Friday, 19 September 2014

Land's End to John o' Groats walk including tracks.


My Land's End to John o' Groats track in segments.
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Track segment 1. Land's End to Bristol:-> 
http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzAwMw==
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Track segment 2. Bristol to Shrewsbury:-> 
http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzA2Mg==
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Track segment 3. Shrewsbury to Garstang:->
http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzA2Mw==
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Track segment 4. Garstang to Moffat:->
http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzA1Mw==
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Track segment 5. Moffat to Altnafeadh:->
http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzA1Ng==
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Track segment 6. Altnafeadh to John o' Groats:->
http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzAwNg==
*
Link to pictures;
 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10153145085981519.1073741834.687876518&type=3


Stitched together segments of whole track..

 http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3218608  or: http://tiny.cc/mrqgny



First, the report of my June 2015 FAILED attempt at the record as posted on Facebook on my return home:



Dear friends all, and everyone else. Failed. Out second ball.

15th June 2015

Dear friends all, and everyone else.


After making a solid start to my attempt on the Land's End John o' Groats walk I am sorry to inform you that I have succumbed to an on-going problem with my feet. I have arthritis in both big toes and my forced effort of yesterday, Sunday, (plus being overburdened by my far too heavy 30 pound + rucksack full of gear) to carry on walking more than my quota of miles in a failed endeavour to locate overnight accommodation has caused them to protest and I felt unable to carry on.

I started walking north easterly last Saturday evening at about 17:15. Twenty minutes later I was tucking into my first Guinness of the trek at "The First And Last" pub, about a mile from Land's End. After downing that and getting on with my walk it would have been around 19:30 when I'd reached a tiny hamlet called Crow-an-Wra where I came across a charming B 'n' B called Balankan Cottage run be an equally charming couple, Lynn and Les Cox. I highly recommend this place 'cos - like the baby Bear's bed - it's just right. Thank you Lynn and Les.

The following Sunday morning with my tablet computer and phone fully charged and after a hearty full English breakfast (TOO full for me), Lynn took a couple of pictures of me and then I set off on the second leg of my journey. I had decided to try to do as much walking off-road as possible so I immediately took a left that was shown on the OS map as a public footpath. It would have taken my across a wide expanse of newly ploughed field with furrows about three feet across, so I declined and made my way back to the road.

I little way into the walk I again ventured off road and onto a public footpath and this time - though it looked little used because of the abundance of weed and bracken growth - I did manage a few fields.

At this juncture I'd like to take this opportunity of describing some of the stiles one has to negotiate in this part of out country. There aren't many. Most of them seem to take the form of a for foot high stepped stone wall covered in weeds and nettles.


Things were going quite well and I was accurately following the paths as indicated on my OS map when suddenly the path came to an abrupt end with a ditch and a bramble hedge stopping safe passage. So I took a sharp right and followed the hedge seeking a break in it that would allow me to continue. There wasn't one. However there was a small fence that allowed me to gain entry to the adjacent field so I took that. I could see I was heading for a road in the distance so at least I'd be able to make that.
I had only just started across the field when I heard hoof beats. Just behind me galloped a herd of bullocks (may have been heifers or even buffalo, (what do I know?) fast approaching. F**k! I waved my brolly and spoke to them quite severely but it just seemed to entice them even more. After a hundred yards or so - with the leader of the pack breathing down my neck - I reached the other side the field. The muddy ditch and a few strands of barbed wire were the only obstacles barring my exit to safety and salvation.

I hurriedly unbuckled my rucksack and heaved it up and over the top strand of barbed wire. I lowered it into the ooze, let go, and watched it fall forward - instantly trapping Darwin face down in the mud! Poor little bugger.

Anyway, it was now my turn to get to safety. I took a hold of the bottom strand of barbed wire with me left hand and held it down. I then put my right arm and my right leg through the gap, followed in succession be my left leg. And then it happened. My coat. My NEW coat with my expensively emblazoned logo got caught on a barb.

Well, what could I do? I just carried on and listened to the tearing as the barbed wire took revenge. I then took time out to wash Darwin's muddy features as best I could, and said sorry to him and gave the herd the finger. 
A hundred yards later I was now back on the road.

Any number of times I ventured onto public footpaths and many a time I was thwarted by them coming to a sudden end and either having to retrace my tracks or make other arrangements. In the end I decided to stick to the roads for the most part, even though pounding boots on asphalt or concrete does have an adverse effect on feet, ankles and calves (which I dutifully became aware of at the close of that day).


I had intended to break myself in fairly gently by only doing about 15 miles or so, which would bring a few miles short of one of the bigger towns in Cornwall, Cambourne. The walking was now becoming a slog. A laborious slog. Coming across a pub with it's welcome break on a comfy seat with a pint at my elbow is what tends to keep me going. On one such sighting of a pub in the distance I increased my pace, only to find when I got there that it was abandoned.

So disappointed was I that I stomped off without consulting my map, only to realise about half an hour later that I'd taken the wrong road and it was taking me miles from my planned route. I now had to try to get back on route by taking a path. Which led be to a dead end. I retraced my steps and carried on for another mile in the wrong direction so's I could take a left along another road that would eventually lead me to a village. It was now around the time when I should be seeking overnight accommodation, or a shrink.

