Former Chichester teacher scales mountains aboard spacehopper

Steven Payne aboard 'Haniball'
Steven Payne aboard 'Haniball'

A 55-year-old Chichester man has returned after his arduous trek through the Alps, armed only with a spacehopper – or four.

Steven Payne, a former physics teacher, devised the challenge over a steak and kidney pie shared with a homeless man.

The man compared homeless life in Chichester to riding a spacehopper over the Alps, inspiring Steven to recreate the challenge for real.

Steven said: “I have been trying to highlight the issue of homelessness for the past three years.”

He first became aware of the plight of the homeless after a street sleeper bought him dinner during an earlier adventure.

He added: “I try to do something that no-one has ever done before.”

Steven has previously taken on challenges including riding a coracle down the River Wye and trekking from Southampton to Canterbury, sleeping rough each night.

Steven spent eight months planning the 76-mile adventure which took him from Bardoneccia in Italy, to Grenoble in France over 17 days.

There were a number of risks to his journey, as Steven explained: “I took four spacehoppers, named Hanniball, Nelly, Bouncy McBounceface and Napoleon Blownapart.

“I suffered heatstroke, altitude sickness and a twisted knee along the way.”

As well as a large social media following and raising awareness for the homeless, Steven’s trip prompted some unexpected reactions.

He added: “I have had two offers of marriage from ladies in the USA on the back of my latest adventure.

“The many European people I met on my recent Alps trip seemed very supportive of my journey, if a little incredulous.

“None seemed at all surprised that an Englishman should be attempting this.

“I wore a tweed suit, pocketwatch, 1880s pith helmet and carried an umbrella and pipe.

“A chap has standards, and I would not wish the English to get a reputation for looking scruffy abroad.”

Far from resting on his laurels following the end of his epic adventure, Steven is next planning to cycle from London to Paris on his penny farthing in a full suit of medieval armour.