The Duke of Roxburghe and his friend Henry Wyndham, chairman of Sotheby’s, have raised nearly £1million for charity.
The pair walked the 192-mile Coast to Coast route from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire in May.
The Duke told us: “It was a challenge. I had never done anything like that before. It’s a long way.”
The pair were joined by others during the two-week hike.
“The weather did its level best to make it difficult, “ said the Duke: “But there was no point in thinking it’s going to be miserable. My good friend Henry was a great person to do it with. We both set out to enjoy it.”
The Lake District proved to be a highlight: “The views in the early days in the Lake District were fantastic. One day, when we were going from Patterdale to Haweswater, we had staggering views back to the Lakes and across into Yorkshire. It was a beautiful day.”
And the low moment?
“There were some days when we walked across very boggy ground. The very last day we walked was particularly unpleasant. It had rained overnight and we had to walk into the teeth of a northerly gale for two and a half hours, which was pretty tough.”
The Duke is raising money for a research project – to develop a blood test to predict and reduce side-effects in cancer patients receiving radiotherapy – which is supported by the man he credits with saving his life, oncologist Dr Nick Plowman.
Three and a half years ago, the landowner found out he had throat cancer with secondary tumours in his lymph glands and chest. Medics had warned the outlook was bleak.
The Duke said: “The diagnosis was a massive shock that simply turned my life and my family’s upside down.”
But following chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery the Duke has been free from cancer for the last 18 months.
“It’s a life-changing experience. To come through it and out the other end makes you rethink your values and treasure life, “ he told The Southern. “I had been looking for a while to give something back and this walk just fitted the bill very well.”
The Duke was in charge of navigation, using a GPS system last used by his son, Charlie, in Iraq: “It was brilliant, without it we might still be there,” he jokes in his blog.
The first day was 14 miles: “We finished in 6 hours 55 minutes, just inside the estimated 6-7 hours, but then we are two elderly men not far off a bus pass!”
Day five was the Lake District to Yorkshire section and saw the laird record: “Today was simply sensational with views to die for” – and still the wind blew 60-80mph and it snowed on a summit.
He said crossing the M6 was “a huge moment for Henry and I. I don’t think I will ever drive up or down this section of motorway without memories of this walk.”
He also faithfully records Henry falling in the mud one day and into a stream on another.
Finishing, the Duke records: “Our feelings were a sense of relief and satisfied achievement in equal measure at finishing the walk in one piece, and raising such a wonderful amount of money for two deserving charities.”
Anyone wanting to donate should visit www.roxburgheblog.com