Another hour of trudging uphill brought me into the village. The one pub in the village didn't do bed and breakfast and they couldn't put me on to anywhere that might. So I trudged on to the next village about and hour away and again there was no room at the inn. But when I enquired if they knew anywhere where I might find a B 'n' B I was told there was one possibility. Just back about a quarter of a mile - the way I'd just come in - was a lane that led to a place known as The Biker B 'n' B. Reluctantly ('cos I was knackered) I set off to find it. I found the lane and walked another almost quarter mile down it before I found The Biker place.

I knocked on the door. No reply. I went around the back and found a number of bikers relaxing in their den. I asked who was in charge and was told the owners were out for the day. A woman suggested she'd ring them and ask If I could stay the night. The reply was in the negative. I asked if I could pitch my tent on their large expanse of lawn, again, no was the answer. So I set off back up the lane, back to the road and carried on trudging towards Camborne some six or seven miles distant. I'd already done far too much walking with that heavy pack on my back. My feet were now playing up. I could already feel a blister forming and the pain from the arthritis in my toes was becoming altogether unbearable.
But on I went. Eyes always on the lookout for a possible place to stay. At every given opportunity I would ask anyone around if they knew where I might get accommodation. One lady even suggested a hotel just a mile or so away and on my route may be able to put me up. I eventually got there, ordered a drink and asked at the bar if they did B 'n' B. No, came the reply. We used to do, up until a few months ago. Bugger!

It was then I decided to suffer and make Camborne. I mean, by now it was barely three miles distant. I could do that sort of distance before breakfast. So Camborne it was. The way I felt and my feet felt it took me the best part of an hour and a half to get there. The first hotel I tried were asking an arm and a leg for a night's stay. And they wouldn't haggle. The pub next door to the hotel didn't do B 'n' B but he did suggest a Holiday Inn about a mile in the wrong direction. I decided to visit a few more pubs and hotels in town to enquire. Nothing. They either didn't cater for travellers or had already catered for travellers and were full.

I was getting late now and my mileage since leaving Land's End now totalled some 29 miles (see recorded track), so I decided to find a bit of grass where I could pitch my tent for the night. The thing is, my little tablety thing was almost out of battery and so too was my iPhone. They both required a full charge and that required mains electricity. I do have a solar charger but it's next to useless and certainly couldn't keep both items full, and I needed them for tracking and I need the tracking for proof.
Anyway, I found a stretch of ground on which I put up my little tent. It was on a little slope and the grass a bit too high, but beggars can't be chooses. I didn't bother getting into pyjamas, I laid out my sleeping-mat and made my nest. I then slipped into my sleeping bag, fully clothed, apart from my boots and socks.

I had a most horrendous night, postulating on my predicament. My feet were already unfit for purpose. My batteries were flat, both figuratively and actually. I tried to sleep but the noise from not too far off roads and the sound of the tall grass stalks that I had camped in, waving in the light breeze.

And then another real problem arose. I had no water in my water bottle. I had emptied out what I had had in it some time back in order to lighten my load a little. I had planned to fill it up at the last pub but completely forgot. I was thirsty, probably dehydrated and now I had the shivering shakes. I donned another layer of clothing but it didn't make any difference. I hardly slept that night. The sounds, the dehydration, the shivering and thoughts of having no tracking facility available to me on the morrow AND the state of my feet, all contributed to making me feel really depressed.

At around 05:00 I was out of the tent to be greeted by wet grass. The tent was also soaking wet, which, as every camper knows, virtually doubles its weight. While decamping I found I could hardly stand and hardly think. I was still all of a shiver and it must have taken me twice as long to do the task as it would normally have taken. But I did it. I also decided that enough is enough and I would jack the whole venture in. I mean, I didn't fancy walking any great distance in the state I was in and without a tracker working. So I set off back into town to find the railway station and get myself home.

At least this particular itch - and I've had it for at least twenty years - has been well and truly scratched. Never no more will I yearn to be the oldest guy to walk the length of Britain (probably).

Tony.

NB. The odd thing is, in my original planning for this attempt at the walk record, it included a mobile home and a driver. That way I wouldn't've been burdened with a heavy load, I'd've just had a day-pack to tote.


Also, I wouldn't have the problem of having to find places to stay and my tracker devices could be charged every night off the van battery or mains at camping and caravan sites. Such sites also provide shower, laundry and other vital facilities.

Simples!


Maybe I still have some of that same itch that needs scratching, eh? And to that end I did have another stab at it. This time 100% successfully.



The SECOND attempt:






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Me and Darwin (above) having been certificated by Guinness World Records January 2016.

Work in progress:
*

Darwin and I make plans for our Land's End to John o'Groats record setting hike.






Before I began my second attempt at the record breaking/setting walk I'd pitched to various concerns to see if I could get some sort of independent tracker to keep tabs on my progress:

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.


Dear RSPB

I suppose this is a sort of "pitch" but - please allow me to run this past you.

