A PRESTEIGNE man has had a book published about his marathon 1,100-mile charity walk around the perimeter of Wales which raised £6,700 for the Alzheimer’s Society last summer.
Tom Davies left his home, heading north on July 26, 2016, and the story of his journey is told by him in the book A Welsh Wander - An Epic Trek Right Around Wales which has been published in paperback by Y Lolfa Books.
The heart-warmingly open and honest story, bursting with facts about places along his route, vivid descriptions and photographs of stunning scenery on the Offa’s Dyke Path and Wales Coast Path, magical wildlife encounters, bizarre anecdotes, random and life-reaffirming generosity from strangers, and even a few dark moments when he felt like he’d bitten off more than he could chew.
“During my years of teaching, my maternal grandma developed Alzheimer’s and while in the middle stages of the disease, passed away very suddenly. Two years later, my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with vascular dementia,” said Tom.
“Seeing two people who I love very dearly afflicted by such a personal and confusing illness inspired me to begin fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society.”
It was for this reason that Tom had the idea for his challenge to circumnavigate his home country in one go, carrying everything he needed to survive in his trusty backpack, Wilson, for two months on the road to reach a £1,100 sponsorship target.
Along the way he wrote a daily online blog called Tom’s Welsh Wander that would become far bigger than he ever dreamed possible.
“Each night, I would sit in a quiet corner of a pub, or a bedroom, or my tent, and pour my heart into my blog. It became a friend in whom I could confide my every thought, feeling and emotion, and that is why I have decided to share it now,” said Tom.
Tom’s blog hits eventually climbed to over a staggering 26,500 and his fundraising reached a total of £6,700 well above his original £1,100 target.
His journey also drew the support of one famous follower, the TV presenter and Welsh weatherman Derek Brockway who said: “I first heard about Tom and his Welsh Wander after his mum got in touch with me in August 2016. She told me all about her son’s challenge to walk the whole perimeter of Wales and raise money for charity.
“My dad suffered from dementia, Tom’s grandmother died of Alzheimer’s and now his grandfather has developed the illness too. I decided to offer my support and join him on part of his trek of a lifetime, to help raise awareness of this terrible condition.
“Tom is a proud Welshman who loves his country and his love of the Welsh countryside, its beauty, history and magical wildlife really shine through. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know Tom and one day I hope to follow in his footsteps and complete my own Welsh Wander,” said Derek.
Tom added: “My Welsh Wander has been the single greatest experience of my life. I’ve seen so many breathtaking sights, had some incredibly special moments and battled through some tough ones too.
“I hope it will inspire people to explore the countryside on foot and to learn new things about the area they live in as well make them want to visit corners of the incredible country that is Wales.”
Priced £12.95, the book also includes practical tips and checklists for anyone thinking of taking up long-distance walking.
See full story in the County Times