Atlantic Row Adventure:
I now have my boat! She is called Darien and has previously had two owners. Elsa attempted to cross the Pacific 3 years ago but was blown off course by bad weather and eventually was forced to give up. Damian Browne, an Irish international rugby player, then bought Darien and he successfully crossed the Atlantic last year. Now she's on our drive and I'm slowly getting her prepared for more maritime adventures. I hope to be getting out onto the North Sea with my mentor, Chris Martin (also an ocean rower), in the next few weeks.
Training is coming along steadily, but I've got a long way to go. At the moment I'm doing 2-hour stints on the rowing machine 4 or 5 evenings a week, a total of 8 - 10 hours per week. That will have to increase to at least 50 hours a week by next summer in order that my body is as prepared as possible for whatever the ocean will throw at me. Preparing for 3 months of solitude on an unpredictable ocean is a completely different kind of challenge!
If you would like to pop in and have a look over the boat please do. I guess by now most of you know where I am!
Walking Land's End to John O'Groats
I decided to start walking from Land's End at the beginning of March. It was to be a solo camping trip, carrying everything in a trailer. The Beast from the East delayed my start by six days, but for the first couple of days the weather was dry. Skirting Bodmin Moor there was heavy rain and wind, but my weatherproof clothes kept me warm and dry. I stopped in Launceston for a rest day with my Mother and some old friends accompanied me on the start of the next section.
In Cornwall I had my first technical problems: one wheel of my trailer fell off. I got it fixed in Truro but a few days later another part snapped. The final disaster left one wheel dangling inelegantly south of Bristol. I abandoned the trailer and reverted to a rucksack.
As soon as I started I was struck by the kindness of strangers. I carried a sign saying “Land's End - John O'Groats for “Global Angels” and most days people would stop to ask me what I was doing, or give a donation. In the evenings I would knock on a door, explain what I was doing, and ask if I could camp in their garden. The answer was almost always ‘yes' and frequently accompanied by tea and food.
Leaving Bristol I joined the Sharpness to Gloucester canal, a joy after the scary traffic on busier roads. The peace was delicious and there were no hills! Going through the Midlands I had to spend longer on busy roads and walking through large conurbations like Coventry and Warwick. I met up with Anna in Derbyshire for a day of rest but setting off the following morning was difficult psychologically: I really wanted to go home.
My next stop-off was with family in Preston: again some lovely stretches along canal paths with my brother. Preston to the Scottish border was quite tough, particularly over Shap, where it was rainy and windy, but when I reached Gretna I was delighted to have made it to Scotland - only 360 miles to go!
I was getting tired by now but had fantastic support from friends and family via Facebook and texts. I did a video ‘blog' most days and enjoyed getting feedback in the evenings. The last week I pushed hard and was doing about 30 miles a day, keen to get home.
Finally reaching Duncansby Head, the real end of the road, was an emotional moment, looking out at the sea and remembering the previous 6 weeks. My strongest memory was of the kindness and generosity of strangers. It had been a wonderful experience and opened the door to my next adventure - rowing across the Atlantic.
"The needs of this world seem overwhelming. Together we can change the course of history and turn things around. Everyone has their chance to make their mark on the world and leave a legacy that counts. That has become my life's passion. I invite you to join me.. Step Up and Be an Angel!"
Molly Bedingfield CEO of 'Global Angels'
Richard told us about his planned walk in early in 2018
"I am planning to walk this iconic route starting in early March 2018 and hopefully completing the trek in one go. I'll be camping as much as possible but will stay with friends and family along the way so that I'll be clean and dry at least now and then!
Why am I doing it? I keep asking myself that question and will probably ponder it much more when I'm plodding along in the rain! Partly it's because I just want to know if I can, and how I'll react when the going gets tough. The other big reason is that I want to raise money for, and awareness of, a charity called Global Angels. Global Angels ( https://globalangels.org/ ) is a wonderful charity doing amazing work in some of the poorest places on earth. Since its inception in 2005 it has provided safe drinking water to over 160,000 people, provided medical care to another 170,000 and trained 60 medics. Over 2 million meals have been supplied through a school feeding programme and over 13,500 children are being educated in schools or classrooms built by Global Angels. Currently a pilot programme in Tsavo, Kenya is bringing water, education, energy and social empowerment to 2,000 people with a projected roll-out to 20,000 by 2023. Global Angels is actively supported by such celebrities as Prince Harry, Bear Grylls, Molly, Natasha and Nikola Bedingfield, Hayley Westenra and many others.
If you would like to support me please see my Just Giving page and you can follow my training and the walk itself I'll be posting updates regularly on Facebook ( http://bit.ly/2tNYyEw ). And if you fancy joining me for an hour or two (or more if you like!) I'll be keeping my proposed route updated on Google Maps ( http://bit.ly/2v7HJZg ). You can also contact me directly on 07711 494676 or email me at RWJHarries@gmail.com .
Thank you ....... Richard Harries, Consultant Radiologist