The Why Not? Blog

At the tender age of 25 Dave started skateboarding. 14 months later he became the first person to skate the length of Britain. Another 8 months on he had crossed Australia on his board, breaking a world record & raising over £20,000 for three charities. Now, at 27, he's writing his first book, is a motivational speaker and a businessman, and he's only just gotten started on a lifetime of challenges which from the outside look just darn crazy. So, why? You know the answer, don't you. Why not?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Day 31: Crossing the Moors

Spend the morning on media. Rich and Maike who put us up in Exeter treat us like kings and queens. We eat well, the website gets updated and the Cornish media informed about the BoardFree latest.

Before we head back to Launceston I record an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall to go out on Saturday, crossing fingers for more media before Friday.

I step onto the A30 just after 2pm. There's no choice but to take this road the whole way to Bodmin, across the moor. Headwinds and sidewinds are a worry, as is traffic, but hey...if we make Bodmin today it's a good step closer to the end.

On the A30 you can't avoid signposts. Bodmin 23 miles. Bodmin 22 miles. Bodmin 19 miles. It's a constant countdown, you can't help but concentrate more on the miles passing and as a consequence they pass slower. To help things along, returning VW vans from Run to the Sun in Newquay keep their thumbs raised across the central reservation.

A police car pulls up. Uh oh. I'm certain we're about to be stopped, the officer is concerned that the support vehicle is going too slowly and that it's not visible enough to prevent a crash. There's a big orange light on the roof, flashing away. I explain the situation, I'd rather not be on the A30, there's no alternative route between here and Bodmin. Officer agrees, safety is paramount, we'll be careful.

At Bolventor, a lunch stop halfway across the moor between Bodmin and Launceston, I join Becs and Dim for a hot chocolate. We're drinking in the Jamaica Inn, the setting for the famous Daphne Du Mourier book and former haunt for smugglers, villains and murderers. Ghosts roam around, and the walls are covered with foreign money. Odd place but strangely cosey, it's half five, there's 15 miles left to skate, it's windy outside, it's warm inside. Motivation lurks in the bottom of my mug.

Back on the road after a drawn-out return to the van. The time flies. The miles disappear. Bodmin appears, the roads are smooth, almost empty after 7.

25 miles and we stop. We're staying with a chap named John, a member of the Middle Age Shred forum who heard about BoardFree just before it started and offered the team a bed for when we were due to pass through. A bit late we are but John's roof is ours tonight. He and his lady Karen, rat Norbert and countless cats are great company. A good end to the day, where will we be tomorrow?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Still a few blogs missing from the last week but they will be up as soon as possible, promise! Another reminder that Becki is now driving the van and if you want to contact us (whether it's for media, love or you just want to text in a message of support) the number is now 07921 315101.

Four days left, we'll be getting into Land's End in the early afternoon (aiming for 1pmish) of Friday June 2nd. That's this Friday. If you can be there please be there! And if you know anyone from the media then tell them that in just a couple of days someone is about to complete the first ever length of Britain skate!

Thanks to everyone who has written over the past few days and weeks, your support has been amazing and myself and the team are buzzing because we know the team gets a little bit bigger with every new visitor to the website. I will reply to you all but it might take a little while, sorry!!

Day 30: Goodbyes, sunshine, roads

Cracking day. Said goodbye to everyone at the campsite after a slow morning. Back on the road by twelve. Aim of the day: get to Okehampton and hopefully beyond. A small shower at about ten this morning suggested the occasional downpour was on the way, but nothing! All dry!

The road to Okehampton was rough and hilly. A little break in the early afternoon halfway up a steepish hill, Dim eyes up Elsa. “Dave,” he asks, “do you think I could skate down the hill.”
“Course you could mate,” I say with an evil glint in my eye. I have to look away to stop him seeing me chuckling. Usually I wouldn’t advise anyone to skate any kind of hill that was beyond their ability, but with Dim there’s a difference. He’s a cameraman. For four weeks he’s been asking me to skate big hills twice because he missed it the first time. And, absolutely positive that he wasn’t going to make the bottom of the hill, I knew that he’d appreciate the footage of his first big fall. He plucks Elsa from the verge and heads for the road.
“I need the camera!” I hiss at Kate and Becs, “Dim’s about to stack big time!” Hehehehe, I couldn’t stop laughing. Got the camera on just in time, he was rolling past the van, going faster and faster. Kate is by my side, she starts to worry. I’m cracking up trying to keep the camera steady. Dimitri is wobbling madly, Kate yells “BE CAREFUL!” and right then came the moment. Dim was in mid air, Elsa hit the side of the road before he hit the floor. He bounced. I doubled over. It looked painful but it was all on tape. And I knew that even if he had badly hurt himself he would have been proud of me for filming it. Hehehe. He picked himself up. Picked up Elsa. Hobbled up the hill showing us the grazes. Like a boy in a candy store, Dim had just had his first big stack. And as I tell everyone I teach to longboard, once you fall like that you don’t do it again. Dim agrees.

Late lunches are not good for the soul. By four, well replete, we were not in the mood to do anything. I felt bloated, sleepy, not at all in the mood for skating. Half tempted to search for a B&B and close my eyes, half eager to claim back some more miles.

At the moment, skating wins. The sun is out, the old A30 is our preferred route. I dive down a few hills, the road twists through small villages and turns from rough to smooth. Dartmoor drifts by, the alternative routes to the busy ‘new’ A30 are running out as Bodmin Moor approaches, and with the day drawing on, the light fading I hit the A30 for the last four miles to Launceston. The road quality is good, the traffic is lighter than I expected. One big downhill then two and half miles of up! Arrghhh! But first, the Cornwall sign!! Last county!!

On the other side, heading east, VW vans stroll by, returning from Run to the Sun. We wave to every one. Another van had broken down on our side of the railings. The occupants, three guys, stand at the roadside and cheer and clap. It pushes me on until the next junction, end of the day. Almost 34 miles. A day’s skate away from the last page of the map. Four days from Land’s End. I’m buzzing, so close.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Day 29: Another Sunday, another party day!

The sky is smiling when we wake up in the car park of the Blue Anchor Inn, not far from Taunton. A hearty breakfast and a lengthy dressing of the right foot and we’re off, driving down a country road towards the spot where we stopped last night. The conditions are perfect, dry with a small breeze, a welcome break from the prevailing headwinds. Then come the crowds: as I skate on down the A38 Becs, Bev, Mark, Annie, Bec’s parents and Rae and Phil turn up! Haven’t seen Rae and Phil for weeks, they’re in stressland preparing for their wedding, Phil’s going grey and losing his hair! Hahah.

Awesome to see everyone, having a little crowd whooping and cheering as I roll by each layby. Nat’s skating with me and Becki takes over control of the van from Holls. We go on and on, reaching the end of the 38 and swooping left down a B road. 6 miles later we stop for lunch. Spirits are high.

Then a van arrives as I’m munching on a bar of chocolate. It’s Connor, his two sisters and parents Ann and Mark. I haven’t met them before and didn’t realise they were joining us today, Connor has Lowe and Mark puts him in his wheelchair. He had an attack this morning and is sleepy and lethargic. I’m honoured that they’ve driven for an hour to find us on the road and am humbled to see Connor, a 17 year old boy, blind and small for his age, curled up in his chair. No one else from the team had seen the effects of Lowe Syndrome in the flesh, it brought home what BoardFree is all about. Connor is a trooper, his parents are amazing, his sisters cheeky and mischievous. They’re a normal family, upbeat and realistic, dealt a cruel blow with Connor’s condition but dealing with it and still living with a smile. Ann shows me pictures of Connor abseiling; I have a lump in my throat. For everyone who honks angrily and swears at us on the road and doubts the reasons behind BoardFree, you don’t matter. Connor and his family matters, John o’Groats to Land’s End is absolutely nothing compared to what they have been through. Ann and Mark thank me for what I’m doing. I wish I could do more.

