BUSINESS analyst Brian Couzins has rambled into the record books by walking through all 555 square miles of the Peak District National Park.
Taking seven years, walking at weekends and after work, Mr Couzin’s 186 walks have taken him to every town, village, hamlet and dale in the national park.
He strode his final 1,346th mile with friends in ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ country at Holme in glorious September weather.
Over the years he has been airlifted to hospital after being attacked by bees, and chased by all kinds of animals from sheep to horses, bullocks, dogs and geese, but he carried on undaunted to complete his spare-time marathon.
Brian, aged 55, who lives in Brown Edge and works at Wax Digital eProcurement, a software specialist in Manchester, first donned his boots and rucksack in 2006.
He explained: “It was when I moved into the area.
“I got chatting in the pub and the locals said the best way to get to know the area was to walk it. So I set myself this challenge.” Using Ordnance Survey Explorer maps OL1 and OL24, he produced a scaled down cardboard ‘square mile’ and set out to plan routes that would cover all 555 square miles of the national park, averaging 7.2 miles per walk.
Mostly keeping to paths, tracks, stream beds, cloughs and boundary walls, he only walked over open terrain when unavoidable.
Mr Couzins said: “When that happened, especially over heather, I tried to take as much care as I would if stepping through somebody’s flower beds.
“I’m as passionate about conservation as I am about walking, and I endeavoured to leave a moor exactly as I found it.” His worst experience was on Chatsworth Moor in 2009 when he was walking past a fence, the other side of which – unknown to him – were bee hives.
He recalled: “A swarm flew up and attacked me.
“Luckily I had phone reception and managed to dial 999.
“I’ll be eternally grateful to the air ambulance which came to the rescue.
“The doctor quickly injected me with anti-histamine while the paramedics were pulling stings out of my head.” A year later Brian found himself negotiating a remote area full of animal traps, riddled with hidden pits and snares.
But for the most part he found it hugely enjoyable: He said: “It’s fantastic to get away from the tourist hot spots and to get to know the Peaks in all their splendour and diversity, in different conditions.
“The main thing you realise is how vast it is.” Now with spare time on his hands, he plans to write a book about his walking achievement, cataloguing all 186 walks, how he designed them, and highlighting the good and more challenging points in each part of the area.