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Peddars Way/Coastal Route

By Debbie Thrower

Our challenge this year was to walk The Peddars Way and Norfolk Coastal Route this was to be completed over three days – Friday 24th, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May 2013 and the route covered a distance of approx. 93 miles.  Our chosen charity for this challenge is Nelson’s Journey.  Nelson’s Journey is based in Norwich, they help children who need support when someone close to them dies.  They help them find ways of coping with their bereavement, enabling them to look forward to a happy future.

Day 1 – Started at 7am on the Peddars Way at Knettishall Heath near Thetford (Suffolk).  After a heavy rainfall the previous night the challengers – Stephen, Jamie, Simon, Emi, Claire and Helen were assured by the support driver Dom ‘Bonny Lad’ McCallum there would be no more rain!!  Within half an hour of setting off the heavens opened, so it was waterproofs on, hoods up and heads down.  After 22 miles of wet tracks and muddy footpaths they met Dom at Swaffham, a chance to change socks and have a hot drink. The final 10 miles took them through Castle Acre (linking with Nar Valley Way) up to Great Massingham (Norfolk) where first stage finished, 32 miles in 10 hours.

Day 2 – A sunny day at 7am the challengers continued to follow the Peddars Way from Great Massingham to Ringstead, to reach the North Norfolk coast at Holme-next-the-Sea where Peddars Way finishes.  Here the challengers were picked up by Dom and taken to Hunstanton to join the North Coast Path walking east to Wells.  On route at Brancaster Church Julian joined the challengers and they became seven.  This was to be a very difficult day as the aches, pains and the dreaded blisters started to take their toll.  After a grueling 36 miles and 13hrs although hoping to reach Stiffkey, it was decided to finish at Wells.

Day 3 – Up at 5am on another sunny day – fresh legged Brad, Julian and I, along with Syrena Sheldrick joined the walk weary but ever determined challengers ready to start the final stage.  Starting from Wells we continued on the Coastal Path keeping to the shoreline passing through Stiffkey, Blakney, Cley-next-the-Sea, Weybourne, and Sheringham to finish at Cromer Pier 26 miles in 8hrs.  Here we were met by loud cheers and clapping of friends and family who had gathered at the finish.  For those who completed the entire three day challenge they all agreed it was the hardest challenge to date.

Also on Day 2 we did Meg’s Mini Challenge a 6 mile walk from Great Massingham to Harpley Dams and back.  The Mini Challengers where myself, PJ, Gabby and Maddie Eggleton, Olivia Stevens and also Helen Reed with Daisy, we accompanied the main challengers and walked with them as far as Harpley Dams where we then turned round and walked back to Great Massingham a total of 6 miles in 1hr 50mins.  Well done to you.

My work colleagues at Gayton Goslings Day Care Centre and I did our own Meg’s Mini Challenge on Monday 20th May.  Our group of 21 pre-school children, 13 parents and staff followed a route round Gayton village marked with yellow butterflies, stopping part way for a snack of butterfly biscuits.  We walked 2.62 miles in 1hr 25mins and raised £493 which they have donated to Nelsons Journey.  Well done and a big thank you to everyone who took part.

The total amount raised for Nelsons Journey is £3,252.50.

A big thank you to Dom McCallum who was the most amazing support driver without him we couldn’t of done it, also to Community Bus Service for providing the big yellow bus, a most welcome sight at each stop.  Thank you to Richard at V&J Knitwear for providing the challenge tee-shirts.   Also many many thanks to all those who continually support us and those who have donated so generously.

Presentation – On Sunday 24th November 2013 Stephen, Brad, Emi (team photographer) and I visited Hilltops Outdoor Centre, Sheringham  to present Nelson’s Journey with their cheque.  Nelson’s Journey use this outward bound centre for there therapeutic camps, and is a brilliant setting, we were able to take the opportunity to see the team in action with a group of children who were having an activity weekend. We met with Carol Bundock, who is a patron and also a friend, who had met Megan through Rainbows as she is also president of Girlguiding Norfolk.  Carol introduced us to a few of the Nelson’s Journey team and gave us a tour of Hilltops.