Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Lindsay and Graham's 55K fundraising walk across the Pennines for the animals

Lindsay and Graham at the starting line
In 2005 whilst holidaying in Paxos, I was saddened to find so many neglected cats and no vet services on the island. I decided to found an animal welfare organisation that could deal with these problems and PAWS (Paxos Animal Welfare Organisation) was created. Since then with the support of the mayor PAWS has made a considerable impact on the island by creating a more caring environment for its animals residents and tourists.

Fundraising is a perennial problem and I have to constantly apply for grants and dream up new ideas for raising money. In a moment of madness, and probably after a couple of glasses of wine, I was persuaded to enter the 50k (which was later extended by the organisers to 55k) Trans Pennine Challenge to be held on June 21st 2013.  Always thinking that kilometres passed more quickly than miles, it didn’t really register what a long way this was to walk in one day!

Having severely broken my ankle 3 years earlier and with 2 arthritic knees, I realised I had better organise some serious training as this was going to be more than just a stroll in the park with my dog!
Walking for the animals
Although walking is my favourite hobby, the longest distance I had tackled in one day was the 24 mile Three Peaks in Yorkshire in 2006. Since then I had regularly joined my friends on monthly rambles of varying lengths – usually around 10 miles in the winter and up to 16 miles in the summer. However I now had 6 months to prepare for 34 miles plus hills and it was the winter when the weather was ghastly and everywhere was knee deep in mud. The expression ‘We’re British’ came to mind so in January the training programme began. I started by increasing the number of walks I did each week and then gradually increased their length. This entailed tackling all the hills I could find on the North and South Downs.

I had huge support from my friends and my little dog who with only 2” legs faithfully trotted beside me for hundreds of miles. Officially he is a Wire Haired Dachshund called Harry, but I have now registered him as a new breed – A Sussex Mountain Dog!

With Harry - the Sussex Mountain Dog! 
 When the weather got a little warmer, I arranged to walk the whole of the South Downs Way with a variety of friends. This is a magnificent 105 mile trail from Eastbourne to Winchester which I completed in a week. Further training involved a 20mile South Down Hike and a 24 mile Surrey 4 Peak Trail by which time I had clocked up a total of about 380miles in 5 months. Surely I was ready?
Ten days before the event, I spent a very busy week on Paxos working on the new building that the municipality has given PAWS to use as a permanent veterinary clinic. The costs of the renovation work focused my mind on the impending charity walk so I returned home to the UK full of determination.

I tried not to look at the weather forecast but when the organisers sent out a warning email about torrential conditions, I thought it wise to line my rucksack with bin bags and pack every available piece of waterproof gear I could find.

When the moment of truth finally arrived, my fund raising partner Graham & I set off for Manchester by train on the afternoon before the walk. We were fortunate enough to have friends in the area that offered us accommodation and to be our support team. I have to say they were the best back up team ever, waking us up at 6am on D Day and getting us to the start on time and being there at the end to comfort us and drive us home.

A very welcome glass of bubbly at the finishing line
The walk itself was an incredible adventure – the weather gods were in a better mood than predicated so we only experienced a couple of showers plus some light rain over the last 6k. The event was brilliantly organised by Action Challenge with four stops along the way. These comfort stations provided a variety of healthy food and drink as well as toilets and medical facilities. At each station along the way the Red Cross medical teams had increasing numbers of customers! The camaraderie with other walkers was wonderful so in a masochistic sort of way I really enjoyed the event. After 13 hours of walking through beautiful scenery along the Rivers Mersey and Tame and over the Pennines, I finally staggered over the finishing line to be presented with a medal and a glass of bubbly – I’ll let you decide which I appreciated most!

Do it again? – not sure – I believe it was one step too far but ask me again in a few months’ time.
Recommend it? – Definitely!!

For more information visit our website www.paws.paxos.com.


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