I didn’t know what to do after uni, so I got dropped off in Greece and walked all the way home
Anyone got any compeed
Jimbo Down graduated from Newcastle with a business degree in summer 2014.
But instead of sticking around for a career meltdown, he decided to set off for a really, really long walk.
With no job offers or ideas Jimbo was at a loose end in the UK so his first instinct was to hop on a plane to sunny Greece on the day of his graduation.
He started to walk on the 26th of August and arrived back home on the 21st December – after four months and 2500 kilometres of walking.
Jimbo tells The Tab: “The hardest question to answer is actually why I went.”
“I didn’t get into the army, so I was obviously very disappointed with that.”
He was reading Patrick Leigh Fermor’s biography when his mum gave him the idea. Fermor undertook a three year walk through Europe when he was 18.
“I think she thought I’d go off and do it for three weeks or something, but I decided to go off and do the full version with my own route.”
In the last two terms of his final year he decided he was definitely going to do it, much to the disbelief of his friends. “My housemates basically just didn’t really believe me – they just thought it was a bit of a weird thing to do.”
Crying in the airport when he left the UK was “one of the multiple times” he shed a tear on his travels.
He says that is was an “increasing threat in the eyes of the security guards.”
“I was on my own facing the wall, sobbing, which in all fairness probably did look pretty peculiar.”
First, he backpacked around Greece before hopping on a boat to Bari, Southern Italy, where the serious walking began on 26th August.
“After that every kilometre apart from two percent was on foot.
“I only used boats to cross water when absolutely necessary, for example across Lake Geneva and from Lehavre to Portsmouth.”
Jimbo admits he was on his own “pretty much the all the time”.
“I just got really fed up and bored more than I got tired actually.”
“I talked to myself the whole time, I’m still doing it now I’m home, when I’m driving in my car and stuff.”
“I’d talk to myself but I was also forcing myself to talk to people who didn’t want to talk to me.”
At one point he lost his only pair of trousers which he says was embarrassing as he wasn’t – nor planned to be – anywhere near a shop any time soon. He was then forced to walk in boxers for part of the journey.
Jimbo says he paid for approximately 12 nights of accommodation across the whole trip, and said he was baffled by the “unfailingly genuine” hospitality he experienced, which “put England to shame”.
“I really have experienced the full depth of human kindness.”
His best moment was crossing the Alps, with perfect weather and incredible views. He stayed in a 1,000 year-old hospice at 2,500 metres altitude overlooking the Alps.
“At one point there was an avalanche 20 metres behind him and it was pretty scary.”
But throughout the trip, travelling alone and staying in strangers’ houses, he never felt uneasy: “I more likely that he probably made other people feel unsafe.”
Jimbo’s low point was his birthday when he became badly injured with Anterior Compartment Syndrome, a condition where the muscle swells from excess walking on running, and he didn’t know if he could carry on. Jimbo slept on a classroom floor that night and his injury stopped his journey for a week.
Jimbo completed his journey on 21st December after walking a huge 2500 kilometres.
Leaving England on the date of his graduation, he presumed to be home at some point in January, but he “upped the pace” in December to ensure he was at home, not in Normandy, for Christmas.