Nat and I skate on, a lot of uphills. It’s hard going but I’m steely now, every push is for Connor. Steep hills level out, I can smell Land’s End. When Nat slows on a big hills (he wore his shoe out earlier on one long downhill!) Kate jumps out of the van and runs alongside for a few minutes. She’s a star. We reach Crediton and go a bit further. Stop for the day just past the 33 mile mark, one final mile-long uphill drag out of Crediton was an added bonus. One more hill down, five days of skating left.

The convey pulls out of the final lay-by of the day and drives south for half an hour. The rest of the party are waiting in the Barley Meadow Campsite (, near Crockernwell, with BBQs ready to burn and the site’s owner Paul brilliantly friendly. Just the place to relax at the end of a long and eventful day. Tomorrow the party disperses and by the end of it Elsa and I will be left with Dim and Becs. We have one hell of a week left.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sunday May 29th: Update

No internet access recently, loads of blogs and videos on the way.

Just west of Taunton now, aiming for Land's End on Friday 2nd June.

Beccles is driving the van for the next week which means a new contact telephone for the team - 07921 315101. Please don't rely on email as we can't guarantee access this week, so to get in touch with us for media or personal reasons or to show support please use this number!

6 days left, 707 miles down. Let's go!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Day 24: Throbbing

I had a lie-in this morning until 10am. I felt like a king. And then I felt a wierd throbbing sensation in my foot. All day it has been throbbing. I sat on a sofa for two hours sending emails and updating the website. It throbbed. I decided to get some blood to flow into the foot so had a game of one-legged table tennis and one-legged pool with Dim. I sat down again. Here I am. Still throbbing. I think the antibiotics are forcing the infection out. Holls and Dim said my foot looked like it had normal skin on it. You know things haven't been good when normal skin on your foot is a topic of conversation. We're getting more videos uploaded. I have one more day of rest after this. My foot is throbbing. I hope one more day is enough. I'm sick of throbbing. Jonathan Ross wrote to me. I replied. He replied. I think he thinks I'm mad.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Day 23: BoardFree A & E

You know there's something wrong when your foot smells like death. Mine did this morning. Everyone is concerned, I know another forced rest day is approaching but can't bear to face up to it. I tell myself that if I get south of Bristol then I can justify a rest. I can relax with my foot in the air with a sense a reassurance that I've reached Bristol, the final milestone before the journey turns south west towards Land's End. We're over 15 miles north of Bristol and I have to stop fooling myself, I need treatment. We're going to hospital.

Dan drives, I sit up front. Holls and Dim in the back. The scenery is stunning, I have a lump in my throat. I curse shoes, blisters. I curse friction. I curse skateboarding!!!!!

Bristol Royal Infirmary. We organise consent forms to film for the docu. A lovely nurse named Cathryn leads a hobbling me and Dim, Dan and Holls to her cubicle. She asks how she can help. I tell her I'm skating the length of Britain and then show her what that's done to my foot. Dim, Dan and Holls are holding their noses but nursey can't seem to smell the foot. Relief!

She patches up my heel, prescribes antibiotics. Recommends full rest until it heels, but accepts that the clock is ticking on this journey. The pills will kick in within the first three days so I agree to rest until Thursday. She's ok with that. I'm not, secretly. But there's a long term aim to be preserved here, I just hope that two days rest can sort my foot out enough to send me to Land's End without further breaks needed.

Lush Longboards ( are based in Bristol and we drive to their hideout. My first 4-wheeled board was a Lush Bahari and it's awesome to walk into their distribution house with boards galore hanging off the walls. Rich and the dudes welcome us in and we talk a little about Lush hooking up with BoardFree in some way. This summer, before BoardFree hits Oz, I'm going to be travelling the UK (again!) teaching kids how to longboard. A quiver of Lush boards to help us along would be quality, time will tell.

We drive up to Bristol Parkway and say farewell to Dan. The last of a fine bunch to have said goodbye at the end of an up&down weekend. He trains back to Swansea and my kitten Kiwa as Holls drives the BoardFree Bus to Minehead for two days of rest. We're staying with Holly's Nat's parents, Jo and Rick, at their amazing Primrose Hill Cottages ( All over the place is BoardFree stuff, a notice board in the Games Room covered in t-shirts and leaflets, a leaf in every room's welcome folder. Amazing. Comfortable immediately, I pop an antibiotic, put the foot in an elevated position and start working on the last few week's videos with Dim. Two days of rest from skating maybe, but the BoardFree project lives on.

Day 22: Raining in Gloucester

It is raining hard. I sit in a layby with Dan and Becs and Bev. We're working on the sole of my right shoe. Peter and Dim arrive from Cheltenham. It rains harder. Pete decided that we should waterproof one of the sombreros with gaffer tape and then stick it to my helmet. It'll keep the rain off, you see.

It kept the rain off my helmet.

Hard slog to Gloucester. The rain is heavy, my foot feels damp and it burns with every push. Each night I hobble around, hobble to the shoer, hobble to bed. Each morning it feels slightly better, more rested, and then the shoe comes on and it starts again. Sometimes I feel like the end of the day only comes because the pain is too great. Doing the same the next day seems impossible, I dread waking up these days.

At the top of a hill in Maisemore a view appears. Gloucester glistens in the rain, the cathedral towers above the city. It looks beautiful, just a couple of miles away, just a few more pushes. Come on, let's do it.

We pull into a layby towards southern Gloucester. The rain falls and we all squeeze into the van. It comes down thick and fast, almost horizontal sometimes. Becki and Bev play noughts and crosses in the sunroof condensation. Pete and Melissa laugh, Dim reads the paper out loud, Dan writes 'Poo' on the windshield. I can't bring myself to go out and skate. The pain. The rain.

I sleep, the others go to the other cars for half an hour. The rain falls. We sit in McDonalds. Dim and Pete fill in a paint by numbers children's drawing with lolly sticks and bbq sauce. It looks great!

The sun comes out, it's almost four. Back on the road. The prevailing winds are all against us. Brilliant! Dan drives ahead and I tailgate, working in the slipstream, anything to keep out of the wind. It rains. Pete and Melissa leave to go back to London, the first sign that the weekend of company is coming to an end. We're not making Bristol tonight so set a target on the map. Woodford, on the A38 right behind an M5 service station. It's 7 miles away.

Rain, wind, push push push. Woodford arrives. Thank god. Bev and Dan join me for the final 100 metres on their boards. I limp into the van.

Holls and Nat join us. It feels to me like Holls needed more of a break, it must be exhausting being on the road with two men. I feel for her. Nat heads back home. We eat at the services and check in to the Days Inn. The staff are rude, we stay in the room. I have a bath, soak in the nothingness of bubbles and throbbing feet. Becs and Bev leave at 11pm to drive back to Swansea. They have work tomorrow. Amazing to see them both. I'm so thankful to everyone who's supported BoardFree on the road and off it. It keeps me going. It keeps us all going.

