Edward Lloyd Owen
Army Officer • Walking across Europe for Walking With The Wounded • Founder of @AnselandFox • Society Photographer • Solvitur Ambulando
My name is Ed Lloyd Owen and I am a reservist British Army Officer and over Christmas and the first three months of this year, I was serving with the 2 Mercian Battlegroup on Op TOSCA, the British military contribution to the United Nations peace-keeping effort in Cyprus.
Each battalion has a six month rotation on the island; ours finished at the end of March 2015. After handing over to the incoming battalion, the officers and soldiers of 2 Mercian flew back to their home barracks in Chester to be reunited with their family and friends after six months on operations.
I did not fly home to the UK with them.
Instead, I set out, unsupported, to attempt to walk across continental Europe – some 2500 miles – back to the UK and London where I live.
I am doing it in aid of Walking With The Wounded, a fantastic UK military charity that retrains and re-skills our wounded servicemen and women, and supports them in finding new careers outside the Military.
I left just before the end of March, and hope to return home to London in late August – a total of 5 months of walking. Whilst not wishing to over-play it (far more dangerous and exhausting challenges have been undertaken in the name of charity), please be under no illusions that trying to walk between 20-25 miles every day for 5 months (with an occasional rest day) is much, MUCH more physically demanding and mentally taxing than I could possibly have imagined. It has, of course, also been enjoyable, educational and a helluva an adventure!
I left from Nicosia where we were based, the capital of The Republic of Cyprus, and literally turned left out of the door, heading north to Kyrenia on the north coast of the island of Cyprus.
A brief ferry ride later (no, I did not swim the gap – it’s 60 odd miles!) and I arrived on the south coast of Turkey, turned left again and cracked on to Antalya. After heading straight across the south east corner of Turkey (and straight over the Taurus Mountains) towards the Northern Aegean, I arrived just after the commemoration of Gallipoli 100, where I paid my respects to the fallen, albeit slightly belatedly.
From Gallipoli, I hooked round into Greece, headed due west along the ancient Roman road, the Via Ignatia, up into Macedonia, over the Albanian mountains, to hit the coast of the Adriatic Sea at the port of Durres.
At this point, I had decided to take a ferry across from Durres to Bari in Italy and then make my way up the eastern coast of Italy. It was sad that I couldn’t go up the coast of the Balkans but in the event time got the better of me … I had a hard-stop back in London in September and the Balkan route was 400 miles longer!
I’m updating this in Northern Italy, just shy of Piacenza and now on the equally ancient Via Francinga, which is the old pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome. It will take me into the Aosta Valley and the Alps, through to Lausanne, and then in a straight line to Calais, making sure I take in some Champagne time in Rheims!
Sadly Waterloo 200 has now been and gone, and I’m not going to get there, but I will be walking the length of the Western Front and hopefully will also pick up Agincourt 600.
A couple more days will see me arrive at Calais (again, no swimming), and finally into the UK.
The official finish point is a yet-to-be-confirmed location in Chelsea, after which I hope to repair to a local hostelry for a more informal arrival home!