Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Wednesday, 24th June

Wednesday, 24th June - Today, David and I reached Abington. It's an adjustment, after a few weeks in remote countryside, to walk through heavily populated areas again. However, we have been overwhelmed and encouraged by the number of people who have stopped to talk to us about what we are doing. We have met many wonderful people and had the opportunity to have share our stories and explain why we ...are doing this. Generally, people have been incredibly encouraging and many have even given donations to our charities.
Last night, we stayed in Hope Hill Bed & Breakfast in Blackwood, Lanarkshire. The proprieters, George and Christine Buckley, generously sponsored a night's accomodation for us. They were wonderful hosts and we greatly enjoyed our time there. If you are ever looking for somewhere to stay in Lanarkshire, look them up! Wonderful place and people!
In other news, I was so thrilled to recieve a video message from the kids at Bethel Church of the Nazarene today! Tomorrow, they are completing a sponsored Water Challenge to raise money for our charities. How wonderful that these children want to do something to help children, just like them, on the other side of the world. Thank you, Bethel kids! I'm excited to hear all about your challenge!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday, 23rd June

Monday, 23rd June - I have now been joined by David Fisher, a friend I have known for many many years. We are leaving the remote countryside behind us, for now, and are heading in to some more populated areas. Hill-walking is being replaced by road-walking. Today, David and I reached Blantyre, which is the birthplace of Dr. David Livingstone.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Saturday, 21st June

Saturday, 21st June - I have now walked the entire length of the West Highland Way, and left that behind me today. Although I am proud of that accomplishment, I am a little sad to leave some of the breath-taking scenery behind me, as I know that I have a lot of rather boring road-walking ahead of me fairly soon.
Matt and Gary have now finished their leg and returned back home. I am grateful to them for taking time out of their lives to join me on part of this adventure.
Today, Nathan Payne joined me for a day of walking. Nathan was a teenager in the youth group, at Ashton Church of the Nazarene, when Ruth and I were running the group back in the '90s. He is now a pastor at a Nazarene church in Scotland. It was great to spend some time with him, now that he is "all grown up".
Tonight, I am delighted to be spending the night in the home of my daughter-in-law's parents. Thank you so much, Bill and Angie, for your generous hospitality.
Tomorrow, my friend David Fisher will join me for a week.
Thanks for all the kind comments, messages and texts. They help to keep me going!


Friday, 20 June 2014

Friday, 20th June

Firstly, a couple of photos from the end of Ruth's journey, earlier this week. The second photo shows Ruth reaching Crianlarich, the end of her leg of the adventure. I am so amazed by how much she accomplished with an injured knee! She is now safely back at home.
Friday, 20th June - Our day started with a generous breakfast including toast, cereal, cheese and ham, yogurt, orange juice and a good cup of tea.
After we had our fair share, Matt, Gary and I headed down to start today's walk on the banks ...of Loch Lomond.
The weather was glorious and we soon passed a lovely waterfall (see pictures). After a gentle start to the walk, we were soon scrambling over rocks, and it became a particularly difficult day's walk. However, because the weather was lovely, we had an amazing view of the lochs and mountains. We met another walker along the way who kindly made a donation to our fundraising.
Finally, we arrived at Balmaha, our destination for today. We are very grateful for the use of a lovely, small flat, overlooking the bay, for tonight. The bad news is that Matt and Gary have many blisters across their feet and toes. The good news is that Kevin doesn't. Matt and Gary finish their section of the walk tomorrow on the outskirts of Glasgow.
Matt and Gary


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Thursday 19th June

Thursday 19th June - Sorry that I haven't posted anything for a few days. Ruth's leg of this journey came to and end, as planned, so the two of us spent two wonderfully relaxing days at a Catholic Prayer Retreat Centre. Thank you so much to all those who made our stay there so peaceful and enjoyable, and also thank you for your generous donation. Ruth and I both feel stronger and fitter than when we began. Our blisters and Ruth's knee are both completely healed. Thank you for your prayers for this. Ruth is now spending a night with our daughter-in-law's parents, before catching the train back down to Manchester tomorrow.
Matt and Gary (friends from church) joined me yesterday at Crianlarich and will walk with me for the next few days. I am happy to have their company. Today, the three of us walked down the east side of beautiful Loch Lomond.
Tonight, we are sleeping in an old chapel that has been converted into a bunk house. We are sharing with walkers from all over the world. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to watch the England game, although less than thrilled with the result...obviously.
I am so thankful for the glorious weather we have been experiencing. Only one wet day so far!
Thank you again for all of your support and prayers. It means so much.
Matt and I at the bunkhouse

