A KIND-hearted Larne man has reached the home stretch of a mammoth 632-mile sponsored walk around the Ulster Way.
Paul Duffin has hiked over mountains, trudged up country roads and taken in some of the most spectacular scenery the Province has to offer, in a bid to raise vital funds for the Larne branch of the RNLI.
The 54-year-old has covered 577 miles of the famous walking route since his epic trek began back in July 2010 and he has now taken a break for the winter. He plans to complete the amazing achievement when spring rolls back around, but in the meantime he will focus on carrying out as much fundraising as possible.
“I have already gathered up about £1,000 so far, but I ultimately hope to reach my target of £2,000-£3,000,” Paul told the Larne Times.
“The RNLI is a fantastic organisation which has done so much for the people of Larne, and I just wanted to give something back.
“Before I started this sponsored walk, I didn’t have very much experience with hiking or rambling, but the Ulster Way is something I had always wanted to do,” he added.
Paul may have been be a novice walker when he began this endeavour, but he quickly learned how to approach such a daunting and time-consuming task.
“I walked about 10 or 12 miles each time to make it more manageable. Getting to and from various points of the route in this part of the country wasn’t too bad as I was able to use public transport, but in the western counties it was a bit of a nightmare as I was having to rely on taxis most of the time to get me where I needed to go.
“However, I found Fermanagh and the border counties to be the most scenic parts of the walk, so that made up for it.
“Finding my way around was easy enough, as I was able to print maps off the internet. But there were some parts of the route that were not very well signposted, and I have to admit that I did get lost on more than one occasion,” said Paul.
While he travelled most of the Ulster Way by himself, Paul occasionally had some fellow walkers tagging along to provide him with moral support.
“I want to mention Pat Bell and Dan McBurney, who were carrying out fundraising themselves. It was great to have them for company,” he added.
Anyone who would like to donate to Paul’s fundraising drive can contact him on 077 1516 4938 or email email@example.com