Even the locals are talking about the unseasonal wind and rain and that made me feel better! The last couple of days across the top of Scotland went by in a bit of a blur - hilly then flat, rain then dry, but constant wind from behind pushing me to my final destination.
 
Arriving at John O'Groats reminded me of the Alfred Wainwright quote in his beautifully illustrated 'Pennine Way Companion' (a guide that I used 39 years ago for that long distance trail). Referring to arriving at the end of the walk he says, "There is no brass band to greet you. There is no body waiting to pin a medal on your chest. There may be people about but they will not take any notice of you. Nobody cares that you have walked, and just this minute, completed the Pennine Way. You will not get your name in the papers, not be interviewed by television. No, the satisfaction you feel is intensely personal and cannot be shared. The sense of achievement is yours alone simply because you have earned it alone..... You did not do it to earn memories, but memories you have and in abundance for the rest of your life." Well I have to say that these words did strike a cord as a stood at the edge looking out to sea 1178.49 miles from the start 34 days earlier.
 
I certainly had not broken any records, and I remain full of admiration of those who achieve rather more notable successes - ex pupils who row the Indian Ocean, (and now team up to row the Atlantic), or walk the length of the Amazon, or climb Everest, or cycle round the world (he is still going!) or kite ski to the South Pole (and only last week completed the fastest crossing of Greenland) or run in the London marathon or train to enter iron-man competitions and a whole host of other amazing things...
 
I think of the 5000 miles, a few of which I shared, being cycled by Mark Oriel for his local rugby charity and a cancer charity - on the roads for weeks!
 
No, this was never about all that; it was about time to reflect on the likes of Benter Okello - an orphan registered with The Mango Tree Orphan Support Programme. She, and the other 8643 young people who, supported by the care of The Mango Tree, have had the strength of character and fortitude to rise to the challenge of moving forward positively to a better future where happiness and success can replace the devastation of losing parents to AIDS. They have rowed their own Indian oceans, climbed their own Everest, reached their South Poles and cycled to the end of the world. It is truly humbling to think that so many previous beneficiaries are now self sufficient adults, joining together to support younger orphans while carving out their independent careers. This is what my ride has been about.
 
And I owe enormous thanks to everyone who has supported Mango Tree along the way. It will take time to write to you all individually, but I will do so in the coming days and weeks.
 
My target was to attempt to raise £8644 to represent £1 for every orphan that The Mango Tree supports. Online and offline donations and gift aid have tipped just past the £6000 mark and I hope to appeal to many to help complete this project and reach the target.

The long term future of self reliance and success for the 8644 orphans is a real prospect and there is so much we can praise them for along the way - the future is bright, and all this would never be possible without your unfailing support over the years. God Bless. x

Donate here www.justgiving.com/Nic-Merrett