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My long trek made me feel alive again' says blind hiker

PUBLISHED: 10:59 10 June 2010 | UPDATED: 11:05 12 August 2010

NEW LEASE OF LIFE’: Dick Groves, 65, on his hike.

NEW LEASE OF LIFE': Dick Groves, 65, on his hike.

A BLIND pensioner who completed a tough 192-mile hike across Britain says the trip has given him a new lease of life. Dick Groves, 65, from Southview, Bromley, walked the Coast to Coast route covering around 12 miles per day for 15 days, despite losing

A BLIND pensioner who completed a tough 192-mile hike across Britain says the trip has given him a new lease of life.

Dick Groves, 65, from Southview, Bromley, walked the Coast to Coast route covering around 12 miles per day for 15 days, despite losing his sight seven years ago.

He set of with his team from St Bees, in Cumbria, employing a method used by an American climber to complete the hike unaided, which involved following the sound of bells attached to the boots of his walking partner.

Mr Groves, who is the vice president of the Bromley District Talking News, said: "When I lost my sight I also lost a major part of my life in hill walking.

"Now I have done something for

myself with the help of reliable friends -

I feel alive again." This took a massive amount of physical effort and on the first few days I smashed my legs to pieces. But we developed the technique quite quickly.

"It is coming back to what I want to do with my life."

The Coast to Coast Walk, devised by renown fell-walker Alfred Wainwright, is widely thought to be the worst signposted long distance path in the country.

It passes through three national parks on its way from the Irish Sea to the North Sea.

Mr Groves, a retired policeman, hopes that his expedition will encourage other blind and partially sighted people to realise what they can achieve.

As well as mastering the pioneering technique that enabled him to walk without holding on to anyone's arm, the seasoned hiker also learnt to use his other senses on the walk.

Speaking after his return on May 27, he added: "When I'm walking I'm listening to the birds and I can feel the wind on my cheek. It is a paradox that the built environment seems to be built to exclude me, but I feel at home outside. When we were walking in the wild I could walk on my own, but when we went into the village I had to hold somebody's arm.

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