I would like to have a chance to become the oldest man to walk from John o' Groats to Lands End.  I understand that this record* stands today at 74 years of age and has done so for quite a time.

On June the 8th of 2015 I will be 75 years old. I am an accomplished long distance walker and I've already done John o' Groats - Lands End walk at the age of 54. I've also done the Pennine way both ways, the Coast to Coast both ways, the Liverpool - Leeds - Goole canal and river walk, both ways,  around the coastal paths of the isles of Man, Wight and Arran, the West Highland Way,  Hadrian's Wall and walked from Skegness to my home in Mansfield Plus various other extended paths.

One of the objects of this suggestion is that I need to somehow supply independent verification of my walk.  To this end I'm asking, would it be possible for someone connected to the RSPB to equip me with a GPS tracking tag for the duration of the walk so's my progress can be logged and my position tracked by the RSPB? Maybe a small light tracker that would comfortably fit inside an RSPB emblazoned sun hat?

For what it's worth, I'm willing to tote a golf umbrella emblazoned with RSPB logo, too.
I am open to advice and any recommendations you may be able to give me.

Regards,


Anthony W.


. . .  and then to

Nottinghamshire Police.

FAO Chris E. 

Dear Sir,

I would like to have a chance to become the oldest man to walk from John o' Groats to Lands End.  (I understand - according to my Internet searches - that Reg Savill is the oldest person to complete the journey on foot from John o' Groats to Land's End, at the age of 74.)

On June the 8th of 2015 I will be 75 years old. I am an accomplished long distance walker and I've already done that particular walk at the age of 54. I've also walked the Pennine way both ways, the Coast to Coast both ways, the Liverpool - Leeds - Goole canal and river walk both ways,  around the coastal paths of the isles of Man, Wight and Arran, the West Highland Way, walked from Skegness to my home in Mansfield, Hadrian's Wall and various other long distance paths.

I'm approaching Nottinghamshire Police for help in this venture - the simple reason being that I would like to somehow supply independent verification that my completed walk is verifiably kosher.  Frinstance, would it be possible for someone to equip me with an irremovable GPS tracking and monitoring tag for the duration of the walk so's my progress can be logged by you?  I'll be prepared to foot the costs.

I am open to advice and any recommendations you may be able to give me will be taken on board.
Yours sincerely,

Anthony W.



. . . and then to



FAO David Dinsmore the editor of The Sun 

Dear Sir,

I'm writing to you in regard to the 2002 feat of Reg Savill's completion of the John O'Groats to Lands End walk at the grand old age of 74.
Link to a later report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cornwall/sunrise/reg_landsend.shtml

It's stood for a long time, so this June 9 - 10, at the age of 75, I intend doing it myself in order to push the envelope a little. I shall be backpacking all the way, with camping gear as a standby in case I cannot get B 'n' B, exactly like I did two decades ago.
I'm an established long distance walker/hiker and I've already done that walk once before when I was in my fifties. Like Reg, I did it from North to South that time, too. This time I will be doing it the other way. 

I'm not asking for any financial backing to fund my attempt on the record but my main concern is in providing the proof I will need to qualify for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

To this end I would love it if you could arrange some independent tracking device that could be attached to my person that would record my movements for the 40 or 50 days that I expect the walk to take. I would also be prepared to carry a golf umbrella with The Sun logo on it and also wear a Sun sun hat. Obviously you have first dibs on coverage (if required).
If you are wish to be involved, please get back to me.
Yours Truly,

Anthony W.


. . . and then to

The Guinness Book of World Records information department.

Dear Sir/Madam/Ms.,

I'm writing to you in regard of my intention to complete the Lands End to John O'Groats walk this coming summer at the age of 75. I intend doing it myself in order to push the envelope a little (I believe the present record is 74 years of age). I shall be backpacking all the way, equipped with camping gear as a standby in case I cannot get B 'n' B or other overnight shelter, much like I do for most of my walks.
I'm an established long distance walker/hiker and I've already done that walk once before when I was in my fifties.  I did it from North to South that time. This time I will be doing it the other way in order to complete a personal double. 

However, my main concern is in providing the proof I will need to qualify for an entry in The Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest man to do it and so I would like to know what criteria I have to meet so's I won't be wasting my time and effort through some technicality.

Further, although I suspect you could not offer this, I would love it if you could arrange some independent tracking device that could be attached to my person which would record my movements for the 40 or 50 days I expect the walk to take me.

Please get back to me with any information I might find useful.


Yours Sincerely,

Anthony W.


I at least got a reply:

(ENQUIRIES@guinnessworldrecords.com)

19th February 2015

Dear Anthony,
Thank you for your email.
If you are interested in receiving more detailed information from our experts on a record proposal, please visit our website to register and submit a record application here,  http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/set-a-record .  The standard application is free.
Once we've received your application, it will be reviewed by one of our specialist researchers within 6-12 weeks. If your proposal is accepted, you will be contacted by e-mail with the corresponding rules and regulations that must strictly be adhered to. If we reject your idea, we'll reply to you detailing why it is not acceptable.
Once guidelines have been received and the record has been attempted, you will send required evidence to our headquarters for expert review. Once the evidence is received, it takes approximately 8-12 weeks to be reviewed and to confirm the success or failure of your record attempt.

