The CHADS Nature Project - A Walk Around Britain

Society members were entertained by Derrick Silverwood of CHADS for our pre-Xmas presentation. With the aid of colour slides, Derrick gave us a flavour of his round Britain walk in 1987 in aid of the CHADS project at Armitage. For those who are unaware CHADS stands for Combined Disabled and Handicapped Society whose central project is the development of nature conservation areas for visits primarily by disabled persons, on land to the east of Armitage adjacent to the A 513. However the main reason for Derrick's visit was to share with us his memories of what was quite a daunting coastline walk around Britain - all 7,000 miles of it!

Departing from Lichfield in July 1997 the walk took 414 days, ending in September 1988. He first made a cross-country journey to Lindisfarne, his coastal starting point. As the home of St Chad, prior to his pilgrimage south to York and eventually to Lichfield, it was altogether a very appropriate starting point. Derrick's walk, at 20 miles a day, then encompassed the coast in a clockwise direction.

Overnight accommodation was sometimes pre-planned, sometimes he resorted to his tent and, in the summers, the open stars. Other times he was befriended and passed from accommodation to accommodation. Often he found himself staying in small settlements where he was invited to the evening's social activities.

Some days he found himself with an easy walk to tackle; others were more difficult, especially if the setting sun brought darkness before he had reached his day's goal. During this time he had an opportunity to take many pictures of the scenery through which he passed and we saw a selection of these colour slides, from ancient churches and secluded caves to magnificent sea lochs and lighthouses.

Twenty years ago, facilities for such a walk were more limited than they are today and all credit must be given to Derrick for his tenacity is tackling such a marathon. Besides the sense of achievement, that he must have felt at the conclusion of his epic walk, he must have been very satisfied with raising 7,000 - one pound for every mile - for the CHADS project.

Roger Hockney
December 2005