"I was diagnosed with an eye condition called Stargardt's Disease in 1999 which means I am losing my central vision. Just a few years later in 2001 I was officially registered blind.
I had a tough time adjusting to my loss of sight and as a result I started to drink heavily for many years. Until, that is, I was told that it would kill me if I carried on. It was a really hard battle to change my ways and habits but I finally won and have now been sober for 11 years!
After completing many walks with my girlfriend I decided to see how I would manage solo, so headed out for a few local walks. All went well, but I knew deep down that I craved a bigger challenge. It was whilst on holiday in the Lake District National Park that I chose to walk up Skiddaw, the sixth highest mountain in England. Off I went with map and compass and a spring in my step, successfully reaching the summit whilst the cloud swirled all around. It was a magnificent moment.
I have learned to enjoy the challenge of navigation and map reading with my magnifiers and as time goes by I am gaining a greater understanding about what I am capable of as a visually impaired person out in the wild alone."
What goals do have you in the future or are you currently working towards?
"Whilst walking locally I noticed signs for the Watts Dyke Way, a 60 mile route that travels from Shropshire to North Wales. After doing some more research into the trail I decided to set myself the goal of walking it this summer, alone. This will certainly test my navigational skills, which as you can imagine for a visually impaired person is quite a feat, but one I know I can achieve. The best way I can describe walking with my condition is as though you are permanently moving about in a dense fog. Thankfully though with the aid of magnifiers and a monocular I can get along just fine.
Other challenges I hope to complete are walking parts of the Offas Dyke path that run alongside the Watts Dyke trail, and also the 13 mile walk Baker Way from Chester Railway Station to Delamere Station. I'll be walking this trail in the next month or so and am looking forward to exploring the canal, villages, open fields, and Delamere Forest. And once finished I can just get the train home again!"
What advice would you give someone facing a similar situation?
"The best advice I can give to people is to have belief in your own abilities and adapt how you do things to suit you. Never be afraid to ask for help from strangers, and the main thing I would say is just give things a go - you never know, you might really enjoy it!"