Friday, 19 September 2008


Update 19/09/2008 - WOOHOO!!! I reached Cap de Creus and finished the trek at around 4.45 yesterday, 18/09/2008. Arriving in 44 days. I am currently in Port De La Selva and plan to spent the next couple of days chilling out and recouperating on the beech here before getting a train from Figueras on the 21st.The last few days have been the toughest of all. A few days ago when I reahed the castle of Requesens I found all the water sourses to be dry or poluted. I had already walked 16 miles but I knew that if I pressed on to the next fountain 6 miles away, I could do do the rest of that day and the next in one more day and be on track to complete the trek in 44 days, the traditional target. And so I pressed on. I was out of water. As I walked it got dark. I carried on as it was a full moon and a nice walm night to walk in. Soon I heard gunfire coming from a distance ahead of me. It was far away so I wasn´t worried, probably hunters. When I reached the next well, it was dry as well. I was very thirsty by this point. The next well was a few miles so I carried on. The gunfire now got pretty close and was coming from a farm I had to pass. When I did pass it, two enourmous dogs came out and ran after me barking. I didn´t want to attrack the attention of the hunters so I made a swift exit, soon I lost the dogs and reached the next fountain. It was dry as well! This wasn´t good. I had already walked half of the next day, the next water point wasn´t until the end of the section, 8 miles away. I pressed on with aching feet but as I walked down a small track, I found a huge angry dog blocking my path which went strait for me barking! I was forced to turn back and it didn´t follow me too far. Looking at the map, there was a town 2 km to the south and so I headed there. There could be a water point. Every farm I wallked past had large dogs which went mad as I passed but soon I got there. The town was full of dogs again which began barking as I entered the town and to avoid waking every one up I had to pass by. I carried on, taking a different route towards the end of the section where I knew I could find water while the night seemed alive with gunfire and wild dogs!Eventually I reched the town at the end of the setion at 4am. There I found a water point having walked 32 miles, 16 with no water. To tired to look for a place for my tent I got a few hours sleep in a bus shelter. I was woken by a landrover pulling up across the road at 6.30am. A man got out, produced a shotgun from the back seat and pointed it right at me! He hadn´t seen me but was trying to unload the gun. I struggled for a few seconds to find the right words in spanish but eventually came up with "OI!!" He looked at me and laughed before pointing the gun in another direction. That was enought rest for me and I carried on into the next day. I just wanted to rech the coast so badly, I didn´t care how exhorsted I was or how much my feet hurt. I made it to El Port De La Selva eventually and booked in at the first campsite I found, there I slept for 10 hours. the next day, yesteray, I got up, took only what I needed for the day and limped on for Cap De Creus, 10 miles to the east. Eventually I made it but knowing that I had a 10 mile walk back in the dark made it a bit of an anticlimax. I was to tired to be releaved or happy. eventually I got back to the campsite at midnight and sleptuntil 8. Today I feel alot better and have spent the day skimming stones on the beach. I can´t really explain how I feel. I can´t believe that I have really walked 500 miles across the mountains, from one coast to the other, the idea just seems laughable. I feel releaved that I have not let anyone who supported and sponsored me down. I feel a bit sad that all the preperation, the planning and the walking is over, at the same time I feel happy that I will soon see the people I love again. I can´t wait for that.
Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog, believed in me, supported and sponsored me. I hope to see you all again soon, and that lovely rainy town of Sheffield.
Update 14/09/2008: I am now in Albanya on day 41 of the trek and today, from a mountain top, I got my first glimps of the Med. The excitement has spurred me on and I just can´t wait to reach the end. Yesterday I walked all day through a deserted and forested region where every house village and church was overgrown and in ruin. Eventually I arrived at the abandoned monestry of Sant Aniol where I spent the night. It was a full moon and with animals scurrying up to the tent all night, it was a very spooky experiance. The weather has been bad with rain and heavy storms every day. It is rarely warm long enough to dry clothes properly. The nights are cold too and waking up shivering and having to put on a damp t-shirt is not a nice experiance. Still, I cannot believe I have come this far or that I have only 5 days to go. I just can´t wait to reach the end and home again.I hope I will be able to reintergrate back into society ok and that my family and friends remember who I am. I have lost 4 inches around the waist and grown a fair bit of hair. I miss everyone very much and can´t wait to see you all soon.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Sorry for the lack of updates

I´ve been updating on facebook but have only managed to get online for a limited period twice since I´ve been here. To summerise, here we go.

