We had been talking about the Guide Dogs charity that day at school and I had seen the big cheque outside the House Office and thought I’d do something to raise funds. That evening, while I was having a WhatsApp conversation with my brother, George, I decided that I was going to walk to his flat and back one weekend, as a fundraiser. It’s more than 70 miles there and back. I thought it would be easy though I was aware it would take a long time. On a few occasions I’d walked more than ten miles and not found that difficult. My family were impressed with my ambition. The staff in the House Office said “that’s a long way”.
I didn’t plan a route, I just put the start and end points into Google Maps which gave a route along the A4, predicted to take 12 hours without stops. A friend offered to sponsor me a pound for every pub I walked past.
I set off at six o’clock in the morning, with my bag on my back and I got to my first pub at ten to seven. I was taking pictures and posting them on a family WhatsApp group.
For a while my back hurt. About a third of the way through I stopped on a bench outside The Jolly Gardener, changed my socks and ate some snacks. My back felt better after that.
I found it quite weird to walk, surrounded by buildings, then through fields for ages, then buildings again. When I got to Windsor I thought, “I’ve just walked to Windsor!” and I realised I was walking a long way.
Later my left foot became really painful. I tried to rearrange my shoe but it didn’t work. Then the other foot started to hurt. It wasn’t blisters, the pain was in the soles of my feet, like stepping on an upturned mains plug, barefoot in the dark.
I remember walking alongside Heathrow for a really long time. I called George and we were on the phone for ages. I said “not gonna lie mate, my feet really hurt”.
I was supposed to get to meet my brother at the end of the A4. But I was walking so slowly that he’d walked further towards me than planned. I cried with relief when he appeared. He carried my bag from there which helped, and my feet hurt less for a bit.
Climbing the stairs to George’s up to his flat, I almost fell down, just from the weakness in my legs. He cooked me a stew and I had just enough energy to eat it slowly. I told my family on WhatsApp, “walking back won’t be possible. I arrived 4 and a half hours later than planned because my feet started hurting”
The next morning, I was pleased I’d managed to keep going rather than get a tube or taxi. It was worth it. I was glad I’d made it the whole way. When I added up my sponsorship money, I’d raised almost £250.
I feel like I could have walked both ways if my feet hadn’t hurt so much. I would have had the energy I think. So that’s my next challenge, there and back. But I need some good boots.