Express & Star

Alan battles driving wind and rain to complete 630 mile wild-camping trek in 51 days

It's taken four attempts but intrepid adventurer Alan Peace has completed his 1,000km South West Coast Walk for Cancer Research UK after three previous setbacks.

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Alan at the SWC path

The 75-year-old former Himley Park warden camped out in gale-force winds and horizontal rain during the trek which has seen him raise £48,300 so far.

His fundraising journey began in 2005 when he climbed Mount Acongagua - the highest peak outside of Asia - at 23,000ft to raise £23,000 in memory of his first wife Joan who died of breast cancer a year earlier.

Despite climbing some of the world’s toughest mountains since then, Alan said his latest adventure has been the hardest.

“This has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done,” said Alan, a Wombourne parish councillor. “While Aconcagua is 23,000ft up and minus 20 degrees, the South West Coast path involved over 115,000 feet of ascent and descent – the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest four times.”

Alan first took on the arduous 630-mile South West Coast Walk in 2016 but did it in short bursts over five years with a hip replacement in between. Last year his plans to tackle the trek in one go were thwarted twice due to Covid-19.

Never one to be beaten, Alan battled a week of driving rain and high winds before the weather gave way to a mix of hot sunshine and showers. He completed the trek in just 51 days, finishing last on July 9.

“The first eight days I was never dry and the winds were fierce,” he added. “I had to pack up my wet tent each day and carry the increased weight of it in my backpack. The hardest part was getting up and walking every day consecutively for 51 days. It was relentless but, despite the challenges, I met some fascinating and very generous people who helped keep my spirits up.

“It was wonderful to finish and quite emotional after two months away from home and I’d just like to thank all the kind people who donated along the way. I only wish I could thank them all personally.”

Alan in Weymouth
Alan in Tintagel
Alan reaches Cornwall
Alan at St Loy's
Alan back at home
Alan heading off on his walk

Alan’s wife Debbie, who was there to greet him at the finish line with his four-year-old grandson Ralph, said: “Watching him get to the end was very emotional because I know how much he’d put into it and how epic it is. People think it’s a nice straight path but it’s not, it’s an immense challenge and I’m really proud of him.”

Paula Young, spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK in the West Midlands region said: “Alan is a legend in walking boots and we’d like to thank him from the bottom of our hearts for pursuing this amazing challenge against the odds.

“I hope people will continue to donate and help him top £50,000 for Cancer Research UK which would be a phenomenal achievement.

“Thanks to amazing supporters like Alan, Cancer Research UK’s work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives. Cancer survival has doubled over the past forty years but our ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.”

To sponsor Alan, visit his fundraising page or text ALAN3, ALAN5 or ALAN10 to 70180 to donate £3, £5 or £10.