2021 arrived and I decided to take on a huge challenge. Walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG). 1083 miles later (using an app), I completed it by mid-May when Mental Health Awareness Week arrived. As part of it, I raised funds for Restore, a mental health charity in Oxford. Along the way, I discovered about the places I was ‘visiting’ and shared this along with mental health stories via a blog. I hope you enjoy it.
5 trees planted
Some photos I have taken from Pixabay, Wikipedia, and Google Earth. I have credited as such but if anybody is concerned about the image being on this diary, please do contact me and I will immediately remove it.
(14th May 2021)
There’s one entry this week. It’s the last one. It’s overcast but that doesn’t matter. I have 4.2 miles to walk to complete the challenge.
On 31st December 2020 I randomly signed up for a virtual walk taking me from Lands’ End to John O’Groats. A total of 1083.4 miles. The idea grew to complete it my World Mental Health Awareness Week and raise funds for Restore, a mental health charity in Oxford. From here I decided to blog daily and vlog when I could. I’ve kept to it.
Starting on January 1st 2021 during a global pandemic I ‘set off’ from the south of the country. Now, Day 134, I reached the north of the country, having encountered the wonders that the UK has to offer and the good and bad that goes along with challenging yourself. As I walked my last few miles I had raised a total of £1351 for the charity.
Having wandered around the local area to finish off, including stopping at one of the most photographed views of Oxford, and past the Roger Banister running track, I reached Restore’s Garden Cafe, one of my favourite places, and as I reached the gate I hit the final part of the route exactly.
I was greeted by many people from Restore, staff and current users of the service. There was a ribbon to cross, flags being waved, Chariots of Fire playing, cake, speeches, and one of the current service users had even made a signpost advertising Lands’ End to John O’Groats. It was a wonderful time considering how big a challenge this has been and we have been in lockdown and it was quite emotional.
I am truly indebted to everybody who was there, everybody that has supported me, and notably my family who have, in the case of my brother, walked much of the route with me, but also to my mum who has put up with me wearing out the kitchen tiles and stair carpet when I couldn’t get out and about.
To those that allowed me to interview them, thank you. In particular, to Stephanie from the Oxfordshire Recovery College who walked with me and interviewed me for a podcast, to Lesley, the CEO of Restore, who has sent me regular little messages and always been there for me. The fundraising team have been amazing. Thank you Claire and Sue, and a special one to Miranda who has simply been a star to liaise with over all of this, linking me up with BBC Oxford and the Oxford Mail (and who sadly missed out on celebrating with us as she moved job last week – I think it was just because I’d exhausted her with all my questions really!) There truly are so many people to thank and I will have missed someone and if I have, please do not take offence. It has been an emotional experience and I can’t remember everything that’s happened. In all honesty, I can’t remember what happened 10 minutes ago. It’s been such a whirlwind.
I set out to raise £400 and have raised more than £1300 for mental health with your help. Thank you.
The donation page will remain open for a while yet as I know some people may still wish to donate and I’ve a thought on how to finish this diary of properly.
Again, thank you to every single person that has supported me.
Oh, and in true fashion, I should end today’s entry with letting you know that having finished the official walk, I trot across the field towards Duncansby Head. There’s a lighthouse here, a beacon of hope in the darkness, and as you know, I love lighthouses. I could write all about it, but this page explains its relevance better than I could.
As the sun sinks, I’m watching it go down from here and over the Bay of Sannick. I wonder whether I should get on the boat over to one of the islands for the fun of it tomorrow and continue the diary. Maybe, just maybe, I’m better off getting some rest for tonight, getting a taxi back to Wick in the morning, and a flight back to Oxford airport.