A FARNDALE man is walking 1,850 miles from Holy Island to Rome to raise money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA).

Stuart Nelson, 65, set out last Friday on the epic journey.

“I am planning to walk there as there are no direct flights from Farndale,” he said.

“This will not be easy, but it will be rewarding.”

His planned route will take him from Northumberland south, past his home of Farndale and Castle Howard and down to London.

Here he will “take a left at St Paul’s” to Canterbury. Of Canterbury cathedral, he said: “In 990AD, Sigeric the Serious set out from here to Rome.

“His return route was recorded by his followers, and that route is now called the Via Francigena, which I shall follow. It heads roughly southwest close to the France/Belgium border.

"It goes through the battlefields of the First World War. Through Reims to Besançon then into Switzerland along the ancient route used by Napoleon and Caesar in their times towards Lausanne. Following the infant Rhône, I shall climb to the highest point of the walk - St Bernard’s Pass - on my 66th birthday.”

From St Bernard’s Pass, the ancient pilgrimage route descends steeply into Italy, between Turin and Milan and across the River Po near Piacenza then south to Rome.

“If all goes well,” he said, “it should mean a mid-September finish.”

Mr Nelson is no stranger to long physical challenges in aid of the YAA.

Last year he cycled from the northernmost tip of the Isle of Unst in the Shetlands, to St Agnes, the southernmost inhabited island of the Scillies.

He said: “I am in favour of all the air ambulance services throughout our country, but especially in my own area of North Yorkshire, served by the good people of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.”

Mr Nelson will be blogging throughout his journey at facebook.com/manintheblueblazer.

He is also raising money on his JustGiving page at justgiving.com/stuartgnelson