Pensioner's stroll becomes 20-mile slog

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The Independent Online

An evening stroll had seemed such a good idea to Donald Wyatt. Yesterday, after a 20-mile slog, a police search and a night by a campfire in his underwear, he was thinking again.

The 67-year-old clockmaker left his Hampshire holiday home in the New Forest shortly after 8pm on Monday with his dog, expecting a 200-yard saunter. What awaited him was an 11-hour Boy's Own adventure while 30 police officers combed woodland nearby.

Mr Wyatt became disoriented in woodland behind the cottage at Bank, near Lyndhurst. He said: "I started following a bird that I could hear but couldn't see ... I wandered miles in circles."

The great-grandfather, from Tyldesley, Greater Manchester, employed boyhood camping skills, building a fire, using wood and petrol receipts as fuel. Mr Wyatt also described how he stripped to his Y-fronts to dry his clothing and kept his head warm with a plastic bag.

When morning came, he walked in a straight line until he reached a road just three miles from his departure point. In all, he had covered 20 miles.

His wife, Dee, 73, a novelist, said yesterday: "I couldn't stop picturing Don crouched over a fire with no clothes on and a plastic bag on his head. It's a good job they didn't find him."

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