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Walking Across Japan

3rd April 2017

Wild Frontiers tour leader and former champion jockey Richard Dunwoody is currently walking the length of Japan’s three largest islands, covering a total of 2000 miles from Cape Sata in the southern tip of Kyushu to Cape Soya, the northernmost point of Hokkaido. The aim of his epic journey is to raise money and awareness for Sarcoma UK, the bone and soft tissue cancer charity. The charity is particularly personal to Richard as his nephew George, aged just 21, is still fighting the disease after an 18 month battle. Richard is unaided throughout his expedition and is spending the nights camping under the stars or staying in minshuku (Japanese B&Bs) and ryokan (local hotels).

One month into his challenge, having covered almost 560 miles in 28 days (averaging 20 miles per day), we caught up with Richard to see how he’s getting on…

What has been the highlight of the trip so far?
I really enjoyed Matsue, in particular the castle and the fact there are lots of decent bars and restaurants! It's located on Lake Shinji and is known as the water city. The other place I really want to revisit so far is Kirishima Geopark with its onsens and to spend a couple of days hiking around its volcanoes and lakes.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?
To be fair I felt pretty rough when I started the challenge – my daughter Milly had brought a pretty strong bout of flu back from nursery before I left and the first week was tough!

Culinary highlight?
I love okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes) and try to have them for dinner whenever I can.

How have you found the Japanese people?
Fantastic, they have been so kind... An elderly gentleman invited me in for coffee when I was passing his doorstep one day, but I had a long way to go and had to refuse. A mile up the road, I heard shouting – it was him on his bike pedalling as fast as he could. I thought I must have dropped something, but all he wanted to do was give me a can of cider, a can of hot latte coffee and a grapefruit and wish me luck again on my way to Hokkaido.

Any language issues?
I ended up with sashimi chicken one evening – not sure I would recommend it...

Funniest moment?
At the end of a long day after completing over 35km walking into Kumamoto, I was so engrossed in my phone studying Google Maps that I missed a bridge in front of me... I nearly knocked myself out and gave myself two black eyes!

We will shortly be offering both group and tailor-made holidays to Japan - keep an eye on our website and emails for details!

Richard Dunwoody

Belfast-born Richard won the Aintree Grand National on West Tip in 1986, followed up in the race again when riding Miinnehoma in 1994 and was Champion…

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