Dr. Colin Skinner's Site

Walking 6000 miles for hospice.


Starting on 10 September 2011, I walked 2,576 miles from Devil's Lake, North Dakota, to Tuolumne Meadows, in the Sierra Mountains of California, to raise awareness of hospices in the United States.   The walk took me through North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.  I was forced to stop the walk after spending three nights in a tent, above 9,000 feet in the Sierras.  I had to melt down snow to get water to drink and snow-shoed for three days through heavy snow.  I managed to reach the Rangers' Station at Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, but had frostbite in both feet.  I am now writing a book about this journey, entitled 'America- 12,000 miles, on foot, a wing and a prayer-'.  On the journey I wrote a blog for the U.S. National Hospice Foundation at:  http://www.nationalhospicefoundation.org/colin .

Now married, with a sixteen year old son, I was born in the South East of England, on 7th November, 1965.  My early childhood was spent exploring the fields, marshes and woodland that lay behind our family's house.  Catching grass snakes, watching lizards and climbing trees to pick wild cherries was how my adventures began.

At school, I studied Biology and went on to obtain a degree in Biochemistry and Genetics,  then a PhD in Molecular Biology, at University College London.  I worked on developing tests to locate mutations causing genetic diseases in children.  In the U.S. I carried out gene sequencing and protein purification, at Vanderbilt University.

Much of my time, though, has been spent on long distance walks, which have taken me 14,500 miles across Britain, Iceland, America and New Zealand.  My walk in 1998 involved posting information on the Internet, for schoolchildren in the U.S.  The website at http://teacher.scholastic.com/zealand/meet.htm gives details of this journey.  On the New Zealand trek, I walked through an active volcano, clambered over glaciers, swam with seals and reported on conservation projects involving endangered species.

My passion for travelling long distances on foot began at 17.  With three school friends, I ran a marathon around a 200 metre track, to raise money for handicapped children.  The following summer the four of us pushed a wheelchair over 1000 miles.

In the summer of 1985 I worked at Leeds Infirmary to fund the walk across Iceland.  It was at the infirmary that I first saw cancer patients suffering.  I thought there had to be a better way for people to spend their last days.

It was in Iceland, whilst washing dishes with mud and drying them with black volcanic ash, that the idea came to walk 6,000 miles across Britain and America, to raise money for Cancer Relief and hospices.  The story of that 6,000 mile walk is told in the book 'Beyond The Setting Sun.'  £5 from each book sold will go to hospices in the area where the books are sold.  To order books contact skinnem@aol.com.

In 2007, 2009 and 2011, twenty years on, I walked those 6,000 miles again, in memory of my mother, Monica Pickford, who died from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 59, in February 2003.  If you are reading this, I urge you to contact me at skinnem@aol.com.  Above all, I want you to help hospice and do what you can to make a difference.

Mum, back in 1994.

More background information can be found at :


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