The North Highland Way Challenge

Noooooo… I am not planning on doing this myself! I think I have had my fill of long distance walking for a while. Even if my legs still nag me to get active again, sadly work demands mean that I must tippy tap away at a screen authoring nerdy technical documents rather than stride my way healthily around a blustery coastline with nose dripping enthusiasm.
When I walked around this little island, that some of us mistakenly believe as being separate to the European continent, I had some great marked paths to use, but not a full set. Five years later and the new England coast path is well on its way to completion, and with Wales already ahead of the game, this only leaves Scotland lagging behind the rest of the British mainland. Yes, they have some great coast paths in Fife, Ayrshire and Moray – to name a few – but otherwise it can be tough finding a legitimate route through without using roads, or blazing a trail through head high bracken.  Indeed, the North and West coasts have very sporadic routes and when I did discover them, they were invariably the most stunning and rewarding sections of my entire walk.

I like to do my bit and though I’m not promoting another coast walker or directly trying to raise money for a grand cause this little news update is to promote the development of a new Scottish coast path. This time it’s Tina Irving’s baby of the North
Highland Way that deserves some help. The walk from John O’Groats to Durness is 150 miles long and can be done in easy stages.  The route is still under development in places, although The Highland Council are doing a great job of looking after the route within their remit.

From 30th April to 30th June, Friends of the North Highland Way are organising a challenge event to help raise proceeds for the development of the Way into a multi-user route for horses, cyclists and walkers. There is a prize for the first person to send in their completed Pilgrims Passport for verification. So if you fancy a challenge, why not give it a go. An entry form can be found here.
Tina Irving was the “perpetrator” of the North Highland Way, and still works in conjunction with public services in Scotland and others to make it a multi-use route.  It has been renamed the Camino of St. Brian in honour of St. Brian Arrowsmith whose father fought for the Spaniards in the Low Countries, and Brian Richard Sparks, who put up with Tina for over 30 years.  Tina speaks fluent Spanish and often organises Spanish events in Ireland – see www.tinasfreelance.comtinaShe has accompanied the Royal Irish Fusiliers to lay a new stone for the Battle of Barossa which took place in Chichlana de la Frontera on 5th March 1811.  She is an ex Corporal  and served in 219 Wessex General Hospital from 1972 to 1979.
She has written a number of books, including “Creating the North Highland Way” and the “Battle for Brough Bay”, both available on Lulu.

Run for Sue

It is very rare for me to post anything these days, but this is something that really needs mentioning and it’s about someone who is and always will be very close to my heart.

As a reader of this blog, my book or even the Flickr photos you will have come across Sue in more than a few of my posts and pages. Sue and Diesel (her loveably mad rescue dog) were essential to the success of my walk. She helped assess my initial fitness and devised a training program based upon her distance running experience. She also provided a huge amount of support, fund raising, advice and general chivvying, particularly throughout Scotland where she joined me for over a week in Morvern and Ardnamurchan, rallied her friends to drive my bus and put me up at her home near Aberdeen. She also joined me again for another week along the Northeast coast of England, cheered me up when I was having a bad day and visited whenever she could. Sue walked more miles with me than anyone else and by a very big margin. Her little legs easily kept apace with mine, and if it had been possible, she would have dropped everything to walk each one of those 5,045 miles with me.


Sue has always put me to shame in many ways. Not only in being as fit as a butcher’s dog on performance enhancing drugs, but also in being a far nicer person than I could ever be.

We met at Newcastle University back in the 1980s, where we both studied Geology in a small but tight knit year group. Whether it was talking nonsense together, sharing slightly nerdy interests, exchanging loads of affectionate banter or offering support and advice when life took a few worrying or troublesome turns, Sue and I have always been close and best of pals first.  It just wouldn’t be right for me to publish privately held feelings here as we had only really admitted them to each other a few years ago. But our story is a complicated 35 year old one, underlain by a mutual and misunderstood fear of acknowledging any affection beyond friendship. To some, our entire story would probably make a half reasonable romantic comedy – if it wasn’t for the ending.

Sue suddenly became poorly early this year and to spare you the full tale, she very sadly passed away after a short illness. Her unexpected, untimely and utterly unjust departure has been felt by many, not least her lovely daughters Steph and Abi, her mum Lena, her siblings David and Lesley, and her extended family and friends in Aberdeenshire and across the UK.

