The Barefoot walk - Walking with Philip

The Barefoot walk - Walking with Philip

OceanStars :: Thursday 12th June 2014 :: This Story

The Barefoot walk continues and for those of us who have had the privilege of walking with Philip, it's been and continues to be a moving, challenging, hugely diverse experience.  Just a few thoughts...

Walking for two long tiring days with Philip this week gave me plenty of time for reflection. The fields and meadows were so beautiful . The English countryside at its  best.  Wild flowers abounded: buttercups, cow parsley, nettles, orchids, thistles,  pink campion and endless more.  Having only returned from Sri Lanka a month ago the contrast between these two beautiful countries was at the forefront of my mind.

Walking with Philip WellsPassing an imposing Victorian Water Tower reminded me how grateful we should be for the clean running water that flows daily through our taps. The wells which Ocean Stars funds at the playgroups in Batticaloa go some way to providing a fresh water source for the villages, a necessity for life.

The fields we crossed held herds of sleek fat cows, udders full to bursting with milk, feeding on lush green pasture.  The street cows in Batti  forage for whatever they can find throughout the day and weave their way amongst the traffic. But still they are a source of nourishing milk for the families.

Philip's barefoot stride through the cow pats, mud and slurry at gateways between fields brought to mind images of the farm workers in the paddy fields around Nelloor. They work all day in mud and water up to their knees preparing the land to sow the next season's crop. Who knows what leeches, snakes or other creatures live in those dark waters.

Hopefully by providing pre-school education for the youngest children and sponsoring some of the older ones, OST can give the poorest children in the villages an alternative to day labour in the paddy.  When development spreads to the East of the island and farm machinery replaces farm labourers, these children will have the education and skills to find employment elsewhere and enjoy full and productive lives.

What Philip is doing is amazing.  Persevering through the obvious pain of torn and blistered feet, reaching each day's destination tired and exhausted and then summoning the strength to present poetry readings and school assemblies is a feat beyond belief.

We can only assure him that every penny he raises for Ocean Stars will be well spent and reach the poorest of the children we work with in Sri Lanka. His efforts will not be wasted.


Walking with the barefoot poetThe day started well with a very generous lady who let us park my car outside her 'B & B' for the day.  We quickly caught up with Philip who had started off across the fields along the East Mendip Way between Shepton Mallet and Frome in Somerset.  The sky was overcast and it threatened to rain but we managed to stay dry for the whole day.  The ground was soft and in places very muddy as we walked alongside streams at the bottom of steep and narrow valleys.  I think the hardest part for walking was when we came into Frome and had to walk for about 1 1/2 miles along pavements and roads.  OK in boots but not pleasant on bare feet.  After just under 11 miles and 8 1/2 hours we arrived in the centre of Frome where we met Els.

I have great admiration for Philip and his barefoot walking.  It was easy for me in my boots, knowing that it is just for one day.  I think about the barefoot billion and hope that this walk brings an awareness to those Philip meets along the way of the many millions in this world who live in poverty – many too poor to buy the shoes that we take for granted.



barefoot billion walkAffectionate goodbyes to Elizabeth and Leo and up the Ridgeway which goes if we did it all from Avebury to Tring.
Ridgeway a bridgeway from Avebury, White Horse etc to Tring.
Ridgeway a battleground at first twixt Phil's foot and Wiltshire cobbles.
Ridgeway a place for Ramblers, for serious walkers and, dare I say it, also for DofE teenagers.
Ridgeway which became a delightful green Barefoot walker's retreat, past dappled horses, cornfields and bikers.
Ridgeway culminating for us in devouring M&S sandwiches and Coke in the valley below.