IT MAY have been an uphill task to start with, but a dedicated South Tyneside teenager has followed in his family’s footsteps after completing a mammoth walking challenge.
Paul Skipper, from Central Avenue, South Shields, took it in his stride when his dad asked him to take a hike – by taking in a staggering 214 fells in the Lake District.
The ambitious journey – following the famous Wainwright Walks – saw 13-year-old Paul cover 680 miles and climb 210,437 feet over the course of six years.
But he will never walk alone in the Skipper family, as dad Billy has twice completed the Wainwright Walks route, while mum Karen ticked off her 214th and final fell on the same day as Paul.
Paul, a pupil at St Wilfrid’s RC College, said: “My Dad set me a challenge of doing all the Wainwright walks by the time I was 13.
“I started in 2008. I was used to climbing as I had been encouraged from an early age, although on some of them I was carried as I was only a toddler.
“I’m so proud that I can finally say I have completed all of them.”
As well as the support from his family, Paul has a word of thanks to a man’s best friend – a good pal’s dog who helped him stay on the right track
He said: “I’ve had a lot of support from friends and family. I had been joined at times by friends and even my dad’s friend Tony Rathbone, at the age of 81, several times.
“But my best walking companion was my friend’s dog Jack, who lives in Keswick, and joined me on 107 of the mountains. “
“The last one was my mams last Wainwright as well, although we had not done them all at the same time.
“I had all types of weather from snow to floods.
“One time the boats ended up on the road in Keswick, because of the height of the lake, but there was also brilliant sunshine and bleak horrible conditions.”
“To finally wrap up the challenge, Tony Rathbone who had just entered the Guinness book of records for cycling Lands end to John O’ Groats at the age of 81, took me in his light aircraft to fly over the fells and see them from above.
“I hope I am still walking mountains riding bikes and flying planes at his age.”
Dad Billy, 54, said: “It is a big achievement to have completed all the walks by the age of 13.
“I have done the walks twice and Billy’s mum also completed her final fell at the same time as Paul.
“We all love to be in the outdoors.
•The Wainwright Walks are the 214 fells described in Alfred Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.