comments iconDay 44: The Final Mile


Today walk: 18.40  miles

Total walk:  636.10 miles

Total raised: over £ 50,000.00, detailed donation list will be published shortly 

At 4PM on July 20th 2017 Xuelin and I set off from Finsbury Park Mosque in north London with the aim of walking 625 miles in 45 days and visiting each of the four capital cities of the United Kingdom and to raise £50,000 for the UK Solidarity Fund of the British Red Cross.

At 4PM on 1st September 2017 (44 days later) we arrived at the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh having walked 636 miles to Cardiff, Manchester and Belfast and having raised £50,000 for the British Red Cross.

Job done!

But…. the job wasn’t done by us it was achieved by the over 300 people who donated money to the UK Solidarity Fund. That was achieved by the tremendous efforts of our English/Chinese blog translation team. We were encouraged every step of the way via social media by friends and family. We were inspired by the random acts of kindness and hospitality we received along the way.The funds they gave will be translated into practical care and assistance from those who suffered as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London by the British Red Cross.

The final mile was a ‘Royal Mile’ literally. ‘The Royal Mile’ runs between Edinburgh Castle and Hollyrood Palace (the official residence of the Queen in Scotland) and stands opposite the Scottish Parliament, the end point of our walk.

Walking is a learning experience and one of the things I have learned is to build in lots of time to the final day. Often when people are kindly coming to welcome you at the end of your efforts it can be frustrating for them when I am running late because you took a wrong turn.

It is also exhausting for me because increasing my pace even slightly over 3mph sends my heart into overdrive. I didn’t want to be pounding up the hill to the castle to be there for 3:15pm and find my heart decides its had enough–that would just be embarrassing.

So I set off from Livingtson at 8:30AM for the 18 mile walk to the finish. Over the last week of all our walks a strange peace descends for me. It is difficult to describe but it is perhaps that feeling that a Marathon runner feels when he first sees the finishing line and all the pain, anxiety, fatigue seem to evaporate.

I say for me because for Xuelin if anything the intensity increases as she seeks to bring in the final donations and make arrangements for our arrival. It is incredible how hard she works, she didn’t get to bed until 2:30AM in the morning. A week ago I thought we would be lucky to bring in £30,000 for the UK Solidarity Fund and suggested lowering the target. Xuelin would hear none of it she said, “Would you give up on your target at 400 miles short of the 625 miles you promised?”, “No” I said hesitantly,”Then I am not going to give up on the £50,000 I promised to raise.” Discussion over!

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk along the Calder valley. At one point I could see the high suspension towers of the new Queensferry Crossing due to be opened by Her Majesty on Monday. It is in the nature of these things that having a final day when you walk 18.4 miles is deemed to be an ‘easy day’.

I keep reflecting on my first 16 mile sponsored walk to Wylam when I was 15 years old and I had to be picked up after 10 miles because I couldn’t walk another step. Of course as you get older your body gets weaker but your mind gets stronger.

I arrived  at Edinburgh Castle at 3:10PM ahead of schedule and met up with Stephen Fyfe from the Red Cross in Scotland who had very kindly come out to walk the last mile with us. The British Red Cross have been terrific partners on this walk and Anna Reaich, Philanthropy Manager in London has been amazing.

Also joining me at the Castle were John, Ronald and Ringo Chan who had travelled down from Perth; Xiao Fei from Glasgow; Linda Hu from Edinburgh. The whole team had been brought together brilliantly by Jessica Guo who is a member of the Zhejiang UK Association and who is a successful businesswomen in Edinburgh.

We set off down The Royal Mile at 3:30PM and I was surprised that rather than taking 20 minutes to reach the Scottish Parliament it took 30 minutes. The difference was later explained in that The Royal Mile is a Scots Mile which is 1.81km compared to the English Mile which is 1.609km.

We arrived at the parliament to be greeted by about 25 well wishers from the Chinese Community in Edinburgh organised by Jessica complete with welcome banners. It took us all the way back to the wonderful send off from Parliament Square, London on 21 July by the Chinese Community there.

There might be a couple of British friends thinking that perhaps the Chinese community are getting a little too much credit but just for the record:

Over 90% of the £50,000 donations to the UK Solidarity Fund have come from the Chinese community;

Each day Xuelin overseas a team of around 10 dedicated Chinese community members who patiently translate these blog entries and add pictures. In English the blogs are read by less than a dozen each day, which I actually thought was quite high but in Chinese they are read by thousands.

It was then into a round of pictures for the record in which Stephen from the Red Cross Scotland was in huge demand to take. It was a great end to an incredible walk.

The last word is from me is a thank you to a very special lady, Xuelin. It is an understatement to say I could not do these walks without her constant care, support, encouragement and organisation. Every day she amazes me with her resourcefulness and dedication to the cause. Every day she makes the impossible possible. She is my inspiration. X.