Foster carers across the National Fostering Group are known for going the extra mile when considering the needs of children in their care.
Edward is a National Fostering Agency carer based in Totnes, Devon, who has been a respite carer alongside wife Maz since 2017. He has quite literally gone the extra mile and several more, after completing Devon’s Two Moors Way trek.
The 120-mile coast-to-coast trip takes in the picturesque moorland landscapes of Dartmoor and Exmoor, the latter of which covers an area of Somerset. Edward took only six days to finish the entire journey while raising over £1000 and counting for Prostate Cancer UK.
We caught up with Edward to find out more about his latest adventure…
“I’ve been a keen moorland walker for 30 years or more and a real lover of Dartmoor. I’ve always been interested in doing some of the long distance footpaths in England and Wales”, Edward explained.’
‘I’d had my eye on doing the Two Moors Way for a long time and actually talked about doing it for around three years until I thought, ‘I just need to go and do this!’’.
“I’m a teacher by trade, so I set aside a week at the start of August once the schools had broken up to do the Two Moors Way’.
‘The reason I picked Prostate Cancer as my chosen charity to raise money was due to the partner of my wife’s best friend, who had just received a prostate cancer diagnosis. They were able to track my progress on various apps while my wife was visiting them in Spain during the trek, which was nice”.
Battling long-distances and blisters
“I started the trek from Lynmouth in North Devon where I stayed over at a B&B and began walking first thing on August 4th’.
‘I’d planned the route in six stages, and every night I had planned to finish at a pub! There was some logic in that, as I could then have a hot meal and get some much needed rest and relaxation’.
‘I also had a different set of friends meet me each night, who would kindly bring me a packed lunch that I needed for the following day. This meant that I only really needed to carry water, emergency food and porridge sachets for breakfast”.
The occasionally unforgiving nature of long-distance walking in the UK became clear to Edward however, as he navigated the next few days through wilderness and farmlands while finding it difficult to walk comfortably.
“Everything generally went according to plan on the trip, except that I chose the wrong pair of socks! I had picked a natural woolen pair of socks that were slightly oversized. My boots were fine as they weren’t rubbing, but my socks were moving around inside my shoes and were cutting up my feet, which gave me blisters’.
‘Day three nearly killed me. After I had spent two days walking through Exmoor, I left myself a 26-mile stretch to get through to Drewsteignton village in Dartmoor National Park. I thought that this would be a nice, easy stretch, but it felt like a really long 26-miles’.
Braving the elements
‘I had never walked through Exmoor before, so this section was quite unfamiliar. I had wanted to go from North to South to get the unfamiliar bits done first, and then of course on day four I was into Dartmoor – so I felt like I was coming home in a way’.
‘I camped most nights and the weather was usually pretty dry, although there were a couple of days where I was walking through rain for three or four hours. I had really good quality waterproofs thankfully, but it is difficult keeping everything in your bag, including the tent, free from water’.
‘On day six, I left myself a much easier leg of just 14-miles in total to get from Ermington to Wembury, and finished about four hours ahead of schedule. My feet were killing me to the extent that I just walked straight into the sea with my pack on and everything just to cool my feet down as they were hurting so much”.
Outdoor benefits for foster children living in South West England
The scenic surrounds of Totnes and beyond have also proved useful for foster carers Edward and Maz when they have been looking after children requiring respite care. Many days out, short breaks and weekends away often involve exploring the region.
“As the two boys sitting on our settee this moment will agree with, when most youngsters come to stay with us, they often end up walking with us on Dartmoor. We’ve been fostering for a couple of years now, and because we live in Totnes, we can be on the moor within half an hour – we obviously don’t make them walk 120 miles though!’.
‘We often involve them in a range of outdoor activities ranging from barbecues and long walks to taking part in tours on the moor, which has been great for them. The younger child has become a particularly keen walker since staying with us.”
‘Alongside Sharon Woodhams, our Carer Engagement Officer, we are also planning to map out some routes around Dartmoor that would be ideal for social events. This would allow foster carers and a child or young person in their care from the South Devon area the chance to come and enjoy everything the moors have to offer.”
Edward has so far managed to raise a fantastic £1100 for Prostate Cancer in total through his JustGiving page, which will remain open for donations until the end of September.
If you are interested in becoming a respite carer yourself or simply want to know more about the types of foster care available, take a look at our becoming a foster carer page.