Stuart’s long-distance hike for cat rehoming centre

May 29 2015

TREKKING the length and breadth of the UK, while raising money for a local cat rehoming centre is Bishopston resident Stuart Harris.

TREKKING the length and breadth of the UK, while raising money for a local cat rehoming centreis Bishopston resident Stuart Harris.

He has so far raised over £300 for the local 'Moggery', which helps cats find a caring new home.

The charity, run by volunteers, sees approximately 250 felines come through its doors every year.

Stuart and his partner adopted four cats from the Moggery in 2013, and therefore recognise the invaluable work they do.

When Bishopston Voice spoke with Stuart – who is walking from Land's End to John O'Groats – he was just passing through west Yorkshire, and had rambled over 555 miles. He was roughly two days away from his half-way point, which he expects will be Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales.

It is a total distance of 1,200 miles from England's most south westerly point, to Scotland's most north westerly point.

Besides having a friend, who walked with him for a day from Clovelly to Westward Ho in Devon, he has walked the route, which includes the South West Coast path, Offa's Dyke, the Pennine Way and the West Highland Way, entirely by himself.

Stuart, 54, said: “I'm still really enjoy it. The weather has been a bit variable – it's been windy more than anything. But it's all going fine, and I'm really glad I've done it.

“I'd say I'm enjoying the days more when I'm walking, rather than the evenings, as they're starting to become a bit repetitive.”

Stuart set off from Land's End on April 12 against a backdrop of brilliant sunshine. He says that he has noticed his fitness improving during his trek.

“I'm definitely getting fitter,” Stuart said. “I did 10 miles on my first day, and was absolutely shattered, and now I can do 17 miles and feel absolutely fine.”

Stuart's meals consist of a cooked breakfast in the morning, and a pub dinner in the evening – with lots of bread and cheese to tie him over throughout the day. B&Bs, pubs and pitching up a tent have been his means of accommodation for the past two months. He says that he has also lost around a stone in weight.

A highlight for Stuart so far has been walking through the Peak District – his old stomping ground having lived in Staffordshire for some time. “I used to walk through the Peak District all the time when I was younger, so it's good to cover old paths I walked 20 years ago,” explained Stuart.

Stuart has walked every single day since he set off, apart from when he passed through Bristol, where he stopped for the day.

His next day off won't be until he reaches Fort William, where he'll need to stop to think about the logistics of walking through the Scottish Highlands.

Stuart, who classes himself as a 'Munro bagger' – someone who attempts to climb all of Scotland's peaks – says that he goes on annual walking holidays to Scotland, so he knows that part of the country well.

However, this isn't the first long-distance walking challenge that Stuart has undertaken ... in 2011, he walked 1,200 miles along the Pacific Crest trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada. He added: “It was a similar distance to the walk I'm doing now, so I know I can complete it.”

He hopes to have finished the walk in the first half of July – and is hoping that his partner Helen will be there to greet him at the finish line.

Stuart is calling on local folk to help him raise further funds to help him reach his £1,200 target.

“Undertaking this walk provides me with a good opportunity to raise some funds for the Moggery, which does some amazing work. Christine and her dedicated team of volunteers provide a wonderful service, and I am pleased to be able to help with their cause. I've been really grateful for all the donations so far.”

Donations can be made via the charity's website (www.themoggeryrehomingcentre.co.uk), or on the BT My Donate page: mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/stuartharris.