The SWINK Charity Trek 2008 Suzie Walks in the North with Keats

Welcome to my blog. I will be keeping this page up to date with developments as I work towards my target to raise £5000 shared between the Lymphoedema Support Network and St Margaret's Somerset Hospice.

Helm Crag

Helm Crag

Monday, 5 January 2009

Its done! Now I want to start it all over again!

Well after 4 visits to the lakes my walk is completed, all 105 miles of it (approx.) I have raised more than £3000, have spent time in a place I love reading poems and letters of the inspirational John Keats and have got quite a bit fitter than I was when I started. I definately want to go up there again - NOW! Unfortunately the 'credit crunch' or whatever we should refer to it as means we can't afford it so I am looking at all my photos and thinking about making a video of them to put on the net just so I can reminisce.

I have had an account of my trip published in Able magazine and will now write a piece for the Lymphoedema Supoort network magazine and any others that are interested. I really did manage to raise awareness of lymphoedema amongst a number of my sponsors and I would like a new challenge so I can continue to do just that.

If anyone would like me to write a piece for publication or would like to know more about lymphoedema just get in touch!!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Where did the blog go?!!

Well, I KNOW I updated this blog!! I hope you don't all think there is still 100 miles to go?!

Two trips up since the March expedition and now I am almost there. Just 20 miles to go!!!! I walked for a week with my brother, sister and nephew in June, and have just come back from a two week trip with Peter and my son James. All the walk between Lancaster and Keswick is covered and a reccie of the land between keswick and carlisle reveals a very different landscape to that covered by Keats and Brown. Even back in the 1930s Nelson Bushnell was not impressed with the route through Wigton and Ireby, and he would be even less so now. Main A roads traversing relatively uninspiring farmland offering few opportunities to escape via public footpaths.

Comfitted by the knowledge that when things got dreary Keats and Brown took a coach to a further more interesting staging post, I have decided to cover the few remaining miles in parts of the Lakes which, if Keats didn't actually visit them, they would have offered more poetic inspiration than a main road into Carlisle. I will travel the route by car to complete a photographic record, looking at the changes over the past 80 years and the last 30, but I want to gauge how far someone with limited mobility can enjoy walking in Cumbria and be inspired in the way Keats was. Raising awareness of lymphoedema was a big part of this challenge and I am already pulling together articles to pitch to various magazines and newsletters.

I have so many photographs that need to be ordered and placed in context that publishing them on this site might not be possible so I will create a link as soon as I have a proper presentation ready.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

100 miles to go!

On Saturday 21st June I am off up to the lakes with my sister Jane ,brother Phil and nephew Tom for a weeks charity trekking. (When did we last spend a whole week together? We may all be wrecks by the end of it!) We hope to cover 50 miles in the week and as I managed 15 miles by myself in march I am hopeful I can make it. That will leave another 50 miles to do in August when I go with hubbie Peter and son James (who I expect will avoid walking at all costs!) or in September/October when my firend Sally Thorley has volunteered to come with me and make sure i don't use public transport....

My brother and sister have between them raised over £400 and I have now sent out all my begging emails with the link. Fingers crossed. We have over £2,200 pledged now so we are approaching half way to the total which is fantastic.

I am taking the laptop with me so I can sit in Costa Coffee and keep the blog up to date with progress. I am well stocked up on blister plasters, antiseptic, insect repellant, compression hosiery and farrow wraps etc and I expect what we will actually need is waterproofs but hey ho, it was ever thus in the Lakes and is part of it's charm.

Lymphoedema wise my legs are - touchwood -good at present. I have lost over a stone in weight in the last couple of months which makes me lighter on the old tootsies and hopefully my boots will fit properly now. Walking 50 miles in slippers would be an additional challenge I don't really need!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Well - its booked...

Well it's booked - at least my march planning trip is. I have been thinking about this for such a long time that I was beginning to think it was all a fantasy. Peter has no leave left so I will be all on my own - Monday 17th March to Good Friday in a B&B in Bowness. This is almost more of a challenge to me than the walk itself. I don't go away from my family often and rarely alone. I will be taking all my gizmos with me and will be in close touch with everyone but it is still a wrench.