We also shared a good university friend who had connections to the Spinal Injuries Association and Sue ran the 2016 London Marathon,2016 04 London 2aa like I had walked the coast, to help raise money for them. She wasn’t slow either and completed it in a very impressive 4 hours 11 minutes, whilst always believing she could  do better! She was a huge supporter of numerous charitable causes in so many ways and was just an all round enthusiastic good egg, tackling everything in life with optimism, natural congeniality and a big cheesy smile. She completed many half-marathons and marathons whilst trying to balance being a great mum and working her socks off to develop her career in Aberdeen before recently moving close by to become a highly respected, honest, diligent and dedicated Group Chief Finance Officer at Coventry University.

It was Sue’s intention to do the Great Aberdeen Run on 26 August and she had chosen to run in support of Brain Tumour Research.  Sadly her brain tumour denied her the opportunity to run. However, in a few weeks time her running partner, Caroline Inglis, Irene Bews and a large group of Sue’s friends from Aberdeen University will be doing a ‘Run for Sue’ at The Great Aberdeen Run in support of the Brain Tumour Research charity.

4af83e1f-996b-436e-88b5-b5301c2822eaIn reading this I am hopeful that you will either click on any of the photos or on the links in the text nearby and maybe offer your support to Caroline, Irene or any member of the Aberdeen University team.  I am all too aware that there are so many cruel illnesses, diseases, injuries and conditions out there that take so many lovely people, but this one is particularly close to my heart and I hope that you can find it in yours to contribute and maybe help others who are diagnosed with such a devastating disease.

Thanks for reading this far and I can only offer you my heartfelt thanks in advance if you manage to support Caroline, Irene and the team.


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For “My Suze” – an enormous warm blanketing soft hug, as always and forever a team! x

Sue Richardson 1963 – 2018




A Quick Interview

It now seems a lifetime since I did my walk. The relevance of trying to flog a few books and talk about it is undoubtedly labouring the point a bit now and many of my friends would probably like me to shut up as the horse flogging is getting a smidgen repetitive and the poor thing must be long dead. But hell I still have boxes of heavy “award winning” books to clear – so please don’t run away yet!

So when someone asked to interview me for another website which specialises in “adventurer and nomad interviews”, I ventured out of my cupboard under the stairs to happily recall a few memories and talk about kit and other nerdy stuff. It was all quite cathartic for me really. So if anyone has any vague interest remaining or considers themselves a slightly weirdo stalker type, please feel free to have a look at My interview is tucked away in the trekking section, but there are loads of interviews on there for anyone who has a little bit of adventure in their heart and is maybe seeking some inspiration.


A Little Favour and Other Walkers

Having no personal news of walking adventures, I thought I should take advantage of this opportunity and maybe ask all of you kind souls and all-round wonderful people who may have purchased, acquired, borrowed or stolen a copy of my book to do me another favour. Could you please leave me an honest (but preferably half-decent) review on Amazon???

Apparently it helps sales and if I can get rid of the heap of boxes sitting in my study gathering dust, the weight bearing floors in my house would certainly gasp a big sigh of relief. I’m not begging for kind words or glorious recognition of a literary masterpiece, but if you can be vaguely pleasant it will protect my tender feelings. I am hoping to see the back of this hefty lot, if only to make sure that the paper gets used before I find another use for it in the smallest room of the house. AND if you haven’t bought one yet then – go on – pretty please. It makes a great door-stop!

In other walker news – I can report that Natalia Spencer recently completed her year long walk around the coast at Durdle Door in Dorset. Her extraordinary ‘walk of love’ in remembrance of her 5 year old daughter, Elizabeth, who tragically died after a short illness in December 2016, was done to focus her grieving energy positively and raise as much money as she could. With the assistance of a cracking back-room team, she has managed to raise over £130,000 for Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal supporting Bristol Children’s Hospital and has rightly earned recognition with numerous awards including the Just Giving Endurance Fundraiser of the Year. A huge congratulations to Natalia and I am aware that she hasn’t by any means finished her fund raising efforts. She is now the most successful fund raising coast walker I know of.

