Anne Kemp is a previous trustee of MapAction. She has taken on walking the length of the South West Coastal Path and is raising funds for MapAction. Here she writes about why she is doing it and how you can sponsor her.
In March 2020, I started walking the Pennine Way (270 miles), motivated by a diagnosis of Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) – a type of cancer. At the time of the diagnosis, I was advised not to fight it but to learn to live with it – followed by a flippant remark that the worst-case scenario of a worldwide pandemic was unlikely to happen. This seems uncomfortably ironic now. Certainly, I didn’t realise in 2020 that I was walking into two years of effective shielding. I stopped four days into the walk due to lockdown, but finished the remainder of the walk that August, raising £8,600. A phenomenal amount and a phenomenal experience.
Last year I decided I wanted – and needed – to walk back to normality along the South West Coastal Path. I was partly inspired by “The Salt Path” – a book written by Raynor Winn about how she, with her terminally ill husband, set out on the South West Coastal Path following his diagnosis. In July 2021 I started planning the walk over 52 days for April/ May 2022: it would be over 630 miles and the equivalent ascent/ descent of four Mount Everest’s. Could the walk help me to be fitter and happier in myself about living with CLL?
It’s been a long haul the last two years not meeting friends and colleagues, and my family have made huge sacrifices to keep me safe… as well as putting up with my increasing hermit-like behaviour. But that was the point – I am safe and I am well.
So it’s now more than time to give something back and think of the many people who have been, and continue to be, less fortunate than myself. I do struggle with fatigue at times, especially on steeper slopes – but my stubbornness and determination have won through so far. My knees do protest – but not as much as they might (again, so far). But I still can’t think of a better way to walk back to normality. I do get lonely sometimes, especially in the evenings, but the opportunity to be alone with nature is a gift which will live long in my memory.