Thursday, 4 July 2013

32. Land's End to John o' Groats at last in 59 walking days. David Sansom's and Robbie Brough's highs and lows during their big walk for charity Emmaus Oxford.

Robbie Brough, 3 July 2013

David Sansom, 3 July 2013

Rob in front of the famous sign and small harbour.
From their photos John o' Groats looks tranquil, deserted 
and certainly not worthy of the carbuncle it  was awarded in 2010.  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013. 
Email from Robert Brough

"Hi Mary

We made it! Came in to John o' Groats about 2 this afternoon. We slogged on about 35 miles yesterday so we only had 24 to do today and then pretty much sprinted the last few miles! 

We are now safely in Comrie (where my grandparents live) about to eat a huge steak! We had our picture taken at the sign - I will get the website. And some other pictures too. I'll send the ones I have on my phone through now. 

We are finally done! It feels quite surreal to be finished in the end and I think it will take a while to sink in.. But we're still happy! And I think that will last at least.. 


Twitter 4 July

"After a total of 59 walking days, 31 less than we set ourselves, we crossed the finish line into John'o' Groats yesterday at 2.15pm. The rough 1200 mile journey is done, 13 blisters, 4 tubes of toothpaste, 6 pairs of socks and a lot of steps later. Thank you for all the support whilst we were on this amazing journey. Keep the donations and beer flowing...woof. Exact steps to follow. Xxx"

David with his first drink after 64 abstemious days
in honour of the homeless

David Sansom and Robbie Brough, both 19, reached John o' Groats yesterday,  3 July, 2013, just over two months since they started their 1,200 mile walk on 1 May.  Neither of the boys had done any serious walking before, but by 7 May announced 

"Our feet have finally hardened! We're proper walkers now at last. It takes 7 days of solid   walking and over 100 miles for COMPLETE novices to become comfortable walkers".  

They averaged 20 miles a day, sleeping in a small tent - which they took it in turns to carry - and cooking on a portable stove. They funded their trip , allowing themselves only £10 each per day, which often included campsite fees, although some let them pay less or even let them stay for free when they heard D + R were raising money for charity. They really appreciated camp sites with tumble dryers where they could dry out their stuff. One of their bugbears was that some sites had poor showers with either cold water or  as David pleasingly put it

"After being in the freezing cold, wet and mud for 22 miles, you don't want to be trickled on."

They slept mainly in camp sites, but when there were none, they camped in the wild. David and Robbie had a few breaks with friends or relations in Bristol, Shrewsbury, Huddersfield and Edinburgh but still slept on the floor to emulate the homeless for whom they have been collecting. 

The boys suffered from sunstroke, tendonitis, blisters and midges and contended with hailstorms, wind, heat, cold and driving rain. Robbie has hay fever which made things harder for him.. They got lost at times, and had to wade through streams, rivers and even the sea at one point (to avoid a long detour). When they got lost in the Pennines  David  wrote,

" we had to do real SAS work by crossing fields... We must have jumped 3 streams,  20 barbed wire fences and 2 railways."

At one stage they walked on the A39 in Devon, but soon went a longer slower way as they realised how dangerous A roads are to walk on. At times they had difficulties in remote areas with their mobiles, so were unable to communicate.

Their worst moment was running out of supplies in the Cheviot Hills  where there were no shops or places to eat. 

Their favourite place was Hawes in the Pennines which also had the best fish and chips.

The most the boys walked in a day was 35 miles, and that was a last push in their rush to get to John o'Groats by 3 July.

They appreciated the small things of life like meeting people and the stray dog Ajax they temporarily adopted, good weather, epic views and the kindness of strangers, especially in Wales. Their families and friends were supportive and one of the highlights was when Robbie's grandfather piped them into Scotland. They were met by members of Emmaus Cornwall and visited Emmaus Bristol, where they saw the community house, warehouse and shop and ate in the canteen.

David and Robbie, both 19, have raised £7,520.00 for Emmaus Oxford, a charity which houses and gives work to the homeless. You can still donate to this worthy cause  via