“Walking gets the feet moving, the blood moving, the mind moving. And movement is life,” once wrote Terri Guillemets. Very true, movement is life.
So after much deliberation and planning my wife and I are going on a walk, well an adventure. And we’ve decided to jump right in at the deep end by taking on the longest continuous path, the South West Costal path. It is a mammoth walk. A grand total of 630 miles or almost 1,100 km, so basically like walking from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, turning around and walking back to Dubrovnik.
And with so many hills that it is equivalent to climbing up Everest four times. And if you’ve got one of the step counters on your mobile we will roughly be taking 1.6 million steps!
Why, I can hear you ask. Well, my first answer would be because I can. Life is short. And facing challenges like this will be an unforgettable experience. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And years ago when I was undecided as to whether to move to Dubrovnik from the capital of the UK a good friend said, “If you really want to do it then just do it, or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.” He was right.
There is also a much more important reason for going. My father loved this coastline, he liked it so much that we moved from the south east of England to the south west when he retired. And he loved the coast and the coastal path. I’m guessing that he would have loved to have walked the path. So after he died I made a promise to myself that I’d walk the path in his honour.
I’m not really the most religious person but I do believe that whilst we are walking that he will somehow see the walk through my eyes. And I can’t let him down, I’ve got to finish.
Am I ready? Well, probably not. But are you ever ready? We’ve bought all the gear, so on that front we are ready. Rucksacks, tent, walking boots, dried food and jackets are all packed. Yes, tents because we’ll be doing a lot of camping. And on a physical level, probably more important, I have been doing some training, I did 10 km a day for six months, rain and sun.
But I still don’t feel that prepared. However, I do have one ace in my sleeve. You can prepare, pack your rucksack and plan your route, but the one thing that you can’t pack is determination. I have this is abundance, sheer bloody-mindedness, like a horse with blinkers only seeing one goal. Yes, I get that from my father.
How long will it take? Roughly two months of pretty much continuous walking. In fact, not many people do it in one go, most split it up into sections, we are going hard-core. So almost all of September and October we’ll be “on the road” and out of office. In fact, I’ll be a digital nomad, literally, as I’ve found room in my rucksack for a laptop.
Now, it is important to both of us that the walk has a connection between Croatia and the UK. We are linked. So we’ll be raising money for two charities, one in the UK for dementia and one in Croatia for animal welfare. Animal welfare is an obvious one given our love for animals, and in fact my dog (Toto) will be joining us (although he doesn’t know this yet) and dementia in my father’s name. And of course we’ll be spreading the word about Dubrovnik on the walk. The more publicity the more money we’ll raise for these worthy charities.
Have I ever attempted anything like this before? NO. Not even close. It’s like a learner driver sitting in a Formula 1 machine and making a few laps of a face course. There will be ups and downs, bumps along the road and hairpin bends, but we’ll reach the finish line. Of that I am sure.
Life flashes by in the blink of an eye, a fact that I was sadly reminded of with the passing away of a colleague and friend last week. He was someone who lived their dream, who pushed his boundaries and grabbed life with both hands. Above all he was kind, a gentleman who understood honour.
So, we’re in our final stages of preparation. Toto Travels is the title of the social media that we’ll be uploading almost every day, both to open this stunning part of the UK to a larger audience, as well as to help raise funds. It is without doubt the most difficult thing, both physically and mentally, I’ve ever done in my life. But with determination, and the knowledge of why we’re actually doing it, we’ll do it.
Wish us luck, we’re off in a few weeks, let the adventure begin!
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to