What was I thinking when I said that I would walk from north Kent to Canterbury? I mean it’s not something I would normally say. I had not been drinking or been hit on the head, but from somewhere I decided that for my summer holidays I wanted to walk for four days from my village to Canterbury.
It all started in 2016 when, after visiting the amazing Canterbury Cathedral, I told my wife on the drive home that I would like to walk there for charity. To make sure I did this, I told as many people as possible that I was doing it so there was no turning back!
Looking at the route on good old Google, it looked easy enough - leave my village and walk south! However, once I factored in places to stay, the route became a little more interesting.
I decided that staying in hotels or pubs every night was not possible, partly due to costs, but mainly because breaking the walk up into four days meant that I needed to stay in places approximately 5 to 6 hours apart. Camping was the obvious solution and I would find sites that fitted in perfectly for nights one and three. Day two was a little trickier and so I had to book into a pub B&B (it turned out to be lucky this happened).
MS lives with me
While telling friends, family, locals, work colleagues and total strangers about my walk, it soon became clear that I had to A, start training and B, choose a charity. The latter was easy as while telling my MS nurse about my plan (which she described as BONKERS, but in a nice way), she explained to me just how important the MS Trust was to her. Given that MS lives with me (I hate saying that I live with MS and so I have decided that it has to try and live with me!!), it seemed like the obvious answer. The A, training, however was a little trickier!
Understanding, experiencing and hating fatigue, I knew that building up to being able to walk for long distances for four days in a row was not going to be easy. I am very lucky that my MS is currently controlled and so I can walk quite far, but I had not tried to do this day after day. Training involved 3 to 4 hours in the gym each week with long walks at the weekend. The walks started at 8 miles but over time I pushed these out to 15. Eventually I started to walk both Saturday and Sunday, 10 miles, until I felt confident that I would be ok. I was also helped by the knowledge that three of my friends had asked if they could walk with me, each walking one day to help me keep pace and also to stop me going potty with boredom.
Support from family and friends
The biggest support came from my wife, Jo, who never at any moment allowed me to doubt that I was going to be successful. Not only was she my biggest supporter but my co-ordinator, head logistics and the person who everyday would have to drive from the overnight stopover back home to get the next lot of things needed to keep me going. This was great for me but I realised that the closer I got to Canterbury, which was better for me, the further I was away from home. Needless to say, she did a lot of driving and now knows the M2 in detail!
I am pleased to say that the walk went well and with the help of my companion walkers, Malc (day one), Debbie (day two) and Kaz (day three), boredom was never an issue and so the days flew by. On another positive note, the weather was kind - apart from on day two when it threw everything at us. Debbie and I had two hours of sun followed by three and a half hours of sideways rain, gales in our faces, very busy wet roads full of HGVs roaring past us and, as it turned out, the worst of all the days in terms of route. We also got lost three times which wasn’t fun, having to retrace our route to find the right way, but we made it in good spirit, if not in good time! You can see now that staying in a pub that night was very lucky!!
I have never done anything like this before but after this adventure, I feel sure that I will be doing more in the near future.