Log No 374. Thu 17th Jul 2014 - Back in Orkney (5630 miles walked)
Driving back off the ferry on my return to Orkney I was directed into the car park and there was a reception for me in the ferry terminal with the local Parkinsons Support Group and friends to welcome me back home.
Arriving back in Orkney
I never had a schedule for the walk and the 5630 miles took me 15½ months from 30th March 2013 to 12th July 2014. The walking was more or less continuous with intended rest days and short breaks for commitments etc.
I walked on 325 days and had 48 breaks which varied from 1 day to 3 weeks, on the days that I walked the average mileage was 17.3 miles and my longest day was 29 miles.
The walk was largely unsupported and on my own but my brother Mick joined me during the school holidays and actually walked 1126 miles with me, friends also accompanied me on the occasional day.
My health was remarkably good with no illnesses and very few periods of any physical pain or discomfort, any pain usually clearing up in a day or two.
As I expected, my Achilles tendon gave me some bother after a couple of months but a 15 minute rest break usually sorted that. It was getting progressively worse but after 2000 miles I realised my boots were the cause of the problem with the constant pressure on the back of my ankles. I changed to walking shoes and the pain instantly disappeared.
My worst pain, and I have no idea what caused it, was with my left shin which was sore right from getting up on the morning of the 23rd April 2014, the pain was severe at times and took about 10 days before it cleared up. I had to walk the pain off as I had set a finish date for the walk and, at the time, I wasn’t certain I could meet the date so I couldn’t afford to take more than the odd rest day.
Up until the last 2 weeks I had only had half a dozen small blisters over the whole trip but my last new pair of shoes obviously weren’t a perfect fit and I had 2 painful blisters for a while.
My weight dropped by about 10lbs (4.5Kg) and I was eating a lot to keep the loss down to that, the biggest factor was carrying a full rucsac as my weight was fairly stable through the winter when I used the campervan and a light day pack.
Mentally I had no issues, I generally only planned ahead a couple of days at a time to check where the campsites would be and consequently I have only felt that I have been on a short walk. I did look further ahead when I knew Mick was going to be joining me and after I had been asked to set a finish date I did occasionally do a mental countdown.
It probably seems strange but when I crossed the finish line back in Withernsea I still only felt that I had only done a couple of days walk, only when I was driving back to Orkney up the east coast did I think “Cor! I’ve walked all the way along here!”.
Getting back home, life immediately returned to normal and I have never felt the slightest bit restless, this is in complete contrast to 10 years ago when I finished my Lands End to John o’ Groats trek, it took me a long time to settle down after that walk.
Equipment: I bought a lot of new lightweight equipment before I started and over the trip I wore out a set of hiking poles, 5 pair of hiking boots/shoes, 3 pair of socks and a pair of waterproof trousers, the poles on my new tent kept breaking so I had to replace that. The rucsac I had wasn’t designed to carry a heavy weight over a prolonged period so I had to buy a larger one.
The solar panel I had bought to keep my phone & camera batteries charged was a waste of money, 9 hours of sunshine only gave me 9 minutes of charge! I ended up carrying 3 spare batteries for each and got them charged up at campsites.
Weather: Overall the summer was fine and dry while the winter was wet and windy. I had no snow and only a couple of days had frozen ground.
Accommodation: My intention was to camp but as I didn't really fancy spending the long dark hours of winter in my little tent I decided I would use my campervan over the period, I also wouldn't turn down any offers of hospitality I received.
The campervan made for easier walking but logistically it was very difficult, having to plan the days walk so I could get back to it with public transport and it generally added an extra couple of hours onto the day.
I slept in my hike tent on 199 nights, in my campervan on 129 nights and had 44 nights of hospitality.
I stayed in campsites on 185 nights, wild camped on 39 nights and parked in laybys etc on 104 nights.
Cost: The cost of the trip was £ 3080 (£1243 campsite fees, £1037 transport costs (bus/train fares & diesel), £800 to replace equipment etc).
I did spend £ 3175 on food & incidentals but I would have had that expense whether I was walking or not.
I took nearly 4,000 photos.
Sandra had got a local cartoonist to create a little memento of my trip.