A 33-year-old gym owner has reached his final destination of the Eiffel Tower after working there on foot from Manchester.
Symon Hughes from Oswaldtwistle spent 17 days walking a total of 479 miles to Paris. Symon took on the challenge to benefit Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary, one of the largest animal sanctuaries in the Northwest.
He posted his journey as a diary on Instagram, updating his followers on the progress of his walk. He shared the distance covered each day by posting it on the social media site, as well as anything that may have happened along the way.
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Symon said: “I bought a new Garmin watch so I could map my trip perfectly and let my followers know where I went and how long it took. People have invested a lot of money to donate to Bleakholt, so I wanted to be as transparent as possible.”
Leaving Manchester Cathedral on February 21, Symon informed his supporters of the “biggest” challenge he would face to date. Previously, he had taken on other challenges on behalf of charities, including completing 21,100 push-ups in 24 hours.
Symon continued: “I have mental health issues and doing these challenges helps me deal with that. The spontaneity of it all helps too, so I haven’t even booked a hotel during my trip until what i actually need on the day.like this i only decided to do the challenge a few weeks ago and i was going to walk to Lands End first.The experience however changed my life and the support I have received has been amazing.
“On the third day I had to talk to a pedicurist on Facebook because I had a really bad injury which meant I couldn’t do as many miles as I wanted. They were so nice and helpful, like everyone I’ve met on my trip and it really gives people confidence Another woman I met noticed I was walking around and had been for four hours so she started chatting with me and we had a really good connection. She brought me a gift bag the next day and I couldn’t believe how generous she was.”
Towards the end of his trip, Symon’s posts began to feel a lot more thoughtful, sharing photos of sunsets and enviable views as he strolled through the French countryside. He also started sharing videos as he completed certain sections of the walk, with one showing him walking towards the tower in Paris.
On Symon’s last day, March 10, Symon walked a distance of 66 km, a total of one minute’s walk less than 14 hours. On this post, it is stated that this has been Symon’s longest walk so far.
In terms of recovery, Symon explained on his gym’s Facebook page how he felt afterwards: “The side I struggle with the most is mentally, I don’t know why? challenges and I had the first “comedown” period where I felt a little depressed, but this is on another scale, I feel very, very flat.
“Walking only consumed me for 4 weeks, I only thought about it a few days before trying it so it wasn’t a huge part of my life so I can’t blame that, I have l feel like somewhere in France I opened a can of worms, and that’s where I’m fighting. I spent a lot of time alone, which isn’t new to me but being in this pain and in my thoughts only really affected me, the second day I was in France was the worst day of my life I think.
“I don’t want to go into details but I feel like that was the day that damaged me a bit. I find myself telling people what happened and crying, in the middle of the gymnasium or in the middle of costa, it’s strange. It’s a fight.”
In total, Symon’s efforts managed to raise over £6,000 for Bleakholt as well as a further £2,500 for Pennine Animal Welfare, which was racked up in just two days. »
Many people have supported Symon throughout his journey, with one Instagram user commenting, “I just said to my daughter, ‘this man Sy @mcr_2_par_backpack_diaries, arrived in Paris, walked all the way!’ she said “but he didn’t walk on water?” I said “No, but I now believe he could have done!! I think he could do anything!!” Such an inspiration to so many as well as a huge boost to @bleakholt_animal_sanctuary and @pennineanimalwelfare May you sleep like a baby tonight and wish you a safe journey back to your proud family and friends xxx”