My right foot has started to smell. An infection has begun. I fall asleep worried.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Day 21: The most fun day yet

It's a day of company today. Nat joins me on Little Elsa. Dan and Becki and Bev (Swansea Uni's Athletic Union Pres!) rock up just after midday. Amazing to see them, crazy that I last saw Dan and Beccles ten miles south of John o'Groats. A split second and an eternity, it's impossible to fathom the distance and experience covered.

We reach Worcester in the early afternoon and my parents appear on their bikes! Amazing! Complete surprise! Typical of them.

We ride on through Worcester, two bikes and two yellow longboards, one blue van, one silver car, one yellow car. A BoardFree troupe. All we need now is Dimitri to turn up with his Mum, stepdad and Kenyan friend Eric. I can't wait. We reach a pub in Callow End and decide to have lunch, a few hundred yards back I skated over the 600 mile mark. Celebrate with a sandwich and a soft drink. It's lovely to pass 600. It's lovely to get south of Worcester.

My right shoe is all gaffer taped up, holding various items of padding onto the worn-out sole. I hobble everywhere. The people who work at the pub must think the others are having a laugh, saying that I'm skating Britain.

Dimitri arrives. Peter and I stand inside the door, cameras at the ready to capture the Lens' return. In comes a complete stranger dressed as Batman, then Robin walks in, a couple of girls, a normally dressed chap, Little Red Riding Hood, a Masai Warrior (seriously!), a wolf man, Dim's mum, then Dim himself. What the HELL is going on!!!!

Dim explains that they're his friends and they've all just arrived from various parts of the country. He sweeps his arms out and knocks over a pint belonging to a local. Welcome back Dim.

We all get on the road, this is great. For 17 miles I'm skating through the countryside between Worcester and Gloucester with Batman and Robin and Little Red Riding Hood. They're all cycling, wolf man has roller skates. The foot is hurting. Dim's stepdad Pete tells me I have to embrace the pain. I agree and on we push.

What a day, the company on the road makes a huge difference, it spurs me on, we go over 30 miles and stop at a layby bang on the 33 mile mark. It's at the top of a hill, I have that to look forward to.

Quick pint in a local pub to celebrate. The landlord and the superheroes donate £70 towards BoardFree. What a day. If anyone else wants to do something similar you're more than welcome!

Everyone heads to Cheltenham for the night, Nat and Holly go south to Nat's mum's. Holl is having a day's rest, damn she deserves it. Dan, Becs, Bev and myself go to a nearby village and stay with a friend of my Dad's. Amazing house, full of gadgets! Good food, comfy bed, it's time for a rest and some painkillers!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Day 20: Finally away from Telford

The stagnant BFUK pause yesterday was a good thing and a bad thing. Good because we all had a chance to rest. Bad because we didn't go anywhere, the clock was ticking and the miles weren't/ It's time to claim some of them back.

Worcester is a long way away but that's the aim. Foot feels better. Most of the blister on my sole has hardened and for a few miles it's almost painfree, bliss!

But then the hotspots start to work their way back and as the day drags on the minefield underneath my toes starts to burn. A few miles south of Telford Holly and I pass Iron Bridge (Dimitri returned to London this morning for a day, he'll be back tomorrow with a couple of family members). Iron Bridge, funnily enough, is home to an iron bridge. The first ever iron bridge, supposedly. Surrounded by school outings and foreign tourists, Holly and I do a blog, Holly runs to the toilet, runs out of the toilet, loses her shoe, can't find me. Even though I'm filming the whole thing just a few yards away. Brilliant!

Approaching Bridgnorth I break the BFUK speed record, but I really didn't want to. The road disappears into a pit of vegetation, I footdrag to slow the pace but the road is too rough to keep stable with just one foot on the board. I have no choice but to ride it out. Flying down a strange hill which culminates in a bend is terrifying, I have no idea what's around the corner. If it goes down a bit more I'm toast. The road is potholed and Elsa is jumping around all over the place. Please please please make it an uphill. Please!

It was. I'm hyperventilating, looking to the sky to say thanks to whoever forced me to stay on the road and not career into the bushy verge. 29.6 miles an hour. I'm glad I'm alive.

Sam and Jen from SubTV turn up to do some filming, I do a quick interview with the Shropshire Star. Peter (Dimitri's business partner) and his fine lady Melissa turn up too, and we all continue on our merry way. Peter is filming until Dim returns tomorrow, the first thing I notice is that he likes to run a lot!

We pass into Worcestershire and I tell myself I need to find out how many counties BFUK has passed through. 7 miles from Worcester the skies open. I've covered 32 miles, the foot is thumping. A little wet, I call it a day at Ribbesford and we drive back to Bewdley to find a B&B. Nat turns up to make Holly happy. We all eat Tapas in a place called Silva's. Silva himself joins us for a photo op and then treats us to a sombrero each. Guess what we're wearing tomorrow then!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Day 19: 16:18

Oh look, I'm still in bed. Lying/ sitting relatively still means only one thing in my shrinking world of foot agony. The skin on my heel, forever replenishing itself, is making progress. But, you see, when I need to move across the room, the skin needs stretching. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

I've been watching some of the video footage taken with Holly and Dim since we left John o'Groats, there have been some cracking moments. Like the children in Crieff who thought we'd 'released' a hoard of skateboarders throughout the city. What?!!!!!! And Holly's blogs, when she chats away and then in mid-sentence completely loses track of what she was saying, and just stops talking. Or says something like, 'oooh, look at that butterfly.'

It's been a good day of rest. Loads of emails of support. A few media calls. Lots done, the foot is resting. The calves are resting.

Day 19: 10:25am

Hard decision. We're going to have a rest day. Hobbling to the toilet. Worrying about making miles up. Exhausted from the pain. A rest day today means we're two days behind schedule. All I can think of is getting to Land's End late with no-one there to celebrate with. Dim and Holly are tapping away on laptops working out medical solutions. We're amending the route map, calling chiropodists.

Eileen from the Clairmont Guest House here in Telford has given us a room for another night. We're so grateful. Hopefully a day of rest will give us all a new lease of life. Strangers and friends from all over the world are writing in with blister and muscle treatments and words of support, thanks so much to all of you.

Will continue to update today.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Day 18: Lagging behind

Early morning, the alarm goes off. Kate has a 7am train, it's a blow to see her go. An amazing breakfast put together by Gill (who also creates a sumptious packed lunch) and offers us the room for free, we feel privileged and will definitely be back. Land's End to John o'Groats 2008?!

Sit in the van until 10am, changing wheels and bearings. I feel hollow. Even a short 20 mile journey to Telford seems daunting and I have this impending sense of loniliness. We're a day behind schedule already and the responsibity of making it to Land's End in time for May 28th is weighing heavy. It wouldn't be a worry if my foot was right. But it's getting worse. I'm worn out, the rain is falling. It's a low point.

Plod plod plod. 20 miles later, outskirts of Telford. Was hoping to get further than Telford today but the sky opens and a torrent forms on the road. We sit in the van in a layby and fall asleep. An hour later we push on but go for about a mile. A pre-organised B&B is nearby and going further today is out of the question. I don't care. It's time for an early bed.

We settle into the Clairmont Guest House, and my foot swells. Dim and are are sat on the beds about to watch the Champions League Final. I walk to the toilet and it feels like there's a table tennis ball under my skin. "The only option is to not do anything for a day" Dim says.

