More Junk Mail?

Like the vast majority of us, many emails hit my spam mailbox every single day and most of them are complete and utter junk. Beyond the usual array of phishing rubbish, irritating PPI warriors and offers from any shop I may have once used in the last ten years, this one turned up last night.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.49.25

Considering I haven’t bought or sold anything on eBay for a few years it’s arrival has generated a few questions. For info: An email promoting pre-planned funerals sat a little disturbingly below this one.

  1. How do they know?
  2. Who the hell is selling a copy on eBay?
  3. And at what price?

Further investigation reassuringly revealed that it wasn’t another cut price bookseller taking a huge wedge from my cover price and selling it at £1.99. I know it’s unlikely to make any best seller list, but for me it’s nice to get it out there and attempt to recover a few of my costs.

If you haven’t bought it already, why not buy it direct from me or my publisher. Please visit MY BOOK page for details on how you can get it.

P.S. For the curious types reading this far down any of my blatantly promotional and slightly self-indulgent posts….my spam mail no longer attracts junk advertising viagra or male appendage enlargement products. Strangely I am little disappointed. I must be beyond the point of no return!

I forgot to mention the title…doh!

Well – for you die hard types who still have some vague interest, I had to get out of bed at silly o’clock yesterday for a brief appearance on the most listened to radio show in….errr….my house this weekend.  A welcome cup of tea and a quick chat with Monica Winfield at BBC Radio Leicester again and there I was attempting to plug my book whilst  pathetically failing to mention the title of it throughout the entire interview….hmmm! However, if you know me at all, you will know that getting anything more than a monosyllabic “ugg” out of me at that time of day is a minor miracle. Feel free to have a listen at 1:43:11 into the program (with an embarrassing gushing preview at 0:17:29) and if you want to order your book direct from me or any of the usual retailers, go on – order one, two or twenty copies – they make great door stops. And if you do buy it direct from me, you will help me get the boxes out of the house before the floor gives way.


At Last!


Yes! You’ve seen the website, you’ve maybe worn the T-shirt. Now you can own the book too!

You can order it directly from me via Paypal with free UK wide P&P or for friends I would happily give bank account details to allow a direct transfer or even an old fashioned cheque. Clearly I would much prefer to sell it to you direct as it avoids the middle man and I will gladly sign it if you ask – but I doubt whether my scrawl will improve the value.

If you can’t settle by Paypal or bank transfer – you can buy it hot off the press from Vertebrate Publishing or from a number of other well known online retailers. It is also available to purchase via Waterstones and Foyles plus any independent book store where it can be ordered if not in stock. ISBN: 978-1-909461-51-2

(Note: charges for delivery beyond the UK will be made at cost – ask for a quote)
Peter Hill Cover 4


If you do buy it elsewhere please leave a nice review – I’m not an experienced author expecting great literary acclaim for my latest masterpiece. It’s gently written as a journal, adapted directly from my blog, illustrated with 300 photographs and supplemented with a few tongue in cheek driver’s comments. And yes it was proof read, god knows how many times …..and I’ve still found a couple of errors….grrrr. If you buy enough, I promise to make it perfect for any reprint and your 1st edition will thus become a valuable rarity….ehem….cough cough.

On clicking the cover image the you will be directed to my contact page. Please complete your details and I will forward you a Paypal invoice when I see the email. On payment I will then dispatch the book as soon as I can get myself to the nearest Post Office – which is now 8 miles away…sigh! Delivery will be 2nd Class via Royal Mail.

Peter Hill Cover 4-1

Another Walker …and more.

You hear nothing from me and my website for ages and then I get all active again. Well why not….after all there are a few things happening:

FIRSTLY: Watch out, there is another walker about! Natalia Spencer set off from Durdle Door on 14th February and is trying to follow my clockwise route. She is raising money for Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal (The Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity) and is doing the walk in memory of her 5yr old daughter, Elizabeth, who she sadly lost following a short illness last December. You can follow her progress and buddy beacon via the link below and please give her a little of your support if you can.


