Job done, but now what?

On Saturday, Alex and I finished our epic challenge of walking the Offa’s Dyke National Trail – 177 miles (probably over 185 miles if you include wrong turns and the walks to campsites) over some gorgeous Welsh and English countryside carrying full packs. In total we have raised over £3340 for MS Society, with donations still coming in (it isn’t too late to donate at www.justgiving.com/offasdyke4ms by the way).

You can view the whole map of our route, as well as photos and tweets sent during the walk at http://www.socialhiking.org.uk/map/offasdyke4ms/offas-dyke-4-ms (it takes a moment or two to fully load).

I had not, in my wildest dreams, expected to raise that kind of money, and I would like to thank everyone who donated – no matter how small, your donation will help make a difference to people affected by MS.

I want to share a couple of touching stories with you:

At one of the campsites, I was approached by a lady who was camping next to us, who had spotted our orange challenge t-shirts. After a brief chat about why I was supporting MS and what our challenge was about, she told me about her best friend, who she used to go regularly hiking and camping with. Her friend was diagnosed with MS a few years ago, and in the subsequent years has rapidly deteriated and is now in a wheelchair. Her friend finds it so frustrating that being out and about in the countryside, something we take for granted, is now beyond her reach.

On another occassion, in a pub, I had a conversation with a man whose father had MS, which he ultimately died from when his son was about 14 years old. His story was so emotional that he was in tears telling about how is dad wasn’t able to do the things dad’s are supposed to do due to his condition.

These are just two of countless stories I have heard about how people, their friends and their families are affected by MS.

So What Now?

Although our challenge is now complete – I have a whole host of blog posts to do: some thank yous, campsite reviews, equipment reviews, write ups on Offa’s Dyke itself, as well as sorting out all the photos. I also have my pet project, Social Hiking, the app which was developed especially for this challenge – I would love to get it in a state where it can be used by others for their challenges.

It seems ages ago now since we climbed the final ascent to the end of the Offa’s Dyke path, to be met by my parents (who were the support team) and @Pete_Knight with a bottle of bubbly. That evening was spent in the company of friends celebrating the end of the walk in a dog friendly hotel in Chepstow, before returning home to Northamptonshire to spend some time with my dearly missed girlfriend.

I feel a bit empty though…there is probably a syndrome that affects people who complete charity challenges – after all the planning (over a year) and the challenge itself, it seems like such a steep decent back to reality, and after hearing so many stories about MS, and how it has affected people, I just don’t feel like I can sit down and say “job done”.

There is already a seed of an idea for the (quite distant) future…..!!

How to follow our progress on Offa’s Dyke

After over a year of planning and training, we are about to start our challenge to walk the 177 mile Offa’s Dyke trail – we are currently at Chester Services, about an hour or so from the start in Prestatyn.

There are several ways you can follow our progress, keep updated with how we are getting on, and interact with us as we walk.

Live Updating Map

You can find our live updating map at www.od4ms.org.uk – the map will initially load with our progress for the current day (it automatically updates), but you can select previous routes from the drop down on the right hand side.

The page also has our latest tweets, photos and audioboos – both around the sides and on the map itself!

Twitter

Everything we get up to will be posted to our twitter account: offasdyke4ms. You don’t need an account to follow our “tweets”, but you will need one if you wish to reply.

Alex will also be tweeting from his account: winkysmileyface.

All our replies are texted to us – so they will be read and will help us keep motivated during the walk! We will try to reply to as many as possible as we are going on.

Facebook

Unfortunately the Facebook Group is quite hard to update remotely, but both Alex and I have linked our twitter accounts to appear on our personal Facebook pages – we will try and catch up with comments during breaks!

Blog

Every couple of days the plan is to do a short blog post updating you on our progress!

Justgiving

It is still not too late to donate – every “You have a new donation” email will really help us keep going in the rain and wind!

Angel – a hiking dog’s story

Throughout the build up of this challenge I haven’t really talked much about my dog. Angel is a German Shepherd re-homed from Wood Green Animal Shelter in March 2007. Her exact age is unknown, but she is approximately 5 or 6 years old.

When I first met her at Wood Green I fell instantly in love with her. Although she was pacing up and down in her cage (like a trapped tiger) and barely had any time for me, there was just something about her I liked.

Continue reading “Angel – a hiking dog’s story”