings of John O Groats. It would be untrue to say that the location actually lives up to its renowned reputation … but we had made it and fittingly Fiona was there to greet us with her bunch of IJM balloons and a bottle of Champagne.
We took photos (as best we could in the wind), with the banner from one of our sponsors, the Isle of Man Steam packet Company, and a school sweatshirt from the one school I visited en route in Lymm, Little Bollington Primary School. I was also appropriately wearing my mohair socks, that were given to me by Claire and Mike, who breed the goats on the Isle of Man. They have been very well used and definitely are to be recommended.
After the photos, in a rather bleak and deserted John O Groats, we had lunch in the Seaview Hotel, with two friends, James and Doreen Mellor, who are also staying at Freswick Castle… and that was the perfect location to spend the final evening with Murray Watts and Monique and have some inspiration al conversations about vision for the future and some amazing God-incidences over the past 50 years. One of Murray’s favourite passages from the Bible is found in Psalm 27 ‘I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord’.
On this walk I have seen this to be my testimony, what a unique opportunity this has been to reconnect with ‘old’ friends and make so many new ones. You have all been an amazing encouragement and blessing to me and Fiona … who has had the hardest part to play on this journey, I have just walked!
You may be interested to know the final statistics of the actual walk?
48 days walking
6 rest days
349 hours 54 minutes of walking
137,204 calories burned
101,534’ ascent … equivalent to climbing Mt Everest more than 3 times from sea level!
PS Craig, I was a good boy and walked at an average of 3mph!
More importantly, the latest fund-raising total for IJM is £26,692.44, sufficient to finance 5 rescues and I am hopeful that we will make that one more when we get to £30,000.
You have all played your part in making these rescues possible and what a difference we have made to those lives, well done and thank you!