SECONDLY: I have now added a new page with a summary of ‘Other Walkers’ who have completed the walk around Britain without stopping. Taking much of the information from David Cotton’s excellent website, I have updated the links and added a bit more info where I could find it. Hopefully you can use it as a resource for coastal walking or for general interest if you like that sort of thing. There are links to all the other books I have found about walking the coast – though some of them are no longer in print.

THIRDLY: My book is due out imminently…whahay! Watch this space for news over the coming days. Don’t expect a literary masterpiece. But I do hope you will find it a nice gentle read adapted directly from my blog – only now you don’t have to read it in reverse order. Corrected for typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical nightmares (though I have frustratingly found a couple more in the final print), with added drivers’ diary comments and 300 photos – I’m actually chuffed that it looks OK. I hope that you will enjoy it too.

A Short Walk and an Award or Two

What with my more mundane life style firmly back on track and my waistline slowly returning to more typical dimensions, recent events have been a little more encouraging. Though regular work is still hard to come by I am nevertheless not entirely idle. Certainly the garden is looking a little more presentable, even if many of the weeds are still failing to motivate me enough to really want to dig them all out.

So what has become of GB Coast Walk and any news it might still generate?

  • At the SIA Awards dinner in Birmingham last week I was nominated and unexp11254277_1105692542780740_7943999245219318122_nectedly won their Community Star Award. It was a real honour to be invited and to sit in a room full of such hugely inspirational people. In truth I was a little embarrassed to receive the award and felt more than a little fraudulent for the recognition I received for completing something I had rather selfishly dreamt of doing.Yes the charity side of the walk became increasingly important with every step I took. Yes I felt pressured to raise as much as I could and indeed my fund raising frustrations sometimes got the better of me. But maybe it wasn’t me who deserved the thanks but all the people who gave money in person and via my Virginmoneygiving page who really needed thanking. The page is still open for anyone who still fancies chipping in. Hopefully the £16,000+ raised to date will help make a difference and I can only thank good friends Graham (SIA) and Rik (MSNTC) for all their support, encouragement and inspiration along the way. The only thing that really caught me off guard is that I wasn’t expecting to win and hadn’t prepared an acceptance speech. My incoherent and shaky handed mumble on stage was a little out of character for those who know my usual ease at standing up and talking, so I kept it to a few words to save further embarrassment.
  • As you may or may not know, this site was also up for Simply Hike’s outdoor bloFINALIST-GB-Coast-Walkg of the year award. It didn’t quite win but apparently it was very close with only the odd vote in it. However, Simply Hike have honoured me with a Finalist’s award and apparently I get a trophy. So once again I thank all of you who voted for GBCoastWalk and I hope that you can still find something on this site to keep you interested as I intend to slowly develop it into more of a reference site for British Coast walkers…. ideas welcome!
  • The routes now published on Viewranger are receiving quite a bit of interest and I ho11167950_10153768179559942_3803066591691673716_npe that they continue to do so. They are all available for download and the links are all live on my ROUTES page. I think that the per mile cost is very reasonable, with my favourite routes a little more expensive than some of the others. I have identified my Top 20 and Top 50 routes and might well do some more work on these to promote them further.
  • I have now produced a manuscript from my original blog and corrected it for typos and grammatical ineptitude. I still hope that I can get a book published of my walk last year and include all of my favourite photos.  Though completely expected, it is a smidge depressing to get repeatedly rejected by publishers or agents and even more depressing to not even get a response. Nevertheless, I understand that they have huge piles of poo to delve through and my work is probably just a small part of that steaming heap. If I cannot find someone foolhardy enough to pick up my photos and rambling tale I will dip into google and see if self-publishing with my limited expertise is a viable option……unless anyone has any good leads or ideas???
  • And…. what of my walking? Well apart from short strolls with the dogs every day I did manage to venture out with a few friends and a tent into Derbyshire. I can’t say that the weekend was great for anyone’s health. I proved that I’m a bit of lightweight these days as I hadn’t drunk as much beer as that nor had I played drinking games for 30 years. But we did cover a few undulating miles of Peaks and dales and my stomach muscles still hurt from laughing so much. I have to admit that they look like a posing bunch of ageing rock stars in the photo, but look a little closer and I reckon there is evidence of hard breathing and a tad of perspiration.


