Having devoured all the 'Posts' made by last year's 'Bloggers,' I felt it was a great honour to be asked to follow in Steve Partington's footsteps (something I became very accustomed to over the last three years) and if I can make it half as good as he did, I shall be very pleased. Speculation is rife as to the identity of the other bloggers and by now you should know but I don't.
As a family, my wife, Irene and I decided to take up walking in late 2001. Though I'd been here since 1978, I quickly became amazed by how little of the Isle of Man, you actually see driving around in a car and this seemed a great way to get the us all fit, though I can't claim that it was a total success with everyone. Our two eldest, Matthew & Elizabeth weren't interested at all and wouldn't come and it is still a major challenge to persuade our Lucy to join us though just occasionally, she may admit to having enjoyed the odd expedition.
I first became aware of the Parish Walk in 2002. I had just spent the previous 24 years in glorious oblivion, not even having heard of it but having recently got the 'Walking Bug,' the fact that Sara Denver with whom I'd worked with for some time was attempting to travel a massive, 32.5 miles to Peel, was surely impossible.
Well, she did it and I had to fork out my sponsor money but I had decided that was a challenge I'd really have to face.
2003 came around relatively quickly and Irene & I entered our first walk. We had done a little bit of training in the previous weeks, culminating in 16 miles(ish) along the course to Castletown (we didn't know you doubled back at Malew)
We had never before done anything so hard but also so enjoyable because of the fantastic atmosphere, though the Sloc actually felt easy because we jettisoned our heavy hiking boots in favour of trainers at Rushen.
One of my enduring memories, being in the company of Irene, Sara and her gentleman friend, Chaz, was trying so hard on the section between Glen Rushen and Dalby to keep up a reasonable pace, when just in front was a couple who looked like they had just left the N.S.C., chatting, laughing and smoking!
We did make it, despite Irene being in great pain (she suffers from flat feet) and I was very proud that she overtook so many other competitors on the way into Peel. The crowds were magnificent cheering us in to a finish in 8:12 and we sat in the sunshine outside the Creek Inn, reflecting upon our day, shoes off, and quaffing the most enjoyable beers of our lives.