I'm not sure if that's an option I want to consider yet.

Day 17: Why am I not moving?

At quarter to nine I’m on BBC Radio Cumbria, updating my progress to the morning show. We talk about the hills north of Kendal and the blisters on my right foot. They’re going to call up again in a few days, brilliant!

25 miles to Whitchurch. I’m screaming inside, please can someone tell me how to kill blisters overnight! The roads are rough most of the way and the English countryside is gently undulating. The open space at the back of my shoe is now gaffer taped up but the drizzling rain keeps loosening the tape, causing my foot and insole to slip out the back.

I’m so frustrated! Collapse in a pub car park and lie on my front. Holly reapplies my calf tattoos and Kate grabs some drinks. A team from BBC Wales turns up and film for a couple of hours as I roll on south. The rain starts to fall more heavily and a passing man, interested in the van, trips up and falls into a puddle! I don’t see it but later Dimitri shows me the footage, that boy shoots everything!
We have an early evening break in a pub. So tired but another 8 miles to go. Fill up on bangers and mash and scrape up the final leg. I’m exhausted and Whitchurch is a carrot on the end of a string. Bobbing away. Finally we make it. We stay in an amazing place, the best accommodation so far. The Mile Bank Farm is surrounded by fields of cows and sheep. The landlady, Gill, is amazing. Friendly and generous, she appreciates our efforts and makes us feel perfectly at home. Her B&B is spotless, we couldn’t be happier. I have a bath and Gill lends me a footspa. Dim films the spa bubbling away and does a little video blog all about how easy I’ve had it this journey. Hahah. Bed by ten.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day 16: The mess of Urbania

A quick cooked breakfast and we’re off. The aim today is to get out of the urban sprawl emanating from the north and east of Liverpool. It’s horrible skating through cities and suburbia. There are more roads, signposting is normally appalling. It’s slow going and mentally draining. The crow flies much further in the countryside.

Foot is in agony. I’m sick of it. Half of the time I think I’d be happy settling for a 4 mile day. I just need rest and looking at the map over breakfast I thought happiness would be St Helens, only four miles down the road.

I was wrong. St Helens came quickly, mostly downhill from Billinge but signs in the city were non existent. Eventually got out of there but already it felt like time was disappearing. A long day of skating, we passed by the predicted stopping point just after the Runcorn Bridge, and a bit of calling around sealed us some accommodation in Frodsham, south of the Mersey.

We made it by half three, and wow it was lush! Forest Hills Hotel, on a hill overlooking the Mersey and the industrial coast through which I had skated earlier in the day. Wireless internet throughout the place, a hefty discount and a Jacuzzi bath made it the ideal place to kick back and relax. I needed it, Holls needed it. We all needed it. Bliss!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Day 15: Slow start, cracking end

I'm up at ten. Head's a little hazy but I feel ok. Phone rings. It's Nat (he and Holly stayed in a Southport B&B last night). He tells me that Holly is ill, she's been throwing up. He also tells me the police called. The mother of one of the lads in Preston yesterday called them about us taking photos of her boy. They're not going to take the charges any further but it's a bit of a dampener on the day. She'd even been on the website to get our phone number and must have realised what we were doing, but I guess we have to be more careful in future.

We all need a rest so don't get going again until 3pm. Nat takes a train back to Lancaster to pick up his hire car and we say goodbye in Leyland's McDonalds car park. Holly's still not feeling well and she's down about Nat leaving, but we're ready to hit the road. Aim of the day is to get as far south as possible, but heavy rain and the pain in my foot makes the going tough. At six the rain was so heavy I was skating through rivers. A drowned rat, I called the van to a stop, walked dripping into a local pub and asked if they had accomodation.

The Stork Inn, Billinge, was a godsend. A bunch of men at a table next to the door took half a minute to buy me a pint. Two minutes later they had pooled money to pay for our rooms. An amazing bunch, they kept us laughing and told us how Room 6, where Dimitri and Holly were bedding down, was once on Most Haunted on Living TV. Hahah. All night Dim was talking about the lights flickering and doorknobs shaking on the first floor. Big wuss.

Kate arrived at half eight, so good to see her. My right foot was swollen up like a small rugby ball by 10 and we shared a chinese soon after. Really worried about my foot. It's killing, no idea why it's swollen. Blisters are bad and although the heel hurts it is healing slowly. This new swelling phenomenon isn't welcome. Tomorrow will tell more.

Finally, BBC Radio 5 Live wanted an interview at half twelve (at night!). I waited and waited and finally got on at five to one. Nice to get some national coverage, but the presenters didn't seem too interested and I really could have done with some more sleep!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Day 14: Never skate in Preston

We get on the road at midday. The Holiday Inn last night was amazing, Holly paid as a treat and boy did we need it. Problem is, you spend a night in a beautiful bed, sleep like a log and then when you wake up there are miles and miles of punishing road ahead. You just don't want to leave!

Skated out of Lancaster and then Nat joined me. Nat's a great skater, he can ollie and do bowls and things like that. He steps onto Little Elsa and away we roll. It's spitting down but we make good progress towards Preston. The roads are good and easy to navigate and it's great to have some company on the road. On small hills Nat bent double and held his ankles to get some speed, everytime he zoomed past he shot me a quick cheeky glance as if to say, 'I'm fast, you're slow, nah nah nah.' You don't have 250 miles on your bearings, do you Nat!!!

A white van pulls up in front of us. I see a hand hanging out of the window holding £10. "We heard you on the radio yesterday," the driver says, his passengers smiling, "Good luck mate." Things like that really pick you up, amazing genorosity.

We reach Preston and the signposting is atrocious. We spend an hour and a half doing a figure of eight around the western edge of town, not a clue where we're going. Some kids run alongside us and are really excited. I hand one of them my board and we take a photo in front of the van. We carry on and they run with us as far as they can. Shortly after, Nat hits a rock on a cycle path and I turn to see him going head over heels. He's a bit grazed on the side and arms, but keeps the rock as a souvenir.

We lose the van for a bit due to the progressively shocking road system but eventually meet up in Leyland, where my brother Andy and his mate Ben meet us. Tonight there's a Ladies Guest Night at RAF Woodvale, where my bro learns to fly. I'm the guest speaker.

We arrive at Woodvale by 6, I'm talked through the night's protocal - it's all rather formal, you see - and I shave my face. Dimitri joins me in smartening up (he doesn't shave though, scruffbucket) and we head to dinner in tuxedos. There's a champagne reception, we're introduced to the Boss, nice guy called Jason, and then we're fed. Great meal, four courses. Brilliant!

The speech goes well, and afterwards there's a party. There were 80 people in attendance, all were very kind and enthused about BoardFree. I helped to draw a raffle, all in all £300 was raised. A great night, needed a social outing halfway through BFUK. Dimitri and I got to bed when the sun was coming up. All I could think was 'oh boy Sunday's going to be cracking!'

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Day 13: A tale of generous folk. And bandages.

We leave Sellet Hall after a night of blissful sleep in downy beds. Mum parks in Asda car park and we sort my foot out. A general consensus of action results in a part of my shoe being cut out, to alleviate any undue pressure on my gammy heel. Blister plasters everywhere, padding and gauze. Skating wounded today.

I was dreading the 12 miles into Kendal. It’s hard enough having to do it, but to drive along the road you’re due to skate back along is hard to stomach. Especially knowing you’re going to be doing it with an injury. Huge hills, steep ups, steep downs, rubbish road surface. A sick, looming feeling in my stomach.