Guinness World Records Tips:
Not all proposals can be accepted. Guinness World Records only recognises WORLD records. We do not recognise national or country specific achievements. All records must also fulfil some key criteria including:
•           Measurable (all records must be defined as the fastest, longest, tallest, shortest, largest, heaviest, oldest or most)
•           Based on a single variable (we would only recognise the fastest car OR the longest journey - but never the longest journey in the fastest car)
•           Verifiable (do you have evidence to prove it?)
•           Breakable (all our records must be open to being challenged)
•           If you can't take a tape-measure to it, weigh it or count it - then it's probably not a record!
•           We do not accept applications based on subjective measures such as beauty, kindness or loyalty.
•           Other activities that are not records include those which are not sufficiently challenging, those which are too specific to a single person or anything that is unbreakable.
•           Guinness World Records does not endorse unsuitable activities or those which could cause potential harm or endanger animals or spectators.
•           When filling out your application form, please ensure that under the description, you provide as much relevant information as possible. This will help our record managers understand what your proposal is and what you want to achieve. You may also wish to include links to websites or articles to aid with this.
If you are a charity, a NPO or a business, please click on the relevant image and fill out a contact form: 
You can also apply for a record by video, on our Challengers website. Challengers is an online community for record fans, where you can attempt, break and rate real GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS titles, as well as interact and make friends with other fans, and tell us what new records you want to see. Simply undertake and film your attempt at home and then submit the video for official verification.  You can visit Challengers here:http://challengers.guinnessworldrecords.com/?sid=gwr
For more information on record breaking and to join our online community please join us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GuinnessWorldRecords
You can always visit our FAQ section on our website for more answers,http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/set-a-record/faq/
We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Customer Service Team
Guinness World Records Ltd.
184-192 Drummond Street, London, NW1 3HP

Nothing was forthcoming in the way of an independant tracking device.

*


Having aborted my first attempt at walking Land's End to John o'Groats to break the age record (which I began on June 13th 2015) after just 30 miles or so, due to my being unable to cope with toting a full pack of gear required (I'm not as young and fit as I was in 1993 when I back-packed all the way from Thurso to Land's End via John o'Groats), I came home and re-assessed the task.


Early in July I decided to adopt an idea that had come to me a few years ago. So I went out and purchased a suitable vehicle for the task and got myself a 7 seater SEAT ALHAMBRA. After removing the rear five seats I fitted it out with a camp bed, storage boxes and a five gallon water butt. I now had my Small Mobile Bedroom and just about everything I would need for the walk.




I'd already written to the head office of various supermarket chains asking if I might use their car parks for overnight parking and sleeping:
The Chief Executive Officer Tesco

Baird Avenue
Dundee
DD2 3TN

Dear Sir/Madam

In a few weeks time I will be setting off for Land's End in my Small Mobile Bedroom with the aim of walking solo while carrying a manageable back-pack to John o' Groats. To help me in this venture (I'm not after sponsorship money, so you can relax) I will require safe daytime and overnight permitted parking for my SMB as I progress up country and this is why I am approaching you.

This facility (if granted) will also enable me to replenish my food stocks each day as I go along (I won't have a fridge with me) and maybe I might grab a cooked meal if the store of the day caters for such luxuries.

My modus operandi will be along these lines.

I drive my SMB to Land's End and park up and lock up.

I walk the ten miles or so to Penzance and find somewhere to park. This is where a nice food store like yours would come in handy. I then take a bus or a taxi back to Land's End and my SMB and sleep there.

The following morning at around 05.00 or 05.30 hrs I drive to the car park in Penzance, park up and lock up and then walk for around eight or ten hours to the next decent store carpark. I then take public transport or taxi (maybe cadge a lift) back to Penzance and my SMB where I stay the night.

Early the following morning I drive to the store I had sorted out the previous evening, park up and lock up and then  I walk another eight or ten hours to the next store with a car park and then take available transport means back to my SMB.

And so on and so on . . . .

Some nights I will of course take a room for Bed and  Breakfast so's I can make full use of the facilities. Otherwise I might frighten the horses.

What do you reckon? Am I on? If so I would also appreciate written authority so's I could show this to the store manager wherever I choose to lay my weary head.

Anthony W.
Tesco's was the one that came up trumps. I now had written permission to use their large store car parks for my purposes. I had the security of having my vehicle under constant CCTV surveillance, a flushing toilet on site and all the supplies I might need always on tap.

On Thursday the 9th July 2015 I set off from my home in Mansfield at 05.00 hrs and arrived at Tesco Penzance at 12.00 hrs. Within an hour I had parked up in a good spot and taken a bus to Land's End. On arrival I had soon taken a few pictures, had some pictures taken of me at the "Start" and set off walking back to my SMB in Penzance. 

The following morning I rose very early and walked from Penzance to Tesco Camborne, took a bus back to Penzance and drove my SMB back to Tesco Camborne and parked up.

