Walker celebrates 75th birthday with 75-mile trek

A RETIRED Hyde farmer put his best foot forward with a marathon walk to celebrate his 75th birthday.

Tom Summerscales, who used to live at Oak Farm, walked 75 miles non-stop on a route from his home on Scotland’s Moray Firth.

And it took 21 hours and 45 minutes to complete at an average of 3.45 miles an hour.

Crossing the bridge at Spey Bay with 35 miles to go

The marathon birthday walks have become a five-yearly ritual who began them with a 50-mile hike to celebrate his 50th birthday.

And since then he has repeated them to mark his 55th, 60th, 65th and 70th birthdays.

Father-of-four Tom, whose time for 75 miles was only five minutes longer than for 70 miles, said it is the end of the road.

“I said I would do it every five years until I reached 75 so it is job done,” he explained.

“This was the toughest one yet and took a lot of mental effort as a lot is in the head.”

But before the end of the interview he hadn’t completely dismissed another marathon birthday walk.

He continued: “I am reminded of what rower Steve Redgrave said after winning his fourth Olympic Games gold medal when he declared ‘if anyone sees me near a boat again, you’ve got permission to shoot me’.

“Four years later and he was back again winning again in Sydney.

“We will have to wait and see whether I do anything when I am 80 which is a long time down the line.”

On his latest walk on Saturday, July 17, Tom set off from his home at 3.40am and was joined for part of the walk by two sons-in-law, one daughter and one grandchild.

Tom, a member of the Long Distance Walkers’ Association, is no stranger to epic walks with wife Elaine joining him.

When Tom retired to Forres, Scotland, aged 65, he and Elaine decided to walk to their new home, a distance of 500 miles, and they celebrated their ruby wedding en route.

And since then the pair have completed Lands End to John O’Groats in 82 days – 76 walking and last year the 740 miles from the most easterly point of Britain, Ness Point in Suffolk to the most westerly point, the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Scotland.

There was also a failed attempt three years ago to walk from Dover to Cape Wrath, a distance of about 1,000 miles.

The couple completed 850 miles before they had to pull out because of a health issue involving Tom. They are determined, however, to complete the walk.

The couple, who have also walked the Pennine Way, Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast and West Highland Way, photograph their epic walks with Elaine writing a blog which her children make into an online book of their exploits.

Tom has also climbed all 282 of Scotland’s munros – mountains over 3,000ft – and once bagged eight in one day.

And he joined a neighbour to accept a challenge of running a first marathon aged 68 as he completed the Loch Ness race in an amazing time of three hours and 39 minutes.

In a field 4,000 runners, Tom won a prize for being the second fastest time for s male aged over 60.

Tom was born at Oak Farm, Matley Lane, shortly after his father Ellis moved in to become tenant farmer in 1944.

At one time Tom had 400 head of cattle, both dairy and young stock.

He admitted it was an emotional moment leaving the farm having lived there the first 65 years of his life.

Farming is a huge commitment and Tom was determined to enjoy a retirement with Elaine pursuing their love of walking having previously only managing to snatch short spells away.

One Reply to “Walker celebrates 75th birthday with 75-mile trek”

  1. Will he ever sit still?.
    What amazing achievements. Both of you are such an inspiration, I wish I had your enthusiasm and commitment. I didn’t realise you had completed so many walks…maybe a camino is still not out of the question??
    Very proud to have known this amazing couple for many years. Well done Tom and Elaine

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