Walking saved my life. At the age of 40 I was working silly hours as a teacher. My career was progressing well but my health was suffering. I was pale, overweight and very unhealthy. I found time to visit my GP with a niggling bad back. He sent me off for various tests and scans. I was called back in to be told, very unsympathetically, that I would be in a wheelchair within 5 years. He prescribed a very high daily dose of Ibuprofen.
I did have friends who walked and, on a whim, decided I should do a long distance walk before it was too late. I chose the Dales Way, bought all the clobber, booked the accommodation and set off.
I loved it! I got the bug, learnt a lot (especially to carry less gear). Somehow or other my bad back disappeared. I became a DofE expedition leader and organised and led many charity walks over the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
I ended up completing most of the long distance walks in the North of England plus the West Highland Way. Walking was not only good for me physically, but also mentally.
But, I wanted to put together my own walk! It had to be between 2 main railway stations, it had to have as little as possible road walking, include snippets of history, nice photographs and the instructions had to be clear, simple and correct. So ensued many happy hours with OS maps all over the floor, many happy days walking, modifying and rewalking the route.
Eventually the route from Preston to Carlisle became a book which has unexpectedly become a best seller, especially signed copies from Plackitt & Booth (click here if you are interested). Moving on, I stayed in teaching but turned down a deputy headship, preferring instead to move to St Bedes as Head of ICT and developing the DofE there virtually from scratch.
Then bang! Cycling home from St Bedes in September 2015 I was hit head on by a van. I smashed the windscreen and catapulted over the top. According to an eye witness I flew rather well but the landing was heavy. Fractured skull, pelvis broken in 4 places and severe internal injuries. My family was warned that I would probably be paralysed and possibly brain damaged. 2 months on my back in hospital I was able to re-evaluate my life and read lots of books (click here for my personal choice of books).
The doctors were impressed that I had even survived the accident and put it down to my fitness – in other words walking probably saved my life. Luckily I was able, bit by bit, to get back to walking, and eventually cycling. In 2019 I finally retired from St Bedes, got remarried, bought a campervan and rewalked the North West Way!
NB the van driver was so mortified by what he had done that the police had to drive him home. He admitted that he had been on his mobile phone and was speeding.
WoW! Great story. My brother and his wife do loads of walking and cycling holidays. He actually did the west Wales coastline, where you walk, but the tour company move your luggage from hotel to hotel. He loved it! He too suffers with a bad back and walking works for him too!
How long were you in hospital?
3 months – I did a lot of reading and thinking!