Nov 24


Byline: A warm welcome from RNLI Longhope, Carol's final destination.
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Carol Smithard an environmental consultant from Dumfermline has raised over £11,000 for the RNLI by walking from Land's End to John O'Groats, including Orkney and Shetland.

She began her amazing journey on August 10 at the most northern tip of Shetland and started on her long trek of 1702 miles which covered the length of the UK. To make her task even harder she has not taken the most direct route but has deviated from her course  to visit as many RNLI stations as possible on the way. We are honoured and delighted that Carol chose RNLI Longhope, her 44th lifeboat station, at which to finish her journey.

Carol said: 'I did this wee walk to raise money for the volunteers of the RNLI who selflessly give up their time on a regular basis to help others. All money raised by my wee walk will go towards training. Please help support these wonderful people. It takes a certain kind of person to do what they do and they are more wonderful then you can imagine.'

Carol has walked this unbelievable distance with no back up and travelled about 20 -25 miles a day which must have demanded a great physical and mental effort. To make her task even harder she climbed the highest peaks of England, Wales, Scotland, Shetland and finally Ward Hill on Hoy, Orkney.

Arriving on the early morning ferry on Wednesday 20 November, Carol was met by Kevin Kirkpatrick, our lifeboat Coxswain and Angus Budge, Deputy Coxswain at Moaness Pier in Hoy. She was lucky because this ferry didn't sail again that day due to the atrocious weather.

To climb Orkney's highest peak, Ward Hill, was not possible that day due to the weather conditions so that task was postponed until the next day. Nevertheless, Kevin and Angus walked the first ten and a half miles with Carol in gale force winds and lashing rain. There was a stop at the local school where the children had donned their waterproofs to bravely come out and greet Carol at the school gates. The children and teachers  were brilliant and full of enthusiasm and encouragement for Carol. Very well done to North Walls School and that was a great bit of cheering, thank you.

Kevin and Angus retired at this point and Carol's friend Becky, who had flown in from Malawi, joined Carol to walk a further eight and half miles. The weather by this time couldn't get much worse but it did. Crossing the Ayre, a causeway linking North and South Walls was quite a nerve racking, blustery experience for them both! They made it to Osmundwall Kirkyard where they stopped to visit the Longhope Lifeboat Disaster Memorial and quietly pay their respects. 

After a very early start the next day she climbed Ward Hill with Kevin and  Angus. It was dark when they set off and although the weather had improved a great deal, it was still very cold and icy at the summit. Carol said: 'The cloud layer was high so we had beautiful views all around.'
Then a tricky scramble down, a quick detour to the Lifeboat Museum at Brims and back to where she finished yesterday. Joined once more by her friend Becky with little Ellie riding piggy back, she only had a few miles left to walk into the village.

Finally after 1702 miles she walked into Longhope, all smiles and looking fit and healthy. Folk had gathered at the lifeboat station to cheer and welcome her. Carol said: ' We could see the flag on the station fluttering in the breeze for the last mile or so as we drew closer and closer and closer...then we arrived! And what a welcome. I must admit I got a bit emotional. I couldn't believe I had got to the end.'

There was great excitement and chatter as we all went into the station for a wee celebration and to hear snippets of Carol's awesome wee walk. The Longhope Lifeboat Guild had prepared some delicious soup, snacks and cakes that were greatly appreciated.

Once again very well done Carol, you are fantastic, you achieved your aim in a dignified and quiet manner. You have raised over £11,000 for the RNLI and we can never thank you enough. It was a delight to meet you.

You are a very special girl indeed.

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