My name is Ed Lloyd Owen and I am a reservist British Army Officer and over Christmas and the first couple of months this year, I was serving with the 2 Mercian Battlegroup on Op TOSCA, the British military contribution to the United Nations effort in Cyprus. Each battalion has a six month rotation on the island; ours finished at the end of March 2015.
After handing over to the incoming battalion, the officers and soldiers of 2 Mercian flew back to their home barracks in Chester to be reunited with their family and friends after six months on operations.
I did not fly home to the UK with them.
Instead, I set out, unsupported, to attempt to walk across continental Europe – some 2800 miles – back to the UK and London where I live.
Why? I am doing it in aid of Walking With The Wounded, a fantastic UK military charity that dedicates their work to restoring both the mental and physical damage found in our veterans, and the impact upon their families.
I left just before the end of March, and hope to return home to London in late August – a total of 5 months of walking. Whilst not wishing to over play it (far more dangerous and exhausting challenges have been undertaken in the name of charity), please be under no illusions that trying to walk between 20-25 miles every day for 5 months (with an occasional rest day) is much, MUCH more physically demanding and mentally taxing than I could possibly have imagined. It has, of course, also been enjoyable, educational and a helluva an adventure!
I left from Nicosia where we were based, the capital of The Republic of Cyprus, and literally turned left out the door, heading north to Kyrenia on the north coast of the island of Cyprus.
A brief ferry ride later (no, I did not swim the gap – it’s 60 odd miles!) and I arrived on the south coast of Turkey, turned left again and cracked on to Antalya. After heading straight across the south east corner of Turkey (and straight over the Taurus Mountians) towards the Northern Aegean, I arrived just after the commemoration of Gallipoli 100, where I paid my respects to the fallen, albeit slightly belatedly.
From Gallipoli, I hooked round into Greece, headed due west along the ancient Roman road, the Via Ignatia, up in Macedonia, over the Albania mountains, to hit the coast of the Adriatic Sea at the port of Durres. At this point, I decided to take a ferry across from Durres to Bari in Italy and then make my way up the eastern coast of Italy… It was sad that I couldn’t go up the coast of the Balkans but in the event time got the better of me… I had a hard-stop back in London in September and the Balkan route was 400 miles longer!
I’m updating this in Northern Italy, just shy of Piacenza and now on the equally ancient Via Francinga which is the old pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. It will take me over the Aosta and Grand St Bernard Pass in the Alps, through to Lausanne, and then in a straight line to Calais, making sure I take in some Champagne time in Reims!
Sadly Waterloo 200 has now been and gone, and I’m not going to get there but I will be walking the length of the Western Front and hopefully will also pick up Agincourt 600!
A couple more days will see my arrive Calais (again, no swimming!), and finally into the UK. The official finish point will be a yet to be confirmed location in Chelsea, after which I hope to repair to The Sporting Page on Limerston Street for amore informal arrival home!
As a civilian, I am a professional freelance events & portraiture photographer and so, as I walk through 11 different countries, I have been photographing, keeping an online diary and maybe making the odd short film about my experiences.
Sadly, the blog has slightly gone by the wayside as I have found that I am mentally and physically drained at the end of each day but I hope to write something of greater length which will include the highs and lows (both literal and emotional!), the mini-adventures, food and people that I have encountered along the way.
This website will be the portal to that – please subscribe in the column to the right of this page for further updates and follow my progress along the route both on Facebook and on the tracker map you can find in the menu bar on the left.
I will be selling limited edition prints of some of the photographs I have taken but details of that are to be confirmed at this stage.
I have called my journey A Short Walk Home for the obvious ironic reasons, but I also hope to draw some modest media attention, thus raising the profile of any sponsors that decide to join the team and, most importantly, the profile of Walking With The Wounded.
So, I am looking for commercial sponsors for clothing, boots, kit and general funding. As such, if you (or anyone you know!) would be interested in a sponsoring this challenge in aid of such a fantastic cause then please get in touch; further details of sponsorship packages can be found on this page.
Your support along the route has, and will continue to be an integral part of A Short Walk Home and as I such I will be extremely grateful for any that you offer. You can have no idea of the morale boost every time I get a notification from JustGiving that someone else has tipped a few pennies into the hat.
If you can’t stretch to the big bucks of commercial sponsorship, there are a number of other ways you could support me in this slightly crazy endeavour:
• Share, like, subscribe etc etc to my blog;
• Follow me in all my other social media outlets to spread the word – icons in the menu bar;
• SPONSOR ME directly at this Justgiving link: (Please don’t forget to add Gift Aid!!)
• SPONSOR ME by texting ASWH99 followed by the amount you wish (e.g. £100) to 70070
• SPONSOR ME by sending a CAF cheque to:
Ed Lloyd Owen, A Short Walk Home, Hill Farm House, Gt Dunham, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE32 2LP.
A Short Walk Home has already been an astonishing life experience for me, and I’m sure there is more to come.
But it has also been a challenge like absolutely nothing I could have imagined. The pain, discomfort, cold, heat, hunger, thirst, loneliness, stress, sheer terror, homesickness and a multitude of other emotions has been far beyond that with which I had reckoned.
Please, PLEASE make a donation as your way of support to try and mitigate some of the hardship I’ve been under for the past three and half months, with another 800 miles and six weeks to go…!
Finally, if you have the time, money and inclination, I am also on the lookout for people to come and join me to walk some of the bits remaining… Give me a shout through Facebook if you think you might be interested.
Thank you for your reading this and, in advance, your FINANCIAL support! Looking forward to a bit of a return party and a few cold suds with you all in a beautiful English August when I return!!