Still Time to Vote – just!

While getting the beers in and waiting for the FA Cup final you still have time to choose GB Coast Walk for the Simply Hike Blog Awards (Hiking & Walking Section) – the vote closes Sunday 31st May.


Thanks to all of you who have voted already, please pass the word around as I’m not very good at this campaigning lark. Yes, I might cynically suspect that Simply Hike’s mailing list is probably the main beneficiary – but hey why not, they sell some good kit and I haven’t won anything like this before. I’m not even sure what the prize is.

All Routes Now Published

Since completing my walk I haven’t spent all of my time thumb twiddling. I have now managed to convert ALL 247 of my GPS tracks into routes on ViewRanger. I have corrected them for some of my minor detours and errors and have added a daily photo, notes about the terrain and a very brief description on what to expect. These are available for viewing and uploading for your own use if you fancy a go at any of my stages. I have also created six curated collections covering the more popular walking areas.

Click Here To See All The Routes ViewRanger_Logo_2

AND – if you haven’t already – PLEASE VOTE FOR ME by 31st May in the hiking and walking section of the Simply Hike Blog Awards.

Click Here To Vote



Normal Service Resumes???

W/C 7th December, Leicestershire: Home

DSCF6294DSCF6296I might have made it home but I was still feeling numb. The last few days had all been more than a little surreal and though many people had kindly told me what an extraordinary feat I had just completed, I didn’t feel as if I had done anything special. I was still the same pretty ordinary person and as far as I could tell I hadn’t changed in any way, other than losing a fair bit of weight and developing two small tree trunks for legs. As far as I was concerned, if I could do it, pretty much any able-bodied person could. The only things that held me back from doing it sooner were the opportunity and support to do it and for that I was a lucky bunny. Walking had just become a normal daily activity with normal daily routines. Nothing at home would seem normal and I didn’t have any routines.


According to all reports, life at home had been far tougher than walking around the coast. Everything was intact and certainly tidier than when I left my chaotic mess back in February. The house was immaculate and I was loathed to untidy things by emptying my rubbish back inside. Kate had more than done her bit and by lunchtime on day one of my return I had emptied the entire contents of Snickers into one spotless room, thus converting it into a large unsightly heap of plastic bags. Snickers had done me proud and by emptying and winterising her, she quickly lost the homely weather shelter feel she had come to represent. It was now just an anonymous motorhome with a few travel stickers to show off and one I needed to sell fast to make sure that bills could be paid beyond Christmas.

After a cracking home cooked roast lamb Sunday lunch, I took the dogs out for a quick stroll around the village and returned to Kate and nice fire in the log burner. A nice homely first fire of the winter was a perfect welcome back to reality. Kate had left a very large scented candle on top of the stove and was kept from dozing off on the sofa by a repetitive waxy drip. A quick mop up with some kitchen towels would solve that and the smell was actually very nice. Putting the wax soaked kitchen roll on to the fire was the mistake and that was, I cannot deny it, my idea. The roar up the chimney was that of a smelting furnace and I nipped outside to see a large smoke plume indicating that a new pope had been duly elected in a Leicestershire village. However, the smoke was followed by sparks, lots of them. Inside again, a peek up the chimney confirmed that it was indeed burning very nicely. A quick 999 call and the discharge of a small powder extinguisher helped ease the threat to the thatched roof of the cottage next door. But it wasn’t until three firemen had fully watered things down and removed a few bucket loads of smouldering debris that Kate saw the funnier side of life again. The experience had briefly thrilled one teenage daughter enough to Snapchat her friends but the post match summary was always going to blame me and as I’d forgotten to mention that the chimney needed a sweep when I left back in February, the root cause of this incident was undoubtedly sitting in my domain.

