Hello: An Introduction
Now that I have gone live with my plan, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce my challenge by explaining where the idea came from, why I’m doing the walk, some of the logistics, explain a little bit more about the blogs & a bit about myself.
Where did the idea come from?
In fact it came from nowhere. I first thought about the idea of doing a long walk at an extremely low point in 2015, just to get away from everything. I started to think I could just follow the coast and may be able to walk around the whole of GB. At the same time I had an almost more ridiculous idea just to pack up and get on a plane and leave and not tell anyone, with my few last remaining funds, and not return. I was deciding between New Zealand and Canada, Canada won. I packed my bag, went through the whole booking system for a flight the next day and stopped on the payment screen. Something stopped me, I don’t know what, but looking back was probably a good thing. The walk idea never went away though and about 4 months ago with my mental health more stable I just decided there and then that I was going to set off on the 1st of January 2018 (in fact I’m going to be setting of on 2nd January for logistical reasons.)
Why am I doing the walk?
The short answer to this is to just do something. I have sat on my arse in my flat on my own for far too long (almost 4 years), due to my mental health. I seem unable to get back to normality, even though my mental health is more stable now, and maybe the shock of doing this incredible challenge will start to help me get back to normality.
The longer answer includes the fact that I believe I can use the walk as a good conduit for sharing mental health blogs that may be both of interest but also helpful to some people. On top of this it allows me to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation.
Finally I’m doing it because I think I’ll enjoy it!!!
What logistics are required?
You could just get kit and set off, with no timescale and no planned route and you may make it around. But this is not the way I like to do things. I firstly came up with some rules which you can find on the site to inform the route I would take. Some people may think rules are unnecessary but for me it is important. I can imagine if I hadn’t set up rules whilst being sat in a warm flat, then when I am being battered by a storm on the walk it would be very easy to take shortcuts.
Next came the route, I decided that I wanted a detailed route planned before leaving, with a planned start point and end point for each day. This was very time consuming, I used OS maps online, google maps and some other walker’s routes to plot each and every day. In some places this was easy with long continuous coast paths, but in other areas it was much more complex. Having the detailed route also enables me to flag up parts which may have issues, for example:
- Tide times - if there is a river ford, stepping stones etc. that require me to cross at low tide.
- Military bases - have to confirm nearer the time if these are live, if so will require diversion.
- Shops – certain parts of the country have very little facilities so I can flag up where I need to carry multiple days of food.
I am not stupid enough to think that I will never have to divert from my planned route, but it will be a good basis and the majority of the time I believe I will be able to follow it. Having the route planned will allow me to put more time into the blogs as I go around. It will also make it easier for anyone planning to visit me.
I will not go into kit here, though obviously it had to be planned, as I am doing a blog about this in a few weeks’ time.
For me the hardest logistics are in relation to the blogs, this should become more clear in the next section of this blog, as there is so much to admin before I go, as well as when the walk begins.
What will I be blogging during the walk?
There are 3 separate themes for my blogs. The first will be found under the diary tab of the website and will be a daily list of each specific walk, including a map, description & photos of that days walk. I will aim to post these on the actual day of the walk, though due to Wi-Fi and time constraints obviously sometimes may not be published till subsequent days.
The second will be a weekly roundup, including the highlights (and maybe lowlights) of the specific week. This will be more about how the walks have gone, things I have really enjoyed and any comical moments rather than about the specific routes. Knowing my geeky side, there may also be some engineering, ornithology and other wildlife issues that come up in this weekly blog. This will be published on the rest days which will be Mondays.
Thirdly each week I will also publish a mental health blog, some of these will be written by myself others by guest bloggers and hopefully even a couple by celebs. I am hoping to cover a wide range of topics with these blogs. These will also be published on the rest day which is a Monday. If you are reading this and have a particular insight into a specific aspect of mental health please do get in touch to see if you could do a blog.
These blogs will be a big undertaking for me and I actually think they will be harder than the actual walk for me.
The blogs mentioned above will start once the walk commences on January 2nd, but over the next month there will also be a weekly blog in the lead up to the walk covering topics related to the walk such as ‘Hopes & Fears’, ‘Those who have come before’ & ‘Kit’.
A bit about myself?
I was born and bought up in Brighton where I had a fairly happy childhood. I enjoyed many outdoor pursuits: walking, sea swimming, rugby, amongst many other things. I enjoyed school, I did very well academically and also participated in many sports teams. I won a place at Cambridge University where I studied engineering, specialising in civil/structural engineering. Even though the job market was tough at the time I managed to get a job at a leading engineering firm Buro Happold, as a bridge engineer. I enjoyed the job and the team I was working with, and was fortunate to work on many interesting jobs. A fairly normal, happy, successful existence for the first 25 years of my life.
I am now 29, and have suffered severe mental health issues for the past 4 years with no apparent trigger. I will not go into this too much here but it has led to me having to leave my job, become completely isolated, at points essentially homeless and taken me to the very brink. This year I have been more stable, getting out, sometimes seeing friends, though have been unable to get back to any real sort of normality. I will go deeper into my mental health issues in future blogs once the walk begins. Anyway enough of the low points for now, back to the walk.
How can you follow?
There are several ways you can follow, and keep up to date with the walk:
- Website – As detailed above the website will have regular blogs. If you would like a link of the 2 weekly blogs to be emailed directly to you please sign up at the bottom of this page.
- Facebook – Follow me on Facebook where I will post updates.
- Instagram- Follow me on Instagram to get some beautiful coastal images.