Loch Lomond

Monday, 16 June 2014

Monday, 16th June

Monday 16th June - Firstly, "Happy 5th Birthday" to our grandson, Micah! We miss you!
In other news, we reached the Bridge of Orchy today, and have now walked more than 200 miles! We have left the more rugged (and potentially more dangerous) scenery behind us. We can still see the mountains but we are not in the midst of them.
We met some walkers from Indiana. It was nice to spend some time chatting with them, and it made us think of our son-in-law and his parents (from Indiana), who would probably enjoy the scenery that surrounds us right now.
Everything is going well. We are happy, healthy and on schedule!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sunday 15th June

Sunday 15th June - This morning, we worshipped with the Church of Scotland in Kinlock Leven. The people there were most welcoming and made us feel at home. Thanks to Malcolm for providing hospitality.
After that, we set out on our walk. Wha...t a climb! We feel like we've been up a mountain! Definitely a difficult walk today, but some most spectacular scenery, especially through Glen Nevis. The path was very rocky and we had to watch our step all the time. Ruth tripped once and ended up running down the hill as the weight of the rucksack kept pushing her! Then, I fell. Thankfully, neither of us are hurt.
Today, we were due to finish walking at 2pm, when Gary was going to meet us with a tent. However, since today's walk was more difficult than we anticipated, it reached 2.45 and we were still a long way from our meeting point. Thankfully, we met some kind walkers who had finished their walk for the day. They said they would drive to the next Caremark and look for Gary. They found him and drove back to tell us. Eventually, we were able to meet up with Gary, two hours late.
We now have the tent up and are ready for our wild camping night.
The weather has again been good and we have crossed what is described as the most bleak and unforgiving terrain and had good visibility, no wind and no rain.
The mountains are all around us now. The weather continues to be good and the forecast for tomorrow is the same.
Thank you for your prayers for our safety.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Saturday 14th June

Thursday 12th (evening) - We had a very pleasant evening. Our host, Martin, drove us to a few of the many local beauty spots. Then, we visited Martin's church, which is a modern building by the side of the loch. We enjoyed beautiful views a...s we sat in the church's coffee shop and looked out of the picture windows.

Friday 13th - Our host, Martin, joined me on the 14 mile walk from Clunes to Fort William today. Ruth stayed back, had a rest and took the opportunity to look around the town.
Fort William is where the Caledonian Canal comes to an end and joins a salt water loch that runs into the sea. This means we have now reached Western Scotland. Ships, coming down the canal, have to negotiate a series of eight locks, built by Thomas Telford, known as Neptune's Staircase.

Drizzle, rain and low cloud today, so we couldn't see the top of Ben Nevis.

 Saturday 14th - Today, we passed Ben Nevis and reached Kinloch Leven. We are still enjoying beautiful scenery. It's very rugged, rocky and remote. The midges are out in force, but are not really bothering us. Ruth's knee is almost back to normal and or blisters are healing nicely. Thank you for your prayers!
We also received some very exciting news yesterday, from our friends and family at Bethel Church of the Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho. They have decided to adopt our fund-raising effort for their VBS this summer! The children will be learning about the importance of sinking wells in the third world, and will be doing some fund-raising of their own, to add to our total. We're so grateful and excited to partner with you, Bethel kids!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Thursday, 12th June

We arrived in Clunes today. We experienced a little rain, but it only lasted 10 minutes, so we feel very fortunate. Out of 10 walking days, only one has been wet so far. We also met up with our friends, the midgies, so it was a case of hood...s on, heads down and keep waving your arms in front of your face. They seem to appear as soon as the wind disappears.
Enjoyed more lovely scenery today. We can't decide what to take pictures of, since there are so many lovely views everywhere we look!
Walking through the Glen, we are following the lochs to our left. However, we can't always see them as we are in a forest, but every so often there is a clearing. We see mountains whichever way we look. Our generous host for tonight, Martin, pointed out to us that one of the mountains is Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain) so we will take a photo of that tomorrow. We have been walking past lots of little waterfalls on one side of the path. They drop down next to us and flow under the path beneath our feet and out on the other side into the loch. We also love the foxglove flowers all over the place.
Last week, we were both feeling a lot of aches and pains at the end of each day. However, our bodies now seem to have accepted the new regime and we both feel much stronger and we can tell that we recover much faster at the end of each day.
Thank you again, for all the encouraging messages and prayers. They really make a difference to us.
Ruth, by the shelter known as the "Washer Woman's Place". It's on the Great Glen Path. Apparently, this is where the washer woman would put her washing and sit inside to eat her lunch.