To be completely fair to Natalia, I know that she also had a rather large grumbling bone to pick with me in trying to follow some of my Viewranger published routes. I sneakily suspect she was right to tell me, with a wry grimace, that more than a few of my….errr….20+ mile days ended up being more like 25 miles of actual walking. I know that my documented mileage was Pete Hill’s personal “official” yet completely unofficial record, but I also acknowledge that I probably walked a smidge further than I claimed. To save battery use, my tracking device only registered every 10 seconds / 33 feet. Hence a sharp bend in the path might be logged a little straighter than actually walked. Although it is reassuringly nice for me to know that I probably walked a wee bit further, it still means that there is room to improve in terms of accuracy and if I’m not careful I will get drawn into the old mileage debate again. I am and will remain adamant that the grand total is NOT an issue, it’s the effort that counts. I still silently seethe over those purist arseholes who consider their mileage as sacrasanct and belittle everyone else.  I just think I will leave it for others to check and improve upon my accuracy and hence I am not laying a belated unverified claim to having walked further than I recorded. Feel free to do so on my behalf if you can be bothered.

I am also aware of two other walkers (not telling you who they might be, yet) who are looking to start their circumnavigation of this island over the coming months and one other who managed to get going back in February but who sadly had to stop due to injury. From nerdy research, my best guess reckons that around 50% of those who have started the walk have made it round in one hit. But as far as I am concerned, anyone who has a go is a ‘coaster’ in my eyes and it is sometimes only bad luck that draws things to a halt. Indeed there have been many reasons for people not completing the challenge in one long slog. Bravely, many have returned later to complete it or reverted to doing it in sections. The following is a list of the reasons I could find for stopping and not one of them has been due to excessive rain, which could be viewed as a surprise to some who consider Britain to be a rather damp island:

  1. Injury or Illness (just bad luck)
  2. Injury (due to inadequate planning, lack of preparation or poorly fitting boots)
  3. Exhaustion (too fast / too many miles per day / inadequate diet)
  4. Lack of funds / resources
  5. Undefined Personal / Motivational Reasons (not telling)


Walking versus Transport

These days, my ambulant abilities seem to be almost solely restricted to mechanically assisted travel – be it by plane, train or automobile. The only walking I really seem to accomplish is along endlessly long airport corridors towing a mid-sized wheely-bin load of cabin luggage supplemented by an eternally preferable mile or so of evening dog walking. So I thought that maybe it was time, if only because I haven’t had one for a while, to share a grumpy old moan about modern transport in Britain and beyond.

So – here goes.

Firstly: Driving. From now on, I vow to avoid the M1 at all costs. It is a hateful hell-hole of a road which just seems to have an endless series of speed restrictions and road works. If you need to get anywhere in good time you need to plan for an additional hour, or maybe two – particularly if your departure time matches that of the daily commuters. And if you dare to attempt to travel it’s length in the middle of the night, to get to an airport at stupid o’clock, then forget it: It will be closed at random places beyond any Satnav system knowledge and any diversion will sit you in a 3 a.m. traffic jam in the middle of nowhere. It is not a road – it is an obstacle course! Other roads to avoid include the M42, M5, M6 and the A1 North of Doncaster. Oh and the M74 – if only because of the ar****les in white vans hiding alongside bridges with speed cameras!

Secondly: It’s official. I really hate airports! I’m not going to boast about my supposedly extensive and exotic travels recently, as I want to be absolutely clear in expressing that international travel really isn’t glamorous these days. I’ve seen more than my fair share of terminals in recent months, particularly Heathrow T5, and though I still manage to maintain an air of pleasantry and smiles, deep inside all I can see is an endless myriad of:

  1. Parking nightmares. If you park within a mile of the airport it, you might need to up the credit limit on your MasterCard. In a word – extortionate!
  2. Transfer buses – a soulless mode of transport made worse by having to wait for one in a howling winter gale underneath T5.
  3. Queues – oh my god are airports good at queues – even if you are a fast-track flyer.
  4. Dragged hand luggage – just the best trip hazard going
  5. Security checks – requiring you to unpack, dismantle and repack a perfectly organised set of personal essentials in under a minute. I now understand why some people are so adept at dismantling and reassembling assault rifles.
  6. Pungent perfume smells, war-painted shop assistants and numerous pointless designer shops devoid of clientele.
  7. Miserable looking business travellers who huff at you if you cross their path.
  8. People rushing to get on the plane first. That one always baffles me – do they just want a nice big slot for their cabin bag?
  9. Overly long corridors: Yesterday I clocked up 2 miles …. inside two airports!
  10. Escalators up, then down and then in, out and shake it all about.
  11. Electronic passport gates that just don’t work and thus deposit you in another queue.
  12. Occasional dodgy foreign airport officials looking to bleed you of the odd dollar or fifty just to get in the country.
  13. Overly cheesy airline crew who try to convince you that flying with them is a pleasure
  14. And the treat of flying business class spoilt by a bloke in the next seat with a non-stop sneezing affliction and a disturbing twitch.

