Barnoldswick man’s charity trek from Land’s End to John o’Groats

A TEAM of three from West Craven are walking more than 1,200 miles from Land’s End to John o’Groats to raise money for the Veterans’ Association UK - and it is ex-soldier Martin Fletcher and his twin dogs!

Martin (41), of Coates Avenue, Barnoldswick, decided to make the tough walk, and thanks to publicity in this newspaper he chose the Pendle-based VAUK as the charity to back it with.

Martin served in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment from 1987 to 1993 before joining the engineering industry. But between the two roles he did take a year off and travelled round the world, particularly exploring South East Asia.

He now has two twin-sister Rhodesian Ridgebacks - Jess and Tara - who are two years old and are keen walkers. So they will join him on the journey. They will start in the far south west of England at Land’s End in Cornwall and make their way north and east to John o’Groats at the top end of Scotland.

The dogs will carry their own gear - food and water - in special carrier pack harnesses provided by manufacturer Ruffwear.

The launch of the trip will take place on St George’s Day - Monday, April 23rd. Martin explained: “I will be walking over 1,200 miles in 67 days, averaging 20 miles per day, with five rest days.

“My hike aims to join up as much of Britain’s high ground as possible, while still keeping to a reasonable direct route from Cornwall to Caithness.”

The trio’s route goes via the South West Coast Path, then Exmoor, the Brendon Hills and the Quantocks before descending to cross the River Parrett in Bridgewater. They will walk flatter across Somerset before reaching Cheddar and the Mendips. They will cross the River Avon via the M5 bridge, which has a footbridge and cycleway attached.

Bristol then leads to Wales and the Offa’s Dyke Path, followed by the Shropshire Hills, Much Wenlock, Coalport and the Staffordshire Way. Soon afterwards they will be on the Pennine Way, which takes them from Edale in Derbyshire to the Scottish border - and allows them to have one quiet night at home!

Once in Scotland, they will be on a Roman road - Dere Street - then the Southern Upland Way and the West Highland Way to Fort William. Martin said: “From Fort William, the route heads northwards into the mountains - wild and largely uninhabited. In 11 days from Fort William to Watten - the stop before the final leg to John o’Groats - the only facilities passed are one small village, five isolated hotels, a bunkhouse and a youth hostel!”

And he added: “I’ve always wanted to walk from Land’s End to John o’Groats - and I always wanted to use it to raise money for someone. I saw Tony Hayes’ news about VAUK in this paper and I decided to do it for them. I will be camping out for 82% of the journey, but will spend six nights in bed and breakfast - and one night at home! I am looking forward to the journey.”

Mr Tony Hayes, chief executive of VAUK, said: “I’m extremely pleased with what he is doing for us. It’s going to be good publicity for the Veterans’ Association as well!”

One of Martin’s friends is going to drive him and his pets down to Cornwall, while another will pick them up in the far north of Scotland. If anyone can provide a van, please contact VAUK. And if you would like to make a contribution to Martin’s fund-raising effort, contact the group. You can ring or call at the office at Sough Bridge Mill , Colne Road, Kelbrook (787479), or ring Tony on 07713 329903.