Hi Rob, thank you for taking the time to Q&A with us today! Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Hello, I am Robert Baynes, or preferably Rob as Robert is generally the name I was called by my mother if I’d done something wrong. I am a staff nurse working in A&E at present but have been a nurse for some years now and truly enjoy it, even with the current pressures.
I enjoy various activities including snooker, golf and photography all of which I am not very good at, but they do say it’s not the winning or the losing, it’s the taking part that counts, well that’s my excuse for being not so good anyway! One thing I am good at is walking, having been in the Army as an Infantry Soldier way back when they had muskets. Even prior to being in the Army, I was a keen Boxer from the age of 11 so I consider myself to be fit, however I’m now 53 and as much as the mind thinks I’m fit, my body is soon quick to remind me that this is not the case.
During my time as a nurse, I have witnessed many individuals with various conditions as all health professionals have and continue to do so. Yet these conditions are not only seen and experienced in our professional life but also in our private lives also. I decided that I could combine my interest in walking to raise awareness and fundraise for whichever charity I could, whilst I am able to. In 2015 I did the Wainright’s Coast to Coast to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer and the NSPCC and completed the 190 miles trek in 6 days (this challenge is generally completed within 14-21 days). Then in 2016 I decided that I would do the Yorkshire Wolds Way in 24 hours which is 79 miles and involved walking through the night. This walk was very difficult and demanding but I was focussed on why I was doing it and successfully completed the challenge.
This brings me to my 2021 challenge. My son had started raising money for several charities after his Grandad passed away. These charities included the Stroke Association, Dove House Hospice, British Lung Foundation and Alzheimer’s UK. I decided that it was time for a new challenge, not only to support my son but also to fundraise for the combined charities. It had to be something that would not only challenge me but also inspire people to donate given that it was so difficult to achieve so I decided to once again do Wainright’s Coast to Coast, yet this time in 5 days and carrying all equipment that I would need to wild camp. The last time I did the coast to coast I stayed in hotels (not a B&B fan) however this was very difficult as in regard to time and distance on that particular day as to where I had booked a room. So, this time I would carry what I needed in order to walk, sleep, wash and eat and fondly dubbed the fundraiser “Do it for John”.
Congratulations on firstly taking on this challenge and secondly finishing! Could you tell us a bit more about the experience? Any funny stories or how you felt during the walk?
Good friends of mine, Chris & Lorraine Scott, took me to St Bees to stay over on the Saturday prior to starting the walk on Sunday 25th July 2021. They decided that they would walk the first 14 miles to Ennerdale Bridge with me so on the Saturday night, we drove there and dropped the car off and got a taxi back to St Bees, had a couple of drinks then an early night. Sunday morning arrived and I’d pressed snooze way too many times, maybe if I pressed snooze enough the following 5 days would have been a dream! I was now up (late!) quick shower something to eat, all ready, check out and now stood at the start line with pebble in rucksack, as is the tradition.
Well, the first 200 metres to the cliff face were a breeze! Then once we started walking up the steep cliff face path, well let’s just say I wanted to turn back then! After about 500m I was questioning whether it was a good idea to have had the breakfast at all... Having arrived at Ennerdale Bridge and parting with Chris and Lorraine, I made my way around the never-ending Ennerdale Water and Honister Pass onwards alone. I did miss having the company, but I rather enjoyed the peace, tranquillity and solitude also.
In my 2015 challenge when I’d got to Kirby Steven it had been so hot so in this instance, I had decided to pack all wet/warm weather gear so I did not need to go back home. The 3 following days it rained, and the weight was really taking its toll on my back and knees.
Whilst walking up through the woods to The North Yorkshire Moors, I came across what looked like a bird farm, not sure what birds they were, but they ran like little dinosaurs even though they could fly. Yet one was head butting the fence, wings flapping clearly distressed. I decided to help it back over the fence to go back with the rest of the birds. I bent down to pick up the little thing however the next thing I was on my knees wondering what had just happened. Little did I know that a thin wire about 10 inches from the fence that was electrified! No wonder the bird was distressed, so was I now!
Then on the last day whilst walking up one of the many inclines along the North Yorkshire Moors, I somehow managed to get my foot caught in my lace. My hands were holding on to the strap of the rucksack and over I went, face planting a rock and knocking myself out. Once I had come round and composed myself, I set off to the next place along the walk where humans resided which was 9 miles away. I cleaned myself up in the toilet of the pub, applied first aid by dressing the cut, took some pain killers along with a double vodka and coke and set off once again to finish the walk. One thing that I did notice from one coast to the other is that sheep are everywhere, but they are not the greatest in conversation!
What did you do to prepare for the walk?
On previous occasions I had trained and prepared months prior to commencing a challenge however this time I had not prepared as much as I should have done. Whilst at work, yes you are on your feet 99% of the time and you do get rather a large amount of steps but it does not compare to having to walk up Helvellyn!
How far in total was the walk and how long did it take you?
In total it was 190 miles or just over 420,000 steps (plus a couple of hundred getting lost here and there) and took me 5 days to complete. Usually, it can take up to 21 days.
You did this walk on your own – how did you prepare mentally for this and how did this affect you?
I was very focused on the challenge in front of me and once the walk had started it was a case of one foot in front of the other until each daily target had been achieved. My daily target was walking roughly 38 miles and finding an inhabited area to sleep, hopefully with a shop nearby.
What did you bring with you in your bag?
I had everything needed to eat, drink, cook and sleep for 24 hours plus sun cream, spare clothing and washing materials. Having been in the Army I had items in my rucksack for every eventuality. Even the standard items that every nurse carries around - pen torches, scissors and tape (these came in handy to cut into steristrips for my eye which I’d cut on the last day).
How did you manage to fit this challenge and training in around your day job?
I was working full-time up until I started the walk however had booked a week off to carry out the challenge, also a few days after carrying out the walk to recover. I wish I had booked more days off in hindsight as with age my body is showing signs of wear and tear!
Why did you want to take part in the walk and what is next up for fundraising for “Do it for John”?
I enjoy walking it gives you a chance to zone out of daily stresses. My attitude is simply use it or lose it. I am able to take part in this sort of challenge and whilst I can, why not do it for a good cause? My son started “Do it for John” when his grandfather died and he has already completed various challenges to raise money for the Lung Foundation, Dove House Hospice, Alzheimer’s Society and The Stroke Association. The next challenge is my nephew cycling from Harling in Norfolk to Hull!
How much money have you raised so far and how can others contribute?
We are hoping to raise £4000 this year so that each charity will receive £1000 each and so far we have raised £2530.00 so fingers crossed he will achieve £4000. If anyone wishes to donate, they can do so at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/doitforjohn.
What would you say to others who are looking to do a similar challenge?
Prepare!! Train!! And get your message out there and be using social media and be cheeky ask people to share your posts and keep posting.
Your Customer Success Team at Clinical24 England are incredibly proud of you and were delighted to sponsor your efforts for this amazing cause. Well done and thank you for getting involved in our Q&A.