Andrew Milligan  /  AP
Stephen Gough makes his way to  John O' Groats, Scotland, Thursday after completing his nearly 900-mile walk.
updated 1/23/2004 10:07:26 AM ET 2004-01-23T15:07:26

After spending most of his seven-month odyssey behind bars, a man walking the length of Britain naked to promote public nudity finally reached his destination.

Stephen Gough, 44, was arrested 16 times following complaints from the public.

The former Royal Marine made several court appearances and served two jail sentences — spending about 5 months behind bars — during the 847-mile trek from Land’s End in southwest England.

Dubbed “the naked rambler,” Gough reached John O’Groats in northern Scotland late Thursday afternoon, cheered on by a group of local residents.

Boots and rucksack
Gough began the walk in the British summer of June 2003, wearing just his socks, boots, hat and rucksack.

He persisted despite the delays caused by his repeated arrests and refused to don warmer clothes as he reached northern England and the highlands of Scotland in freezing winter temperatures.

He also declined to dress for the occasion when appearing before judges across the breadth of the country, usually sitting in the dock wrapped in a prison blanket.

After a brief stay in John O’Groats, Gough said he'd put his clothes back on and head back south to his home in Eastleigh, southern England.

Insulting to some
There is no law in Britain against public nudity. However, there are laws against indecent exposure — which requires proof of intent to insult a woman — or any behavior likely to cause “harassment, alarm or distress.”

Gough said it would take time to reverse public “paranoia” about the human body but he hoped his campaign had been successful.

“My body is part of me and it’s not shameful, it’s who I am,” he said after taking a celebratory sip of champagne.

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