Chatty Cumbria

I can’t believe I did not blog all the time I was walking in August. It became a very busy month and a sociable one too. I don’t feel creative at the end of walks and my new “rest day” on Sundays are now busier than I thought they would be.

August brought some incredibly good news. Travelodge are now on board and have offered to put me up whilst I am walking.  I have their newly formed partnership with the BHF to thank for this. Sundays are now my transfer day between Travelodges. To be able to park my rucksack in one location and walk with a daysack makes my walking days much more enjoyable. Also, no more rough sleeping, begging for a free bed or the dreaded camping, I should be able to get a good nights sleep for most of the 3000+ miles left.

I spent the first part of August walking by myself in Dumfries and Galloway. Some of my days involved 6 buses to get to and from my walk route. Some people may have found that a drag but I loved it. Sitting on the various buses gave me a chance to listen to conversations (if they were speaking slow Scottish) and watch how southern Scotland got by day by day. Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkudbright and Sandyhills were gorgeous and it was lovely to see the Lake District in the distance as I got closer to the border. It was also a sad time too because I would be leaving Scotland and even though I still have a section in NW Scotland to complete, I really felt as though I was going to miss Scotland.

I was amazed that walking just 12 miles from Gretna Green to Carlisle that accents changed so quickly. I visited the BHF shop in Carlisle and spoke with the manager who was born and raised in Carlisle. To me she sounded Geordie and was unsurprisingly amused at being told that. She told me of local rivalries, Carlisle history and things to see and do. I had arrived in chatty Cumbria and it stayed like that for the rest of August.

Nigel, a retired hotelier and father of Laura, who works at BHF in London, joined me for two days along the Cumbria coast path.  Sadly on the two days we spent walking, we didn’t have the best weather and the routes were not the most picturesque but Nigel, from the Lake district, didn’t seem to mind and we completed 30 miles together in good spirits.


Whilst I was in Carlisle taking photos of the Castle, I saw out of the corner of my eye the BBC Cumbria building. Nothing ventured, I went in and asked if they would be interested in my story. Within an hour and a half, I was live on air being interviewed by the friendly and zany DJ Caroline Robertson. It was one of the better interviews  I have had and I thoroughly enjoyed being in the studio for a change rather than battling with mobile phones

Thanks to this five minute plug, I received an email from David, a retired Sellafield worker and we walked two days along the coastline with some of his friends.  They gave me a fascinating insight into life at Sellafield and the impact on the surrounding area. I was incredibly grateful for this and they were great fun to walk with.


This coming week is National Organ donation Week . I have been very lucky to have met many transplant recipients on my walk and in Whitehaven I met Dave who is 4 years post heart transplant having spent many years on the transplant list. We walked from Whitehaven up to cliffs where he left me and welcomed me coming back down at St Bees. We both know how organ donation not only saved our lives but has given us a quality of life we could never have dreamt of. We exchanged stories, both of us knowing how lucky we were to be able to walk with each other.  I was made to feel like royalty during my stay with him and his wife Tina.

Dave & me

I ended the month at Barrow in Furness having racked up 1665 miles which is exactly a third of the way round. I still can’t believe that I have walked all this way and maybe I never will. It’s only when I look back at my photos that I recognise each of the 127 days walked so far.


I will be back up to NW Scotland in a few weeks to do the section I missed when I was previously unwell. I am really looking forward to this and I hope I get some good weather to make the pictures better. Whatever happens, the scenery will be stunning and my dream of getting to Cape Wrath will eventually come true. Then once I have ‘joined the jots’, I will go back to Barrow to carry on to London.

Kieran xx

I am an 8 year old!

On Monday 31st July, I celebrated my 8th heart rebirthday with a 12mile walk – just for fun.

I was thinking about all my 8 rebirthday celebrations and quite a few have been to go on a long walk or a fast run. I think of my donor all day long, her family and what I have done with my very special gift.

My 8th year has been incredible, visiting my old heart, meeting my TGA/Transplant Twin from NZ, Stuart Watson, two perfect transplant checkups, then the small matter of planning and walking 1400 coastal miles in all weathers. I am already looking forward to my 9th rebirthday where I will look back and say “I have walked around the whole coastline of mainland Britain”

OK, I am getting ahead of myself but I am now very confident that I can complete this and I can’t wait to write to my donors family to tell them. I am sure their reaction will be the same as most people I meet – ‘bloody nutcase’

My mini break included volunteering for the BHF at the Brentwood Festival. We had several stands there and it was so good to meet other volunteers and BHF staff. I was let loose on the main stage to talk about my heart and how the BHF research has helped me. Status Quo were headlining on Saturday evening and whilst I was backstage waiting to go on, Francis Rossi walked passed and I managed to grab a photo with the mad man. Yes, he is quite mad and very funny. (pic with Joanne Howe)


Before my talk to the crowd, they played the BHF video of me meeting my old heart. If you haven’t seen it, here is a link.


It was so strange hearing my voice but even stranger watching the crowd’s reaction when my heart is brought out for me to see. After the video was shown I was invited onto the stage to a nice round of applause.

“HELLO…..GLASTONBURY” I shouted as I grabbed the microphone. There was drunken cheering and laughter. I had an easy crowd. I explained that a friend dared me to do it and would give £10 to the BHF if I succeeded. Never dare me to do anything where showing off is involved. I can’t resist.

I was tempted to come onstage after the video showing and say “So, now you have all seen my organ…”



So with the crowd warmed up, I briefly told my heart history and got a lovely reception especially when  I said I had ran the London Marathon.  Maybe word had got out that I had my ukulele in my rucksack and they were just glad I didn’t bring it on stage. The crowd were great and with my 15 minutes of ZZZ list celebrity status finished I went back to the BHF tents. I was quite overwhelmed for the rest of the day that so many people came up to me and shook my hand.

“I fink yur fabulous”, they slurred holding their drinks. “Really FFF FFF Fablas”

“Thank you. I think you are fablas too” I would reply soberly.

“No but seriously man, did I tell you? Yooo rrr F***** fablas. F***** fablas”

And so it went on. The men were even worse.


On the Sunday of the festival, my fablasness was old news and I spent some of the day as Hearty. This was a first for me. Obviously I wear red tights all the time before but the heart costume and the one size fits all boots were quite an experience. I had a two year old girl follow me around the field for a long while until she finally plucked up courage to give me a high five. I lowered my hand, she stretched out as high as she could – we high fived. Then she fell over and started to cry. I felt helpless and feared that any sudden movement to comfort her might make the whole situation worse so I just stood there with my huge hand over my huge smile. I was glad my face was hidden.


We raised lots of money and personally for me, it was great to talk to two congenital heart patients and many other people who had had heart attacks, bypasses and other heart related troubles. It was a great way to spend the weekend and we stopped in time to watch Status Quo.

I am writing this blog having endured 9.5 hours on a night bus (sleep deprevation bus) from London to Dumfries. I think I fell asleep around Preston for an hour but can’t be sure. I am hoping this blog makes sense. Two minutes after getting off the bus I found Robert the Bruce pub. Well, that seemed a perfect place to write.


I will be sleeping the rest of the day no doubt but I wanted to get a blog in before I set off again tomorrow. August will bring me another 300 miles down the South West of Scotland and then back into England.

The beard is still a contentious issue. I had no idea my vision to be Forrest Gump at the end of this walk would be so popular and that the two times I have shaved since February have left me feeling guilty. Maybe the beard growing and shaving is representative of the highs and lows of the walk. There. That might please everyone.  Sorry beard fans.


So I am shaved and ready to go. Now that’s something I have never said before!!


Kieran Shavey McShavedagainFace

Grumpy trousers are on

I am disliking Facebook more and more. It is obviously providing a link to all the people I have met on the walk and also my friends and family but I am so utterly frustrated with the algorithms used for advertising and my feed.

Like the news we are fed from the rich, it is disturbingly inaccurate. My ‘recommended for you’ section has videos of hate, road rage, wars, robbery, fights etc. How can that happen? I don’t want this. Or does this mean that my friends like things that I don’t like?

I have actually got to the point where I only log into Facebook to update the walk page. So please don’t think I don’t care. I will find other ways to communicate.

It was fantastic to be able to meet up with a fellow coast walker Ruth Livingstone. She started in Kings Lynn and is walking clockwise in stages, some weekends and the odd week. We compared notes and routes and chatted about how we both came to chose this as something to do.

Ruth is doing it slowly, thoroughly absorbing each view and making a great record of her journey. She is only the second coast walker I have met and on both occasions, the madness of my idea disintegrates and an immediate bond is created. I have joined a warm, friendly and unique club of people. We understand the good and bad of it all. (And we are a bit mad)

The walk has been hard work this past week. A few times, I had no option but to get a bus to the end with my hip injury still playing up. I am feeling a bit down to be honest. My London marathon training was littered with injuries and frustrating little niggles so I have techniques and exercises to use to overcome this annoying period. I am missing home too but oddly when I was back home, I missed the walk.

Like blisters on a walk, an injury can make a good walk and scenery into a forgettable one. My journey from Ayr to Stranraer has been a tough one but I am still delighted with my progress. I now turn east for the rest of this week (after trying to peek at Northern Island) and then this leg will come to an end very near the England/Scotland border.


The reason for going back home on the 13th July is to help out at the Brentwood Festival. This is a music event near to where I grew up that has chosen BHF as their charity this year. So I will be volunteering on the BHF stands.
I will also be speaking about the BHF, my story and the walk on the main stage, just before Status Quo!! When I was asked, I couldn’t refuse so if anyone is free on the 14th/15th/16th July come to Brentwood. Maybe even help out? The line up is good and I have been promised non-Scottish summer weather.

Tempted to get my Ukelele out on the main stage and do 500 miles 


Unplanned Adventures

I am so chuffed that my next walk will bring up 100 days of walking for the BHF and for my own wanderlust. According to my spreadsheet, I will have walked nearly 1300 miles so that’s averaging a half marathon a day though I know I have walked a lot more. To have walked from London to John O Groats along the coast is a mad thought and one that still makes me smile

Obviously, it hasn’t gone to plan with stops for illness and a rethink about how to tackle NW Scotland safely but now I am back, I realise it will rarely go to plan and actually I am very good at adjusting to what the world and this walk throws at me.

Day 099 is a great example. I spent an hour the night before looking through the route, finalising the public transport back and forward and even checking a satellite map of the area to make sure the route would work. It didn’t.


An industrial estate with footpaths was one of the options to get to Irvine (blue line) but I soon found out that my maps bared no resemblance to the landscape. Dodgy looking buildings with high security fences soon gave way to barren fields and I didn’t realise that the huge fence separating me to the shoreline had in fact surrounded me. Path after path led to gates and viscous barbed wire. What was this place?


My bewilderment increased when I saw thousands of oyster shells surrounding an area that looked like an alien landing site.


I had gone too far to walk back by then so looked at a possible escape from this odd environment. I found a gap in the fence, clumped my forehead on a metal bar as I went through and surveyed my new surroundings.

I could now get to the bridge that my map said would lead me to a road. I got to the bridge after half a mile of trampling stinging nettles and the like to find it had a 4 foot barrier of pipes. Undeterred, the “heroic” me (or stupid), climbed the massive construction (remember 4 foot is high for someone scared of heights) and walked across the disused bridge across the estuary.


At the other end was a huge fence so I was presented with two options – go back or walk north up the estuary. There was no road as my map had suggested so I walked a mile up the edge of the water, mostly in seaweed.


I then was able to find a gap in the fence and with the help of two branches as walking poles, made my way up the 10 foot mound and pass through the fence. I gingerly got down the other side. I had escaped !!

I followed my map and compass and headed through dense forest, tripping and swearing every so often. After 5 minutes my map said there would be a path very soon. I found another fence. Aarrgh. I walked along the fence, my trousers soaked with dew from the high grass and all of a sudden I heard a huge cheer.

Puzzled, I thought for a fraction of a second that I was involved in a reality TV challenge or the Crystal Maze. It was in fact the golf course I was heading towards. If only these people knew there was a tired, wet, bitten and stung coastal walker a few hundred yards away.

My spirits were raised at the thought of civilisation, that is if you can call people in fancy dress hitting a ball around a field, civilised! Sorry golfers, just don’t get it. Golf is a good walk spoiled – Mark Twain.

I sped up through the brambles, thistles and strange plants hoping that I wasn’t penned in again. Eventually I saw another fence blocking me in. I shouted a swear word. Use your imagination. But as I approached the fence I saw another gap. Was there someone in front of me with a pair of plyers? This was the third fence I had to get through, I was now an expert.

My map was now saying a path was underneath me. I started moving forwards and all of a sudden, out of the growth, I noticed tarmac just beyond the next tree. Was this a mirage?

I excitedly kicked and trampled the foliage and sped up at the sight. I was now about three feet from it when my right foot fell down a hole. I stumbled onto the floor and pulled my saturated right boot out of the ground, my arms literally touching the tarmac.


The tarmac led me, one squelch at a time, under the railway line and onto the cycle path to Irvine (red on the map and maybe what I should have done)

I had survived with a bruised forehead, cuts, bites, scratches and a wet foot. I finished the day reflecting that it could have been so much worse.

Today, I woke up aching all over and a sore hip so decided not to walk.
If I am fit tomorrow, I will have walked 100 days with Day 099 being one of the most memorable!!

Kieran “adventurer (ahem)” Sandwell

A rethink and Emu

When I started planning this walk I knew that setting a target finish date would be, to be frank, a bit silly. Living with congenital heart disease makes you very adaptable because one minute you could be at work or at home doing a usual task and within half an hour you could find yourself in A&E with a confused short term future. Now, post transplant the principles are still there. I have no idea when I will be struck down with a bug but I do know it will be much more frequently than others and the recovery will be slower.  I also didn’t set an end date because I wanted to enjoy it and not be stressed by targets after all, I am not trying to set a time or distance record. Being the first transplant patient to walk around the coast of Britain is a record enough for me! *well I think I might be lol

So I am adapting the walk. I will explain.

After getting to the most northerly point on the mainland, Dunnett Head, I had a shorter 10 mile walk to Thurso. This was a very wet and uninspiring walk, mainly uphill and with a 20mph headwind. My injured calf was not enjoying the test and I took many wet breaks to ease it through the journey.  A ginger bearded Scottish man stopped his car alongside me at one point and asked if I wanted a lift. “Yyyyeeea….No thanks” was my reply – the fourth time on this walk that random car temptation was put in my way.  I arrived in Thurso at The Weigh Inn, who kindly gave me a complimentary room. I used it to its full potential, sleepy and resting my aching body.

It was here where I realised I was ill again. I took paracetamol and drank lots of water but I knew that I would have a difficult decision in the morning. I felt no better the next day and the weather forecast deflated me further. A months rain had fell in NE Scotland in the last 3 days I had heard but it looked like it was about to disappear into the North Sea by lunchtime. I checked out and sat in the hotel reception waiting for the rain to stop.  I sat there considering my options. The last thing I wanted to do was to stop the walk but this option seemed to keep popping up as the the most sensible option.

The truth is, and I am being honest here, the barren, bleak and isolation of NW Scotland was starting to terrify me. I do risk assessments all the time from being immune suppressed so carrying on into this area by myself was top of the list. I was ill again and had no support. It was just me against the elements. I could try to use facebook to get support but the chances of finding warm dry places to stay were minimal and could this be done for 2 months? I pictured an ill, lonely figure wandering around, heavily weighed down by his rucksack cursing the walk for the next few weeks. An image that was the complete opposite of what I had thought it would be.

The rain eased a bit by midday and it was decision time. Thurso had an link back to civilisation. The further I went along the north tip of Scotland, the more remote it would be and the more vunerable I would feel. I stepped out of the hotel and the sun suddenly came out and a rainbow appeared. A sign? I turned so that the sea was on my right and carried on with the walk to Reay. I started to make plans with my new decision. I looked at stopping points, planned my food and water and found a spring in my step. Sadly the spring rusted pretty quickly as the rain came back and the cold headwind made me cough and curse at the same time.  I persevered and eventually passed the Doonreay nuclear power station. I started to look for possible wild camping sites (for wild camping – not crazy evenings at a campsite) Reay had very little there and I found a bus stop and sat down pondering.

It may seem a romantic notion to be wandering around Scotland with a rucksack reaching parts that very few people get to see but the reality was now very different. It was 6pm and I was so tired that just the thought of battling with the tent made me feel  even more tired. The wind that had not let up all day and I knew I needed to find shelter if I wasn’t going to attempt the tent.  I looked at the position I was in and made a decision. I had to get back to Thurso and I had to re-think  NW Scotland leg of the walk.

I put the rucksack back on and stuck my thumb out. The first car flew by but the second stopped. Carmel was Israili and he had hired a car in Glagow to ride around the coastline up to Durness, along to John O Groats and back to Edinburgh. He welcomed me into his hired Mini and we chatted as he drove towards Thurso. Watching the route that I had just walked was weird and we soon reached Thurso after some nifty cornering by my rescuer.

I booked myself into a hostel and looked at the train times to Inverness. After a fairly sleepless night, I found myself sitting on the train to Inverness looking out of the window and wondering what had just happened in the previous 24 hours. Thanks to my lovely new friends in Strathpeffer, Anne & Barry, I got a lovely hot meal and bed and then took the night bus back to Hemel Hempstead. Home.

Reunited with Emu and my Guitar 🙂

I feel better today, still tired but the sore throat has eased and the cough virtually gone. As for the decision to stop the walk? I think it was the right one. It was sensible. I have this precious gift to look after and though I would love to be like my heroine Spud who put up with all sorts of challenges on her coastal walk, I have to think about doing it my way and if that means stopping then so be it.

I will blog in a few days with my plans which are gradually forming. I would love to do NW Scotland with a travel companion, a volunteer or friend and have a camper van. That way, instead of packet food, I can get a good meal each day, somewhere warm to sleep and I don’t have to carry a huge rucksack. Also Emu can be with me too !! Lol

Any volunteers?

Kieran xx



Northern boy

I am back!!

After three weeks out recovering from a virus, I returned to the far north of Scotland to continue the walk. One of the most special parts of the walk is the delight in meeting new people. I was met at Inverness airport by Barry just as a huge thunderstorm began. The kindness shown by total strangers still amazes me and I was taken to his and Anne’s wonderful house in the beautiful village of Strathpeffer.


Once a spa geteway, trains used to trundle up the country from London so southerners could experience the wonderful Spa pavilion and amazing views.

I was treated to a mouthwatering Sunday roast and enjoyed the company of Anne’s mother and the very amusing Arthur. I returned the treat by getting out my Ukelele….ahem. Well they seemed to enjoy it.


We drove up to John O Groats, had a quick brunch in the carpark, took the obligatory photo and said our goodbyes. This is always difficult for me when people have given me so much and all I can give back is a “thank you” and hugs.



Once on my own, I headed west, the sea still on my right but the whole of the British mainland on my left. I grinned to myself as I set off. It felt good to be back and with the weather forecast good for the day, was excited for a good days walking.


I reached the Dunnet Headland after about 10 miles. My feet were moaning by then but other than sore feet I felt good. The 3 miles of boggy land separated by a single track road leading up to the lighthouse was the most remote I been on the walk. I was joined by plenty of birds that I didn’t recognise and saw many flowers and plants that meant nothing to me. I could have been on the moon. I was passed by six cars in total as I trudged in solitude to the end.

I had reached the most northerly point of my journey.


The Northern Sands hotel in Dunnet had kindly offered me a room for the night and it was my intention to hitch back from the cliff to the village, about 4 miles. However, after a few cars had driven passed, I realised that hitching in the middle of no-where was not a good place. I have never hitched before but I made sure my thumb was out and sticking upwards and I tried not to look like a murderer.

No luck so I ended walking the 4 miles back to the hotel making my first day back an aching 19 miles. As I approach the hotel, I began to limp. My left calf and kneecap were very sore. I knew this was because I had overdone it but I had very few options than to carry on.

The hotel and staff were lovely and I went to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

It feels good to be back but already my body has spoken. If only my determination to succeed and my body were on the same page.

Shavey McBeardface xx

Wherever I lay my hat

I have been at a secret location for my recuperation. Being an international public figure (sniggers) and a ZZZ list celebrity, I have to be careful with papperazzi, groupies and giraffies (don’t ask!) I can, however, reveal that I ended up back “home” for a day. I say home with speech marks because I feel my life is getting more and more like the Paul Young’s song “Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home”
(For the pedants, I know it wasn’t his song. It was a cover)

It was strange to be on the grizzly M25 and the whole experience made my stress levels raise significantly. The momentary upside was being able to surprise my friend Emma whilst she was in her local pub. Her face was a picture: “what the ***ing hell are you doing here” Priceless.

On the whole though, I came away from my “hometown” feeling down and lost. The purpose if going back was to collect some more tablets after my GP refused to do something against their procedures. We all have annoying stories of our GP’s and NHS admin but I would still prefer to have a slightly flawed free system than the terrifying alternative of a private one.

Where would I go after the walk? What would I do? These questions have been with me everyday whilst walking as something to distract me, daydreams I guess but they became very real thoughts as I sat in a traffic jam on the M25. I have seen so much of the breath-taking beauty of our country and I am only a quarter of the way round. Walking in the peaceful surroundings of John o Groats one day, sucking exhaust fumes on the road to hell on another day couldn’t be more different.

I have been staying with an old school friend, her fella and daughter. My recuperation has been filled with so many days of nostalgia and laughter. It is the best medicine and I have laughed myself back to fitness. Thank you Sharon, Matt and Shania.

My plan now is to arrive in Inverness later on this week and start from John o Groats on Monday 5th.

Lastly, I am planning a rest day every week from now on. I am not superman, I have no time limit for this mad walk so a regular rest day it will be. The only negative to this is that I will walk through the full winter finishing Jan/Feb 2018. It will be the southern softie winter by then not the Scottish winter so I will be fine.

So, I am raring to go again and looking forward to the peace and quiet of NW Scotland and time to process the events of the last month…..and more sheep singing
Beardy McKiltface xxx

John o Groats

Before transplant, I had the usual timescales of getting over bugs. We have NHS websites offering help regarding this so as to not clog up doctors surgeries. Most sites have said three weeks maximum for a meaty cough – then see a doctor afterwards.

Post transplant, recovery seems to be in slow motion. When people ask how I am, I can only say “the same, maybe a bit better” because there is little difference from day to day. It is a painfully slow process. I am eating fruit and healthy meals, drinking plenty of water and sleeping a lot but none of those will be a miraculous cure.

I am frustrated but I am using this time to take stock. (Not gravy…or shoplifting)

It has been incredible that I have managed to get to John o Groats by myself. No entourage, no massage or ice baths, no nutritional experts or psychologists. These ‘celeb’ challenges make me laugh now. I am funding this, organising it, finding accommodation, organising walkers, meeting press, maintaining a website, tweeting and facebooking each day as well as walking 15 miles a day.


Having said that, these 4 lovely people are looking out for me, promoting me and are as near to an “official” backup team as I have.
Marc Shaw – BHF Fundraising Manager (East)
Amelia Komor – BHF Communications Co-ordinator
Dr Sonia Babu-Narayan – Keeper of my old heart
Rachel Sacks – BHF Research Communications Officer

Seeing this pic when I was very poorly last week was a huge tonic. They are fantastic people and they smile like that all the time!!! (Ahem) I guess everyone reading this, posting messages on FB and Twitter are my backup team too. You all help. Thank you 🙂

I am extremely proud of what I have achieved and will continue to fight bugs and weather till I finish…whenever that may be.

To be honest, moving away from commercialism, corporations and capitalism and making a very simple life for myself has been the most refreshing part of this walk. I have met many like minded people – all kind, generous and willing to give up time for others. I want to hug them all. Some have brought a tear to my eye.

We have all met someone who will spend all of the ‘conversation’ talking about themselves, their possessions, their life. When this happens I find it astounding that two humans can be talking to each other, but only one of them is listening.
How did we get to a stage where material things define ourselves, our lives? We learn nothing from this type person and they learn nothing about us. What a waste.

I believe in a caring society, not a greedy one, I always have done. My mum was a nurse for the NHS for 40years whilst bringing up 5 children single handedly. She cared for others her whole life.

Why is it that people are motivated by buying, buying buying? We are conditioned. Step away from commercialism as I have done and you see beautiful, selfless, kind people.

I managed to get up to John o Groats on Thursday. I was met by Simon Gillespie, the CEO of the British Heart Foundation, who had kindly flown up to meet me. What did we do first? Ice cream!! Then photos at the famous board. I wanted to go to Duncansby Head which is about 2 miles from John o Groats itself so we walked there; my first real walk for a few days. I was shattered but happy to reach the most North Easterly point on the mainland. It was a blustery walk but with bright sunshine – a real bonus.

