Nat Severs: Starting out
In the first in series of entries for Walkmag.co.uk, Nat Severs introduces us to his epic journey…
Eight months ago, on a chilly January Sunday morning on Portsmouth’s seafront, I set out to walk the entire mainland UK coastline, including any bridge-connected islands, for charity. It’s roughly a 6,500-mile journey, further than London to Beijing, that I guessed would take me 11 months. I would be walking clockwise to ensure Scotland was walked in the summer.
I had done most of the England’s long distance footpaths on family holidays, so had done long distance walking before. However, during three years at university I had done very little and this time I would be walking for longer than a week – more like 44 continuous weeks! There was also the factor that I would not have the benefit of a warm cottage and a car to take me to supermarkets. I would be camping out as much as possible and buying my food as and when I came to a shop along the coastline.
Preparation, you may think, would be crucial. I have to admit, I did very little beyond setting up a website and doing a couple of 15-mile hikes with tins in my rucksack to get used to the weight of a full pack. Kit wise, I was similarly lacking in foresight, purchasing a £28 one-man tent and only the very basics of camp gear to keep the weight I had to carry down.
Considering this lack of preparation, I haven’t done too badly. I have hit the UK’s most southern, western, and northern points, and walked around 4,500 miles in five weeks less than I had scheduled. Yes, my feet have hurt as the blisters grew to epic proportions, and there have been times when I have wondered why I am doing it, but a friendly face, an offer of kindness or an amazing sight always brings me round.
I walk around 25 miles a day and still have my original boots on, though they are nearly worn through and will be swapped next week, which will be rather a sad moment. I hug the coast as far as possible, though as you will learn from future blogs, this is easier said than done! It has been an incredible experience so far and hopefully will continue to be so. I have met some amazing people and seen some amazing sights and I look forward to sharing regular updates with you as I trek back down the UK from my position currently near Inverness, particularly on the state of the paths considering the plans for the official UK coastpath. My next three entries for Walkmag.co.uk will give an overview of the English, Welsh and Scottish coastpaths in turn, and from then on I will be giving regular progress updates.