These are some of the questions that I’m often asked about the walk.
For me, walking is a form of therapy. When I’m feeling low, a day spent out walking can lift my mood significantly. I find that having an objective for a walk helps avoid the ‘why bother’ syndrome that is so characteristic of depression. Having an objective also creates a sense of achievement when the walk is complete, which in can also help with depression. So linear walks from A to B work better as therapy than walking round in circles.
The germ of the idea for this walk came from the success of a 200 mile walk that I completed in 2006 from the Peak District to the Lake District. This walk raised £2,000 for breast cancer charities in memory of my late wife Margaret. Waking the coast stems from my love of being on or near the water. I have spent many years messing around in boats, both at sea and inland. Walking on the edge of England brought a little bit of the sea into the walk.
While a walk round the entire coast would have been great, just going round England adds up to 2,500 miles, which I though was enough. A complete coastal walk would be nearer 6,000 miles, so Scotland and Wales have to wait for another time.
It does seem slightly crazy to have done a walk through such beautiful scenery in the winter, when it was cold, wet and getting dark early. Rationalisations for walking in the winter included:
● The winter is the worst time for depression for most people so what better time to highlight the issue?
● You can always put on an extra layer to keep warm, but cooling down isn’t so easy.
● World Mental Health Day was at the beginning of October, this seemed an appropriate point to start the walk.
I slept in a campervan. Camping out in January would have been tough and using B&B every night would have been much too expensive. When I was on my own I got back to the campervan by bus or train at the end of each day’s walk. I then drove the van to the start of the next day’s walk. When I had a ‘driver’ staying with me, they would drive it along to meet me at the end of the day’s walk. This is what Kate did when she was able to join me on the walk.
Rivers and creeks were a major obstacle where the first bridge was many miles inland, necessitating a long walk along the river and back, to make perhaps a few hundred yards progress along the coast. As this was a walk round England rather than a strict walk along the water’s edge, I allowed myself to use ferries across rivers when they were available.
I was kindly sponsored by Viewranger and used their excellent iPhone app and maps which cut down on the number of paper maps needed. Much of the route was on established long distance footpaths so I also used the guidebooks for these. I also used David Cotton’s highly detailed online record of a coastal walk that he did in 2002-3 in aid of Riding for the Disabled (round Scotland and Wales as well, the brave man).