Meet Mike Hunter who walked 623 miles and then 623 more from Lands End to John O’GroatsPublished on: 22/07/2022
Between April 15th and June 17th this year, Rathbones Investment Manager Mr Mike Hunter was on the walking challenge of a lifetime from Lands End in Cornwall to John O’Groats in Scotland (LEJOG as it is sometimes known), having taken 3 weeks of annual leave, three days of ‘giving back’ which Rathbones offer their employees and a ‘wodge’ of unpaid leave.
Part of a group of friends who call themselves ‘Old-Farts Walking’, Mike, who is a keen walker and has previously undertaken some significant walking challenges, wanted to do something special for the two causes closest to his heart, Wirral Hospice St John’s and Autism Together.
Mike set off on his LEJOG expedition a few days after the ten year anniversary of his mum, Valerie’s, passing. She was an inpatient at the hospice and he is ever grateful for the care and attentive support she received while she was here with us. His son, Owen, who joined Mike for six days of the walk through the Lake District and Cross Fell, has Asperger’s Syndrome and has been supported by Autism Together in Wirral.
So, with his charities chosen, routes broadly planned, hotels and B&B’s booked, a support team of partner, Kirstie, sometimes ahead in their motorhome, fellow Old-Farts Walking companions, Mike Haig, Eric Marsh, Tony Capstick and the aforementioned Owen, who all joined him for parts of the trek, Mike took the first stride (of an eventual 2,976,375 steps) in his LEJOG journey!
What an experience!
Up-hill and down dale, fording streams, scaling cliffs (yes, really – it’s not part of the ‘normal’ route and we don’t recommend it to readers), crossing bridges, clambering up and over escarpments, all the while taking in Great Britain’s breath-taking, coastal and inland, scenery.
An average of nearly 20 miles a day. Although the challenge was 64 days, start to finish, Mike had had to take one day off after he’d painfully, chewing on a juicy steak, dislodged a wisdom tooth and he needed emergency dentistry to remove it… OUCH!
The very next day he was back on the road, or hill, path, beach, cliff(!) striding to his next destination… WOW!
Not for the whole time, but, on certain days, Mike would be picked up at a pre-set destination (it was often a Lidl or equivalent supermarket, prompting the question, how do you think you’ll get there, Mike?… “Lidl by Lidl”…) to then be driven to a local hotel. Staying within the rules however, would see Mike return to the exact spot he was picked up to start the next day’s 20-mile trek.
Another rule was that he couldn’t use transport to cross waterways. So the Severn Bridge was a 40 minute (although very scenic) diversion across Avonmouth. Other streams had stepping stones and occasionally Mike would have to wade through.
There was a lot of wear and tear on the body. Inevitably sore feet and legs and a lot of blister plasters, especially in the first couple of weeks. Eventually blisters hardened and the challenge became ever more about perseverance and mental strength (as well as, please don’t do it readers, climbing that cliff!).
The overwhelming reaction of the people Mike met along the way was generous and supportive. Sometimes a cash donation, others paying his food bill, more buying him cake and preparing the next day’s packed lunch.
There were, and are, so many people to thank and Mike is so sincerely grateful to all of them. His aforementioned support team, Kirstie, Mike, Eric and Tony, son Owen, daughters Abbie and Emma, Chris and Karin Stephenson, colleagues from Rathbones, Kelsey, Paul and Alan, all the well-wishers and helpers along the way and everyone who has supported him with kind donations to both charities.
When all the money is finally counted Mike will have raised well over £10,000 between his two favourite charities, a magnificent amount for which we are eternally grateful.
We highly recommend that you visit the FaceBook page where Mike chronicles his whole experience www.facebook.com/oneoldfartwalking to get the whole captivating story. There are also links there to Mike’s Just Giving page which will remain open for a while longer
If you’d like to take part in walks or challenges for Wirral Hospice St John’s, either your own OR our organised ones, like climbing Snowdon on our Twilight Trek (10th September), (Walk to Remember (25th September) Firewalk (11th November), please get in touch with our friendly events and corporate team on 0151-343-0778 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you all the help that we can.