We asked our friend and customer Adam to give us an insight into his Summer adventure which led to us naming our T-Shirt A-DAM
Sometime round the back end of 2021 I was sat in my flat and had the idea for a summer holiday with a twist. I scribbled down some half-brained plan on a notepad and picked up the phone.
“Dad, I’m going to walk to Amsterdam!”
His answer, pretty much like everyone else’s was “why the hell would you do that?”
It’s a reasonable question after such a bold claim but here was my inspiration…
I’ve always been pretty good at walking which is a strange brag considering it’s something you learn to do when you’re about 2 years old but it’s something I’ve always loved.
My main reason for doing it was for my mum, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 and was taking into the Nottingham Breast Institute for a mastectomy, the operation was a success, she was lucky enough to ring the bell to signal she was cancer free. A huge relief but sadly not one that's felt by everyone, so my plan was to walk to Amsterdam to raise as much money as possible for the men and women that saved my mums life.
Should be easy enough right.
Fast forward to 25th June 2022, the 1st day of the walk.
Day 1 Hucknall - Retford 28.09 miles
Day 1 was a team effort, my friend Ben was walking with me, and we set off early from my house, after about an hour we arrived at the 7-mile house and we plotted the second part of the walk. We chose the shorter untrodden route along an old railway route that lead to White Post Farm, 40 nettle stings later we regretted this choice.Then it was just the walk up the A614 with barely any pavement, dodging lorries and listening to Ben moan About a woman at work that had taken too many sick days and how if he was prime minister he’d ban all old people from Tesco at weekends…it was already a long day
My friend Greg had kindly offered to put me up for the night at his house in Retford and when we arrived around 7pm he’d got the kids paddling pool out for our feet and had chilled beers waiting for us! A nice touch. We opted to go out for a few beers in Retford, a decision that would prove fatal for one member of the group who now goes by the nickname “Doctor Dump” ….but that’s story for another time.
Day 2 Retford - Gainsborough 13.38 miles
The next day we all awoke, packed up our things, thanked Greg for the hospitality and headed our separate ways. I was now on my own and heading towards Gainsborough. A bit of a shorter and uneventful stint this one but I knew once in Gainsborough I was meeting an old school friend for dinner. Jonesy is an athlete and runs triathlons for fun so he knows a thing or two about endurance. His advice of “Vaseline is your friend” stood me well in the later days of the walk. It was really good to see him and it was the last familiar face I’d see for the rest of the journey.
Day 3 Gainsborough - Scunthorpe 19.52 miles
Starting strong, I stuck on a few podcasts and marched through miles of wooded paths towards the Trent, the plan was to follow that all the way up into Scunthorpe. It was probably one of my favourite walks, quiet and as I walked through villages not seeing a single person with no shops and all the pubs closed, so instead of a pint I had to opt for some Pom Bears whilst I hid in a farmer's barn as the heavens opened.
When the sun returned, I hit the banks of the Trent again, an open pub was found, a pint was drunk, and Scunthorpe honed into view. I was staying at a Green King which was just down the road from a cinema so took myself to watch the new Jurassic Park film (bit daft in places) then off to bed for an early night!
Day 4 Scunthorpe - South Ferriby 11.27 miles
I got up the next day to survey my feet, they were starting to look worse for wear and halfway towards the Day 4 destination in South Ferriby I stopped for lunch and a spot of foot care. Tape and plasters mummified my feet as I trudged towards up what was probably a steady incline but felt like a mountain!
The pub I stayed in was lovely, a quiet friendly village with one local pub that they all visit and everyone knew each other. All felt a bit Emmerdale on sea. I loved it
Day 5 South Ferriby - Hull Docks 15.03 miles
Today was a massive day! Firstly, I’d be walking over the Humber bridge something I was quite looking forward to since I started all this and secondly, I was getting the ferry tonight! It was the only day I was actually on a timescale! I needed to be at Hull Docks for 5.30pm
I left early, got breakfast and it wasn’t long before I was at the foot of the Humber Bridge. It took a good half hour to walk over and although it doesn’t sound like a lot, it was something I really enjoyed, it felt like a massive milestone of the walk was being ticked off and I was finally in hull…albeit still 8 miles away from the docks.
As I walked through Hull I came across a pub “The Half Way Inn” I felt it a poignant place to stop for a pint and a reflect on what I was doing. My friend Rio messaged me that she’d been on to all the local news outlets and they all wanted to speak to me, donations had just gone past the £2000 mark (double what I was hoping for), and messages of support poured in from everyone back home, some who I didn’t even know but nonetheless enjoying my daily updates on social media and wishing me well. I was completely amazed by it all.