With the house looking like a tornado had swept through, I was home. Despite the slow loathing acceptance of a slightly sulky large four-pawed male, two missed dogs were soon happily trudging their muddy paws throughout the house, laundry piles were chest high and a combined smell of scented candle and smouldering chimney filled the air.

Over the next few days I pfaffed around the house trying to put some order back into my life. Gbcoastwalk still dominated and would as likely do so for a few weeks what with the self-imposed secrecy of the drivers’ diary to read, a mountain of photos to sift through and a coastal trail of emails to look at. However, with any restoration of normality would hopefully come some direction. Two priorities headed the list Christmas and work.


With the arrival home of my eldest daughter from university, Christmas had to begin first and a trip to a nearby garden centre with both girls saw my youngest select the biggest and most expensive tree. My guilt of absence made me buy it and it was soon netted and squashed into the back of my freshly taxed and serviced car with a lingering doubt that it wouldn’t actually fit in the room for which it was intended. It didn’t. Soon I was delving into the garage for a saw, a chisel or two and eventually my electric planer. An hour later and with an additional scissor applied top trim it fitted, just.


The only thing left for me to do was the usual untangling of wires ceremony and a bulb fiddling session to find a couple of decent working sets and I left the girls to decorate without my usual interfering hand. Maybe I had changed a smidge.

As for work? I had none. The bills needed paying and urgently. My budget for the year would run out in January and I would have little option other than to find proper work again. It was unlikely that the walk would lead me in a different direction, but I still hoped that some of the photos and maybe even a write up or book of my rather strange year might reap a few mortgage relieving pennies. A book had been suggested by quite a posse of friends and blog readers. It was very kind of them to do so, but I supposed that everyone would just have to wait and see. With little confidence in my punctuation and grammatical skills, I was still to be convinced. In the meantime and with no other projects or plans even vaguely considered, some sort of normal service resumes. I must plan to make a plan. At least I know I can knock up a workable plan.

So therein lies a series of 101 blogs. Whether they are worthy of keeping, only time will tell. A few GBcoastwalk questions remain: 1) Do I continue to blog?  2) Do I now remodel this website into a coastal walk reference? 3) Which Flickr photos are the best? 4) What the hell do I do with over 1,300 photos? 5) Book or no book? 6) Anyone want to buy a motorhome?

With one big item ticked off my bucket list I now know that dreaming up the idea was the madness, believing I could do it was the tough bit and achieving it required hard work and single-minded dedication. The last element could have alienated my family and the outcome of my selfish quest needed their full support to succeed, for which I am eternally thankful. I am also thankful to the entire support crew for their time, their money and for holding their nerve when driving Snickers down narrow lanes (see credits page). The one thing I have learnt more than anything is that I have a large band of truly great family, friends and relatives.


Completing the Red Line

Stage 247, 6th December: Warsash to Southampton 

I don’t think anything had really registered with me the previous evening. Though clearly something must have gone on in my head, because for the very first time on this trip I struggled to get to sleep. One trivial worry was high on my list of things swirling about my brain purely because I had  become obsessed with keeping to schedule. I knew I had one more ferry to catch and that despite a phone call yesterday to check it would be running, it was out of my control and I wanted to make sure that I finished on time as close to midday as possible. I knew Kate was arranging a small gathering and that press might be in attendance, so I knew I couldn’t let anyone down.

As to why I had become obsessed with keeping to schedule was now clear. When I set out back in February I really wasn’t convinced that my knees would hold out beyond two weeks. Two old knee operations and plenty of grumbles over the years had given me good reason to doubt my physical capability. I also suspected that man-flu or worse would strike at least once, so I had also quietly built-in two weeks of fat into my plan with the true aim of getting home before Christmas. I barely believed that I would stay bang on my original schedule throughout and end the walk on the day I had planned over a year ago. Yes my knees had grumbled occasionally, yes I had one minor cold and one nasty bout of gastroenteritis.  I’d tried my best to stay disciplined and make sure I ended each week on target, if only to be in the right place for my support crew changeover and be exactly where they hoped they would be when they had pledged their week driving Snickers for me.