Early the following morning it was off to Tesco St. Austell. I arrived there around noon, parked up and took train back to Camborne. I then moved SMB to St. Austell.

This was the system that took me all the way to John o' Groats. Not always a Tesco, sometimes a pub or hotel car park, sometimes long term public car parks and even railway station car parks etc.

I walked a lot of off road, including canal systems, Offas Dyke, The West Highland Way and The Great Glen Way. The total walk was 56 days, 46 of them I spent walking, the 10 other days were rest/recovery days.

I had a tracking device keeping track of me. I also used my Visa debit card at every opportunity, saved all me receipts and transport ticket and even got a few people I met en-route to vouch for me. I also took about 700 pictures along the route.


*

Allow me to give you just an example of a typical two or three day's in the life of my walk.

Saturday, August 29th 2015. 

Tain to Brora.


Set off from Tesco's in Tain at 06.00. Walked along the A9  and arrived about 18 miles later in Golspie around 13.00 needing lunch. 


I passed through the small town asking around for somewhere I might get lunch and eventually found The Ben Bhraggie Hotel on my left just as I was about to leave that town behind me. I called in there and had a  Scottish breakfast for my lunch, along with a pint of Guinness. The landlady (who is now a personal/Facebook friend) listened to my tale as I related my intention of walking from Land's End to Thurso via John o' Groats and after lunch she gave me a hug and words of encouragement and I carried on walking the few miles that were left in order to get to Brora, my target for the day. Most of these last few miles I spent walking along the stony and seaweed inundated beach. 


When I eventually reached Brora I found very little there. I had intended getting B 'n' B but nothing decent was forthcoming. I did, however, find somewhere I might be able to park overnight.  Anyway, I had to fetch my car (SMB) from where I'd left it in Tesco's in Tain so I went to the railway station and learned the train back to Tain wouldn't be coming for another hour so I found a pub. I chatted to the customers in there and answered their questions as best I could re. my aims and intentions.


Forty minutes later I was at the station. I was joined by four elderly golfers who were also going south on the train. We talked for a while and they were amazed at the fact that I was walking the almost 1,000 miles from LE to JoG. After boarding the train we got split up and I found myself sitting opposite to a middle-aged Scot. We chatted. It emerged that he was also a hiker. He was/is a college professor and was very interested in what I was doing and my modus operandi. He'd asked what I was doing on the train goings south with my logo emblazoned T-shirt and jacked informing the world that I was supposedly walking north. He listened to my tale and wished me luck. I told him I didn't believe in luck but I did believe in steely determination.


Once back in Tain I decide to spend one more night there as I didn't fancy moving my SMB to Brora and staying overnight there 'cos it was TOO quiet. 


Sunday August 30th. This is a day of rest. After doing a bit of supply shopping in Tesco and after having breakfast, I decide to drive to Golspie to spend some of the day there. In Golspie I found somewhere to park my SMB and went walkabout. I was on the lookout for a house with an outside tap so's I might top up my five gallon water container. I eventually found one and asked the man there if I could do just that. He said it was OK, so I nipped back and fetched my SMB and soon had my water supply topped up. Meanwhile I'd been filling the guy in re. my walk. He then invited me into his house for a cup of tea and biscuits. We chatted for another half and hour before I left to could get a bite to eat at a local cafe.


Sated with a decent lunch I then walked through the town to once again find The Ben Bhraggie Hotel. The landlady greeted me like a long lost friend and I enjoyed her company and a pint or two of Guinness. After a while I said my goodbyes, she gave me a farewell hug and I went outside to explore the sea front in the sunshine. 


Towards late afternoon I decided to make my way to Brora and found the car park I'd earmarked the day before. After visiting the local pub for a pint or two and another chat with the locals, I turned in.


Brora to Dunbeath.

Monday 31st August.

06.00 hrs I'm off along the A9 again to walk the 15 miles or so to Dunbeath via Berridale.. This is a very tricky road to be walking along because for the most part it's just two lanes of fast moving traffic with no footpath or cycle track to keep to. But there's little alternative. Later in the afternoon the weather closed in with horizontal rain driven be high winds. My brolly was next to useless in such conditions. My aim was to get to Helmsdale and then take the train back to Brora to pick up my SMB. It's the last station before Wick and the buses don't run very frequently so I thought I'd at least make sure I had it nearer to me when I eventually reached Dunbeath.

About a mile out from Helmsdale a car coming from that direction pulled off the road just in front of me. It was the landlady from the pub in Golspie. She'd just driven her grand-kids to school in Helmsdale and had spotted me walking as she had passed by. I got another huggle, and she went on her way.

Half an hour later I was in the railway station at Helmsdale. Ten minutes later I was on my way back by train to Brora where I was reunited with my SMB. I then drove it to Helmsdale and left it in the railway station car park before continuing my walk to Dunbeath.


