268 miles from Edale to Kirk Yetholm
Normally I write posts after the event, once the walk is done and I can share the route. This time, I’m going to write more as the plan comes together – this isn’t your average walk in the national park. Hopefully the things I plan well and the mistakes I make along the way might be useful to other people in the future.
So much of why I love hillwalking is the challenge and I’ve always been drawn to walks with an element of uniqueness or stupidity. Ones that are long or particularly hilly or, if the walk is neither of those things, doing it at night for an entirely different experience. It’s as much to see if I can do it as it is for the sheer pleasure of doing it. I’ve decided to level up and tackle the Pennine Way next year.
I’m also a big advocate of charities and non-profits. At work, I co-head the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility team and I’m also a Mental Health First Aider. But, like you, I often feel inundated with requests for donations. On the one hand, it’s great that people are raising money for causes that are close to their hearts; on the other, the well doth run dry occasionally. I must admit that I can sometimes find the barrage of charity walks and activities annoying. For organised events, often people will pay a nominal fee and then have to raise a defined amount of money to take part in an event. It can sometimes feel like the charity is a side note to the experience.
Is what I’m planning on doing different? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’m planning to walk the Pennine Way because I want to and I hope it will be as rewarding as it is challenging. It will just be me and a map and, for the most part, I plan to sleep on the route rather than in B&Bs and hostels if I can get permission from local landowners. We’ll see how this pans out once I get properly into figuring out the itinerary.
If I avoid bad weather and injury, it should take me about 20 days to complete at a conservative estimate, but I’m allowing 25 just to be safe. I’ll be funding it entirely myself – I need buy a fair bit of kit so I’m not overburdened during the day, but not entirely uncomfortable wild camping at night. I’m requesting to take a month off work unpaid so I can do it without too much pressure and if that gets approved, I can set a date and start planning in earnest. I’m saving for this myself because it’s something I want to do.
Where do donations come into this, then? Well, why not try and raise some money for charity while I’m doing it? There’s no target to reach, the walk is going ahead whether I raise a bit of money or not, and I think if there’s an opportunity to help out a good cause along the way, you should try to make the most of it.
My initial impulse is to support Mind, the mental health charity. I’ve had my battles with mental health over the years and you probably have, too. We’re in this together. Physical health is mental health and mental health is physical health. It’s all just health. One in four people will suffer with a mental health problem at some point in their lives, so there’s a good chance you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, think about your family or office: how many people might be going through something unseen right now
That said, I’ve been a supporter of Mountain Rescue England & Wales for a while. They do amazing work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, from recovering climbers from precipitous crags, to reuniting lost walkers with their friends and ensuring injured and sick casualties are safely delivered into vital hospital care. On top of that, they also regularly help search for missing children and vulnerable adults, on and off the hills, whilst administering sympathetic support to their families. They search river banks and swift water, and wade chest-deep through flooded urban streets aiding swimmers, kayakers and devastated homeowners. All this whilst continuing to practise and hone their first aid skills, technical ropework, water rescue and search management, and maintaining their bases, equipment and vehicles – not to mention taking time to maintain their own fitness. Oh, and they’re all volunteers.
I’m torn. I plan to set up donations via JustGiving because it’s transparent, familiar and simple, but that means picking just one cause to support. I’m under no illusion that this little jaunt will make any significant amount of money, but maybe that makes it all the more important that a small amount benefits the charity with the least national support? Who would you raise money for? Let me know in the comments.