Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Steppe On

Remember Rob Lilwall? He is one of my favourite Less Ordinary Lives, a young man who jacked it all in to cycle 30,000 miles from Siberia back home to England (he went the long way round).

Well, he's off again – this time to walk a mere 3,500 km from Ulan Bator in Mongolia to Hong Kong, where he now lives. The trek will take him and his companion through the Gobi desert, along the Great Wall, down the gorges of the Yellow River and across the mountains of central China. He leaves in November.

Part of the joy of Lilwall's original expedition was his amateur under-preparedness – £10 Royal Mail waterproofs, a pup tent and no fixed route – and an absence of the trappings of modern-day expeditions: camera crew, sponsorship and a book deal.

This trip is slightly different. He is hoping to raise money for children's charity, Viva, for which he and his wife have set up the Hong Kong fundraising office. National Geographic is making a documentary of his journey (his companion is a young cameraman, Leon McCarron). Even Bear Grylls, who I dismissed in my original post, has provided a quote for the pair's trip website (you can follow their progress here).

Does it matter? You can only cash-in your life savings and take three years off to cycle the world once, as Lilwall did. And anyone who has managed to combine being an "adventurer" with running an outpost for a children's charity has to be deeply admired.

For now, Lilwall is getting fit, planning his route and improving his Mandarin. Sadly, those £10 over-trousers probably won't make the kit list.