I had a bit of a blinding flash last night. I was thinking about long distance paths (as you do), wondering what I would like to do next year and thoughts were spilling through my head at a fine rate. I was thinking about having another crack at Offa’s Dyke, I thought about doing the Pennine Way again and then I thought about the Cape Wrath Trail and soon enough my mind turned to Lands End to John O’Groats.
LEJOG has been on my To-Do list for three years or more now and I’ve always considered it to be a long-term ambition, something I’m only going to be able to do once the mortgage has been paid off and perhaps not something I can do until I’ve retired – but I suddenly decided that I’m not going to keep putting it off and off, I’m not going to have it hanging there like an unattainable goal – I’m actually going to make it happen – and soon.
I’m 48 this year and my knees aren’t getting any younger – the rest of me is surprisingly, I’m fitter than ever, walking more miles than ever and feeling very chipper, but my knees are rattled and they are going to need some serious work soon I think. I decided that for my 50th birthday I want to arrive in John O’Groats, having walked the 1000 miles or so from Lands End. Perhaps then I can retire these knees and get some new ones!
In order to achieve this goal I have to sort out a few things first:
- Arrange with work to take three months off in 2014. This is likely to be the biggest stumbling block. If work won’t or can’t give me the time off I can’t achieve this goal. I’m completely dependent on the goodwill of my company in this respect. They are a great company to work for and I would never consider resigning just to complete this walk, so I need to persuade them that this is the right thing to do. I will need all of April, May and June off – fortunately this is the start of our financial year and this may help, as it’s often the quietest period for us. I need to have a chat with my boss, as soon as I can.
- I have a mortgage to pay, if I’m not working for three months I’m not going to be able to cover the mortgage and all the other bills that need paying each month. One of the three months off will be as annual leave so I’ll get paid for that, but the other two months (assuming I can get them off) will be unpaid leave. I need to try and arrange a mortgage holiday with my lender – a three month period when I don’t pay any mortgage.
- I need to cover the other household bills for at least two months; that means finding about £3000-£4000 that we can support the household on while I’m not working.
- I need to pay for the cost of the trip. A conservative estimate suggests I need to allow £4000 for the cost of food, accommodation and other travelling costs. Added to the living costs above that means I need to find £8000 before April 2014.
I know a lot of people walk LEJOG every year, but none of the journals seem to go into much detail about how people juggle all these considerations and costs. I’m sure I can’t be the first person to come across these.
More to follow as time goes on.