One of Columbus’ best-known adventurers has chosen a different type of challenge for his 11th annual expedition.

“I’m smarter than I was when I was a novice, starting with one of the world’s largest peaks,” said Walter Glover, 70.

After climbing some of the highest mountains on five of the planet’s seven continents, Glover’s second annual Expedition FFY will involve a 192-mile, coast-to-coast trek across three national parks in northern England in May.

Following the publication of a 1987 book by British travel author Alfred Wainwright (1907-1991), Glover’s route has become widely considered one of the five best walks in the world.

Story continues below gallery

Prior to becoming an adventurer at age 59, Glover had already established himself as a storyteller and journalist. The one-time Republic reporter has published books that describe some of his earliest adventures, which began in 2007.

But it is Glover’s ability to leverage these excursions to garner pledges for worthy causes that has helped spread his name throughout the region.

His charity, called 2Trek4Kids, was able to raise $135,000 for causes such as fighting childhood obesity until 2013, when he retired as a pastoral care hospital chaplain from St. Vincent Hospital.

This will be Glover’s second year of using the same fundraising model for Foundation For Youth in Columbus. All proceeds from his Expedition FFY go toward assisting disadvantaged youth, allowing them to participate in the organization’s many programs at no charge.

With Ed and Vivian Eckerly of Columbus at his side, Glover plans to start his spring journey at St. Bees, located about 126 miles north of Liverpool, along the Irish Sea.

After the eastbound trio crosses the West Cumbria coastal plain and the Lake District, they plan to enter North Yorkshire as it crosses the Pennines.

Their journey will include crossing the Yorkshire Dales, the Vale of York and the North York Moors before concluding at the red-roofed fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay, located on a rocky coastline of the North Sea.

Normally, this journey takes 15 to 18 days to complete. But the itinerary may be altered to allow three to four ascents of at least 1,500 feet each, Glover said.

What makes the “Walk Across England” — also known as the Lakes District Walk — so popular is that there is no marked trail. Relying solely on a compass and a map, it’s up to each person or group to forge their own coast-to-coast path.

In comparison with the 17,000-foot Rainbow Mountain in Peru that Glover and friend Greg Scherschel climbed last year, the highest elevation the trio expects to encounter in northern England is 2,560 feet.

Ed Eckerly originally was supposed to be part of the eight-member climbing crew in Peru that also included residents of the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, but had to bow out due to an injury.

Most of Glover’s earlier excursions have involved climbing mountains. In 2013 and 2014, he ascended the 14,411-feet-high Mount Rainier in Washington State.

Other peaks include:

  • Mount Everest base camp in the Himalayas between China and Nepal (17,590 feet, 2007)
  • Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa (19,341 feet, 2009)
  • Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia (18,500 feet, 2010)
  • Mount Kosciuszko in the Australian Alps (7,810 feet, 2011)
  • Mount Aconcagua in the Andes Mountains of Argentina (22,841 feet, 2012)
  • Mount Washington in New Hampshire (6,288 feet, 2016)

Instead of vertical rock, Glover and the Eckerlys will encounter scenic forests, valleys, farmlands, moorlands and seacoast cliffs in northern England.

In terms of terrain, this year’s expedition will be similar to the adventure the trio took in 2015 when they made the 490-mile pilgrimage across Spain known as “The Way of St. James.”

Northern England was not the first choice for the 2018 Expedition FFY. Initially, plans were made to travel to the Andes Mountains in Patagonia, located on the southern tip of the South American continent, Glover said.

The original itinerary included a 15,000-foot climb, a 60-mile trek over steep terrain, a 30-mile bicycle trail — and even kayaking — in a region of Argentina frequently described as “the end of the world,” Glover said.

But when commitment deadlines arrived in January, Glover concluded he was simply not in sufficient physical shape to take on such a challenge this year.

Earlier injuries sustained during his adventures have included acute mountain sickness at Mount Everest, broken ribs at Mount Rainier and multiple aneurysms at Mount Aconcagua.

But one of his worst injuries did not take place on an far-away mountain peak. Instead, it happened last May on the People Trail between Mill Race and Noblitt parks.

In order to avoid a collision with an oncoming entourage, Glover crashed his bicycle and fractured his right hip.

After being discharged from the St. Vincent Trauma Center, Glover went through what he calls a “four-month house arrest” where he could barely move from room to room with a walker within his residence.

But through rehabilitation at Columbus Regional Hospital, Glover has been able to slowly gain back much of his strength and agility.

Today, he is able to go up and down the observation tower at Mill Race Park five times during a single outing as part of his exercise regiment.

If he can keep improving, Glover says he does plan to tackle Patagonia next year at the age of 71.

All travel-related expenses involved in Expedition FFY are paid by the travelers themselves. All donations will go toward scholarship costs for all children to participate in Foundation for Youth programming.

Contributions can be mailed to: Foundation for Youth, 405 Hope Ave., Columbus, Indiana 47201. Attention: Karina Willats.

Tax-deductible donations can also be made online at foundationforyouth/donate/trek4kids-scholarship. Be sure to designate for scholarships/Trek4Kids.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.