Day 129 has seen 2 Miles walked, some more paperwork signed, a sponsorship secured and a sense of perspective gained.

Today was going to be all about walking. I have over the years lived for 8 years in the environ of Edinburgh and love the city deeply but have never properly explored it. Having been back a couple of times, exploring the city of Edinburgh and the beautiful hills around it became an itch I had to scratch. 

It was a very late night last night by the time I had written my post and packed my kit so I over slept this morning. I had wanted an early start so I could get to Edinburgh and get some ideas for some walks from the tourist information centre. I wanted to get to the heart of the city but was going to have to perhaps tighten my reins a little as I had already lost an hour. But I couldn’t get too upset. I had just managed, for the first time since moving to the flat, a straight 6 hours sleep and woke on my camp bed feeling rested. Breakfast taken, and packed lunch made I put on my boots, grabbed my day sack and headed for the bus stop for the 08:04 No59 bus. I had to do a long walk. I desperately needed to do a long walk. I needed to re-establish myself into the routine that was previously so successful in delivering such a lot of challenge activity which most definitely pulled me through the treatment and saw the tide turned on the tumour and the impossible made possible in only small amounts, but we had achieved some shrinkage. But the separation, coupled with the fall on the Ochils and the subsequent enforced rest and the need to leave the house and say goodbye to the children took the wind from my sails, the sparkle from my eyes and the energy from my mind, body and soul. I was surviving and finding moments of inspiration encouraged by such wonderful people such as Mirren and all of you who send me such lovely messages of encouragement and such generous offers of help. But at times I really struggled. So today was going to be the final test on the ribs and liver. The horrors of the pain in the right sided neck and arm pain two nights previously had really shaken my belief in my recovery so I needed to test it on a long walk with a pack on my back but not in the wilderness where I couldn’t be found but instead around people that could help should it all go wrong. So that was now two itches that needed scratching and the perfect solution was a long walk in Edinburgh. I jumped off the bus and made for the train station. Bought my ticket, through the ticket barrier, ran up the stairs, across the concourse and down on to platform 3 to find myself chasing the disappearing tale end of the Edinburgh train. Not too desperate. There was another train in 40 minutes and I was planning to cook a quick tea so I could always extend my timeline with the longer day light hours. I could still do a long walk. I caught the next train and settled down for the journey. Then my phone rang. I missed the call but called them back. It was my solicitor who was needing me to come into the office to sign all the paperwork giving the house to my wife. I explained that I couldn’t really come in today as I was unlikely to be back before office closing. I was away next week and until after Easter on a long planned journey to see my new Nephew Archie and do some challenge activity with family in the Lake District then Easter with my Mum. My Solicitor explained that the agreement that I had signed in the separation required that the paperwork, formally giving the house to my wife, had to be signed by the very day I was returning! I had to do a long walk today. I had to find myself again, find some routine, some discipline in leading my life on the challenge. There had to be another way, I thought, but couldn’t see one and the paperwork had to be signed. Not wanting to admit my pressing need to find myself I promised to do what I could. I arrived and hit the tourist information centre. Quickly scanned the walking book section. Found a small book of walks that opened with a gory tour of Edinburgh old town. It was a short walk of only 2 miles but would be interesting and possibly see me get back in time. I bought the book, found a Costa, bought a Mocha, sat and thought through the plan. If I did the city centre walk it wouldn’t be nearly as long as I wanted but it would get me back to Stirling on time and teach me something about the history of Edinburgh. I phoned Allie to see if she wanted a break from her studies. Did she fancy a quick walk in Edinburgh city centre? Frankly I felt like I needed the company. Allie agreed to meet me at the Costa for a walk. I had a short wait and as I waited I started to think about the impending signature. I had paid for the deposit on the house and furnished the mortgage as a home for us all to build a new future in when I left the Army. And thanks to the brilliant financial advice received from Alex Docker of St James’ Place in Edinburgh my insurance policy paid off the mortgage when I was diagnosed with the Brain Tumour. We could have a future free from debt, free from a mortgage and here was I about to sign over the house and set up a new mortgage for myself. I started to feel remarkably low and reached for my prayer card full of good quotes that would pull me out of this quandary and descent towards depression. I had left it in my jeans pocket at home. So I just bowed my head briefly and prayed. Hoped for something to cheer me up. Then I received a most remarkable text. ‘Just got back from Glasgow sorting out my current bank account. The Standing Order for Beat the Beast is set up and should be started within 24 hours. Very happy to support your considerable efforts. Well done Archie. x’ On any normal day that text should have cheered me up no end. But right at that moment it made me feel like a fraud. Here was this incredible lady Mirren with enough on her plate striding out to Glasgow to set up a Standing order for the Challenge. And what was I doing? Feeling sorry for myself and doing a measly 2 mile walk before scuttling back to Stirling, a broken man with an uncertain future, to sign over all that he had left. I was angry. I was sorry. I needed a distraction so I decided to plan the walk in detail. Picked up the book and read the notes around the directions:

  1. The walk starts at the Last Drop pub: the name refers to the public hangings that took place just outside in the Grassmarket.
  2. It was in a Tenement just off West Port from which serial killers William Burke and William Hare plied their grisly trade, murdering at least 17 local residents and delivering their bodies to the Edinburgh Medical College for dissection.
  3. Brodies close was named after the notorious Deacon Brodie who was a respected citizen by day and audacious burglar by night.
  4. Pass the old Tolbooth, one of the cities several jails and execution sites.
  5. Opposite are the City Chambers, underneath which lies Mary King’s Close. Most of the inhabitants of this busy Market Street were taken by the plague which swept the city in 1645. Believed to be haunted by those who perished, the street was abandoned and eventually covered up and used as the foundations for the City Chambers, lying forgotten until rediscovery in the 1990s.
  6. Further down the Royal Mile is the sight of the Netherbow Port , one of six gates in the old city walls. These gates and walls once enclosed the city and for poorer citizens who couldn’t afford to pay the toll to leave the squalid and overcrowded Old Town it really was their World’s End.
  7. The Canongate Tolbooth at the top of old Tolbooth Wynd was also a place of execution and would once have displayed the heads of the Old Town’s convicted criminals on spikes.
  8. Greyfriars kirkyard contains many notable gravestones as well as the Martyr’s Monument which commemorates the covenanters executed for treason by Bluidy MacKenzie.
  9. At the foot of the West Bow is another monument to the many Covenanters ‘who went to glorify God in the Grassmarket.’

You would have thought that this very walk should have been the very last walk that I should have been doing. But as I looked up with a tear in my eye to see Allie stood patiently, waiting for me to notice her appearance, I started to realise that these footnotes on the horrors of life in a medieval city were putting my own life most definitely in to perspective. So Allie and I walked and as we walked, stopping to take in the sights pointed out to us by the book and pay our quiet respects to those poor soles who had led such a wretched existence, we also talked and slowly it started to dawn on me that what I was actually going to do this very afternoon was not to scuttle back to Stirling, a broken man with an uncertain future, to sign over all that he had left. Instead I was going to break early from what I so needed to do in the form of a long walk to travel back to Stirling, stride into the Solicitors office with a smile on my face to sign some paperwork that was going to help secure the children’s future. There was no mortgage on the house. No debt on the house and by giving it over to my wife, to the children’s Mother, I was giving her and the children the security of a warm and secure roof over their heads from which they could build the future I had so very much hoped that we could have built together from that house. But even better. God had answered my prayers, brought Bob and I together to have him offer me the flat on terms that I could afford if I could find a mortgage. And today I received a wonderful text. My mortgage has been agreed!! There is still some final bits of paperwork to be done but it has been agreed in principle. I was going to stay close by and still be a part of the children’s future.

We finished the walk. Had lunch. Made a dash for the station and caught the 14:37 train that would get me into Stirling in time to go and secure the children’s future. The solicitor, Helen, in Stirling was wonderful. I had not met this particular one before but she was bright and cheerful putting me completely at ease. We sat and she started to talk me through the paperwork. Written in the language of a by gone era I had to ask Helen to slow so I could digest what it was I was signing on these multitudinous bits of paper. And as Helen took me through it all very slowly it dawned on me that I was not only signing the house over to my wife, the children’s mother, to provide a secure roof over their heads but I was in effect signing the final piece of paperwork affirming our separation. A tear dropped from my eye and rolled down my cheek as I looked up from the final signature. I apologized to Helen but then thought that I needed to bring some perspective into this moment and remember the journey I was on and how I hoped that I could inspire and encourage the children to a happy and healthy life through it while also enhancing my own chances of longevity. That I was not only providing them the security of a home in their Mother’s sole ownership but that I was also providing them with an example which I hoped that they might follow. I reached for a flyer and introduced the challenge to Helen and invited her to enjoy a glass of wine while watching a video. I very much hope that she does then pours another glass of wine to start to read up on the journey so far and maybe even then decide to join us on it!

And finally as I sat here typing this post I looked up from my desk and saw, pinned to the wall by what must have been Bob’s Mother, a note and on it was a prayer that we have all heard before but that was perhaps for me today, particularly poignant.

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.’


May I ask that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day to £54.02 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye