Opinion: Inspiring walk around England to help others

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Do you know the most common cause of death in UK males under 50? Road accidents? Cancer? Chuck Norris?

No, it’s suicide. One of the starker statistics I came across last month when writing about the lack of mental health support available in the UK, and how so much depends on a few very worth charities.

Whitby Gazette columnist Mark Holtz and fellow walkers at Station Stores, Robin Hood's Bay, setting off for Scarborough

Whitby Gazette columnist Mark Holtz and fellow walkers at Station Stores, Robin Hood's Bay, setting off for Scarborough

Two of those are Mind and CALM, and I’ve spent April on a 300-mile walk around England to raise some extra funds for them.

I’ve staggered across the South Downs, crawled along the Cam, trundled down the Trent-Mersey canal...I could go on, but this is already sounding like Charlene’s 70s classic Never Been To Me.

Well I HAVE been to Me, well Meir anyway, just off the Trent-Mersey in Stoke-on-Trent. It’s....gritty. After that I decided it was time to come back to Whitby for the last legs of the walk, aided by some of Yorkshire’s finest.

We decided to walk the Cinder Track, which normal people refer to as the old railway line from Whitby to Scarborough. It really is a rather excellent walking/cycling path, especially in the months that are not so squelchy underfoot.

There are plenty of places to stop for refreshment, and plenty of signposts to stop you getting lost, even if you get very refreshed indeed.

First, we walked from Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough. The stretch from the Bay to Ravenscar is a belter, with great views, abandoned stations and old alum works before you arrive at ‘the town that never was’.

At the start, it can get muddy but as you rise towards the Peak it dries out a lot unless, as happened to us in late April, it starts snowing. Beyond Ravenscar it’s less spectacular, but very easy walking with the option of visiting coves such as that at Hayburn Wyke.

We didn’t though, we had blisters. Lots of them.

For the final walk we took the path from the Bay to Whitby and back. This time we were joined by two-wheeled and four legged friends. The two wheels belonged to Rebecca Mortimer, aged nine, who successfully led us through a ferocious hailstorm approaching Whitby Abbey. The four legs belonged to Scamp, a brave 14 year-old dog of indeterminate heritage, who after an uncertain start seemed to gain energy with every mile.

By the time we made it back to the Bay there were just five of us though, greeted by my mum whose solo fundraising outside the village store took us towards our total of over £2,000.

Locals Gary Mortimer and Shelley Anderson also completed both walks.

One thing I’ve found while doing all this walking, is that many of those joining me have also suffered from mental health problems.

It’s not perhaps surprising that they should have the greatest insight, but it IS inspiring that so many want to help others, and do so.

Never give up on people.

If you can spare us a dime, the sponsorship page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/routecanal

is still open. Thank you.