My walk took me through the pretty village of Berridale (which was to feature later on that day). After a walk of about 26 miles I reached Dunbeath in mid afternoon and discovered once again that there wasn't a lot there. I located a suitable car park at the back of some civic centre, earmarked it, and went to catch a bus back to Helmsdale. I stood at that bus stop for over half and hour before a bus came. The bus stopped at my signal, the door opened and I asked the driver if he was going to Helmsdale. No, came the reply. He only goes as far as Berridale. I asked what time the next bus was due for Helmsdale. It would be along in THREE HOURS! I decided to take this bus as far as Berridale.

As we went along we chatted. I explained what I was doing and why. 

He dropped me in the little picturesque village and I thought of thumbing a lift the rest of the way back to Helmsdale. Then I spotted a row of neat cottages, one with a car parked nearby. So I went up to the cottage and knocked on the door. The door was opened by a guy of a similar age to me. I explained what I was doing and my predicament and asked if he could drive me to Helmsdale. I told him I'd pay him the going taxi rate. He agreed to take me and waived the fair. He took me all the way to the station and I was very grateful. He also mentioned that Helmsdale has one of the best fish and chip shops in the world. And I must admit . . . he wasn't wrong. 

I moved my SMB to a more quite and secluded car park in the small town of Helmsdale, called in one of THE best Fish and Chip shops in the World, treated myself to the largest 'small fish and chips' I'd ever had which could hace fed a family of 2.4 children and then spent the night in the pub there before driving it to Dunbeath early the following morning.


Monday 24th August:

A suggested public footpath in Scotland.

To info@scotways.com

30/10/15

Hi!

This summer I walked from Land's End to John o' Groats taking in many off-road paths - both recognised and unrecognised - including canals, disused railways and long neglected and forgotten paths etc. The whole West Highland Way and much of The Great Glen Way featured in my trek, too. It's this intrepid bent I have (at the age of 75+ I still have it) that has inspired me to bring to your attention a stretch of path - long disused - that I feel would benefit the tourist industry in Scotland.

It begins with a bit of a 'double back' I was forced into doing at the southern end of Loch Lochy when I was attempting to follow the footpath on the eastern side of that loch instead of the less attractive and longer route on the western side (see map track). http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/MjAxMzAwNg==

I ended up taking the old railway line and followed that for a way until I spotted a path that looked like it might lead me closer to the loch. If I remember it went down to a fish breeding farm. Anyway, I followed the track, passed through the site and took the path that is now neglected and somewhat overgrown and found it quite a decent level walk running parallel to the loch. I had the feeling that the number of walkers that had passed through using this track in the last few years might be counted on just the one hand and I have to admit that it almost had ME doubling back at times. But I pressed on. I thought, if I'm going to die this might be as good a place as any.

Eventually I came upon a bridge over a bit of a ravine. 

  


The warning sign pinned to the bridge was telling me not to cross as it was in dangerous condition, but, I've worked building sites all my life and I've known scaffolding in much more dangerous condition but still had to work on it. So with due care I crossed over to the other side.


After another mile or so I passed a hotel, took a left fork and found myself in some private grounds of a large house surrounded by a seven foot wrought iron fence and locked gated entrance with sharp spikes on the top. But there was no turning back, so over it I went.

I was now on the A82. A much used and fast flowing with traffic two lane road with no place to walk safely alongside. But I had to. At least until I could get off and take to the old railway track again. This I did. I followed this decent track for a mile or more until it was suddenly blocked by an eight foot high rough gate. I managed to negotiate this 'trap' in an attempt to press on to my goal. However, I was thwarted by thick/dense undergrowth. There was no way around it 'cos I had steep and wooded sides to my right ascending and steep wooded sides to my left descending. So I turned and retraced my steps and eventually made my way back to the busy A82 to face the perils of that road with no place to walk except on it.

Eventually I made it to Laggan Locks, caught a bus back to Fort William to pick up my Small Mobile Bedroom that was parked at The Nevis Centre, drove it back to Laggan Locks and spent the night there.

What I would like to suggest - if it's at all possible - is that this track is brought back into general use and even improved where the railway track now terminates. It would mean that hikers could then take a walk all the way round that loch while avoiding - for the most part - walking on the A82. I believe it makes a lot of sense.

My Sincere regards,

Anthony W. 


1st September:

Today's legs took me the 23/24 miles from Dunbeath to Tesco's north end of Wick. The weather on the tops was absolutely diabolical. Intermittent horizontal rain in my face driven by high blustery winds. The brolly was next to useless in such conditions as I was walking the high speed A9 and then the A99 and neither have much in the way of footpaths or cycle tracks.

I only managed to take one photograph on this leg of the journey 'cos I daren't risk getting water into my camera as I once did before on Snowdon and ruined it.

Tomorrow should be almost a rest day for me. Just 16 miles to John o'Groats. I may walk backwards just to make it more of a challenge.

2nd September:

I walked the final leg of 16 miles to John o' Groats this morning in a head-on gale force wind and driving rain. Almost winter temperature, too. When I got there it was a bit of an anti climax. The hotel as I remembered it was no longer operational and there was nothing much else to write home about.

I called in at the small cafe and ordered a pot of tea and a plate of fried egg and beans on toast. "Sorry sir but we stopped serving breakfast an hour ago."

