Flooding, blisters and challenging hills have not deterred an ambitious animal lover from tackling a 300-mile walk in aid of working horse and donkey charity Brooke.
The challenge is even more tough for West Sussex-based John Yates as he is pulling a 50kg cart for the entire journey.
He hopes the trek from Chester to his home will help raise awareness of the struggles faced by working equines.
Mr Yates started on 28 September and hopes to finish on 19 October.
His custom-made cart is loaded with food, water and cooking equipment, and converts into a bed to provide somewhere to sleep each night.
“It’s not just about raising money, it’s about raising awareness of how hard horses and donkeys work in the developing world,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to people and they didn’t realise a mule will pull a tonne of bricks a time in an Indian brick kiln, and that’s without mentioning the incredibly hot conditions and poor welfare.”
Mr Yates intends to walk approximately 15 miles a day and his route was to take him past Shrewsbury, Worcester, Gloucester, Swindon, Salisbury and Winchester, ending in his home town Plaistow around three weeks later.
He started his challenge at Brooke’s art exhibition at Chester Military Museum and was waved off by charity staff and supporters.
So far he has faced unkind conditions, with flooding leading to wet feet and blisters, as well as tough hills and busy roads. But he remains upbeat and said he had met “wonderful and generous” people, who were keen to hear his story.
Staff working with The Brooke discovered the equines struggling for survival during an inspection of the kilns in Nepal
‘This way it means that I get fit and they don’t have to worry about it!’
Mr Yates has set up a JustGiving page and has a fundraising target of £4,000.
The fundraiser is no stranger to taking on tough challenges for charity, as last year he completed a 900-mile bicycle ride for the Senior Staffy Club, which rescues and rehomes Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
“It’s all about education,” he added. “I want to raise awareness for all animals in need and this year I’m focusing on working horses and donkeys.”
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