Naked Rambler to do it again - with a librarian

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The Independent Online

Stephen Gough has done little to shake off Britain's image as a nation of eccentrics who take off their clothes the instant the clouds part. Two summers ago the former marine set off to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats wearing only a bush hat and a pair of boots. He arrived at his destination chafed but victorious in January last year. His journey had taken seven months, five of which were spent behind bars.

On Thursday, Gough, 46, starts the journey again. This time, however, he will be accompanied by a naked middle-aged librarian, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Gough attracted worldwide publicity over his refusal to be put off his stride by 16 arrests and two prison sentences for offending public decency. The Naked Rambler, who is unemployed and lives in a motor home in Bournemouth, still bears the scars - a broken nose and a gash above the eye - from when he was beaten up two days into his first walk.

"I'm still trying to understand why I did it the first time," he said, unrecognisable in his clothes last week.

"We hide behind clothes, and I wanted to drop the pretence and find out who I was."

During his previous trip, Gough was taken to a psychiatric hospital in Scotland. "The duty psychiatrist got advice from a consultant and he didn't take much time in deciding I was sane," he said.