With all this careful planning, discipline and strict routine of walking Sunday through to Friday week after week, I somehow completely forgot that walking on a Saturday meant that I needed to set my alarm. I overslept.

With barely twenty minutes to complete my usual morning routine, I didn’t have time to dwell on things to come over my last mug of tea and bowl of Oatibix. I didn’t have time to enjoy my last departure or consider my last 9.5 miles into Southampton. I just locked the van, dumped two bags of rubbish in the campsite bins and took a call from BBC Radio Leicester all in one vaguely coordinated rush.

Once the radio interview was over I relaxed a bit and strode towards the ferry due to carry me across the River Hamble. I needn’t have worried. As I arrived at a frost covered jetty a small bright pink boat began chugging its way over from the opposite bank. As it pulled in, the ferryman told me that he had seen me as a vague black shadow through the bright low winter sun and was expecting me. He knew it was my last ferry and that it was important to me. I asked him how much I owed and the response was “no charge”.  Generosity from strangers had been a feature of this walk and to have it reaffirmed on my last day was a truly grand reminder.  I had repeatedly saw and benefitted from small acts of generosity and the majority had been from individuals and small organisations. Bigger organisations mostly, though not always, had hidden behind dubious small-minded rules and policies. Only heartfelt and secretive acts of some of their independently minded staff had occasionally bypassed their official doorman, known more politely as a Corporate Social Responsibility Manager.  I wasn’t a celebrity and I didn’t have huge press coverage, so any payback or mutual back scratching was beyond my ability. I had rather cynically calculated that my corporate value on this walk was nil.


My route took me on around Hamble alongside the mirror calm river, adorned with a priceless collection of yachts and boats all berthed and hunkered down for the winter. I stepped carefully along a few muddy woodland paths trying not to dirty my trousers too much for my arrival back in Mayflower Park.


I was soon on the banks of Southampton Water with the oil refinery at Fawley hogging the view across the far bank on my left as a large oil terminal haunted me on my right. As the ghosts passed by, the path opened out to tarmac and the usual array of dog-walkers and the normal daily life of Netley approached. To acknowledge my return to normality I made a quick stop for a cheese and bacon turnover and a lottery ticket. I paused for a minute to enjoy my unusual snack by the ruins of Netley Abbey before making my way up Weston Shore and turn up the River Itchen for my last bridge.

I paused briefly at the bridge to make sure I had everything in place and that I wasn’t sporting any unsightly nasal dew-drop or cheese and bacon chin stripe. For my last mile I walked with a few carefully chosen songs playing on my iPod. They drowned out all background city noise and immediately transported me back to a few of the favourite places I had passed through over the last nine and a half months.


I turned the corner into Mayflower Park and caught sight of my daughters before they saw me. They were waiting a few hundred yards shy of my official finish and as I packed away my iPod I couldn’t hide the huge lump in my throat or the welling up going on in my tear ducts. A pause for a huge hug from both girls gave me a chance to compose myself before a BBC cameraman nudged in to introduce himself and track along with us for the last few yards.



A welcome party had gathered around Snickers parked at the far end of the car park bedecked with a large congratulatory banner across her bonnet making her look, rather inappropriately,  as if she was sporting a Miss World sash.  I thought that the big balloon tied to her wing mirror was probably holding it in place and that, along with a few welcoming shouts, made me smile as a crowd of fifty odd friends and family cheered and clapped me

DSCF6284aacross a red tape held by Graham (SIA) and Rik (MSNTC) for a tight and welcome hug from a waiting Kate. I was 28 seconds late. A glass of bubbly was pushed into my hand as I made my way through everyone for a hug, a kiss, a more manly handshake or two and a round of thanks. I tried not to miss anyone and convinced myself that I had, it wasn’t intentional as I’m sure I wasn’t entirely compos mentis, but I really wanted to thank everyone for their support.