Thirdly: Rail travel. To be brutally honest, trains are my favourite mode of travel, but with a few conditions thrown in:

  1. I’m not travelling at rush hour and paying through the nose to stand next to a draughty door.
  2. I’m not sitting next to a student whose head-phoned music rhythmically psssts my ears like a night time blood seeking mosquito.
  3. I’m not sitting in the same carriage as someone who likes to shout down the phone and inform the world that he is “on the train!”
  4. I’m not sitting in a train with a small collection of loud mouthed, mildly threatening, drunk, tattooed prats.
  5. The train isn’t sitting at a red light for hours with the vague excuses of a “another broken down train blocking the line” crackling through the tannoy.
  6. My train’s departing platform hasn’t been changed with less than a two minute warning.
  7. It’s not cancelled!

All in all, travel seems to have lost some of it’s glitz. Yes, it is lovely to see new places and meet new people. Yes, I enjoy people watching and smiling wryly at those whose stress levels get a bit frayed.  Yes, I like a window seat to watch the world below or the countryside whistle past. Yes, I sometimes like the challenge of getting from A to B without mishap and with just a little bit of comfort time to spare. Yes, I even quite like the occasional bumpy landing (thanks Storm Doris) or waiting on the runway during heavy snow and watching the plane get de-iced.  But hell – I prefer walking!



You will be toastie this Christmas!

TRESPASS: Retreat Mens Down Jacket

Whether you are a Brexiteer or not, my outdoor clothing choice has always been drawn towards British brands. It might be something to do with our usually naff weather but one thing we seem to be truly good at is designing top quality outdoor kit. Having used predominantly British clothing for my entire coast walk, I was delighted to be asked to test a Trespass Retreat Men’s Down Jacket


The jacket is not one I would normally use for heavy trekking or an adventure where sweating might be a tad profuse, but for general low energy strolling, a bit of winter dog walking, sitting around the campsite or watching your favourite football / rugby team at their latest home defeat, this jacket is a real winner. To say it is cosy is a minor understatement. With authentic down insulation (80% down / 20% feather – power fill 600) it is lightweight, yet as snug as any bugs favourite sleeping bag.

An easy to pull on padded winter jacket, it is perfectly and equally suitable for those chilly spring, autumn or Scottish summer evenings without making you look like the latest incarnation of The Michelin Man.  The Retreat Men’s Down Jacket is a luxurious treat and if you find yourself glowing a little more than you should whilst roasting your chestnuts, then just lower the zip….simples.

With 2 lower zipped pockets and 1 internal zipped chest pocket you can keep your precious  phone or wallet safe and make sure that you aren’t bereft of cash for your round of mulled wine or warm mead at the Christmas market. Coming in black with a discreet logo, I can definitely recommend the Retreat Men’s Down Jacket as an excellent option for cold, dry, wintry days.

Don’t forget the women’s jacket equivalent either – Letty Woman’s Down Jacket

How About A Prize Winning Book for Christmas?

create_winner_seal-phpI have to say that I am genuinely and very pleasantly surprised, if not a little shocked!

Not that I am one to brag….err….too much. But it appears that my little tome has won first prize in its category at the 2016 International Photography Awards (IPA).

Now surely that must make it a half-decent Christmas pressie for someone you might love, like, occasionally tolerate, or even cross the road to avoid.

Much though it is truly grand to be awarded a gong of any kind, the manner in which I discovered I had won something was a reflection of my level of expectation.

Late last night I opened what I thought was junk mail from the IPA only to find a request for a high resolution image for the new IPA Book of Photography, featuring this year’s winning images. I responded asking them if they were sure they wanted something from me, as I didn’t think I had won anything. Err….wrong Mr Hill.   And now a few things began to dawn on me. Why was it that I had received an invitation to attend the awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York last month? Maybe it wasn’t just an invitation to part with a huge wad of cash in air fares and tickets to an event they were promoting. Anyway, the invitation was very short notice and though they said that the tickets were complimentary I had some work booked in Sweden (which was then cancelled at even shorter notice…ho hum).

