How tough is a 2800-mile charity walk through Europe? Just ask Edward Lloyd Owen
PUBLISHED: 08:24 26 June 2015 | UPDATED: 08:24 26 June 2015
He has called it a short walk home but in reality it is an epic adventure.
When army reservist Edward Lloyd Owen finished serving on a six-month United Nations peace-keeping effort in Cyprus he turned down the offer of a flight home and set out on a gruelling 2,800-mile walk across nine countries back to Blighty.
The 34-year-old officer, who grew up in mid Norfolk, took on the challenge to raise money for forces charity Walking With The Wounded and expects to take five months, walking between 20 and 25 miles per day, to reach home soil.
Setting off on March 25 he has completed nearly two thirds of the journey and is currently making his way up the east coast of Italy having already traversed Turkey, Greece and Albania.
Often camping in his tent or hooking up a hammock, he has had to cope with extremes of weather from baking sun to torrential rain to add to the growing aches and pains of constantly pounding the roads.
Captain Lloyd Owen, a reservist with The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, and professional photographer, is also stopping at battlefield commemorations on his way. He has passed through the part of Albania where his grandfather, Major General David Lloyd Owen who commanded the Long Range Desert Group from 1943 to 1945, had operated behind the German lines gathering information during the war.
Speaking from his overnight base near Rimini on Tuesday night he said the trip was proving much harder than he imagined.
“My legs are very sore and it is getting tougher and tougher to get through to the end of each week but I have to get on with it,” he said.
“I hate it every day but at the end of each week it is another 120 miles done and there is no giving up, I just grit my teeth.
Excerpts from the Captain’s blog
March 31 - road to Aydincik, Turkey
High cliffs up and down on both sides, lovely pine forests, massive mountains with cliffs at the top towered over me, and the very occasional roadside shack all gently made their way past. The rain dripped off the brim of my hat and I was completely lost in my thoughts. My feet felt okay – the toe one in from my little toe on my right foot was being squeezed by my boot but not sufficiently that I worried. I was lost in my own little world.
May 4 - Taurus mountains
Up and up I went. Steep cliffs up above, and sheer drops to empty river beds below me. Not sure it was a blessing or not, but the sun was shining and it was warm. I’m pretty sure I would have preferred that to rain, but most of the time I had sweat pouring down inside my sunglasses and I was totally drenched from start to finish. The views got more and spectacular but only when I stopped to admire them. Otherwise, I was pretty much bent double, staring at the asphalt a couple of metres in front of me, and trying to use my walking poles metronomically to keep a good rhythm going. And I climbed. And climbed.
May 27 - Macedonian border
A massive couple of days - 42km and 1,000m climbed yesterday, camping last night, and another 47km today has seen a number of milestones fall this week - the 40pc overall complete, the 1,000-mile point, country number four in the form of Macedonia, a new time zone! I am feeling pretty happy with myself in spite of a dodgy right leg and hip. The hardest week of the whole journey is now upon me; through the Accursed Mountains of Albania and Macedonia. Wild, windswept, wet, cold and very remote - it’s not going to be much fun.
June 17 - south of Pescara, Italy
Yesterday, I had an absolutely lovely sidetrack to the British War Cemetery for Sangro River of WWII. Possibly one of, if not, the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen - on the side of an Italian hill, overlooking a stunning view, if you wanted to choose a place to rest for eternity, these boys probably did pretty well. Lump in throat stuff.
“I’m sure I will look back and forget how painful it was.”
He said that thinking about the money he is raising for wounded soldiers spurred him on.
“I have two functioning legs and I can’t grumble. There is no room for self-pity.”
Amazingly, despite walking for three months, he is only just about to replace his first pair of boots.
His father Christopher Lloyd Owen, who lives in Great Dunham, flew out to meet his son when he reached Italy. He said it was a “remarkable” thing to do and not something he envisaged his son achieving when he was growing up at Easton, near Norwich, and Litcham, near Dereham.
“He was a typical slothful teenage boy,” he said. “But he joined the army and now he is always active and up and about. It is really gruelling physically, walking 20 miles a day for five days without a break. And the heat in Italy has been 32 degrees.
“But the worst thing for him on this walk is being on his own and getting his mental state right when every day is like the one before. We are very proud but also think he is slightly bonkers.”
Edward Parker, co-founder and chief executive of Walking With The Wounded who lives in Melton Constable, described the walk as a “truly extraordinary undertaking” and asked people to dig deep and sponsor him.
To sponsor Cpt Lloyd Owen visit his fundraising website www.justgiving.com/shortwalkhome, text ASWH99 followed by the amount to 70070 or send a CAF cheque to Ed Lloyd Owen, A Short Walk Home, Hill Farm House, Gt Dunham, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE32 2LP.
To follow his progress visit www.shortwalkhome.co.uk.
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