"OK, I'll have that for my lunch."

"Sorry, but that's not on our lunch menu."

"OK, I'll have this one here, cottage pie with salad. And could I also have chips with it?"

"Sorry sir, but we don't do chips, we don't have the facility." !?!?!?!?!?

Be nice to get back to civilisation again.

And that's exactly where I am heading for. I've decided to forget about going on to Thurso, tomorrow. I couldn't stand another day of hiking in extreme weather. I've just entered my home address into my Sat-Nav and it tells me I am only 519 miles from home comforts. So, in just a few more minutes I'll be homeward bound. Should be home tomorrow afternoon.

Cheers!

Having returned to Tesco Wick by bus and begun my journey home I then experienced one of the most frightening events of this adventure, and probably of my whole life.

Having finished my long trek I was heading home to my lovely wife, Beryl. I'd done about 60 miles at about 50 - 60 mph on the very fast single carriage A9 road. It was raining, as it had been for most of the day, my wipers were having to work overtime to keep my screen clear. I had traffic in front of me and traffic behind and traffic coming the other way.

Then the rain started to REALLY hammer down and I could hardly see through the screen. I put the wipers on full speed and that was a bit better. Then, suddenly they stopped working! I'm doing 50 - 60 mph on a narrow winding road with traffic behind me, traffic in from and traffic coming towards me and I can hardly see through the screen!

I instinctively turned on my hazard lights and desperately looked for some place I might safely pull over. After what seemed an age I managed to pull across oncoming traffic into a side road. I switched everything off sat for a while and assessed the situation.

Maybe it was a fuse?

Removed fusebox cover. Hundreds of the buggers. I shut it up. 

I thought I'd better ring the AA, but I didn't know exactly where I was on the A9 and I doubted very much I'd even get a phone signal. Just then a van came down that side road and halted at the junction at the main road, waiting to join it. I was out of my car in a trice and knocked on the window of the van. There were two guys in it. I asked if they could tell me exactly where I was and told them why I needed assistance.

Both guys got out and went over to my car to see what they might do to help. On orders I raised the bonnet, turned on the ignition and then the wipers. It was soon evident that the fuse was OK cos the wiper motor was working. One of the guys suggested that the linkage was either broken or had come adrift and as they didn't have the required tools a mechanic with equipment would be needed to do the job.

They suggested I follow them into Golspie which was just a mile away. It was still raining but not as fast as it had been. I followed them to a garage in Golspie and they left my in the hands of Roy the mechanic.

Inside 10 or 15 minutes Roy had it sorted. Charged me fiver and I was free to be on my way again. However,  I decided to spend the night in the car park in Golspie and have a few jars of lager with my favourite landlady Desi Cat at the The Ben Bhraggie Hotel.


Tomorrow I would have all day to finish my homeward journey.




++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is the later version of the Guinness World Records Tips and conditions:

I didn't get a hold of this until AFTER I'd done the walk. My own fault I would suppose.

Guinness World Records terms and conditions

SET A RECORD

View Guidelines 
 Applications
Oldest person to travel from John-O'-Groats to Land's End on foot (male)
Record definition
This record is for the oldest male to journey between John O'Groats and Land's End entirely on foot.
This record is to be attempted by an individual.
Any land route between Land’s End and John-O’-Groats (or vice versa) may be chosen for the attempt.
The record is measured by age of the participant in years and days,
Rules for Oldest person to travel from John-O'-Groats to Land's End on foot (male)

This record is for the oldest male to journey between John O'Groats and Land's End entirely on foot.
This record is measured in years and days.
The age of the claimant must be taken at the date they most recently completed the journey.
A copy of the challenger's birth certificate of the person must be submitted with the record claim. If the person has been married a copy of the marriage certificate is also required.
It is up to the challenger to choose the shortest/most suitable route between the two points.
Any type of commercially available, non-motorized or mechanical footwear may be used.
The challenger may not be transported around or over obstacles such as bridges, bodies of water, etc. by any means. The challenger must travel on foot for the entire distance.
The entire journey must be tracked by the use of an accurate, professional GPS tracking device. .kml files must be submitted. The .kml files must include the timestampted route and the distance covered. A printout of the GPS data must also be submitted.
Rules for 'place to place' records

Please make sure you follow ALL these rules: 

a.    Accurate professional equipment e.g. GPS tracking equipment (and associated printout) must be used and .kml files (on a disc or USB flash drive) must be sent in as part of the evidence required. Sending in any other type of file will ultimately delay the outcome of your claim or lead to its rejection. 
b.    Details of how the distances have been calculated must be given before the attempt starts so Guinness World Records can confirm these measurements are correct. 
c.    Although this record is awarded for the fastest time from point A to point B, the mileage covered must also be submitted – it is up to the participant to choose the most suitable or shortest route between these two points. 
d.    The clock starts the moment the participant crosses the starting line and does not stop until they reach their goal. 
e.    Each leg of the journey must start at the exact point at which the last leg ended. 
f.    Note that no distinction will be made between supported and unsupported journeys. 
g.    As a general rule, the participant should not remain stationary (i.e. if he/she does not make any progress towards his/her destination) for longer than 14 days. Any delays longer than this should have a very good reason (e.g. injury) and must be accounted for to Guinness World Records. Note that delays that cannot be reasonably justified may result in disqualification. 
h.    All measurements must be given in both metric and imperial terms. 

