20160417_144724Yesterday, I did the Pier to Pier Walk for St Helena Hospice to raise money in memory of my friend Martin Hunt who died last year. They run it every year, challenging people to walk the seven miles from Walton Pier to Clacton Pier (or vice versa), or if you’re really wanting a good long walk you can do it both ways for a total of fourteen miles. I did the latter, starting and finishing at Walton Pier.

It’s an almost completely flat walk as it uses the two main promenades (Walton & Frinton, and Holland & Clacton) with the sea wall linking the two. There are a few minor slopes, but this is an Essex coastal walk, so what might be referred to as a hill or a slope here is what would likely be nothing more than a speed bump in the road in the rest of the country. Luckily, the weather yesterday was great for walking – sunny for most of it, but not baking hot and with just a light breeze blowing. It’s probably not as easy (or safe) to do the walk when there’s a storm blowing in off the North Sea and the waves are crashing over the path. As a seaside walk, it’s also very hard to get lost with the only question you need to ask to check you’re in the right place being ‘am I on the path next to the sea?’

There are plenty of beach cafes along the way too, so if you want to make a more leisurely stroll of it, you can. Alternatively, you can do what I did and push yourself through the whole thing with the thought of getting some nice chips from Yates’ in Walton at the end of it.

There were over a thousand people doing the walk to raise money for the Hospice yesterday, with a really pleasant atmosphere and lots of encouragement along the way from the people who were just out to enjoy the sunny day. I think most were doing it in just one direction as I didn’t see as many walkers on the way back from Clacton as I did on the way there, but there were still plenty of people around.

As for me, I managed to finish to keep up a decent pace throughout the walk and do it in a little bit more than two hours each way, without picking up any injuries other than a little bit of sunburn to my face. Martin’s wife and daughter came to see me off at the start, and it was good to see them to remember why I was doing it and to hear about how much the Hospice had helped them during Martin’s last months. We did note that he used to complain about having to walk too far from his car to the Town Hall, so there was a certain irony in doing a walk to remember him but I’m sure he’d have appreciated it.

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me, and you can still do it by visiting my Justgiving page or by donating directly to the hospice. Hopefully next year I can persuade a few more people to do it with me, or find some other things to help raise money for the Hospice.

If you want to see more of what it was like, the pictures are below. Click on any one of them to see it full size.

It was such a nice day, the North Sea even looked blue

It was such a nice day, the North Sea even looked blue

Setting off from Walton

Setting off from Walton

'A good walk spoiled'

‘A good walk spoiled’

Meeting some of the people coming from Clacton

Meeting some of the people coming from Clacton

First sighting of Clacton Pier

First sighting of Clacton Pier

And here we are, with a board of memories and dedications.

And here we are, with a board of memories and dedications.

Greeted by jugglers at Clacton

Greeted by jugglers at Clacton

And a time-travelling policeman

And a time-travelling policeman

Turning around and heading back

Turning around and heading back

And meeting people who were halfway through their return trip

And meeting people who were halfway through their return trip

Walton Pier finally comes into sight

Walton Pier finally comes into sight

Watch out for the punning beach huts

Watch out for the punning beach huts

The final stretch...

The final stretch…

And we're done!

And we’re done!