David walks 60 miles from Yapton to Hastings to mark his 60th birthday

David Bathurst
David Bathurst

Memory man and intrepid walker David Bathurst has pulled off a remarkable double to celebrate his 60th birthday.

On Saturday, December 14 at St George’s Church, Eastergate, he sang 60 seasonal carols/songs in the morning and another 60 in the afternoon, all from memory.

David then marked the New Year by walking his age in 24 hours – 60 miles from his home in Yapton, all the way to Hastings.

Both events were in aid of Stonepillow – and you can still contribute on

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/DAVID-BATHURST1

“My thoughts on finishing were a massive sense of achievement combined with disbelief that I’d actually done it. I still can’t quite believe it now and have to keep reliving it all to remind myself I got there!”

There were plenty of highlights along the way on his epic trek:

“1 The sense of stillness as I walked below Highdown Hill on the approach to Worthing; this was in the very middle of the night with starry skies above me. It was astonishingly beautiful.

“2 Seeing the sun rise as I walked the clifftops between Brighton and Newhaven. Not only was this a quite majestic sight but the arrival of daylight seemed like a gift from the heavens after the long hours of walking in darkness.

“3 Following Cooden Drive on the approach to Bexhill, with just under 54 miles completed, and for the first time since setting off, getting the sense of certainty that I would make it. A tremendous feeling.

“4 Visiting a seafront café at Bexhill and on my telling the owner that I’d walked ‘only’ 54 miles to get there, being offered a blanket and free coffee and ginger cake. As I set off after that, with less than six miles to go, I was emotionally overwhelmed at the memory of such kindness.”

But there were also lows:

“1 At Worthing I tripped on a piece of raised concrete marking the middle of the road, and fell; I sustained cuts to both my hands and both my knees. Mercifully I got up straight away and suffered no other ill-effects.

“2 There was a hateful stretch of road walking between Cuckmere Haven and Friston on the Seaford-Eastbourne section of the A259 with no pavement, narrow verges often broken up by mini-troughs and strewn with vegetation – and huge amounts of traffic including buses and coaches.

“3 Because of huge queues in the cafes and shops I needed to patronise at Eastbourne I had far less time than I would have liked, to relax and regroup there, and I set off from there feeling agitated rather than composed. It took a while to settle back into the zone.

“Even though I’d not injured myself badly from my fall, it still shook me and I wondered if this was going to be ‘not my day.’ It was still only 3.15am, three hours in, and my confidence was at quite a low ebb. However it had recovered as I reached Hove and although I was determined not to become over-confident or complacent, I always felt pretty sure after that that I would be ok – barring an unforeseen disaster or total exhaustion!

“This was always about walking my age to celebrate the big birthday. It was a personal challenge and a test of my physical and mental resilience. That never changed. I am thrilled that I was equal to it. Of course I’m delighted that I was able to use it to raise money for Stonepillow. I did think beforehand that by walking through the night I could get some idea of what it must be like to have to wander the streets at night as a homeless person – although curiously as I walked that didn’t feature in my thoughts at all! I was just keen to build up the miles.

“The conditions were absolutely perfect. Clear cold starry night, then sunshine and cloudless skies by day, a gentle following breeze, then another clear evening. By day it wasn’t that cold and my biggest problem was actually staying hydrated. I got through five bottles of water and six coffees. Plus seven bananas!”

David admits, walking-wise, he is not sure he can ever top this: “It was a massive effort and around the 45-mile mark I told myself that even if I didn’t make it to the end, I wouldn’t want to try again. I was most fortunate in having superb conditions and excellent physical health; I chose an easy route, mostly along pavements and promenades, with refreshment easily available – and it was still incredibly hard. I’m always up for a challenge but let’s just say I’m not planning to walk 70 miles when I reach 70!”

The epic challenge came just a couple of weeks after David’s Carolathon.

“Just over 2 weeks before the walk I succeeded in singing 120 carols and other seasonal songs from memory at Eastergate Church – again as a 60th birthday celebration. It was hugely enjoyable and I am overwhelmed with the generosity of so many friends and parishioners, enabling Stonepillow to benefit by well over £2,000.”