No choice but to get on with it. Mum is cycling alongside me until we reach Kendal, it’s a big boost having company roadside. Hard slog, suicidal sheep run the verges looking for a return to their fields. My foot bleeds, we make the top and scrape down the other side. Sam, a cameraguy from Sub TV comes along to film a few hills. A chap called Steve from the local weekly turns up to take some shots for the paper. And we continue.

In Kendal by 1 after a great downhill run. Big relief to have those hills out of the way. Lunch. I do a radio interview for The Bay whilst sat on a bag of compost outside Asda. They tell me it’ll be on the 6pm news. Say goodbye to Mum, sleep for a few minutes. 23 miles from Lancaster, it seems a long long way. Going is slow for the first few miles. After 8 of them the traffic is getting heavy. It’s 4pm on a Friday and people are zooming around towards their weekend destinations. I have a long sleep, the pain is exhausting. Traffic dies down and Holly and I sit in the van waiting for the news. A car pulls up in front and a man gets out. His wife joins him. “We saw you outside Kendal earlier and had to see what you were all about.”

They were really friendly, very genuine, gave us £10 before they went.

We listen to the 6pm news. We’re not on it.

Half an hour later I’m skating along, closing the gap on Lancaster when Holly pulls me over, all excited and bubbly. “The family from earlier called the radio and said they’d met us!” She had recorded it and played me the clip.

From then on every other car that passed waved and honked. Some cheered. A family passed by and the three girls were stood on a roundabout shouting “Good Luck” a couple of miles on. Then the Dad and son who stopped earlier pulled up in their care. They had two bottles of iced water and a marker pen. “Go on, sign his t-shirt!” said Dad. So I did. Kyle was quiet and shy but looked happy enough. Legendary people, we need more like them.

The last ten miles to Lancaster was punishing but the support from passing traffic pushed me on. Holly right behind at every turn. We stop to let build-ups behind us pass by before irritation builds. Get into Lancaster finally, on schedule again. Find the train station, pick up Dimitri who is with us for the week ahead and then settle down at a Holiday Inn, where Holly’s man, Nat, arrives late. He’ll be with us for the weekend.

I have no idea how I’m going to skate tomorrow. Foot is in shreds.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Day 12: Media morning, mum arrives, foot is going to fall off

Holly wakes me up at quarter to 8. An hour later I'm sat in the BBC's Carlisle studio doing an interview on the breakfast show. At the end of it, a person from TV comes in so we do an interview and a few bits and bobs for the lnchtime show. Then I get a call from ITV Borders, and we shoot a good interview and a bit of skating in town.

Don't get on the road until quarter to two, but boy has the media coverage been good. Right foot is in a right state. Every push sends a spark of pain through my body. A lot of those left. Blisters on the toes are bigger than yesterday. I need to get to Kendal.

On a country road just outside of Penrith my mum turns up on her bicycle! It picks me up a bit, we roll into Penrit an have some lunch. Then we navigate out of the town (PS. Please improve signposts to the A6 from the centre) and I plod on. Going is ok, but the day is wearing on thanks to a late start and we need to be at tonight's ost be sevenish.

At a place called Shap we stop in a pub and get them to put the 6 o clock news on. I'm on there! Great little piece, I didn't realise that Kate, the lady who interviewed me in the centre, was actually a co-presenter of the show. At the end everyone in the room cheered. Brilliant.

Push on for twenty minutes more. I'm in absolute agony. 12 miles short of Kendal I pull up. That's it for the day.

We drive to our hosts, a spurious friend of a friend connection had turned into a bed for the night. Charlotte Pople was waiting for us south of Kendal, and so was a lady on a horse at the entrance to the driveway. The place is massive. Compare this to last night, we were in a service station. A strange day, disatisfied in terms of miles covered and my diminishing pain threshold, but amazing media coverage and an aristocratic bout of hospitality at the end of the day. Great hosts, amazing food, good beds, a much needed bath. And today I was inches from crying.

One last thing: for the second time this journey our nightly stop was further along the road than I'd skated. Which means.....I get to see the road before I skate it, horrible. Driving along it seems like hours, skating will seem like days. Tomorrow morning is going to be tough work, the 12 miles into Kendal are mountainous, boy I hope I reach Lancaster.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day 11: One record, one country, one whole lot of joy and pain

I'm sat in a motorway service station, the same one that I stopped at with Dan and Becki on the way to Prestwick to pick up the van from VW Dave, way back almost two weeks ago. How much has happened since then!

The Dumfries and Galloway Standard interviewed me yesterday and we meet a photographer today. A quick shoot by a sign for Lockerbie and we're away again. Dimitri, for some reason, found another sign to Ecclefechen really funny.

Near Ecclefechen a car pulls up. A man gets out. I recognise him as a chap who was waving from a passing car a few miles back. He has a £5 donation. "I thought you were doing a relay earlier," he tells me, "but when we saw you again I couldn't believe it, all the best."

At about 2pm, after 15 miles of skating from Lockerbie (where we stayed for free at the Townhead Hotel thanks to landlady Caroline - star!) I posed for some photos next to a sign at Springfield. Less than a mile later we were in England. Rolling past that welcome sign, a big lump in my throat, a jump for joy, a much needed collapse onto the grass verge. Nobody has ever skated the length of Scotland before - and boy do I know why! Hahah, incredible feeling. Dimitri loved running in and out of England, called loads of people and took them on his little journey. We stayed for an hour at the sign, doing interviews, blogs, photos. Just experiencing the moment. Dimitri looks at me and says "they put a man on the moon before anyone skated this country. Dude, out of 6 billion people on the planet you're the only one who has ever skated the length of Scotland."

England next.

My right foot is falling apart. Yesterday the new shoes, a change forced by a worn right-sole courtesy of the Scottish highlands, started to rub. I slept with blisters on three toes and on my heel. Every push is full of pain, I grimace and push on. Is there any other choice? I think we've been on the local radio, people start to honk and wave again. It's been a couple of days since that happened and boy does it feel good.

Dimitri leaves us at Carlisle. He takes a train to London and will rejoin in two days. Going to miss him, a stranger two weeks ago, he's been a big part of the most incredible few days of my life.

Carlisle was today's destination, but despite the pain I want to eat into tomorrow's journey, a big slog to Kendal. 4 miles south of Carlisle I'm joined for a short while by a cyclist who is heading to a time trial in the countryside. A car passes by and the elderly inhabitants look at me inquistively. A few hundred yards on they've pulled in and are handing me a pound coin, clapping. I like England.

We stop 5 and a half miles south of Carlisle and drive to a nearby service station at Southwaite. Holly and I will stay here tonight, then plod on after a studio interview at quarter to nine in the morning on BBC Radio Cumbria. I take my right shoe off. There's blood. Three layers of skin, old and new, eaten away above my heel. Blisters on toes, despite good treatment this morning, are horrible. They're not going to have time to heal before Land's End as I'm on the road each day. I'm resigned to the fact that I'm going to be in agony for the next two and a half weeks.

This is worth the pain.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Day 10: The longest yet

Jack made us breakfast, showed us his small yet speedy motorcar, and his neighbours donated £35.

Holls and I are smiling. The roads are tough and smooth, extreme contrasts every few hundred miles. We finished 12 miles short of schedule yesterday and I was in bullish mood, time to readdress the balance and make Scotland work in our favour.

Within an hour and a quarter we're at the end of the A702, having a break in Abington services. Average speed of 11.7 miles per hour. I hurt! The rest of the day is much of the same, hard slog, blisters appearing after two days of getting accustomed to new shoes. The roads, even the cycle paths, are hard going. Rough and potholed. Lockerbie was a long way away at the beginning of the day, beyond our previous longest day's mileage, and at times it looked out of reach.

With 14 miles to go we pull up and collapse onto a patch of grass. It's half four. Dimitri films and I talk rubbish into the camera, we talk about our pasts and prepare for a final push. By 6pm I've covered 42.5 miles, average speed for the day 10.2mph. Blisters everywhere. But we're in Lockerbie! On track, on schedule. England tomorrow!. Tomorrow I become the first person to skateboard the length of Scotland. How wierd is that!

Day 9: Tensions run high

I'm slowing down. My body is slowly wasting away - totally replacing all of the energy I use up each day is impossible - and although I feel fit BFUK is taking its toll mentally. Don't get me wrong, I'm still all there! But mood swings are coming thick and fast as I pound the road second after second, I'm tired and and I ache all over and I'm a grumpy bastard a lot of the time.

First day with new shoes. The first lot (the right one at least) was worn through, so fingers crossed for no blisters.

Drove to the Falkirk road where we ended yesterday and ploughed on. I'm taking ages to get ready and it must frustrate the hell out of Holly and Dimitri. Always losing things, gloves take 30 seconds to get on.

A few miles in we pass through a town called California, and then it seems as though the land empties away. I raise my arms aloft in celebration, it seems as though it's all downhill from here. The first hill is massive. Like riding a giant wave, the wind blew in from the side and my knees soaked up the vibrations from the road, whizzed around a corner at 27.4 miles per hour, awesome!

After yesterdays busy A-road-fest I'd told the others I wanted to avoid main roads where possible. We'd talked through the days route and three wrong turns later I was having to skate along a busy A-road, a detour which added 4 miles to the days total. I was angry. It's mentally exhausting skating on main roads, the surfaces are worse, the blowback from cars flying past at 60mph. It's not unsafe with the support vehicle right behind but the extra distance - added to the fact that now I felt I had to stop at every corner and do the map reading too - seemed so unnecessary.

Mistakes are mistakes, but Holl didn't talk to me for four miles, because I was angry, I suppose. No apologies for the mistake, she just left me for four miles. I took the pavements where possible but couldnt skate the roads because the support vehicle was gone. I was out of water, and I was furious. Effing and blinding under my breath, I walk up a stony unskateable pavement past two teenage lads. Next thing I know my board is being dragged away from me. "Give us this, give us a look" one of them said.

"Let it go" I replied. They kept pulling, I looked up the road for the van, for anyone, for some support. No one. A few seconds later I was running up the hill, board in hand, adrenaline pumping. One of the lads was in a neighbouring field having been pushed over a fence. The other was half looking at his mate, half shouting obcenities at me. Rude little bastards, how dare they!

As you can imagine, this improved my mood. There's no way they would have tried this stunt if the van was with me. I've never been so angry in all my life.

A mile later I collapsed onto the side of the road, exhausted. The van had pulled up behind me and Dimitri got out, filming. Holly got out. I shouted, I screamed. I can't do this by myself, and I had for the last few miles. I was ready to put a rucksack on and go the rest of the way myself.

Plodding on. Plodding on. Mood wanes. VW Dave and Gordon arrive to see the van they donated to us. They bring an orange flashing light and a bigger steering wheel for Holls. Holls gives me cake. We hug. She apologises. I apologise. Thank god. It had been awful.

Dave tells me thousands of VW drivers across the UK are looking out for the van and they're ready to help if we need them. Amazing feeling. It's a lonely road and I can't expect anyone involved in this to fully comprehend how it's effecting me - even I don't know - but the smallest things tilt me in either direction. Mary Thompson's cake, kindly donated on Day 1, plus Dave's enthusiasm for BoardFree - "You've come 285 miles on a skateboard, you're some man!" plus Holly's consiliatory hugs made the rest of the day better.

Brief anger resurfaces after another set of misdirections - this time Dimitri - add another 3 miles to today's route, but I finish the day by rolling downhill into Biggar on the A702 having just passed the 300 mile barrier. 100 miles every 3 days, it's a good target. We park next to a B&B but the landlady doesn't do charity discounts. We walk to a nearby pub and slump against the bar. A group of old men stand to our right, we explain that we're looking for a room. At first, nothing. Then a sparkle in the eye of one of the men. A hatted chap named Jack. He says we could park in his driveway. Brilliant! One of the other men asks if he'll feed us too. He says we can feed ourselves. Two minutes later he offers us a fish supper. Half an hour - and a drink - later we're following his taxi back to his place where he hands us fish and chips and shows us to the nice clean beds where we'll be staying. Jack was 61 and a half, and a gem of a man. He cracked open the red wine - Holly was ordered to make a choice from the plentiful rack - and when that was finished another bottle opened. In the back end of my brain I could see tomorrow becoming difficult, skating hungover is never good! But Jack was fine company, a self confessed pedantic old bastard who said things like "do you want a warm or cold bath" and then you reply either way and he looks over his shoulder saying "oh, so he assumes he's having a bath now...."

A difficult difficult day. So mixed it hurts. All we can say is thank you, Jack.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Day 9: Late morning update

Hey y'all,

Still in Edinburgh, having a restful morning waiting for packages from sponsors to arrive. Heading back to the road pretty soon, will be rolling south from Falkirk towards Abington. Have worn through my first pair of shoes already, oh dear.

Becki is organising camping at Land's End on the 27th/28th May so pleae drop her an email to or call 07921315101 if you want to get in on the biggest party of the year (don't forget the almost-as-big bash in Falmouth on Friday 26th).

Also don't forget that my phone has broken and can be reached on Holly's phone on 07834 276402.

Right, back to the road. Not sure when we'll get internet next but keep following, and thanks so much to everyone who has donated recently, really gives us a boost.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Day 8: Rain, rain, bugger off...

I open my eyes as an alarm from a neighbouring hotel room goes off. On and on, ber-rrring ber-rrring. Grrrr. Outside little raindrops are hitting the ground. It hasn't rained yet, we've been lucky, but aching legs + rain doesn't make today appealing.

We meet yesterday's skaters at their 'skate park'. Two wooden crates in a supermarket car park. They skate out of town with me for a bit, and wander back up the hill with a BoardFree-VW Magazine mug each for their troubles. Awesome lads - keep me updated on how your fight for a skatepark in Crieff goes!

Progress is wet but fast and we reach Dunblane in less than two hours. Chocolate break, and then I read the map wrong and skate two miles up a hill. The road ends in a field. I'm tired and pissed off. I take it out on Dimitri and Holly. It was my mistake.

Back on the road. Two hours and ten miles of busy busy A roads. A teenager with a red faced leaned out of a car at some point and shouted obscenities at me. Other people played music with their car horns and gave thumbs up.

We finish at Falkirk. Probably not as far as I would have liked - it leaves a lot to do to get to Abington tomorrow - but it had been a hard day. Wet, cold and tired, I jump in the van and we drive to Edinburgh to stay with my friend Kerri. I'm in a mood, Holly's in a mood, Dimitri's in a mood. I hope we all like each other at the end of this.

Lesson of the day: rain makes us moody.

