Oxfordshire farmer Mark Wiseman (above, left) walked the 268-mile Pennine Way to raise more than £1,130 for R.A.B.I. Mark, sister Natasha and her partner Mike departed from Edale in Derbyshire on May 27 and reached the end of the trail, at Kirk Yetholm, a village in the Scottish Borders, on June 15.
Mark was inspired to walk for R.A.B.I following the death in 2016 of his friend and boss William Cumber, a former R.A.B.I trustee. Here, Mark shares his story.
“When I decided that I would walk the Pennine Way I had no intention of making it a charity walk. Circumstances at work changed all that. I worked for William Cumber (Cumber Farms in Marcham) since he employed me in 1987 during my middle year placement from Berkshire College of Agriculture. In 2003 I became arable manager. Sadly, William died in 2016 and I lost a great boss and friend.
“William was a trustee of R.A.B.I and would travel all around the country with his R.A.B.I badge on, something he loved doing. I know that I had William’s blessing to do this walk as I had discussed it with him when he was ill. Originally, I had planned to walk in 2017, but decided that his son (also a William) needed support in those first months after his father’s death. R.A.B.I seemed a natural cause to support in memory of a great man.
“In 2012, Natasha and I walked the Coast to Coast path. We did this for the Mesothelioma charity, a disease our father died from. The Coast to Coast and the Pennine Way cross each other at a village called Keld in North Yorkshire. We stayed at a bunkhouse here and met a lady in her 60s doing the Pennine Way on her own. It was her stories that planted the seed of interest in me. Having now done the Pennine Way, I have nothing but admiration for her.
“I suppose the best aspect of the whole walk was the astonishing views that no photograph can ever do justice to. Great Britain has some splendid scenery if you go out and look for it. The toughest aspect was the insane ascents that really wear you out. I knew the walk wasn’t going to be a pushover – it’s England’s most challenging trail – but I was surprised how exhausting it was, both mentally and physically. The first seven days consisted of glorious sunshine. It sounds good, but believe me, it wasn’t. We literally couldn’t carry enough water. Dehydration became a real worry. On the moorlands and hilltops, shade becomes a very scarce commodity. The remaining two weeks of the walk were mostly overcast and we had the ‘fun’ of walking during storm Hector.
We met others on the trail. One American lad was planning to walk the distance in a little under two weeks. He had very limited luggage on his back and was walking in trainers. He walked at a pace we couldn’t match. We also met a man walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
“One good companion we made was Steve, walking with his two four-year-old border collies. What is astonishing about Steve is that he has a faulty heart and relies on a battery powered gizmo to keep his heart going. His maximum heart rate is only 120 beats per minute so on some of the gradients he would have to stop for a few seconds. I have so much admiration for this man. He finished the walk on the same day as us and was preparing to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge a week later!”