Day 157 has seen 13.05 Miles walked over two walks including one named hill and an ascent of 856 feet in bright sunshine with 6 wonderful people met to pull me out of the doldrums.

Richie and Esther
Richie and Esther

It took a bus then a train and then a bus today to get me to the Almondell and Calderwood Country Park Today. Quite a journey that tested my cognitive function as I tried to identify where I was and what bus I needed and in what direction etc in order to get me to the country park to start walking. But I was so glad that I went to the effort. I had started to feel a little glum over the last few walks. It just felt as if I wasn’t meeting anything like the numbers of people I had grown so used to meeting. The walks, although delightful and critical for keeping my physical strength up and building my immune system to beat the beast, just seemed to be, well flat. I wasn’t coming back from them inspired and encouraged by the people I had met. I felt like I had lost my Mojo. I really was in the doldrums today and was in desperate need of some inspiration.

This morning. On my first walk. As I strode out to get around the 3.1 miles of the Almondell and Country Park it started. God was at work. I saw lots of people but I could hardly walk for meeting more and more delightful people that surprised me almost every time. First was the very gentle Richie and Esther who were stood, almost as if they were waiting for me, taking photos of the River Almond. It was a pretty spot so I went down to take some photos too and yet still they remained. I received a tug to go and speak to them and discovered two people so very receptive to the challenge and I very much hope that they do come and join me on this journey. I had a sense that there was a reason for me feeling that I should talk to them but have no idea what it is. If there is a reason do please tell me and I hope that my challenge would help in some small way.

The beautiful river Almond
The beautiful river Almond

I walked on and as I came towards the enormous viaduct and paused to check my map I recognised a face walking towards me. It was an old friend from my days in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Gerry O’Neill. I was hoping for a lift today and had already received encouragement from Richie and Esther so to add Gerry as well was enormously encouraging. He was on great form despite a bust collar bone from a fall off of his bike and was all smiles and encouragement. It was wonderful to meet him after all this time and he is already doing all he can to raise awareness of the challenge. Brilliant. Thank you Gerry. Brilliant to have seen you again.

My old friend Gerry O'Neil
My old friend Gerry O’Neil

So I walked on and then the day suddenly became a little sadder, then more encouraging, all at once. As I stood at the little aquaduct just after the viaduct checking my map again to ensure I was changing direction the correct way I heard a gentle voice behind me. ‘Are you okay? Can I help?’ I turned to answer and was surprised to see such a big man to whom the gentle enquiry belonged. I explained that I was good and just ensuring that I knew which way I was going. I didn’t explain that since brain surgery, radiotherapy and a year of chemotherapy my cognitive function could be a little confused and fuzzy so I found it safest to stop and check the map regularly but I felt a strong need to introduce the challenge to him. He was clearly a pleasant gentleman and then I realised why it was that I should introduce the challenge to him. The gentle Eddie McKenzie had lost his wife to a brain tumour not so long ago. I felt so desperately sorry for his loss but received nothing but positivity and encouragement from Eddie for the delivery of the challenge so I was so jolly pleased to have met him and very much hope that he joins me on this journey knowing that he helped spur me on in the challenge further today.

So I walked on again and reached the visitor centre. The map I had been using was a sketch map and was up to the task on waymarked paths around a country park but I needed something a little more substantial for the next phase of today. So I stopped at the visitor centre and found a map but also found further inspiration and encouragement. I found Laura Graham who was such a bundle of joy that I had to tell her of the challenge. After she had wiped a tear from her eye I asked if I may have a photo and the most extraordinary thing happened. Laura of course said yes and then had a much better idea. Before I knew it Laura had rushed me outside and recruited a poor gentleman who had never met Laura or I before but was sat enjoying the sunshine with his dog, into the photograph. Immediately after the photograph Laura had to rush off to answer the phone. I was left with this gentleman so apologised for the surprise photograph and explained why with the details on the challenge. I felt that I should sit next to David McDonald and stroke his dog Chloe as I talked to him. Then I understood why. He had lost his Mother and Father to Cancer and other very close members of his family while others had also had to fight it. To quote David he said that ‘Cancer had gone rife through his family and needed to be beaten.’ I agreed with him of course and we chatted for quite some time but now it was time to push on but as I did I received much encouragement to keep doing what I do and Beat the Beast. I very much hope that David comes to join me on this journey too.

So on I went hugely buoyed by the wonderful people I had met and the wonderful encouragement I had been given this day. I had my mojo back and was pushing on so I took a bus from Mid Calder into Edinburgh Haymarket in order to take the train into Linlithgow and do the next walk. 2.5 miles from Linlithgow into Beecraigs Country Park for the 3.1 mile Beecraigs Loch and Cockleroy Walk that included the wonderful sounds of red deer rutting. Sadly I witnessed no locking of horns but to hear the bellowing of the stags was great. I was passing a hill so had to take a detour up it. Only a small hill but it had to be taken none the less so took the 1.9 mile detour to climb Cockleroy Hill and take in the stunning views from the top. Then once the walk was complete it was another 2.5 miles back into Linlithgow Station to take the train then bus back.

The summit of Cockleroy Hill
The summit of Cockleroy Hill

It was a great day that saw 13.05 miles walked 856 feet climbed, 6 wonderful people met, encouragement offered and my mojo returned.

Eddie McKenzie
Eddie McKenzie

I am travelling South tomorrow to see friends on the way to my Nephew’s Christening so no challenge activity for the next 4 days so no post planned. But you never know!!

So the challenge in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 157
Total Miles Cycled: 800.44
Total Miles Walked: 856.33
Total Miles Run: 126.33
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 42.17
Total Distance Swum: 4,180 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,836.37
Total Height Gained under own steam: 71,188 feet
Mountains Climbed: 7
Hills Climbed: 27
Days of Voluntary Activity: 8.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:0!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 12
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 318metres or 6360kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 8
Press Ups: 599
Pull Ups: 14
Sit Ups: 864
People Met and Hands Shaken: 501
Pots of tea shared: 31
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 3
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 928
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 711
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 42 – £8,278

A young chick I met on my walk
A young chick I met on my walk

Considering I started this challenge 10 months ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £52.73 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however 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