Day 7: That was William Shatner! Now, where is William Shatner from?

Bizarre morning. It was like being in Phoenix Nights. Dim and Holly drove out of town to fill up with petrol while I did some web stuff. I was sat in the Holiday Village lounge, and right in front of me was this girl talking into a microphone rallying up a group of kids to do some dancing or something. The music was 80’s throwback, and boy was the dancing bad.

On the road by eleven. The cooked breakfast isn’t sitting well and the first hour is uphill. Then half an hour of heavy carving downhill. Exhausting but exhilarating. We stop for an early afternoon drink in a pub in Weem, south west of Pitlochry. Some people having dinner on the next table recognise me from the paper and we get chatting. As we leave they hand us some donations and take some photos, one of them is a caricaturist and is going to email me a cartoon of Holly, Dim and myself. Brilliant. Start the 2nd half of the day in good spirits. A car overtakes us and the occupants wave. Five minutes later they drive back in the other direction with ten pounds hanging out of the window. “Have a good journey” they say smiling. Shake hands, and drive away.

In the middle of the Scottish countryside we’re taking a break in a lay-by when 7 Lotus cars drive by. “That’s William Shatner!” screams Holly, red faced and pointing wildly at the final car. We spend the next five minutes wondering why William Shatner would be driving a Lotus in Scotland. “Where is William Shatner from?” I ask, and then we practice different accents, saying “Hi, my name is William Shatner.” He’s definitely not Indian.

Later, with 8 miles to go until the night’s destination, Crieff, I speed around a tight bend and head down a long straight, hills to the right, river to the left. In a lay-by 300 metres down the road a family is peering at me from the side of a motorhome. Scrape to a stop next to them and they thrust tea and sandwiches and cakes and a bottle of wine our way. They heard about BFUK on the radio show yesterday morning. Amazing people, massive boost for the final stretch of the day.

The last 8 miles were AWESOME! Flat, no wind, then a downhill stretch into Crieff. Flying! We roll into town, four kids approach the van. “What’s going on here then?” they ask, and we chat for a few minutes. Down the road we park up, ask for directions. A couple tell us where to find a B&B, then disappear. Then the woman appears again, almost too fast for her high heels, and gives Dimitri ten pounds…”Good luck!”

Another man appears, “are you that dude?!”
“I guess I am! Where did you hear about BoardFree?”
“On the radio yesterday, good luck mate!”

So we drive around, knocking on B&B doors, and at the top of the hill I see some kids waving. They have skateboards. “Get your cameras guys!” I shout to Holly and Dimitri. The kids skate down. They’ve been on the website already, heard about us on the radio. Two of the lads, Ryan and William, look stoked. They show us the way to a cracking place to stay, and we arrange to meet up the next morning. There’s going to be a load of local skaters leaving town tomorrow, and I’m going to get onto the media about the fact that Crieff doesn’t have a skate park. These lads are superb and deserve a place to skate.

Later, Holly tells me that one of the lads said BoardFree coming into town was the best thing that ever happened to Crieff. Its been a good day, thank you Scotland.

PS. If anyone knows where William Shatner is from, please write in.
PPS. We’re staying in the Tower Hotel in Crieff. Gilbert, the owner, has given us a discount and just donated £20. Legend.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Day 6: Dalwhinnie to Tummel Bridge

Last night’s late night didn’t help. At twenty to nine I was live on BBC Radio Scotland, chatting on the Fred and John show about uphills from Inverness and the size of my right calf. I put out an on-air appeal for local Scots to support us with their vehicles for a couple of days, and then we waited.

It had been four days since the website was updated and my inbox was flowing with ‘where are you’s?’ and ‘are you ok’s?’. Spent the morning and afternoon replying to everyone, sorting out the site and lining up some media coverage. Then two sucker punches: barely any donations through the justgiving site, which sent me down into the doldrums. Fingers crossed that they pick up as I pass through England. And then I browse through BBC Online to find the article on BFUK. I was P****D off! Ok, great to have coverage on BBC online, but the article made out that I was doing this because I was bored. Just some quirky guy who was looking for a way to fight boredom, so he decides to skate the UK. Come on, the BBC of all media organisations throw in a bit of lightweight journalism and completely undermine the project. To whoever wrote it – I’m doing this to raise funds and awareness for three children’s charities and promote sport to children of all ages. It’s not something I’m doing because I was a bit bored. This has taken a year to organise, if I was bored I would have turned on my Playstation or had a game of chess. A bit of research and that article could have brought in a flurry of donations. Instead: bugger all.

By 3pm there had been no calls so we clambered into the van with no reverse and made off up the A9. It was heartbreaking going up that road knowing I’d have to skate back most of it. At the point just south of Dalwhinnie where we stopped yesterday I fell out of the van. Felt sick, legs wobbly. Not in a good state to skate a mile. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll be lucky if I make five miles today’.

The cycle path was hardened mud covered in grit. I was skating at walking pace, bouncing around like Tigger. Music on, think positive. Ploughed on, made the Pass of Drumochter. Surely when you make the pass you’re about to go downhill?!! Yep!

Saying that, the path was still rough, and just to tease me the A9 was a kerb away, and boy was it smooth. So tempted to wait for a gap in the traffic and roll – not push – for a few metres. But then got a bit paranoid about hidden CCTV cameras and chickened out. What is wrong with me?!!

The path started to improve, got wider and less gritty. And then I had a moment. Bumbled down a small hill, then the path turned smooth, perfectly smooth. It was going slightly uphill, there was no wind around, none. Yet I kept moving. I looked around trying to find the wind direction but there was no wind. Someone’s pushing me along, I thought, I could almost make out fingertips at my back forcing me along.

Then Holly’s phone rang. A man named Martin, he had read the BBC Online article and had linked through to the BoardFree site. He admired what I was doing and offered the team a place to stay just south of Edinburgh. His wife’s a geography teacher and has access to every OS Map we need for the rest of the route. They’re both ready to feed and water us early next week. Amazing. Thanks BBC!

I felt much better. Crossed the 7 mile marker, it was past 5pm no but I felt stronger than I had in a while. The cycle path disappeared and turned into the best surface of the journey. So smooth!! I have a road fetish! Up and down I carved, pumped, didn’t put my feet down for a mile, worked my thighs, gave my calves a rest and cleared my head. Soon after came the turn off to Trinafour, the end of my romance with the A9. I called Holly and Dimitri, who were waiting at a lay-by a few miles back, and then ploughed on down the country road. 4 miles to Trinafour, up and down, beautiful countryside, the roar of the heavy traffic left far behind. This is more like it.

Beyond Trinafour was a signpost, 4 miles to Tummel Bridge. That’s our stop for the day. A long uphill ahead, and then oh my god what a road!!! The van was a hundred metres ahead and I was catching up. Carving it up, making full use of the road, grinding into the turns to try and slow down, on and on and on. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

The van pulled up and I stopped alongside, screaming! Dim had the camera on me, and shouted into it, elated. “That was the best road ever!” And it was. And I was only halfway down it!

Tummel Bridge wasn’t far. A tiny place on the map, hiding the real truth. Tummel Bridge Holiday Haven! Caravans everywhere, mini golf, restaurant and bar, chippy, arcades. Jackpot! They gave us a free pitch for the van. Ian from Edinburgh, a VW expert, turned up and in exchange for a cheeseburger sorted the gearbox problem. Kick myself for wasting 60 quid on mechanics last night.

