Don Ward is a primary evening news anchor at KKTV 11 News. With his partner Dianne Derby, Don can be seen on 11 News at 4, 5:30 and 10 pm Monday through Friday. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
In September I went on an amazing adventure with a buddy named James Mosley. He's been a great friend of mine for more than 30 years. We hiked coast to coast across northern England. This is the first in a series of articles about that hike.
WHY WE DID IT
The 132-mile journey goes from Arnside, on the Irish Sea in northwest England, to Saltburn by the Sea, on the North Sea, along the opposite coast.
(Feet in the Irish Sea at Arnside in the top picture - On the Beach at Saltburn below that)
James and I first met at Doherty High School in Colorado Springs in the early 1980s. We were later fraternity brothers at CU in Boulder and we've remained close friends ever since. He's a busy father of five, and a district court judge in North Texas.
Each year for the last decade or so we have hiked up Pikes Peak with other friends. So we have lots of hiking experience. We hoped we were fit enough for a much longer walk.
Here's why we decided put aside the judge's robes and the anchor's suits for a while to take on this 132-mile task.
James spent two years living in England. He was stationed at RAF Mildenhall in the early 1990s when he was an officer in the United States Air Force. Walking in the countryside is part of living in England. During that time he would often have phone conversations with his father back in Colorado. He would talk about how beautiful the English countryside was, and how he "could just walk here all day long." Eventually the conversations turned to the idea of walking all the way across the country. James and his dad both thought, "Wouldn't that be something wonderful to do"?
James lost his father in 2009.
Those conversations stayed with him - the idea of walking coast-to-coast like his Dad had suggested.
I lived in England twice as a child, once when I was very young, and then again for three years as a preteen in the late 1970s. I too loved the English countryside.
I've been a frequent visitor to England for many years since, and those visits always include walks and hikes through the beautiful terrain. I even visited James in the UK once while he was stationed there. It was October of 1992. We went from East Anglia, where he lived, down to London, then to Edinburgh, Scotland, and all the way up to Inverness and Loch Ness. We did not spot any monsters.
James first suggested the coast-to-coast idea to me in about 2010. He had seen the website for Contours Walking Holidays. It's a company that offers pre-arranged walks and hikes all over the UK, including several different coast-to-coast options. I was on board right away.
The idea was postponed for a few years to accommodate James's growing family and responsibilities at work. It was apparent there would never be an ideal time for either one of us to leave everything behind for that length of time, but eventually we targeted the fall of 2016 as a time to make it happen. With the gracious permission of James's wife Kim and his five wonderful kids, and clearance from the station for me, dates were picked and reservations were made.
Up next - We start the long walk on the northwest coast of England.
We'll talk again soon.