Coast-to-Coast walker Tom Buckley has completed his trip.
The 23-year-old, who has terminal cancer, walked into the North Yorkshire village of Robin Hood’s Bay on the 18th gruelling day of his 192-mile journey. And Manchester’s Christie Hospital’s Young Oncology Unit will be more than £50,000 better off because of his mammoth effort.
It had been clear from Tom’s blog that he was in considerable pain during the final few days of his journey across the high ground of northern England. Foul weather on the last section, across the North York Moors, almost put paid to his venture, but he persevered and walked down the slipway beside the Bay Hotel today, Tuesday.
The modest young man, from Comberbach in Cheshire, overcame his numerous physical disadvantages, including having half a lung missing, a knee replacement, a tibia replacement and having sight in only one eye after childhood retinoblastoma, to reach his goal and gain the admiration of everyone who encountered him.
Always a major challenge to walkers, the Coast-to-Coast Walk, devised by Alfred Wainwright, is incredibly difficult in December, with short daylight hours, snow, ice, fog, wind and torrential rain.
What Tom said kept him going was the generosity of all those who have contributed to the Just Giving website. A seemingly tall order – raising £10,000 for the treatment of young cancer patients – was soon surpassed and the latest target, £50,000, has already been topped, when Gift Aid is taken into account.
Understandably, Tom was the focus of much media attention as he neared the end of his walk. An anticipated lie-in had to be abandoned to take part in two early morning radio interviews and a posse of press followed his progress as he made the last few miles from High Hawsker to his final destination.
His twin sister, father, uncle and cousin accompanied him on his final leg and he was met in Robin Hood’s Bay by his mother who helped him empty the jar of Irish Sea water which has also made the trip into the brine of the North Sea.
Yesterday, after travelling through the woods of Littlebeck, and putting in a 15-mile day, he was able to report the sentiment felt by so many Coast-to-Coasters: “A little part of me will miss all of this – just a little part though!”
A breakfast of porridge set him up for the walk along the cliffs of North Yorkshire to a triumphant finish at the steep village chosen by Wainwright as the culmination of the route.
He said: “I walked around the cliff and down into Robin Hoods Bay with my sister, dad, uncle, cousin and friends.
“I met my mum at the beach who handed me the jar of Irish Sea water I had collected 18 days ago and I threw it into the North Sea: the end, wow!”
Tom was full of praise for all those who have given money to the Christie appeal. “It is because of you that I have completed this. Had it not been for the incredible support, I would have had a rest day (at least one!) and the sense of achievement I feel now would not have been so high.”
The Just Giving website is still open for donations, so grough readers can add to the incredible total raised by the young man who has, by his own admission, less than a year to live.