I reached the ferry docks and the lady on the check in desk asked if I’d like a transfer to Rotterdam once in the Netherlands. The dumbfounded expression on the faces of 8/9 people behind that desk when I told them I’d walk was something else! I explained what I washoping to achieve and they gave me a free upgrade to a nicer room with a mini bar, a lovely touch.
My feet were now really struggling and after a shower and some dinner I found myself a spot next to a bar to put them to rest next to a man and his wife, they were off to a VW camper van meet in Belgium, they were lovely, and we had a good chat about anything and everything it was a good way to end the day.
Day 6 Hook of Holland - Rotterdam 23.39 miles
Everyone at some point in their lives has a moment where they think “why the hell did I do that?” Mine came sat on a bench, about 15 miles out of Rotterdam…but I’ll get to that.
Day 6 didn’t start great, I didn’t feel right, my feet were incredibly sore and I just felt unprepared for the day! It was 8am, 29° and I was struggling to find a way out of the hook of Holland! I needed to get to a bridge that took me over the shipping canal and into Rozenburg to get a ferry over the Nieuwe Maas river…sounds simple, it wasn’t!
After navigating the 4 mile out the docks I’d made it to the canal bridge, only to discover some charlatan had taken a segment out the middle for repairs! I was now stuck, feet in hell, low on energy and on the wrong side of the canal. I dropped my bag off and sunk to the floor! I plotted a new route but the only viable one was a 6 mile detour in energy sapping heat…on feet that went off the cliff days ago! I was finished, I literally had nothing left! And then the phone rang. It was my mum
“Aup, are you in Holland now? How are you getting on?”
“Not great.” I replied
She sensed the tone shift straight away, I told her about the morning, the bridge being out, the detour I’d have to take. I told her couldn’t do it, I had nothing left and I was going to let everyone down. She reminded me how proud she was that I’d taken this on and she’d be proud no matter what or how far I made it! She then told me just to focus on making it round the detour and into Rozenburg, advice I took on board and dragged myself the 6 mile round and onto the ferry over the river. There's probably only one person that could have dug me out the hole I was in on that bridge. She was the inspiration for doing the walk and I’d have never made it that day if it wasn’t for her! No matter how old you are you always need your mum.
I sat on a bench on the opposite side of the river and contemplated my next move. I needed to sort the feet out, it was still another 15 miles or so into Rotterdam and they were in a state. I ripped off all my bandages and straps and with Jonesy’s voice ringing in my ears “Vaseline is your friend” I lathered up each foot, stuck my boots back on and marched none stop towards Rotterdam! If I stopped, I wouldn’t have made it and 5 miles out a biblical monsoon washed in. I ducked under a bridge, hastily covered my bag and chucked on my waterproof. The end was in sight, it was getting dark, I was shattered and I just wanted to get there. My phone rang, it was my friend Wheeler ringing to tell me him and his girlfriend Steph had paid for me to have a hot dinner and a drink once I got to Rotterdam. A wonderful gesture and after the day I’d had meant the absolute world to me.
I finally made it into my hotel, it was one of them pod hotels with a common area for everyone reading books and chatting about the wonderful time they were having, until my dishevelled carcass crashed through the door, giant anorak and bag, deliriously tired and dripping water everywhere. Everyone was staring at me, I felt like someone had lifted the needle on a record player and I’d just made some dramatic entrance into the Queen Vic.
Once in my room I took off the dripping anorak, the 10 Tonne bag and was just left in the soaked shorts and t-shirt, I needed a minute. That was by far the most challenging day of my life! Physically and mentally I had to dig into something that I never knew I had in order to get here and definitely wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the messages from my friends and that phone call from mum. I really am lucky to have people like that around me
Luckily, I’d booked a rest day in Rotterdam it gave me a bit of time to recharge some batteries and do as little on my feet as possible, the only thing I did was take a tram up to see the Feyenoord stadium. When I got there, they were setting up a concert on the pitch, my requests to go inside to take a picture were met with a stern “nahh”
I was gutted I didn’t get to experience Rotterdam properly, it's a fantastic city and one I look forward to returning to as soon as possible but whilst I was there I had to focus on the task at hand so resting my poorly feet was the sole objective. I found myself a nice bar in the sun and put my feet up with a beer reading Bob Mortimer’s Autobiography (if you haven’t read it yet I suggest you do! The blokes fantastic)
Day 7 Rotterdam - Alphen Aan Den Rijn 22.71 miles
One thing that struck me in Holland is that they have roads at the side of main roads and motorways for pedestrians and bikes but they mean "all bikes" so whilst leaving Rotterdam in my own little world I’m almost skittled by some bloke on a Vespa. The weather report was right it was stinking hot, 33° and I had over 20 miles to walk. I took the time to call friends and family to keep my mind focused, the 1st half of the walk passed by in a breeze…then it got tough. The hot sun was taking its toll and draining the life out of me, I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in my life, so much so that as I was walking I was watching sweat drip off the peak of my cap! Grim!
