Mark’s 400 mile canal walk to remember dad

Mark Houghton as a young boy with his father Barrie.
Mark Houghton as a young boy with his father Barrie.

A dad-of-two is to walk 400 miles from his home in northern France back to his Lancaster roots in memory of his late father.

Mark Houghton, 51, will be raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society when he walks the route of the English canal network in May – the illness his dad Barrie suffered from.

Barrie first showed symptoms of Alzheimers when he was 53, and died at the age of 66 in 2003.

Mark had been living in Bognor Regis, and relocating to Pas de Calais in France two years before his father’s death.

Mark, who went to Dallas Road Primary School and then Lancaster Royal Grammar School, said: “A lot of people think Alzheimers is something that only happens to old people but unfortunately it’s not.

“I want to do something positive and help make a difference.

Mark Houghton.

Mark Houghton.

“A couple of years ago I did a half marathon and once I had done that there was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that it wasn’t enough.

“I think I get my motivation through feeling guilty that when my dad was going through his illness I was living in a different part of the country and I have a feeling that I should have done more..

“I had a flash of inspiration because I like walking and I am happy when I am outside.

“This will probably be one of the most significant things I have done in my life.

“My dad would like it because he loved daft things.

“I am hoping it really will be a walk to remember.”

Mark’s chellenge will begin on May 30, when he will walk to Calais to catch a boat to Dover.

From there he will wall to London and then via the canal system to reach Lancaster in time for Father’s Day on June 21. There, he will be joined by his mum Margaret, 73, who lives in Ellel, on the walk to Scotforth cemetery, where his father is buried.

He said: “The walking surface will be good and navigation will be easy but doing it this way will also give me the chance to talk to a lot of people on the way.”

Mark, who has two daughters Hannah, 25, and Kate, 19, will be putting out pleas via social media for accommodation along the route, and will be recording his journey on a blog at https://walktoremember2015.wordpress.com.

You can donate at www.justgiving.com/remember/160636/Barrie-Houghton.