So, my plan is to take more time to rest. I still have a meaty cough, the cold has virtually gone but my physical strength will take some time to get back.
I may be back by the end of the month but I have no crystal ball.

Rest assured, I will look after myself and the precious gift I have been given.
Kieran Beardy McKiltface xx

4 Blisters and a Bug

Nearly 1200 miles without a blister then four arrived in one day.

Things are a bit rocky here on the trail and I am not talking about the terrain. I was battered into submission along the Moray coastline by Scotland’s un-spring like icy blast and decided on a camping break on the Black Isle to recover.

I also had medication issues to solve so ended up taking five days off. The actual experience I gained from camping for the first time will stand me in good stead for the next two months. However, along the way, I developed a virus which initially weakened me but has now developed into a cold and cough.

My first day back walking was a long treck of 18+ miles in much warmer conditions than I had previously experienced. I was more concerned with my water and fitness levels over the course of Day 085 and neglected to take care of my feet. As a result of this, Day 086 became a painful experience not only hobbling with two blisters on each feet but with fatigue from the virus and a good deal of negativity aimed at myself – battling with chimp all day long. I called off the 16 miles to Tain at 12 miles when a bus appeared right on cue with another bout of feet cursing.


The bed at my Bnb in Alness swallowed me up for the rest of the afternoon. Its never nice being unwell but it always seems worse when you are hundreds of miles from people you care about. Luckily nowadays we have social media.

I woke this morning feeling worse and started working out a “get better quickly” plan. I have taken the train to Helmsdale today which is about 50 miles north and booked into a bnb for 3 nights. If I feel better, I will do some of the next days’ walking using public transport to get me there and back. If I feel worse, then I will stay in bed.
Financially, I can’t afford to stay in one place and get better then move on so this seems a good enough compromise.

The last cold took me six weeks to feel fully fit again. Anyone immune suppressed will identify with this. My transplant team went through a lot of things to avoid post transplant but I don’t remember Scotland as being one of them 😉


Positive Mental Attitude.

I’m pretty sure I am not allergic to Scotland and I will definitely get to John o Groats next week. Whatever it throws at me 🙂

Kieran Beardy McKiltface xx

And rest..

“Listen to your body” is something I have always taken seriously. When I was ill, informing doctors of all the odd things that were happening gave them a better picture of how to treat me.

On this trip, I knew a week ago that I hadn’t been recovering well enough to tackle the following days’ walk so I have finally decided to take a wee break.

I am currently in a tent on the Black Isle staring back at Inverness having walked 1161 miles and climbed nearly 2 Mt Everests! The thought of John O Groats and the next 3 months in some of the most remote places on mainland Britain is still exciting and also a bit daunting for a self-confessed Townie.

Each day brings new challenges, new people and new surroundings. I will tackle NW Scotland in much the same way as everything else I do – with a joy of being alive and a sense of nothing ventured nothing gained.

This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. The rewards are in the pictures on Facebook and my memories of all the wonderful people I have met. This week, though, the rewards became skewed and as fatigue and loneliness set in, I doubted myself and felt like quitting on many occasions. Chimp took over and one day, I stopped by the side of the road, threw off the evil rucksack, kicked it, swore at it and sat on it burying my head in my hands.

After scoffing a banana, I soon got chimp back to sleep again and made friends again with the evil rucksack. However, this sort of event happened quite frequently this week so I knew I had to listen.

I also had dreadful weather this week which probably didn’t help my spirits. 7 miles of sand, hail, snow and rain spray leading up to Lossiemouth left me drained. (And looking a bit of a mess)



My first nights camping felt like a reverse striptease lasting 7 hours from lights out. Each hour, I awoke colder than the last. I think I was wearing all my clothes by the end of the night.

It was nice to have not been worrying about sleep as I knew I was not walking today. So, this morning I took a short stroll to Chanonry point to Dolphin spot. They were there, jumping around in and out of the water. I stood gazing at the spectacle and for about half an hour forgot about the walk.


Just what I needed

Hoping to start back off next week and head north to the most NW point, Duncansby Head, then John o Groats and the most northerly point Dunnet Head.

But before all that… 🙂

Kieran Beardy McKiltwell xx