Why Walking? - by Martin Shipley

We're reading a great book at the moment, from North Staffordshire Press, by local (well, Derbyshire) author Martin Shipley: it's an account of an epic walk that he and his wife undertook in 2016.  We met Martin and his wife Maureen at their recent book launch at the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and we asked Martin if he'd write us a few words on how they got into walking...

Martin and Maureen at Cape Wrath in Scotland

Martin and Maureen at Cape Wrath in Scotland

My wife Maureen and I first got into walking when we booked a cottage for a week in the Lake District in June 2003. Fortunately we had very good weather and were able to spend every day doing short walks of initially four to five miles and later in the week a few longer ones of up to 10 miles. We’d never walked more that three miles previously so this was new territory for us, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

That week inspired us to think 'what’s next?’. We decided in 2004 to try to walk the English coast-to-coast journey from St Bees in Cumbria across to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast, some 190 miles in 16 days. Despite having a few bad weather days, we reached our destination having gained something out of each day plus a great sense of achievement at the end. Walking is definitely the best way to see anywhere and we had seen parts of our country that we never knew existed. It’s also very good exercise that you can do at a pace that suits you. 

After this walk we again thought 'what’s next?'. So in 2005 we walked across Scotland using the Southern Upland Way (212 miles) and in 2006 we walked coast-to-coast across Wales, starting from the Bristol estuary and walking north to Prestatyn (176 miles). By now we’d really got the walking bug and spent the next few years walking at every opportunity until the next big challenge.

In 2012 we walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE), a journey of 1,100 miles over 75 days. It was a tremendous experience, we met some wonderful people along the way and stayed in some really interesting accommodation. For 11 weeks we were in our own ‘bubble’, casting aside the usual stresses of life to spend each day walking. No work to do, no cars to drive, no petrol to buy, no shopping to do……bliss. Walking can be your great escape, for how ever long you choose to do it.

The stunning scenery of the Kyle of Durness, northwest Scotland

The stunning scenery of the Kyle of Durness, northwest Scotland

JOGLE was such a wonderful experience that we just had to do another such walk. In 2016 we walked between the ‘opposite corners’, from Cape Wrath in the north-west of Scotland down to Dover on the English south-east. This was 1,041 miles over 78 days. Again it was a brilliant experience, so much so that I decided to write a book about it. ‘A Bit Of A Caper’ has now been published by North Staffordshire Press and is my way of illustrating to people through our experiences just what adventures are there to be had, simply by doing what we all do every day……walking.

Nearly there! Martin and Maureen above the Seven Sisters cliffs near Eastbourne

Nearly there! Martin and Maureen above the Seven Sisters cliffs near Eastbourne

To order a copy of Martin's book please email him on martin_shipley@hotmail.com or text him on 07946 590 637 and provide your full postal address. Payment details will then be issued to you. Your book will be posted upon receipt of payment. A donation of 25% from the proceeds of the sale of Martin's book will be given to Thrombosis UK. You can find more information on Martin and Maureen's journey and on the book at their Facebook page here.