A FORMER City trader turned charity chief executive has completed a personal walking challenge of 4,000 miles through 14 countries.

Shaun Church set off from Egypt in January and – 10,000,000 steps later – finished the trek at his parents’ home in Old Woking.

His route took him through remote parts of Jordan and Turkey where he rarely saw another person. He experienced both high and freezing temperatures and violent storms as he wild-camped alone in deserts.

Shaun, aged 58, wanted to prove that he could undertake a challenging, interesting adventure after retiring from a busy career working with community medics in Africa and India.

His route took in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France.

Shaun then crossed the Channel to Dover by ferry, walked to Canvey Island and spent 10 days following the River Thames and then the River Wey to his final camping spot near The Anchor pub at Pyrford Lock.

“There’s always a hidden away place where you can pitch a tent and not cause any disturbance, even in England,” said Shaun.

The final leg was a stroll to Old Woking on Sunday 18 September, where his parents, Michael and Pat Church, and a group of family members, friends and neighbours were waiting to cheer him home.

“It was an experience of extremes, both heat and cold and heights, and changing climates,” said Shaun, who was on his own for most of the journey. “In the deserts it was broiling during the day and freezing at night and there was snow and ice as I walked over the Alps.

“Turkey was surprisingly cold and it took me six weeks to cross that country. The Turkish people were the kindest I have ever met and they helped me in several ways, including providing food and accommodation.”

In Egypt, government rules meant he had to hire a Bedouin guide with a camel to accompany him while crossing the more remote parts of the country – and the guide got them lost.

“With the ap on my phone, and having downloaded a map of the area, I was able to work out where we were and get us back on the route,” said Shaun. “There was no mobile signal, but I had battery packs to keep the phone charged and connected with GPS satellites.”

In South Jordan, he followed advice to arrange for a member of the country’s special forces to meet him regularly with water and other supplies on an established trail. “It was a very remote and beautiful place, with sand in every direction,” he said. “With it being so hot, I wouldn’t have been able to carry enough water to survive.”

His wild camping continued across Europe and even in England, where the late-summer weather was kinder than the storms and high winds he experienced abroad. His little tent had to be weighed down with rocks to stop it being blown away several times in remote locations.

“I got quite scary at night on occasion while camping in the deserts, as I heard wolves and other animals near by,” he added.

Shaun, who went to St Dunstan’s Catholic Primary School in Woking and Salesian secondary school in Chertsey, had previously trekked long distances in Africa and South America, but nothing had prepared him for his 4,000-mile feat.

“I wanted to improve my self-belief and show that I can overcome difficult obstacles,” he said. “Being single and having no children helped allow me to do the trek.”

After working in financial markets in London “from an early” age, Shaun moved to work with not-for-profit charitable agencies in Africa and India.

He retired as chief executive of Living Goods, a charity that partners with community health workers in Africa to use mobile phone technology to combat diseases such a malaria, dysentery and pneumonia.

After a break to see family and friends, and travel with mum Pat to Canada for a cousin’s wedding, Shaun hopes to plan some more adventure treks.

 “Perhaps I’ll travel around the world or maybe head for Africa again,” he said.