All good so far, and ironically, due to the new, more southerly route we’re taking, we’re due west from Pitlochry, tonight’s planned stop, and a few miles closer to Land’s End had we stuck with the original route. Aiming to be south of Perth tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Day 6: South from Dalwhinnie

My phone is broken. To get hold of me please call Holly's phone on 07834 276402. To avoid the A9 which is getting increasingly busier we're going to head due south via country roads from Dalwhinnie, missing out Pitlochry, Perth and Edinburgh. Will hopefully be back on track come Monday night, where I hope to have reached Abington.

The van is troublesome. It's half two and haven't done any skating today. In a bit will be heading back to where we ended up last night but not much sleep last night and the stress, added to 175 miles in 5 days will slow today down a lot.

The route is going to have to change a bit for the next three days but fingers crossed the van will be sorted one way or another this weekend.

Ahhhh, deep breaths. On we plug!

And please donate @!!

My phone is broken. To get hold of me please call Holly's phone on 07834 276402.

Day 5: That is not a cycle path...

We push off from Aviemore late morning. My body is slowing down and my head is heavy. Two miles later I have a rest in a lay-by. Beside us there is a garden full of freaky characters made out of flower pots, riding bicycles and wearing Halloween masks. Don't ask me what that was about, some people are plain wrong!

The road was nice and reasonably flat and although mountains loomed to the left and the right I get the feeling Elsa has broken the back of the Scottish highlands. After lunch in Kingussie I battle on to Dalwhinnie, the end of day target, and reach there by five. Dalwhinnie is tiny and there's no use staying here. I decide to push on a couple more miles, if only to make tomorrow less of a mental challenge. A mile out of Dalwhinnie we come to the cycle path. A sign tells me we're about to go through the Drumochter Pass, where the path will rise up to 457 m (we're currently at about 240m). Bollocks. So tired, drained, and now we're about to head through a pass in the mountains that belongs somewhere in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Can it get worse?

Yep. The van trundles slowly down the A9 to a lay-by a few miles on, and I hit the cycle path. Which, by the way, is a foot wide, and made of compacted mud and covered in stony grit. Skating on this is like riding a bicycle in water. Horrible. Three miles on I see the van parked up, thank god. Dimitri has crossed the road and walks towards me. "Do you want the good news or the bad news?" he asks.

"The bad."

"The bad news is the van has lost reverse and first gear"

"What's the good news?"

"There isn't any."

I get in, mope a bit. Then we drive to Pitlochry and call in the AA. They reccommend taking the van to a mechanics. We call out a gearbox specialist from Dundee, they leave just after midnight, charged us £60 and left the van as it was. Perfect.

Tired, aching, emotionally battered, someone is testing BoardFree UK.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Day 4: The hardest one yet

Nobody told me it was all uphill from Inverness! Boy what a tough morning. The headwinds kept coming – I keep talking about them because they half my speed and drain my energy and make me cry inside – and the roads were busy and rough. The views, once I got to the top, were incredible. Back down to the city, over the bridge and beyond, this is a big place and I can’t quite believe I’ve skated it.

The tourist map that was given to us by a news agency in Brora a couple of days ago told us that a cycle path followed alongside the A9, so I parted company from the van with the thinking that we’d meet up half an hour later.

Two and a half hours later I hadn’t found the van, had been out of water for almost 2 hours and was delirious. The roads were straight. Straight uphill. I knew I was heading I the right direction but going was slow and my head was spinning. The wind gusted into my face.

I stopped for a toilet break. No one around so I pushed the board onto the verge, an effort in itself, and prepared myself. Two minutes or so later I realise I was still undoing my fly, I was facing back down the road and a car was crawling towards me. If it had been the police I would have been done for indecent exposure. I needed the van, bad.

45 minutes later I found the first downhill for miles. The wind was in my head but I was rolling without pushing. The road was crap but wow I felt good. I felt tired. I felt like a schizophrenic. Whipped the camera out to record my feelings and seconds later the van was in sight. I started screaming. We were still 9 or 10 miles away from Aviemore and that looked like a ridiculous ask today. I was resigned to being way behind schedule but was too exhausted to care.

Lay back in the van, Holly massaged my feet. It started to rain. Dimitri said it wasn’t raining. It was raining hard. No choice but to stay in the warm for a bit.

Finally, one last push. “I’m getting out and skating at half five” I told Holly. “Tell me when it’s half six and we’ll call it a day”. I’d forgotten about Elsa and she’d been out in the rain, poor girl. A skate will do her bearings good. So back on the road….and almost immediately a dude in a car stopped me and asked if I was the one skating Britain. Nice chap, lives in Exeter and longboards! Hopefully I’ll see him later this month.
The roads were glorious, the cars had started to respond to the radio coverage and honked and waved and threw raised thumbs at me. I felt good, the roads turned smooth. They started to aim downhill. By half six I was in Aviemore. We’re on target! YES YES YES!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Day 3: Dornoch to Inverness, or just north of Inverness

Woke up, packed up. Called media. An hour later and 6 miles down the road the Murray Firth radio news ended with the beautiful words, “Heaven is a long gentle downhill slope for one skateboarder, Dave Corthwaite is currently skating the length of Britain for children’s charities and today will be attempting the stretch between Dornoch and Inverness.”

That was a boost and the early ground was good. But then came the headwind. For hours I battled around the northern edge of the Cromarty Firth, pausing only for a roadside café lunch and an interview with the BBC. Back on the road by 4pm with 18 miles to Inverness still to go, and all I wanted to do was get over the Firth, move inland and out of the headwind. The bridge came nearer and then I looked into the distance to see a long 2-mile uphill drag.

Heartbroken, I waved the van on to avoid holding up traffic and caught up 80 minutes later, having screamed, cursed, snailed and walked towards what seemed like the sky.

Boy I was on my last legs. The aim was to get to ‘Ness but it was way past five with ten miles to go. I felt sick, worried, grumpy and defeated.

Bloody longboards.

A little rest, a moan to the camcorder, a long wistful look down the hill, over the bridge and across the water from where I had come, and it was time for a final push. By half six I had jumped in the van a mile north of the road bridge heading to Inverness. Job done, a couple of miles short of the target, but hopefully tomorrow’s 30 miles to Aviemore will be easier.

Plus, the BBC had promised us that my interview would be on the half six news. We found a sports bar, asked them to change the channel and sat there waiting to cheer. It never came. I shrugged my shoulders, consoled myself with the Murray Firth, BBC Radio and BBC Online coverage we had definitely received, and collapsed.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Day Two Complete

This has to be a real quickie because the internet connection is going off in a bit, but today was long, hard, hilly and wet, but came through in the end and just pipped the 40 mile mark.
I'm staying with Holly and Dimitri (one of our BFUK cameradudes) in a place called Dornoch, 40 miles north of Inverness where I'm aiming to reach by the end of tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who emailed with solutions to the chafing issue (not a problem tonight thank the lord) and everyone else who has donated recently. We've got some amazing video footage and will upload the first vids of this ultimate road trip in the next couple of days, sorry for the wait - but we have tons to do!!

Legs are feeling strong, so nice to have two days under the old belt. Bring on Day 3!

Snapper Holly hit the Doncaster Star today (see and we're all well chuffed with our new page 3 girl!

Right, camping for the first time in the van tonight, so it's time to go get some kip kip. Thanks for reading, and don't forget to spread the word. Everyone can donate @!!!

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