Brian Couzins completes his seven-year quest

Brian Couzins completes his seven-year quest

A determined rambler braved swarms of bees and animal traps to walk into the record books and complete an epic seven-year journey in the Peak District.

Brian Couzins visited each of the national park’s 555 square miles on a 1,346-mile odyssey through the hills and dales of the area.

He completed his round with friends at Holme, in the shadow of Black Hill, the Peak District’s third highest hill.

The business analyst visited every town, village, hamlet and dale in the national park during 186 walks.

Over the years he has been airlifted to hospital after being attacked by bees, chased by all kinds of animals from sheep to horses, bullocks, dogs and geese, but he carried on undaunted to complete his spare-time marathon.

Mr Couzins, 55, who lives near Leek in Staffordshire and works at a software specialist company in Manchester, first donned his boots and rucksack in 2006.

He said: “It was when I moved into the area, I got chatting in the pub and the locals said the best way to get to know the area was to walk it.

“So I set myself this challenge.”

He produced a scaled down cardboard ‘square mile’ to use on his maps and set out to plan routes that would cover all 555 square miles of the national park, averaging 7.2 miles per walk.

Keeping mostly to paths, tracks, stream-beds, cloughs and boundary walls, he only walked over open terrain when unavoidable.

“When that happened, especially over heather, I tried to take as much care as I would if stepping through somebody’s flower beds,” he said.

“I’m as passionate about conservation as I am about walking, and I endeavoured to leave a moor exactly as I found it.”
He said his worst experience was on Chatsworth Moor in 2009 when he was walking past a fence, the other side of which, unknown to him, were bee hives.

Mr Couzins said: “A swarm flew up and attacked me.

“Luckily I had phone reception and managed to dial 999. I’ll be eternally grateful to the air ambulance which came to the rescue.

“The doctor quickly injected me with antihistamine while the paramedics were pulling stings out of my head.”

A year later he found himself negotiating a remote area full of animal traps, riddled with hidden pits and snares.

But for the most part he found it hugely enjoyable: “It’s fantastic to get away from the tourist hot spots and to get to know the Peaks in all their splendour and diversity, in different conditions,” he said.

“The main thing you realise is how vast it is.”

He now plans to write a book about his walking achievement, cataloguing all 186 walks, how he designed them, and highlighting the good and more challenging points in each area.

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