Nonetheless, I never suspected that I really stood a chance when the entry was sent off. Nor was I even sure that the competition was a big deal or particularly well recognised. Err….wrong Mr Hill. Maybe my category was a little low on entries? Err….wrong Mr Hill. So hey – I’m pretty chuffed! Thanks guys!

Maybe now I can actually feed a little from this and get those hefty boxes of books shifted from my study. So if you fancy buying a book or ten for someone this Christmas, or for a birthday or even just for the hell of it, then please do?  Signed copies won’t increase the value – but I can still hold a pen.




A professionally reviewed book – gulp!

Undoubtedly there are many people out there who are well versed in the demons to be found within the publishing world and their experience is probably vastly superior to any that I will ever have. For this first-timer, the expectation / dread of an independent analysis of my book has been a scary thought.

So when I found my first truly detailed and professional review I opened it with a great deal of trepidation, as if I were back at school bracing myself for another assassination by my consistent, if less than encouraging, English teacher. In short, I was expecting it to be slammed for grammatical errors and general ineptitude.

However, having read it and digested both the positives and negatives written by Alex Roddie at UKHillwalking, all I can say is….Bang On…. much appreciated Alex!UKH-logo_400x400“….this tremendously fun book about one man’s 5,000-mile trek around the British coastline……it’s a glossy coffee-table book, lavishly illustrated with dozens of photographs, including some really good double-page shots. ….. this is very much a book to dip in and out of as well as read cover to cover.”

On the negatives, he certainly hits the spot in sussing that I was struggling to edit the book and find a narrative beyond the original blog that worked. I really could have used his professional skills in identifying where I could trim out the excess prose and be a little more finite. However, if you know me, you will know that I can ramble on (‘scuse the pun) a bit and that maybe I needed to shrink the dull bits, even if I believed that they were just as important – if only to demonstrate the full flavour of the walk.

“……despite its many good qualities, the book does tend to become a little repetitive in places. Let’s face it, the day-to-day routine of walking around the coast isn’t that engaging to read about even if you’re the most committed outdoor enthusiast…..”

On the positives. All I can say is thank you Alex. It really is lovely to know that he saw through my facade to appreciate that I don’t like taking life or myself too seriously.

“The narrative is unfailingly positive and light-hearted, with a good sprinkling of humour and plenty of commentary on the landscapes he’s walking through…………The book has a cheerful sense of fun and I think it takes itself less seriously than many outdoor tomes.”

“……this book grew on me and I found myself enthralled by the gradual process of life on the trail supplanting normal life, becoming ordinary in itself, so that the inevitable return home became the next big adventure.” 

So genuinely – thanks again Alex. You can clearly express yourself far more succinctly than I ever could.

Read the full review here.





Well…..I wasn’t quite as high up on the bill as Scouting for Girls and Toploader at the Keswick Mountain Festival, but I did get a decent audience. A big thanks to those of you who came and listened to my ramblings in the adventure tipi, I hope you enjoyed my brief talk. It seems the bars and music emptied most of the festival goers of their cash by Sunday morning and book sales were …..errr tough. I think I might have spent a tad more cash than I took….ho dee hum!DSCF6880For all you outdoorsy types – I can certainly recommend KMF. Whether you are a lycra clad fitness fanatic who the enjoys the masochistic pleasures of participating in a 50km trail race or you prefer queuing for the bar and some live music (that’s much more my category) – then there is something for everyone. I think this could be on my calendar for next year. Either way – you can always enjoy people watching and looking out for all the expensive outdoor clothing logos amidst a sea of waterproofs and woolly hats.DSCF6935THANK YOU… AND GOODNIGHT #KMF2016!!


Talking not walking

After a highly depressing weekend in the Peak District, where I can confirm that my fitness has now returned to a rather pathetic, flabby level – I have instead taken to “flogging a dead horse” and giving a few talks about my coast walk whilst attempting to flog a few books.  I have a few dates coming up, but the first one is next weekend (11:30am, 22nd May) at the Keswick Mountain Festival. It sounds as if it is cracking weekend for any outdoorsy types, with live music, exhibitors, races, loads of land and water based activities, some top notch speakers and me. So if you are coming along, please pop in and say hi and maybe let me persuade you to part with your hard earned cash for a copy of my book / door stop.

Click on the pictures below for more info.

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Keswick Mountain Festival