As I’m up to date with all my deliveries and we’re not doing canvassing during the holiday weekend, I decided to take advantage of the good weather and go for my first long walk of the year today. So, I got the train up to Sudbury and then followed St Edmund’s Way and the Stour Valley Path from there down to Bures, then across the Suffolk side of the valley to Wiston before heading down to Great Horkesley for a well-earned pie and a pint or two at The Yew Tree.

I’ve uploaded photos from it to my Flickr account so you can take a look – I’ll get them in the right order and add names and descriptions to them tomorrow when I’m less tired and able to go through them with a map in hand to make sure I get all the names right.

Because of my usual state of disorganisation/strong moral principles (delete according to how well you know me) I haven’t sent out any Christmas cards this year, but I have made a donation to Shelter instead.

And if you want to round off the year with a donation to charity, you can still make a very late sponsorship donation for my walk until the end of the year- I’m working out the amount donated offline, and it’s getting close to the target, so yours could be the one that pushes it over the finishing line.

I keep meaning to plug this site and forget it – Mark Moxon’s Land’s End to John O’Groats walk site. I’ve had a few people asking me for information on how to do the walk themselves and this is probably the best resource on the net for it. Plus, his route inspired much of mine (though going the other way, of course) and what better recommendation could you need than that?

More money raised

Just to thank everyone who came to the Woodland Cottage last night – in the end we raised over £500 for the BRT as well as having a good night out, so everyone did well out of it.

For those of you who weren’t there, the one thing that didn’t meet its reserve at the auction was the signed Shameless T-shirt, so that will be going up on eBay soon, so you’ll be able to bid for it there.

More lots

A couple more photos of things for the auction:

The signed West Brom shirt
The four signed Red Bull / Toro Rosso caps – signed by David Coulthard, Neel Jani, Scott Speed and Vitantonio Liuzzi.

As before, email me if you want to bid on them and can’t make it to the Woodland Cottage tomorrow.

Get bidding!

As promised, details of some of the items we’ve got for the charity auction on Friday night, so you can take a look and decide if you’re interested.

First, a t-shirt signed by the cast of Channel 4′s Shameless, including David Threlfall (Frank), Maxine Peake (Veronica) and Dean Lennox Kelly (Kev). Thanks to Marjorie Yates for getting it for us – she plays Carol on the show, but perhaps more importantly, worked with my mum at Cadbury’s in the 60s.

Next up, a Winnie The Pooh quilt, made by Judi Strain, a friend of the family. It measures 90cm by 140cm, features all the characters and a large number of embroidery stitches.

And also, a Birmingham City football signed by several members of the current Blues squad. Thanks to Karren Brady for arranging it.

There’s other stuff to come that I haven’t got photos of yet including a signed West Bromwich Albion shirt, tickets to see Wolverhampton Wanderers as well as some signed Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso caps that have been signed by David Coulthard, Scott Speed, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Neel Jani.

If you’re interested in any of these and want to make a bid but can’t make it on Friday then email me and let me know how much you’re willing to bid – what your starting bid would be as well as how high you’ll go, and we’ll bid for you on Friday!

After 74 days on the road, during which I covered 1050 miles, I finished the walk at just before 2pm yesterday afternoon when I strolled into Land’s End, after a short 11 mile trip from Penzance via St Buryan and Sennen Cove. Yes, it’s over – I’ve walked from John O’Groats to Land’s End, and now I’m back at my Mum’s house in Redditch, having been driven back up to the Midlands today, slowly getting used to the idea that I’ve finished and trying to work out what to do next.

How does it feel to have finished? Pretty strange, really – I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have to get up tomorrow and walk somewhere, that today isn’t just a rest day and that I can now look forward to the assorted aches and pains in mybody fading away over the next week without anything more to strain and tax them. It’ll be rather weird to have a morning when I can get up and walk normally instead of just doing the shuffle of someone whose legs have been walking a long way for a long time.

I’ll write at more length on various topics during the week ahead, but for now I just want to say thanks to everyone who’s helped out and to everyone who has donated. I would list you all, but I’m sure I’d forget someone and mortally offend them, so if you think you should be thanked, or even if you’re no sure, consider yourself thanked.

Of course, it’s not too late to donate as the page will stay open until the end of the year so anyone who has been thinking, in the words of one of my friends, ‘not a penny till you get to Cornwall’ can go ahead and do it now.

