How Dave Bosman skateboarded 1000 miles across the UK

To raise funds for TLC Children’s Home in South Africa, Dave Bosman skateboarded 1000 miles (1600 km) from John O’Groats at the top of Scotland to Lands End at the bottom of England.

He did it without support and carried everything he needed on his back.

In this interview, Dave shares how he completed the challenge and how he got through 46 long days on the road.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in South Africa and have been in the UK for 13 years now. Living on a farm for my teenage years really build on my passion for the outdoors and I used to spend a lot of my weekends camping with my mates. As well as skating my friends and I were really keen on Surfing, Kitesurfing, Motocross, BMXing and anything that would get our adrenaline pumping. It was a cool way to grow up.

How did you get into skateboarding?

I started skateboarding when I was about 7 years old when my neighbor who was about the same age as me let me ride the new board he got for his birthday. I was instantly hooked and from that moment on I was always into anything with wheels or a board that could go fast.

Before hitting the local town for a skate my mates and I would watch pro skating films featuring the likes of Andrew Reynolds and Rodney Mullen which would always get us amped up. It was always a dream to become a pro skater, surfer or motocross rider.

How did you decide to skateboard 1600 km?

I had been working in an office job for about 9 years and felt like I really needed to take some time out to challenge myself and wanted to raise some funds for charity in the process. I knew some guys that had done the route from John O’Groats to Lands End on bicycles and because of my background in skateboarding I thought It would be an amazing challenge to skate the 1000 mile route.

I also really liked the idea of not planning it too much. Before I left I had a rough idea of my route but didn’t know where I was going to stay every night which was a great feeling of freedom. I sometimes feel like we plan our lives way too much so it was great to let go a bit.

What kind of gear did you use?

I used a penny skateboard for the challenge which most people think is a bit crazy as its not exactly built for long distance skating (its only 55cm long). I haven’t heard of anyone skating that kind of distance on a penny board so it was a bit of a first. Why the hell not hey!

As I was doing the trip solo I had to carry all the gear I needed in my backpack. This included my trusty tent which was my accommodation for most of the trip, sleeping bag, gas cooker, clothing, a bit of camping food and water. My pack weighed in at about 14kg which felt a lot heavier after a 10 hour skate day.

Eating enough calories to keep me going was a challenge but luckily I was never too far from a diner or grocery store so I could get the food my body needed. My rule was too eat as much as I could as often as I could, there where days however that I was in some pretty remote locations and had to carry any food I needed with me.

Finding a place to sleep was always interesting. As I said previously, I never knew exactly where I was going to be every night so I would try find a campsite in the evening and if that failed I would find a spot to wild camp. I spent some amazing nights in beautiful forests or on cliff tops completely alone and away from the real world. It was really special to have that kind of freedom for a while.

How did you train for the challenge?

I started training about 6 months before the challenge by skating home from work a few times a week. Its about a 13 mile skate so would take about 2 hours and I gradually built up to doing it 3 or 4 times a week plus a long 20+ mile skate carrying all my gear on the weekends.

As well as all the skating I also tried to keep up with my general fitness by hiking, running, kitesurfing and cycling. I think with a trip of that size you can only do so much training, your fitness is definitely built up during the challenge (although it never seemed to get any easier).

What have been the most difficult part of your challenge?

Every one of the 46 days that I was on the road was a challenge for me. The sheer physical exhaustion and pain that my body went through is difficult to describe but it taught me a great deal about how much I can handle both physically and mentally and although it was the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I remember being about 10 days into the trip, I had done 250 miles and was still in Scotland. When I looked at my map I knew I still had over 750 miles to go and it felt like an impossible task. My body was already in real pain and I wondered if I would actually be able to finish.

I think the greatest lesson learnt was to break up any challenge into its smaller parts. Looking 1000 miles ahead of you seems impossible and like its never going to end but if you just focus on getting around the next little corner, over that hill or to the next village it makes it doable. The next thing you know you’re looking back from the finish line and you’ve done what you thought was impossible, you’ve done 1000 miles!

What have been the best parts of the challenge?

I think the best thing about the challenge was all the support I had from the people of the UK. I always had people stopping me on the road to find out what I was doing and to cheer me on and even had total stangers offering me a cooked meal and a bed for the night.

I realised that there are still alot of really kind people out there which we sometimes forget when seeing all the bad news on TV these days. 95% of people are good and it was great to be reminded of that.

There were also some amazing quiet moments on the trip where I’d find a beautifull spot to rest, maybe infront of a waterfall in Scotland, on the shore of a lake in the Lake District or on a coastal cliff in Cornwall. There is some stunning scenery in the UK and you can find some real gems when you get off the beaten track.

What was the cost of doing the challenge?

I spent about £1,500 of my own savings while on the road for those 6 weeks, plus a few hundred on my plane/train tickets up to Scotland and a few hundred on gear I needed. The main expense on the road was food (I tried to budget about £20 a day) and camp sites (£8 – £15 a day), otherwise I tried to keep the cost down by wild camping a lot. A lot of the campsites I stayed in let me stay for free too so that really helped and a few kind people offered me a spare bed for the night.

Some of my gear was also sponsored. My board and some clothing was given to me by, my tent and back pack was given to me by Decathlon and I got a nice new GoPro from By-Walski London.

Your top 5 favorite skateboarding gear?

Top 5 pieces of gear on my trip would have to be:

What will the future bring?

I have a few adventures that I’d like to take on in the near future. I really want to do a long distance Kitesurfing challenge and I’m thinking of potentially doing something around the boarder of South Africa. Maybe Kitesurf down the West coast, Paddle Board up the East coast then Cycle or Skate along the northern border.

I’d also really like to kitesurf across the Atlantic. Watch this space …..:)

Anything else you want to add?

Please spare a moment to visit my fundraising page and help me raise funds for TLC Children’s Home.

TLC was established to rescue the tiniest victims of a society in turmoil. Since they rescued their first two little ones in April 1993, they have continued to play a part in changing the destiny of more than 780 babies who have been abandoned or orphaned, as South Africa continues to be plagued by HIV-AIDS and unemployment.

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