The walk from Rotterdam to Aphen was beautiful. Surrounded by multicolour farmland and windmills it was all stereotypically Dutch. I was walking through places I’d have never seen if it wasn’t for doing this walk, I stepped off a bridge and when I came round the corner, I was met with an estate of thatched roof houses but instead of a road it was a canal network, every house had a little boat outside and I couldn’t help thinking how it was just an incredible place to live.
By the time I arrived in Alphen I was shattered so much so that when I phoned mum to tell her I was here I burst into tears. I wasn’t upset or anything I was just physically exhausted it had become a proper endurance challenge now and I was going through the ringer.
I sat on the steps of the apartment I was staying in that night and phoned a gentleman called Jan to tell him I’d arrived.
“Ohhh my gosh hello!!” Said a voice
It was Jan
Quite tall, thin, he had silver straight neck length hair, wearing a boiler suit open all the way down and was very tanned, like an old purse .
I told him where I was from and what I was doing
“ROTTERDAM! my gosh that’s too far! You must be tired!!” He bellowed
“Oh my your bag it’s heavy!! You look so tired!”
I couldn’t get a word in edgeways but I was just stood watching this whirlwind of a bloke flying round the apartment showing me what’s what
The apartment was above his house and decorated like a 70’s porn set, all golds, browns and mahogany everywhere.
Then Jan pointed me in the direction of the rooms focal piece, A 3D picture of the Virgin Mary and some Angels. It really was quite something, but he wasn’t done, Jan then reached round the side for a small key and began winding and as soon as he released it the frame began to play a little tune
“It will sing you to sleep!” He said with a grin before making a sharp exit.
He left me there stood in this room with a giant picture frame music box playing a soft tune in the background “what the fuck just happened?”
He was a wonderfully baffling bloke and someone I’d love to meet again. I’m not sure words could ever do Jan justice.
Alphen Aan Den Rijn - Amsterdam 26.18 miles
Another place I was really upset to leave without properly exploring was Alphen. A town cut in half by a River straight down the middle.
In the morning I was up and out for breakfast, said my goodbyes to Jan (still regret never having a picture with him) and headed off in the direction of Amsterdam!
I walked that last day purely on adrenaline the finish line was in sight, I just had to get there. My friends Tom and Rob were meeting me at my hotel in Amsterdam so the incentive to finally see a familiar face after 8 days on my own spurred me on.
The walk into Amsterdam was a lot more built up than the previous day, I walked past the stadium for the 1928 Olympics, past Anne Frank's house and over many of the cities Canal footbridges. Then in the distance I spotted Tom and Rob
“You look fucked” laughed Tom
He was right, I was fucked! But I’d made it, everything from the previous 8 days was all worth it. The blisters, the bridge, the heat…worth it. It’d been a really tough yet rewarding week, the hardest thing I’d ever done and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
We all sat and had a beer in the bar next to my hotel and toasted the achievement before I sloped off up to bed. Ben was getting into Amsterdam in the morning which felt fitting. he’d started this walk with me 8 days prior, so it would be good to see him at the end.
I tried to do as much exploring as I could in Amsterdam but in the end my feet were knackered so getting about was tough, but I loved the Netherlands. The country is beautiful, and the people couldn’t have been more friendly. On my horror day in Rotterdam an elderly gentleman offered to ride his bike into town to fetch his car to come pick me up, a kid on a moped wanted to give me a ride into Alphen, the countless people I met in bars and in the streets that were happy to chat to some stranger with sore feet…and of course Jan!
The whole experience was amazing and as I sat on the steps of the Amsterdam central station talking to Mark Dennison from Radio Nottingham on the phone I was really sad to be leaving. In fact, for weeks after I’d got home, I found myself really missing it, the sense of freedom and adventure is something I’ve found really hard to describe other than it just being a proper buzz and something I’d recommend to anyone even if you don’t think you could do it because when the chips are down anyone can achieve anything.