For those of you near Redditch, a reminder that we’re having a celebration/fundraising evening at the Woodland Cottage pub this Friday, with live music, a charity auction and a raffle, amongst other ways to separate you from your money in the name of charity. We’ve got some interesting stuff for the auction, and I’ll post a list of it soon so anyone interested who can’t make it on Friday can still submit a bid.

Right, time for some serious relaxing on my part…

Well, that’s roughly how long I’ve got to go, though I’m not going to sit in this internet cafe for another hour before posting just to make the title accurate.

It’s perhaps a sign of being in a touristy area that you start to find internet access in the strangest places, and here I am in Bissoe at a cafe by a cycle trail along one of the old mining tramways. I’m on my way to Camborne from Truro today – not too far, which is good as the weather isn’t nice – grey, rainy and the sort of day I just want to get my head down and trudge my way to the end of it. Luckily, it’s just for today – tomorrow’s forecast is for showers and sunny intervals, while Saturday should be clear and sunny meaning that, touch wood, it won’t be a case of ‘Yay, I’ve finished, now let’s run for shelter.’

All still going according to plan – Camborne tonight, Penzance tomorrow, then Land’s End early Saturday afternoon, so look out for a post from me sometime then assuming I can find somewhere to access the internet in that time between crossing the finish line and lapsing into drunken incoherence. If I don’t manage that, then expect something Sunday, but keep an eye on my photos for almost live (depending on Virgin and Flickr) pictures of the end.

Yes, I am still alive, just haven’t been able to get any internet access since Bristol, mainly because I’ve been having some long days and not wanting to go and try and track any down inbetween walking and sleep.

But, I’m now in Cornwall, and thanks to the generosity of their library service, I’m currently online in Liskeard library before I head off – on what looks like it might be a nice sunny day – to St Austell. In other words, yes, I’ve changed my route again, as the southerly route through Cornwall looked slightly shorter, and with some dodgy weather coming in off the Atlantic during this week, this way looked slightly shorter (and drier) than the northern coast.

So, the plan is to get to St Austell (or maybe Par) today, Truro tomorrow, Camborne on Thursday, Penzance on Friday and then – drum roll please – Land’s End on Saturday. If you are planning to come down and see me cross the finish line, then I should be getting there sometime around 1 or 2 in the afternoon – it’s only about 10 miles from Penzance, so that leaves plenty of time for celebratory drinks in the afternoon and evening. If you need to contact me, my number is oh798one eight96three75.

Strange to think I’ve got this far, and this time next week I’ll be getting back to normal life again…but for the next few days, I’m still on the road, and you can still donate and make it all worthwhile.

One of the problems of getting so close to the end – besides the question of how do I get back to normality when I don’t have to get up every morning and walk – is that it gets easy to concentrate on the end and not pay attention to the days between now and then. For instance, today I found myself thinking that in two weeks time I’d be finished and possibly on a train home and if that’s not pride coming before a fall and fate being sorely tempted, I’m not sure what is. So, time to refocus on where I am, not where I hope to be in a few days.

This week I was on the last National Trail that I’ll be following for any substantial way and the Cotswold Way is a very nice walk, one that I can see becoming very popular, as it – with the possible exception of the ones in Norfolk – is perhaps the easiest of the trails, not too rough, no really savage ascents or descents and nice scenery all the time. The only trouble is that most of it is through Gloucestershire, which is a strange county. It all looks rather nice on the surface, but it seems like a thin veneer over something strange beneath, like an edition of The Jeremy Kyle Show set amongst beautifully architectured stone and country.

That got me to Bath yesterday, even though I ended up staying in Bristol as there were spaces at the hostel here, but none at the one in Bath. I’m here again tonight, having done a bit of shuttling with trains and buses, and managing to walk further than I planned, getting all the way to Wells, thus linking Bath and Wells in one baby-eating bishopric of a walk. I’m still going to Street tomorrow though, there not being any place to stop overnight between there and Taunton, so just a half-day. I did get to see Glastonbury Tor today, coming down the hill into Wells, seeing it and the tower rising up in the distance, cloaked in the mist of oncoming rain that threatened to soak me, but didn’t hit the town in time to catch me before I got on my bus to Bristol.

And that’s 859 miles down, probably a bit less than 200 to go, and tomorrow marks two months on the road – it took me an entire month to get out of Scotland, so having gone so far through England in the same time helps to give an idea of just how big Scotland is, really.