About Mark

Hullo. How are you? I hope you are having a good day. I’m Mark.

As I child, I could step immediately from our house into seemingly unending countryside. With the outdoors tempting me at every moment, walking has always been a part of my life. Some of those walks were with friends, some with family, but most often I walked alone with my dog. Whatever the weather, we would explore the hills and woods, along winding streams, across expansive farmland and on into the wilderness.

I love being outdoors. I love the sounds and the smells, love the trees, hills, rivers, lakes, stone walls, the changing skyscape, the weather, the feel of Britain’s agriculture and culture.

As a young man, I dreamed of spending all of my days in the mountains. I completed an array of professional qualifications; the Single Pitch Award (SPA), the Mountaineering Instructor Award (MIA), the Mountain Leader (ML) award, and the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate (MIC). Climbing was where I felt at home.

The reality of life, of course, got in the way and I fell into a career as a teacher. This allowed me to maintain a hint of my real love by taking on roles in schools such as Head of Outdoor Education and leading a great many expeditions, camps, climbing days, walking trips, and overseeing the Duke of Edinburgh Award. I have always been very grateful to hear from former pupils who tell me those activities played a major role in forming their love of the outdoors. Not only because I’m proud of them, but also because it reminds me of the great teachers I was lucky to have as a child, who would take us hiking, climbing, canoeing, sailing, and anything else we asked them for. I was so lucky to attend a great school with amazing staff who understood their role was far more than communicating their subjects.

Living close to mountains in my twenties and working as a teacher, with long holidays and few responsibilities, meant being able to climb, camp and hike whenever I chose.

But as I climbed the career ladder, I gave more time to my work and less time to everything else.

I left teaching in 2006 to pursue a career in business. Since then, I have been utterly consumed by work and have had very little time to do the things I most enjoy. This feels like a betrayal of the young man I was and his aims and desires. He would have said, what’s the point in winning the rat race? You’ll still be a rat. And he is, of course, right. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

So in an attempt to redress the balance, I thought I’d go on a new trek.

When I was young, I walked Offa’s Dyke (twice) and The Pennine Way (also twice, though, frankly once was enough – horrid path), I did Coast to Coast (both directions) and walked countless other decent length trails. But there is so much of Britain I have not yet walked. It seemed a sensible solution, therefore, to walk the full length of it.

I decided to attempt to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats quite some years ago and have bored friends and family talking about it ever since. And now the time has arrived to actually do it.

I am out of shape at the moment – I know what being in good shape feels like and it’s very, very far from this – but I still hope to be able to complete the walk in a reasonable time. We’ll see.

When asked why I want to do this walk, I find it difficult to bring to my lips any tangible response. Perhaps as an apology to the boy I was, perhaps as a way of connecting with the land again. I don’t know. I just know I have to do it.