WHY HEART LINK?
So, I have just completed my most gruelling challenge to date, walking 107mile of the Leicestershire Round over 4 days.
May found me supporting Heart Link Children’s charity based at Glenfield hospital.
As I have friends and family that work in the NHS and often tell me how massively underfunded it is, the work done by Heart Link to raise funds for equipment, rooms and buildings is vital. At the moment Glenfield is one of only 4 centres in the country that can provide E.C.M.O (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) treatment thanks in part to the fund raising efforts of Heart Link.
It’s only Walking…. how hard can it be?
I set off bright and early with my friend Neil Gardiner on the Barwell Lane section of the walk in Hinckley. The plan was to spend the morning travelling clockwise up through Barwell, Market Bosworth and on to Markfield. We were aiming to arrive in Markfield by 2pm to meet up with BBC Radio Leicester’s Ben Jackson who wanted to join us on a section of the walk. However, it was clear as soon as we set off that the pace needed was quite rigorous and I was in for a tough few days… I had made the classic mistake of underestimating the task!
Despite our pace, by lunch time we were already behind schedule and mixed bag of hot sunshine followed by monumental downpours wasn’t helping. As we came into the afternoon Neil had injured his ankle, his knee was acting up and I was already suffering in both legs. We arrived in Markfield at 15:00pm missing Ben by 15mins which was both disappointing and frustrating as he has been a massive supporter of the year of challenges. As planned, Neil returned home to his new born baby girl and I was left to continue my walk in an afternoon of heavy rain. I continued in the downpours through Bradgate Park and onto Woodhouse Eaves. That was enough for one day and I was picked up after 11hours of walking, 26miles covered in 55,000 steps.
After resting up overnight I returned to Woodhouse Eaves. This time with Peter Walker-Clarke and his stash of Soreen and flapjack. As we set off, it was already clear that this was going to be the toughest challenge to date. I was already aching and the injuries of day 1 became more prevalent with every step. Fortunately, Pete was fresh and brilliant support throughout the day which saw us travel through Mountsorrel, Ratcliffe and Gaddesby ending at Somerby.
Blisters, a blown knee and swollen ankles were just the beginning of the ailments. As I set off, this time on my own, the shear scale of the task really started to get to me. Electric fences, fields of cows and an angry Yorkshire terrier all hampered my way and I found my pace slow as the temperature soared. I travelled through Owston, Launde and Allexton as I arrived in Hallaton I was met by my mother with a knee support and a bag full of mints. A very welcome comfort that kept me going throughout the rest of the day, finishing up at Foxton.
Joined by a fairly refreshed Mr Gardiner, we set off on the final day from Foxton. The route for the day took us through Bruntingthorpe, Frolesworth, Shamford on our way back to Hinckley. Again the temperature peaked, we had to take detours and at one point got lost in the middle of a field. Entering the home straight, fatigue properly setting in. We walked in silence other than to communicate direction as we focused on putting one foot in front of the other. The image of a cold beer, a hot pizza and the knowledge that I would never have to do this again pushed me on. As we walked through Burbage common, and on to Barwell Lane and back to where we’d started, 4 days, 107 miles and 220,000 steps ago, I felt a huge mixture of emotions. A sense of achievement, relief, physical and mental exhaustion. I had completed the Leicestershire round!
WHAT’S THE CHALLENGE?
The challenge for this month is a 102 mile walk on a network of footpaths that encircles Leicestershire, called the Leicester round. I will do this over the course of 4 days, so aim to complete around 25 miles a day. This challenge is all about endurance, and pushes me both physically and mentally, but is also local to the Glenfield based charity chosen.
WHO ELSE IS INVOLVED?
I will be joined on this particular challenge by my close personal friend Neil Gardiner. Neil has been a Duke of Edinburgh Leader for many years and has a wealth of knowledge around walking and orienteering, so hopefully he will stop me from getting lost.
WHO ARE HEART LINK?
Heart Link (East Midlands Children’s Heart Care Association) was formed in 1981, as a support group for parents and families who had a child suffering from a heart defect.
Over the years we have also become increasingly committed to improving facilities for our young patients, their families and providing much needed valuable medical equipment.
Our aim has always been to do our best to provide the best.
All our Officials, Committee Members and helpers give their time freely, without payment or taking any expenses, and our administration costs are minimal.
Since 1981 we have collected, with the marvellous support and generosity of the general public, well over£4 million pounds. This has been used to fund projects large and small.