Looking back, as one tends to occasionally do, I recall that the main catalyst for starting my website back in 2013 was reading about the inauguration of the Wales Coast Path and taking the decision that ione day I would undertake to walk it and get to know my homeland a little better. Looking back, it was a decision taken without much thought or attention to the implications of not working for three months, but instead to challenging my ageing body to the mammoth task of hiking 1,400 kilometres.
Since that day, I have progressed from being lacto vegetarian to vegan, have decided to add the hike along Offa’s Dyke to the Wales Coast Path making the entire trek around 1,660 kilometres, and chosen to carry a tent and sleeping bag, kindly donated by Alps Mountaineering, to give myself more flexibility and reduce the financial burden.
Now, after much investigation regarding the necessary items to take, breaking the route into manageable daily hikes, and working hard to save the money for my family to survive without me for three months, I am close to realising my dream. All being well I should be in Chester sometime in early April of this year, ready to take that first step towards what hopefully will turn out to be an epic adventure, similar to my sabbatical at the age of 23 when I travelled round South America with a backpack, limited funds and a head full of dreams. That was an incredible adventure, and now, 37 years later, I am on the brink of embarking on another.
It is strange looking back, how certain events have fallen into place just at the right moment, while others have occurred that will provide me with necessary media coverage before I go and on my return. Back in March an article about my planned trip appeared in one of the local newspapers, and one month ago I was invited to take part in a television programme about foreigners living in Medellin.
Another timely event was being offered a credit card without making any effort whatsoever to obtain one, after having been refused on various occasions due to the fact that being self-employed I could not show I had sufficient income to guarantee paying any subsequent debt. The credit card fell effortlessly into my lap just before my daughter travelled to the USA to complete her final work practice prior to graduation and thus I was able to purchase some of the more delicate items I needed, such as a new camera and lenses for her to bring back.
There are still some things to sort out, such as my diet while hiking, I am not planning on taking a stove as I have enough extra weight with my camera equipment, and so I plan to eat a mainly raw diet with the occasional meal in restaurants when I get to the larger towns, of which there are not many in Wales, while being vegan will obviously limit the possibilities. One great help with the diet is the kind donation by Bute Island Foods in Scotland, of samples of their vegan cheeses, which will help greatly in spicing up the lunchtime sandwiches.
I would also like to try and support some charity by using the walk to raise funds, though as yet I have not found one that is interested in the opportunity that I feel presents itself.
I have been training harder than usual for the last four months, and I feel that my legs are certainly up to the challenge, now I plan to work on my core so as to be prepared for the weight of the pack I will be carrying. I almost have everything I need and so plan to organise my pack over the coming days to ascertain whether the rucksack I currently have is sufficiently large, and also to have an idea of the weight so I can see if I need to be a little more stringent in what I take.
I hope to keep the weight to around 12 kilos, though I feel it is probably going to be more. I have to take into account liquid and food that I will have to carry, especially on days where there is little contact with civilisation along the route—that reminds me of a quote from Mahatma Ghandi, who when asked by a journalist what he thought of western civilisation replied that he thought it would be a good idea.
I am sure that there will be days along the route, when it has not stopped raining all day, and wet and tired I will have to pitch my tent in the pouring rain to prepare myself for a restless sleep on a hard floor, that I am going to question why I had this crazy idea, but that is part of the challenge, and the only way to find out if I am capable of such an epic adventure is to go ahead and do it.
Welsh, Photographer, Vegan, English teacher and translator from Spanish to English.