5,000-mile trek in bid to raise �1million

An intrepid walker has set off on a 5,000-mile bare foot march along the coastline from Croatia to Spain in a bid to raise �1million for charity.

After almost two years of planning, shoeless Nick Matthews and Chris Braun set off on their gruelling trek on Tuesday (February 28) over the tricky terrain of five countries in a bid to raise funds for three charities.

The pair will hike 20 miles a day through Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, France and Spain and expect to have to do plenty of doubling back to negotiate the coastline which has no path or trail in some places.

The two former workers at Brooksby Wines in West Hampstead moved into a small flat together in Lyncroft Gardens, West Hampstead, in a bid to save cash and plot their epic journey.

Money raised will be donated to Epilepsy Research UK, The Willow Foundation and Kids for Kids, which are all very close to their hearts.

Mr Matthews, 31, whose best friend from childhood died of epilepsy said: “I have friends who suffer with it. It was pretty much my best friend who I grew up with since about the age of two who died from it a few years ago.

“I really wanted to do something towards that, but at the time I was just so busy with my job so it’s great that I can finally do something.

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“I have back-packed around Europe and enjoyed walking barefoot because of the feeling of it, but we’ll try and avoid shattered glass and the like. I’m not sure it has ever been done before.”

Mr Braun, who currently weighs 17 stone and will be keeping his shoes on for the trek, said he hoped the effort by two ordinary 30-somethings would capture people’s imagination.

“We’re not ex-SAS or professional hikers, we’re just two ordinary blokes,” he said. “I’m going to lose a lot of weight on this.

“It’s going to be great but extremely difficult at the same time.”

The duo have raised just �4,000 so far, but say they have been offered large pledges should they be successful in their effort.

Another charity that will benefit is the Willow Foundation, which organises days out for seriously ill people aged 16 to 40.

Mr Braun said: “We are at that age now where things like that seem more real and it’s just our chance to do something before we get tied down by jobs and families.”

Followers can track the pair via their online diary and should they reach the end they hope to pen a travel guide.

For more information and how to donate visit www.maytheroadrise.co.uk