Hello to everyone! This is the first chance I have had to update since arriving in Irun on 04/08/2008. I am now in Ochagavia, a very beautiful little town on day 7 of the trek. To sum up everything that has happened so far... On the night before starting the trek, at the campsite Higer in Irun a drunk Frenchman fell over my tent breaking the pole, after an argument which neither of us understood he ran away leaving me to find a new tent the next day. I set out early but it was 2 pm before I had found a replacement, however it is much better quality and up to the task at hand. Due to this delay I was late setting out to Vera. Halfway I was caught in the biggest storm I have ever seen and pelted with halestones the size of golfballs. It got dark I had to bed down in a field which quickly flooded soaking me and the new tent.After a night cowering in the porch of my tent, I pressed on through Vera and out the other side to wild camp up on the hill. After another night of thunder and rain I pressed on again. I walked 4 miles in 2 hours before passing a couple I had seen in Vera who pointed out that I was heading in the opposite direction! I realised they were right when I passed my campsite. How I managed the massive 4 mile circle, I will never know! So far I was quite exhosted and things had not been going well. I quickly caught up with them and we got talking, their names are Anna and Xerra and we have trekked together since, they are doing the GR11 for the next 2 weeks, so I now have walking buddies and since meeting them my luck has turned completly. That night we met 6 other people doing the GR11 and went for a sabatha in Elisondo.Two nights ago we met an Irishman, John, A Canadian, Rebecca, and a Swissman, Micheal who were on the Pilgrimage from Santiago. We went for dinner and had a great time. Last night we found our selves in a very small farming village with one hostal which was not fit for human habbitation. After finding cat poo in the beds and a heated argument between Anna, Xerra and the hillbillies renting it out we elected to leave and find somewhere else to sleep. 5 other people who were staying there, including a 65 year old man coming the other way, having already completed 40 days of the GR11, rallied behind us and everyone walked out. Someone had seen a sports hall next to the village church with the door ajar and we invaded, setting up camp right inside and even hanging a washing line in the courtyard to stake our claim! The villagers didn´t seem to mind and I got a great nights sleep. Tonight we are camping in a proper campsite for the first time with showers and everything!The walk has been very tough physically and required a real effort from mind and body but things are getting easier and today we were amazed at the progress we have already made. 7 days down and 39 to go. Only two blisters so far and no injuries to speak of. I hope that everyone there is well, I think of you every day and I look forward to a massive get together when I return. The beard is coming on well. I will update again as soon as I can.Update 31/08/08 - I am now in La Guinguetta in Catalunya Day 26 of the Trek. I am on my own now as Ana and Xavi finished on day 15, and Jordi has gone climbing with a friend.The last few days have been tough and tomorrow is due to be the toughest of them all with a 1200 meter asent over just 5 km, however I am well past half way and nearing Andorra. My knees, back and feet are holding out and today I am totally blister free for the first time since i began. The highlight of the past few days has been meeting a Siberian man who has been living in a mountain hut here for a year.Update - I am now in Puigcerda having completed day 35 of the trek. Just 11 more to go! I cannot believe I am still going or that the journy is begining to near its end as I am now out of the high mountains. Coming down to the flat valley today was an incredable experiance, I have not seen flat ground or fields for over a month. Hopfully it should be all down hill from here on and pretty flat after day 40.The weather is also begining to come down as early Autum sets in here. They say the seasons do change very quickly here and I have seen this to be true. I have already experianced sub zero temperatures at night. I miss everybody back home greatly and thankyou all for following my trek so far. I cannot wait to get home to beer, friends, pizza, icecream, TV, computer games and everything else I used to take for granted. All I have to do now is just keep going and remember that every step brings me closer to home. I should finish around the 18th and hope to be back in Sheffield for the 25th. See you all soon.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

This is it!