Confusion and numbness were paramount and after a quick local television interview and another live feed radio interview we all made our way anticlockwise around Britain for a few hundred yards to the warmth of a Thai restaurant to enjoy a small feast and a cracking coast walk congratulatory cake.






I was truly chuffed that so many turned out to see me in and I tried my very best to give my unreserved thanks all round, but whatever I said just felt too small for what had been a huge group effort to help one slightly selfish man achieve a dream.  Yes, it would have been lovely to have everyone there who had supported me, but it would also have been far too much to expect everyone to come, as I have always been very aware that real lives have real commitments and that the last year of my life has hidden me from both. By way of this blog I hope that my thanks reach each and every one of my supporters.


I promised publicly that I had no intention of ever repeating the feat, but I also promised that if anyone who helped me had a dream that required some support to achieve, I would happily return the favour. The journey back to Leicestershire was at the wheel of Snickers. She drove perfectly and cruised us home easily in fifth gear at over 60 mph with barely a rattle or roll. I think she had been well and truly run-in and had begrudgingly grown to like us as much as many of her drivers had grown to like her – well, that’s what they said.  At least one dog remembered me when I got home. I’m sure the big fella will forgive me in a few days after a long muddy walk or two around a few Leicestershire fields.



Nearly But Not Quite

Stage 244, 3rd December: West Wittering to Chidham

It was a decidedly crisp chilly December dawn that gave me a few early minutes on the soft sand at West Wittering. A low cold sun bleached the sand with its glare and flattened the colours of the brightly coloured beach huts to pastel shades. Winter had confirmed its arrival with the addition of a biting wind on my face as I turned North and East up the Chichester Channel.


If the rich mans ghetto at Aldwick Bay was a coarse flashy and tacky show of wealth, then West Itchenor and Westlands were home to a much wider socio-economic spectrum of billionaires all the way down to multi-millionaires.  This was serious and old money country. The houses in Aldwick would be little more than a summer-house in the garden to these residents. Yet other than the sheer size of the mansions lining the river front, none of it felt or looked quite so ostentatious, it just exuded established class with barely a private plated 4×4 in sight.

I topped out the estuary at Fishbourne having crossed the lock gates at the expensively well populated Chichester Marina and briefly scared the living daylights out of a woman. I did warn her with a subtle cough as I came up on her from behind but she was engrossed in something on her mobile phone and literally jumped back as a creep dressed in black in a woolly hat and carrying a stick came alongside her.

I briefly turned back down the Chichester Channel to Bosham Hoe and back up another inlet for Bosham village. I’d been warned to time my walk through Bosham as the roads and paths get flooded with each high tide. I couldn’t have timed it better as the low tide path across the estuary was fully available and a small corner was cut giving me enough time to complete the day before the already dipping sun vanished below the horizon.


Stage 245, 4th December: Chidham to Eastney, Southsea

Following a lovely evening spent in the company of a couple of his old family friends, John’s stint filling in driving Snickers for a vital few days came to a close and he headed off to swap keys with James and get back to Brighton to fulfil his many alternative medical appointments to sort out a dodgy shoulder.

Twenty minutes out and my 5,000 mile landmark came and went ignominiously at Cullimers Pond. Throughout the entire walk I had been religiously recording my cumulative mileage total against my original estimate of 5,032. It was the one thing I had always considered beyond a couple of days in advance. It was the one thing I always kept my eye on. It was the one target I always wanted to exceed. My plan told me that I should complete 5,033 miles and it had never given me much leeway if my daily mileage didn’t live up to expectation. Over the last nine and a half months I had been both in front and behind my projection and more often than not frighteningly close. For the last few weeks I had relaxed in the knowledge that I’d got things pretty much right and I now reckoned my final total would be nearer to 5,045. So when the 5,000 came and went, I wasn’t elated, nor was I deflated. I just felt relaxed that I didn’t have to worry about finishing the entire walk on 4,999.