I really need to do this though, not only as a personal challenge but because the first section from Lancaster to Kendal promises to be rather boring and perhaps impossible - much if it is along A roads and I am not going to put myself in the way of any danger. I can visualise the area within the Lakes, and can consider alternatives to the main roads if necessary (with the help of my brother) but the first part of the walk may have to be curtailed or followed in a different way - by public transport or by car covering as much of the ground on foot as possible, stopping to take photos and record impressions. No one wants to do this bit with me anyway so I will get it over with before I go up with Jane and Phil in June and with Peter and James in August.

I would also like to drum up a little more sponsorship. I sent out more than 140 letters and have only had about 15 positive replies. The vast majority have not even replied, though some have written to say sorry but can't help. The one I find most difficult to accept is Sainsbury's. They wrote a long letter telling me they were marvellous and worked hard in the community and then saying they couldn't let me have even a measly voucher. Tesco gave me £10 and I thought 'well, every little helps'.. They seem generous in comparison.

I also haven't heard from compression hosiery companies who are frankly making a mint out of people like me and our necessary compression stockings (yuk). I think I may just have to send them another letter....

Anyway - best close now and continue when the adventure has started next week. I will also be uploading some photos as that is a critical part of my walk - I want to write up my experience and illustrate it with photos a little more inspiring than in previous books on the subject. I have bought myself a digital voice recorder so i can chatter away as I walk and hopefully write it up later. The wonders of modern science..

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

March 2008 - Its got to happen!

My name is Suzie Grogan and I am facing the challenge of a lifetime as I gear up to follow in the footsteps of my favourite poet John Keats, walking more than 100 miles in Lancashire and the Lake District . This is I hope the first of many blog entries. Future entries will be shorter have no fear!!
I am a freelance researcher and writer from Wellington in Somerset and in the summer of 2008 I will be donning my walking gear and setting off from Lancaster on the first leg of a walk to raise money for the Lymphoedema Support Network and St Margaret’s Somerset Hospice.
It's a long time since I have done any serious exercise but the hard work will all be worthwhile if I succeed in raising £5,000 for The Lymphoedema Support Network and the Hospice. I have had Lymphoedema in my legs since my teens and following surgery for breast cancer in September 2006 I am now at risk of developing it in my arm. When I was diagnosed with Lymphoedema in my late teens it was very difficult. Even 25 years on many doctors do not understand the condition and it is often misdiagnosed. The diagnosis of breast cancer was in itself devastating but after successful treatment many women like myself need to know how to protect themselves from developing Lymphoedema, which can be both disabling and potentially dangerous. When you are put in touch with the Lymphoedema Support Network you immediately have the support and information you need to make sure the medical profession take your symptoms seriously. They are a very small organisation but punch well beyond their weight, raising issues in parliament and lobbying Primary Care Trusts to ensure treatment is available for all who need it. St Margaret’s Hospice, is where Lymphoedema patients in Somerset are lucky enough to receive wonderful care from Ali Batchelor, the nurse specialist. Not all parts of the UK are lucky enough to have this care, and money is tight everywhere.
The LSN and the Hospice have done so much for us all, now it's time I did something for them.
John Keats undertook a similar walk in 1818 and it inspired him to write poetry that has given me comfort in some tough times. I want to walk and write, inspired as he was. I hope to publish an account of my trip – noting the many differences between my walk and his. So much has changed – even since the last account written of the walk in the late 1970’s. I am well known in the Lymphoedema community for my work as chair of the Taunton area Lymphoedema Support Group, and I am hoping the local communities in both Somerset and Cumbria will support me in this marathon challenge. My friends on the support group are very generous and I hope other people, and businesses, will sponsor me if they can. Even a few pounds will make a huge difference and mean The Lymphoedema Support Network and St Margaret’s Hospice can continue their invaluable work. I have already raised about £500 and will be holding events to raise more money throughout 2008. Until 10th March you can enter the SWINK Art competition - up to 4 entries each at the cost of just £2 per entry for children and £3 per entry for adults. The competition will be judged by famous Somerset artist Louise Waugh and is open to all ages. There are some great prizes so get drawing, painting, making - in fact using any media on the theme of Animals in their Habitats. You can sponsor me by visiting my online fundraising page on You can pay by credit or debit card, and the money will go directly to the nominated charities. Where supporters are UK taxpayers, the charity will automatically receive 28% extra in Gift Aid, which makes Justgiving the most efficient way of sponsoring me