Caledonian Canal

Loch Lochy

Loch Lochy

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Wednesday, 11th June

These photos give a glimpse of our trek along the Great Glen Way. It is a well marked walk along a dirt track that weaves in and out and up and down through the pine forest. Every so often, you get a glimpse of Loch Ness way below, but we didn't see the monster! Lots of beautiful scenery and peace and quiet.
 At one point on today's walk we had to go between piles of felled trees that had been stacked very high waiting for removal, a bit scary!
We had a good time with Caroline and Mike on our day of rest (Tuesday). They were most helpful, and we enjoyed watching the woodpeckers in their garden. Tuesday evening they took us to visit their friend Sue and we spent a very pleasant evening sharing a meal and having good conversation. Thank you so much.

We are now in the home of Tabea Baadar; a German Lutheran lady pastor. She has just done a marvelous job of sorting out the phone so that I can get on line. She has a very soft border collie that was supposed to be a sheep dog but only wanted to play with the sheep so was sacked! He understands German!
The Caledonian Ship Canal in Fort Augustus

Passing through Beauly

These uphill climbs are exhausting!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Been unable to post anything for a couple of days, so here's a update of the last few days....

Saturday - Ruth bought a support bandage and she managed the full walk from Gospie to Tain. Again, quite a hazardous walk along the A9. Very fast traffic and no footpath. We stayed overnight with the lovely Van Eyk family, who are from Canada. They made us most welcome and we enjoyed a family mealtime w...ith them and 6 of their 7 children.

Sunday - we moved on to Dingwall, going inland a little, and then along the Cromarty Firth and have at last left the A9 behind us. We worshipped with the Dingwall Free Church evening congregation and were made to feel most welcome. Then we went back to the home of John and Jane, a retired couple. Thanks to John for the packed lunch on Monday and also the donation.

Quite a few people have given us donations as we have been walking. It is impossible to mention everyone by name, but sincere thanks go out to all of you.

We have both got a couple of blisters but thanks to Vic and Lorna's good advice we have the compeed plasters and they are very good.

Up until now we have been seeing a whole host of bright yellow gorse bushes as we have followed the coast down, but on Monday the terrain has changed to a more moorland type landscape.

On Tuesday we leave the road-walking and start on the Great Glen Way, which follows the shores of Loch Ness.

So far we have only had one wet day so we are doing well.

Thanks to everyone for their texts, phone calls and Facebook messages. It's very encouraging. If we don't respond straight away it's either poor connections or we're walking and can't find where we've put the phone!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Saturday 7th
We are grateful for the comfortable night at the Gospie youth centre. We have already met many wonderful people who have generously given us hospitality along the way.
Today we walked 16 miles and arrived  in Tain, it was good walking weather and we took a number of short breaks to enjoy the views particularly at Loch Fleet (see photo of Kevin below) and then on the very long bridge that spans the Dornoch Firth (see photo of Ruth below).
Our hosts tonight are the lovely Van Eyk family from Canada. Kevin has just gone with John out in their boat to look in the lobster baskets.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Day 4: Internet access is unreliable this far north, but we are updating the blog as often as we are able. Thanks so much for checking in and following our progress. It means a lot to us to have the support and encouragement of friends back home (and around the world).

Over the past few days, we have walked through some torential, "keep your head down and just keep moving" rain. Those hours have been a test of endurance! However, we have also enjoyed some fine weather and, on those days, have enjoyed the beautiful scenery as we walk.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who is helping us along the all those who are providing accomodation, food, hot showers and encouragement. You have no idea how much all of those things are appreciated.  Tonight, we find ourselves in Gospie and would like to thank the Gospie Inn for their delicious food!

My wife, Ruth, is joining me for the first two weeks of my adventure. Unfortunately, she hurt her knee the day before we started walking and is experiencing some pain and difficulty as she walks. Please pray for recovery for Ruth's knee.

It is a HUGE encouragement to see financial sponsorship trickling in online as we walk. Thank you so much to those of you have donated, most recently Michelle O'Brien and the Williams family. Your donations are going to a very worthy cause. If you have not yet donated, and are able to, please follow the link on my blog.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Day 1: At the starting post in John O'Groats. Weather looks fine and I'm ready to go! 1300 miles ahead of me. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Here we go!

Monday, 2 June 2014

We made it up to Scotland and are preparing to begin walking tomorrow! It's all very real now! Please pray for us as we begin this adventure. Please pray for our safety and for good walking weather. We will update the blog as often as possible, so keep checking in!

Sunday, 1 June 2014

We are now in a very beautiful village called betty hill right at the top of Scotland. Very peaceful, we are in marc and Marie's home and havejust eaten a delicious Sunday dinner.saw some fantastic scenery as we drove up from Inverness