I’m in training – from sofa to a 36 mile Blackpool to Bury epic walk in April, in aid of The Joshua Wilson Brain Tumour Charity. So, on a crisp January morning, with hubby (Eric) and dog (Barney) in tow, I set off to get ‘walking fit’!

I’m a townie, and have been for 50 years, so the move to the country last October was novel. For my walk, it gave me miles and miles of countryside to aim at, right from my front door. Bonus! Eric had planned the route, around 16 kms. No problem, let’s do it. I should point out that we had to sneak out of the house, as our cat Ted Bear normally comes to the village green with us at weekends for a walk!

From leaving home, it went downhill quite rapidly, as we entered a field with a way too friendly horse. What’s the etiquette for handling a horse and a giddy dog? I have a rope burn from the lead! The faster we walked, the faster the horse followed us. So, we edged ourselves out of the field gingerly, and carried on.

Sheep, bulls, cows, mice (that made me scream when it ran in front of me in a field), hens, chickens, a sparrow hawk (or was it a kestrel?). Lots of marshy / boggy fields with mud, so much mud. I’m absolutely certain we trespassed in farmers’ fields as our phone app ‘froze’ and we marched on, out of a field through someone’s’ garden. I’m being reassured by Eric that “it’s a footpath, it’s OK” – I saw no ‘footpath’ – anywhere! My concern on trespassing was, could the farmer legally shoot us? I have to say as this was near the end of our walk, around 16.5 kms, I really didn’t care.

We made it to Entwistle reservoir and Barney chose to run through the middle of a bog, rather than tiptoe round it behind me! Up to his neck in thick black mud. I laughed, but I think it was bordering on hysteria.

I should point out my hubby is the son of a farmer, and knows the countryside well. How he dealt with my inane questions the whole way round I’ll never know –

• Why have they got electric fences round the fields?
• Why can’t we climb over the dry-stone walls, rather than the stiles?
• Are we nearly home yet (on many many occasions)?
• Admitting to him that I didn’t know that sheep had tails!
• What the old empty stone buildings were, and what had they been used for?

We finally arrived home and Barney was filthy. With military precision, I left Eric & Barney outside and ran a bath. Eric carried a disgruntled Barney and ceremoniously dropped him in and we bathed him. Mud swilled off him and left a silt like coating in the bath. Disgusting.

It’s been tough. I learnt a lot about myself, my need to succeed and complete everything I start. So even when my calves cramped, and my knees ached, I just kept going.

I’m NOT a quitter. My 18.6 kms (11 miles) walk wasn’t even a third of the charity walk, but I will complete the 36 miles on the 14th April. Watch this space.

To donate you can at – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GillArnott1