King of the road The hike of a lifetime

Rambling man - Peter Youngs in the Hampshire countryside. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Rambling man - Peter Youngs in the Hampshire countryside. Picture: Allan Hutchings

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Peter Youngs has a passion for ice cream and cake.

Bulging waistline? Not likely. For Peter knows how to burn off those naughty, but oh so nice, treats.

Peter Youngs's book about his length-of-Britain adventure

Peter Youngs's book about his length-of-Britain adventure

He goes for a walk. Not a leg-stretching down the road to the corner shop for a paper and a pinta-type walk.

Oh no. Peter is a seasoned long distance walker. How do you define ‘long distance’? Thirty, 50, perhaps 100 miles?

Try 1,535. For that’s the distance he rambled to reach, and tick off, the entry at the summit of his bucket list – Lejog. No, not a French training run, but the acronym for Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Most people (those crazy or driven enough to attempt it) will take the most direct route of a mere 870 miles.

Peter Youngs at the end of his marathon

Peter Youngs at the end of his marathon

But Peter ‘wanted a more interesting route’ from one end of Britain to the other. So it snaked around a bit.

As befits the semi-retired clerical officer in the eye department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, he was punctilious about the three-and-a-half-year mission (he did it in many trips from his home at Warfield Avenue, Waterlooville).

He recalls: ‘I did each section consecutively and always returned to the exact spot I had reached the previous time, so there were no gaps anywhere.

‘I did not even take ferries across estuaries – I walked inland until I could cross rivers.

He completed his lifetime’s ambition in 107 days of walking, averaging 15 miles a day. Much of it he managed in day walks by catching the first train of the day from Cosham at 6.15am.

Peter kept a journal and one entry reads: ‘Here was a shop and it sold ice creams. The description on one packet was irresistible: ‘‘classic vanilla ice cream enrobed with Belgian chocolate’’.’

And he’s now turned those journals into a highly entertaining book called Ice Cream, Cakes and a Very Long Walk.

It’s published by Tricorn Books in Old Portsmouth at £14.95 and is available at Waterstones and the League of Friends’ cafe at QA where 25 per cent goes to the charity.