Association Vice President Paul Griffiths walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall non-stop to raise money for Police Treatment Centres.
The PTC helps around 3,000 police patients each year with physical and psychological injuries and conditions.
He hiked the entire 84 miles of the historic wall in just over 36 hours, starting at 6am at Wallsend, Tyneside and finishing in Bowness on Solway.
This is his account….
As the alarm sounded at 0445, I knew it was going to a tough day ahead. Arriving at Wallsend in Newcastle for the obligatory starting photo, I set off at 0600 along a very pleasant river route that took me along the Tyne and through the city centre.
Leaving Newcastle, the pace was reasonable and steady and by 0900, I was tucking into a full English breakfast and feeling very optimistic. The route soon deviated away from the river and I started climbing to Heddon on the Wall, before walking adjacent to Military Road. This a very, very long straight road, following the path of the original Roman Road built in 112AD.
Lunch was at the 21-mile mark and by then the blisters had set in. With the help of a pin and Compeed, I was all set to restart the route and follow the never-ending linear route.
By late afternoon, spirits were still high and the feet were beginning to heat up. Arriving at Planetrees was my first real sighting of Hadrian’s Wall: a small section, standing majestically in a field. I was feeling upbeat and a short distance later I was tucking into a pasta dinner to prepare for the evening.
With 31 miles under the belt it was time to change – big pack, boots, bivi bag, emergency kit, head torch and ready for a 12-hour walking night shift.
Predictably, the route continued along the linear path and I started to see the full extent of this UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Wall, forts and a temple. By 2100, the light started to fade and the head torch was donned. I was tiring now and the prospect of night walking didn’t fill me with overwhelming excitement.
It wasn’t long before it was very dark and my headlamp provided thousands of insects with something to aim for. I checked my step counter before midnight – showing nearly 95,000 steps and I was only half way!
The night walking was incredibly hard work and very tiring. My mind and eyes were playing tricks and my pace had slowed considerably. It was a cloudless night and I saw two shooting stars against the Milky Way background.
By 0330 I was stumbling, tired and struggling to focus. There was only one sensible response – I found a grassy area and out came the bivi bag for a much needed power nap! Within an hour I was back walking and arriving at Greenhead as the sun was rising. That was the end of a slow and difficult night.
Breakfast was at the impressive Birdoswald Fort and a huge section of the Wall. It was time to revert back to the trainers and day pack. By the time I took a refreshment break at Newtown I started to work out the remaining distance and time. With 26 miles to go, the only way to claw the time back that I lost through the night and make the 36-hour challenge was to jog!
Ditching as much kit as possible, I starting jogging. I use the term ‘jog’ in its widest sense – having walked 58 miles – my style and speed would have made many smile.
Following the route into and out of Carlisle, along the River Eden, I worked hard to try and make up for lost time. Passing beautiful villages of Burgh on Sands and Drumburgh, I continued the battle to the end. I finally arrived at Bowness-at-Solway in 36 hours and 20 minutes: 84 miles completed of Hadrian’s Way.
I could not have made it without the support of my wife and all the encouragement I received throughout. Most heartening of all, was the fact that more than £1,600 was raised for Police Treatment Centres. Treating more than 3,000 colleagues a year who are ill or injured, every donation is very much appreciated and well used. Thanks once again for all your support.
Paul’s fundraising total currently stands at £1,611.00. To donate to his cause on his Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-griffithsptc