So this is it. The moment is upon me. I leave tomorrow on the 1.27pm train from Sheffield to London, from there to Paris and from Paris on the night train to Hendaye, arriving at my starting point around 7am on Tuesday the 5th of August from where the walk will begin in earnest.
I cannot describe the feelings of anxiety and stress which I have right now. The bag is packed, passport and tickets are all here and safe, I am set.
We have raised £189.10, meaning a gift aid supplement has been received of £42.05. At £150 I sent off the forms for Atos Healthcare to double the sponsorship received, meaning the grand total to day stands at £381.15! This is a great achivement and way past any expectations I had to begin with of how much we could raise. Well done and thank you to everyone who has donated and is still planning to do so.
I really don't know how easy it will be to stay in touch and update my blog while I'm out there so please, don't worry if there are periods where you don't hear anything. I will be keeping a journal and will update the facebook group and this blog when ever I get the chance.
Well what more is there to say. I will be thinking about everybody here and I already look forward to the next time we all meet when I get back, so keep the beer cold. Goodbye for now.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Getting Nervous

Well the tickets are here, the maps are here. The passport isn't but hopefully will be as I only sent it off to get renewed 2 weeks ago! Disorganized or what? I have now handed my notice in at work. My last day will be Thursday 24/07/2008. I will really miss Atos Healthcare, where I've been for 4 years, I have made some of the best friends of my life there, but it is time for pastures new and I must not have any regrets.
From reading, I see the weather is improving (If you can call, it getting incredibly hot, improving!) Some of their way has been blocked by avalanches, snow and washed away bridges so I will have to see if these have been cleared when I get out there. It sounds like they're having an adventure anyway.
Good luck to Colin and company, I can't wait to trace their steps.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The facebook page so far!

Thank you so so much to Henry for being my first sponsor! And also to Chris for paying for my ticket from Paris to Hendaye. I really do appreciate it. Please follow there example and be generous. Even if you can only spare £1 it is all for a good cause.It has just been confirmed that I will be appearing on BBC Radio Sheffield at 11.30am on Saturday 17/05/2008 to talk about the trek and try to raise more sponsors for Sustrans. This is very nerve racking as I was not expecting much of a response when I e-mailed the local radio stations but it is also a great opportunity which I cannot pass up on. I will only be on for about 10 minutes but please listen in.Big news! The company I work for, Atos Healthcare, have now confirmed that they will match sponsorship to the charity Sustrans up to £200!This means that until and if we reach £200, for every £1 you donate via the website, Atos Healthcare will donate £1. Please think about this, it is great support from Atos so please take advantage of it.Well there we go, I've been on the radio. The worst part was listening to the tape of it afterwards and realising I said 2500 degrees instead of meters! At least that's out of the way now and hopefully will help to raise awarness and sponsership. Please let me know what you thought of the interview and listen to it again tomorrow on have recently found somebody else who is doing the walk. He began on Sunday the 24th of May meaning he should be back before I leave. It will be interesting to find out what he encounters on his journey. Please read his blog here: thing it does state in his blog is that walking the Pyrenees is the equivalent assent to climbing Everest 4 times!Walking the Gr11 is almost equivalent to climbing Snowdon everyday!Speaking of which I am planning a hike in North Wales to help me train and prepare. Lasting 4 days and averaging 10 miles a day from Friday the 4th of July to Monday the 7th. If any one is interested in joining me, please let me know and we can begin organising it.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

BBC Radio Sheffield

Well today I had a live interview with Howard Pressman on Radio Sheffield. After being fed some of the nicest vegetarian food I have ever tasted, I had a 10 minute interview. I thought it went ok although there were a few ums and arrs and I managed to say degrees instead of meters!
It was an excellent opportunity to have been given by the BBC and followed letters and e-mails I had sent out to the local radio stations, papers and equipment and medicine suppliers. The response from the rest of these has been fairly low as most already have designated charities which they will sponsor. I have realised that it is harder to get support if the charity you are doing this for is a relatively unknown one and one which people do not realise effects them directly.
I chose Sustrans because they are one charity who are trying to tackle one of the bigger issues facing our society, the fact that oil will soon run out and climate change will soon be unchangeable, an issue which people have a real tendency to simply ignore. We need to start walking instead of driving and get on our bikes, even in the winter. And we really need to make an effort if we are going to make a difference.
When I was in school I remember a teacher telling me that it would be my generation who it fell to to sort out the mess that the previous generations had made. What he told me was correct and that time is upon us. It's down to us, so lets not follow in our predecessors footsteps. We must sort this out now.
Since my last post, my employer's Atos Healthcare, have agreed to match any sponsorship raised, up to £200. This is a great boost to my cause and I greatly welcome their support. So please take advantage of this and follow the link to where you can donate and keep in mind that if you give £5 Atos will give £5. It all makes a difference.