WITNESS REQUIREMENTS 

•    The role of an independent witness is to confirm that they observed the claimant undertaking the record attempt in the manner set out by the guidelines. Independent witnesses must be made aware of all specific guidelines in order to confirm that all have been adhered to. 
•    A witness book must be made available for independent witnesses to sign. The book should be set up so that each witness includes their name, the location, the date and time, their signature and their email address or phone number. For an attempt, which is supported by a backup team, we would expect it to be possible to gain sufficient numbers of independent witnesses to enable verification for the entire duration of the attempt. Where possible, local dignitaries and police should be sought to sign the book 

LOG BOOK REQUIREMENTS 

Applicants must complete a log book, giving a description of the event and details of the participant(s) daily/overall performances. It must be clear from the book the exact start and finish points of each leg of the attempt, the exact start and finish times and calculation of daily and total distances travelled. All rest breaks or stoppages for whatever reason must also be fully detailed in the log. Wherever possible, entries in the logbook should be signed and dated by independent witnesses along the route (e.g. hotel staff, police, shop owners etc.) Receipts for purchases and services may also be collected as an additional form of proof. 

Please make sure you supply the following evidence: 

•    One cover letter explaining the context and full details of the record attempt. Please indicate the exact start and finish locations of your attempt, start and finish dates and times, your chosen witnesses and your record attempt measurement. Also please provide full details of the person attempting the record including details on age, nationality, background and preparation for the attempt. 
•    A Witness book as described in “Witness Requirements”. 
•    A Log book as described above in “Log Book Requirements” 
•    GPS printout (and .kml files) as requested above. 
•    The entire attempt should be filmed. For times up to one hour, we expect the entire attempt to be submitted on video. For events longer than this, a 'highlights package' will be acceptable but must include the following points: 
       a)     Footage of the start of the attempt 
        b)    Two minutes footage every hour (For events longer than 48 hours, 10 minutes footage per 24 hours will be acceptable) 
        c)    Any points where the claimant takes a break - a clock or timer must be visible on screen, but not the camcorder's own time display 
        d)    The point at which the record is broken 
        e)    The end of the attempt 
•    Photographic evidence is required for this attempt. The beginning and end of the attempt should be photographed, as well as the challenger alongside any notable landmarks en route. 
•    Schedule 2 should be signed by you when you are sending in evidence which you either own or have permission to allow Guinness World Records to use. 
•    If you include any photographs or video in your evidence which you do not own or have permission to allow Guinness World Records to use, then you must include Schedule 3. 
•    Media articles (newspaper, online, TV or radio) can be submitted as part of the evidence requirements. This is not compulsory evidence. 
   
Please read the Guide to Your Evidence document, where you will find further information about the evidence requirements and evidence templates. It is paramount this document is read before you submit your evidence.

Evidence checklist

Copy of marriage certificate
Copy of birth certificate
Cover letter
Witness log books
Gps data (.kml files)
Log book
Video evidence
Photographic evidence
Schedule 2 (signed)
Schedule 3 (signed)
Media articles
Download your copy
 guide to evidence
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I wrote back:
There's NO way I can comply or have complied with all the evidence you would appear to require.  I (that's a really big capitalised 'I') know that I've walked every inch of the track from Land's End to John o' Groats (and more). I averaged 20 miles per day over a total of 46 walking days. The least distance I walked in one day was 15 miles and the most I walked in one day was 28 miles.

The whole trip took me 56 days including rest days. Between when I set off at noon on the 9th July 2015 and when I arrived in John o' Groats at noon on the 2nd September 2015 I didn't have any Sherpas or any entourage I just WALKED. I walked each day until I'd walked enough - and then some. I then used public transport, taxies or lift's from a couple of kindly motorists to get back to where I'd started from each day to pick up my Small Mobile Bedroom and drive it to where I'd reached that day, which was usually a large Tesco store. I'd previously gained permission to park it for twenty-four hours or more in Tesco car parks, depending, and sleep in it.  Check with Customer Service Executive to The Main Board  ceo.customerservice@tesco.co.uk
  

Where there was no Tesco store I usually found a pub, hotel or public car park where I could sleep overnight and leave it there for the following day. TWO days if it was called for. I'm not a big man, not one for being overweight, but I lost a stone and a half during those 56 days.
When I undressed at home on the 3rd of September, my wife reckoned I looked like someone straight out of Belsen. I'm still a stone off my usual weight. Maybe I should do it again next year. Only next time I'll hire a wild-life film crew, and get NASA to track my every movement and have the BBC Outside Broadcast lot greet me when I finish.

To be continued . . . .

http://swns.com/news/75-year-old-pensioner-determined-to-get-his-name-in-guinness-book-of-world-records-waited-14-years-to-become-oldest-person-to-walk-length-of-uk-70843/

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