King of the roadThe hike of a lifetime

Peter Youngs has a passion for ice cream and cake.

Thursday, 21st July 2016, 6:09 am
Rambling man - Peter Youngs in the Hampshire countryside. Picture: Allan Hutchings

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

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?

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

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.

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).

Peter Youngs at the end of his marathon

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’’.’

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

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.

Peter Youngs at the end of his marathon