Walking my Way — John Merrill — 24th November 2014.

Many of us would walk three to ten miles and think that we had done well, but how about 215,000 miles in forty years of walk­ing!

John star­ted life having a dis­rupt­ive child­hood.  Born in London, he came to Sheffield and atten­ded Westbourne School when he was six and a half.  He was not the ideal stu­dent and was caned many times for unruly beha­viour.  His main aim was to escape school and walk on the val­leys and moors of the Peak District.

He was sent to a Quaker board­ing school at Wetherby and sub­sequently his father enabled him to go to Norway where he enjoyed climb­ing moun­tains and gla­ciers for a month…(this was all before his O level exam­in­a­tions which he failed in all sub­jects).

After a short spell work­ing in his father’s fact­ory he left and decided that walk­ing would be the main focus of his future life and to write books about the walks.  The first book was “Fifty walks in Derbyshire” and it sold 9,000 copies. His fur­ther walks then began in earnest….walking 1004 miles in 54 days in the Hebrides.  He was the first man to walk the entire British coast­line (7,000 miles of it). This earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.  He took eight­een months plan­ning the trip and walked clock­wise around the coast.  He arranged that 55 par­cels of cloth­ing and food­stuffs could be col­lec­ted at post offices along the way and got through four pairs of boots and 230 maps.  He met climbers on the top of Snowdon and re met them again, by chance, on Scafell Pike.  His ascent and des­cent of Ben Nevis in 30 minutes was a record.

John didn’t drink any water on his daily walks as his body was used to doing without it and, to stop and drink would inter­fere with his walk­ing rhythm.  Coming back down the 3000 miles of the East coast exper­i­en­cing many cliffs, he arrived at Southend on Sea where he buried 35 pairs of old socks in the sand (his shirts and shorts he only washed on a three monthly cycle!).

Subsequent walks included walk­ing across the U.S.A (2500 miles);  Mexico to Canada (2700 miles); the Camino de Santiago walks on three dif­fer­ent routes.

His walk­ing raised over £756,000 in char­ity spon­sor­ship.  He was much in demand from Radio and TV film pro­grammes as well as giving many lec­tures and slide shows about his walks.

More inform­a­tion can be found on his web­site.

We thank John for an inter­est­ing account of his walk­ing adven­tures.