More sea-wall took me around Cobnor Point with bridged sections now sacrificing farmland back to the sea, making the pathway into a curving causeway rather than a permanent headland. Thorney Island was quickly bypassed and by Emsworth I was back in Hampshire and soon back on The Solent Way. The circle was almost complete and my mind now overloaded with targets achieved.


The weather was decidedly dull. It was a heavy lead grey sky and cold with a mist of rain in the air, definitely a mizzle. Gladly, the walking wasn’t dull. It wasn’t thrilling either, but with lots of twists and turns in the path the minor scene changes kept my interest. With my mind travelling at a million miles per hour, I barely noticed Hayling Island to my left as I swept passed the bridge where flashing blue lights indicated a distant road accident.

Langstone and Brockhampton came and went quickly too and a last dip down around the headland at Farlington Marshes took me back to the aural discomfort of road noise and the suburbs of Portsmouth. My last march South took me to Eastney and a meeting with James for our one and only evening together catching up on work gossip and a damn good pub meal. As a good old work friend I had always wanted James to come along for a week. Like many of my friends who work for themselves, his work commitments meant that he had found it difficult to commit to a guaranteed slot, but to have his company for even one night was grand.

Stage 246, 5th December: Eastney to Warsash

James dropped me back in Eastney and drove off back to Maidenhead to leave me to walk into camp at Warsash.

For my last full day I had planned to take things easy and the seafront of Southsea was a stroll which became a sprint as a cold Northwesterly breeze chilled two cups of tea and a bowl full of milky Oatibix. For reasons known to the local councils and probably the occasional well-known celebrity or two, heavily populated towns and cities close many of their public toilets in the winter. So when a walker with a gallon of chilled tea and milk onboard cannot find a tree or bush to sneak behind his gait becomes a hurried pigeon footed mince as the urgency to avoid a warm legged accident becoming a reality increases.  Fortunately Southsea pier came to the rescue, or so I thought. 20p for a pee and no change. A knock on the window of a man probably called Desperate Dan, revealed a true British official with no imagination or vague sense of mercy, who didn’t carry change and who wouldn’t let in a man about to wet himself. Fortunately a merciful passer-by flicked 20p in my direction, but it rolled tantalisingly under the barrier and out of my reach. At the offer of a fiver to let me in, the official relented and he entered through the exit barrier to retrieve the rogue coin – my dignity was safe.


Now relaxed I was able to enjoy Portsmouth with the shapely curve of its Spinnaker Tower overseeing all sea movement for miles around as prolific boat traffic filled a marine equivalent of the M25. A quick anonymous trip on the Gosport Ferry took me to my last bit of peace and quiet around Gilkicker Point and across my last MOD range and an empty shingle beach at Browndown.

At Lee on Solent my phone buzzed up a missed call from a private number. Voicemail gave me the telephone number of a BBC TV chap who wanted to cover my final day and return to Southampton tomorrow. I tried to remember the number he repeated but my brain was frazzled and I just couldn’t remember the whole number despite three retries. I felt disappointed that I couldn’t do something that in normal circumstances wouldn’t test me one bit but relented and nipped into a newsagent in search of a cheap pen that writes on the back of a hand. Media interest was, at last, growing and I suspected a few friends had intervened.


A brief low cliff walk and a tame muddy path into Warsash and my final night aboard Snickers was one spent alone. I treated myself to a steak in peppercorn sauce with creamy mash made with french mustard and a tin of baked beans – well I was sleeping alone. The end was truly nigh and everything felt a little quiet, very still and more than a little alien. I just wanted to get home now and anything else was just a blur. Tomorrow would be a very strange day and one I hoped I would remember fondly.

to be continued……