It’s 3:50am and I am lying in bed waiting for the 4:15am alarm call! Today is a big day….the furthest distance I have ever attempted to walk and our last big training session ahead of Trailwalker on the 27th July. I feel nervous, sick, apprehensive, tired, oh and I am recovering from a tummy bug and heel injury!

Today we are joined by our support crew. Becky’s lovely husband, Dave (introduced in Part 3) and his big red van and our lovely friend (and nurse), Cat. Cat is a wonderful lady – so thoughtful, kind and caring – and number 1 fan of Cath Kidston! As the day emerged, it soon became clear that endurance walking of this nature would be extremely difficult without the support of a good crew.

So at exactly 6am, armed with our water, poles, blister care kits and a change of socks, we were deposited at Cocking, West Sussex and told to get our arses to the first of our checkpoints. And so we did just that!

I have to say that spirits were very high indeed and the miles passed effortlessly. No blisters, sore feet, or aching limbs to deal with. In fact the only thing to slow us up, were the numerous wee stops! (By the end of this walk, our wee stops were like finely tuned Formula 1 pit stops – fast, effortless and little concern for finding a private tree to squat behind!).

Our plan today was to walk from Cocking (Checkpoint 2 for Trailwalker) all the way to Ditchling Beacon (Checkpoint 8) – some 37 miles of the 62 mile Trailwalker route. We aimed to be at Ditchling Beacon by 11pm that evening – a tough challenge, when trying to keep a consistent pace over a long period of time.

The weather was dry and as always, the scenery simply stunning. We soon came upon our first rendezvous with the ‘Crew’ and even though, we weren’t that tired after the 7 or so miles, it was rather lovely to be handed a cup of tea in a china Cath Kidston mug!! We love you Cat!


The day continued in this vain, walking, talking, weeing, walking, talking, weeing and of course taking on yet more fluid and a nibble or two!

As we got into our stride, so did our Support Crew. By mid way, our Check Point camps were First Class and I am sure will be the envy of many a Trailwalker on the big day. Awaiting our arrival would be a gazebo (with bunting!), personal deck chairs and foot stools, carpet to stretch on, a nutritious buffet selection, hot flannels  and whilst Cat administered the TLC and drugs (paractemols / ibuprophen), Dave handled hot drinks and refilled the water bottles.

Our Support Crew were joined early on by our friend (and Mandy’s sister Lucy). She thought she might like to come and join Cat and Dave for a few hours to see what all the fuss was about. Little did she know that by the evening, she would be mucking in with sock changes, hot flannels and offering a waitress service! We were chuffed to bits to have Lucy join us and even more delighted when she announced she’d like to help at the main event itself! Welcome aboard Lucy – your sense of humour and ongoing encouragement are going to prove invaluable on the day.

We made fabulous progress during that day and as the late afternoon arrived, it was sadly time to say cheerio to Mandy (and Lucy). Due to Mandy’s bad back, her physio had recommended that she stop at around the 25 mile mark. I’ll be honest I was a little envious at the thought of her being driven home to a hot bath, roast dinner and glass of wine! Ho hum, onwards and upwards……and boy was it upwards!!!

Team Skin n Blisters

Fatigue was rapidly setting in now as were sore feet and blisters! Becky and Laura remained, as always, so upbeat, where as I began to feel a little low. Our slightly wrong turn didn’t help the situation, but Becky soon navigated us back on course. Anyway, Becky and Laura chivvied me along and before we knew it, we were at our last but one Check Point. Dusk was descending and with this, brought about a number of cars into the Check Point car park. Why on earth were there so many cars coming and going in this remote National Trust car park ??? We soon realised, we may just have walked into an infamous hot spot for an al fresco adult meeting place! (woof!) Needless to say, we didn’t hang about!

With much excitement, at precisely 21:50pm, we had our official ‘lighting up ceremony’, as the head torches went on! The excitement was rather short lived, as the head torches seemed to attract the UK’s moth population! As we cursed the moths, our prayers were answered, as the rather large rain cloud above us unleashed a downpour! No more moths, but oh so much rain! We trudged on, aching, blistered, wet, tired and with pitch darkness all around. We were so close to the end, but this last little bit seemed to go on for hours.

A real memorable moment for me was Becky started to sing our team girl guiding song ‘Swinging Along The Open Road’. Slowly, Laura joined in too. I couldn’t believe they had the energy or inclination to start singing, had these girls lost hold of their senses? And then somehow, I dug deep, ignored my pain and negative thoughts and a little voice floated out of me too, ‘swinging along…..’. It was a very special moment, particularly as at that very point, headlights were flashing us (no, not the car park activity again) but our lovely Support Crew welcoming us to the finish line at Ditchling Beacon! We had done it! We had walked 37 miles, in heat, rain, darkness and in pain and the tears said it all.

I have never experienced team work quite like this and am confident that with the support of our crew, Dave, Cat and Lucy, my fabulous walking buddies, Laura, Becky and Mandy and over £2000 worth of sponsorship, Team Skin n Blisters may just ‘swing along’ to Brighton on the 28th July.

62 miles is a long way to walk, so we are not going to do all this hard work without raising some cash for charity. We will be supporting Oxfam (& The Gurkha Welfare Trust) – official Trailwalker charities, Naomi House Children’s Hospice and Macmillan Cancer Support – Macmillan gave Becky (one of our team mates), huge support when she was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. I am pleased to say she is now 100% fit and ready to take on Trailwalker!

To donate online, please use our Virgin Money Page:-

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the team, to thank everyone for their words of encouragement and generous donations. We feel very lucky to be supported by so many friends, family and work colleagues and it only makes us more determined to reach the finish line.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and supporting us. If you would like to follow our progress, please do be sure to ‘like’ our ‘Team Skin n Blisters’ Face Book page, where you can track our progress during the Trailwalker event on the 27th and 28th July.