The Leeds Castle Challenge Walk was organised by Ian, Becky, Helen and Dave. There was a start fee of £5, which went to BBC Children in Need and then it was up to the individual participants whether they found sponsors for this or another charity of their choice. I chose to find sponsors for Demelza House, a children’s hospice and I was pledged over £100.
The eager participants, numbering 11 with three dogs, met at 9.30 am. The route can be seen in the first picture. After a night of storms and heavy rain we awoke to a lovely sunny day – perfect weather for a walk. Ian had warned us of one particular muddy lane and it was at this point that I donned my Leeds Castle plastic bags as a boot covering; my boots are over 30 years old and not guaranteed waterproof. We were making good time when we approached Vanessa’s house and decided to call in and say hello. Vanessa offered coffee and unfortunately this became a good excuse for some of the walkers, who decided to call it a day. The remaining five carried on. A climb to the highest point of our walk, the ridge of North Downs at Hollingbourne Hill, gave us a view of spectacular scenery, which we enjoyed whilst eating our lunch. After leaving the ridge it was often extremely muddy, especially when we had to cross fields ploughed by farmers, who had failed to reinstate the footpaths. There was one point when, with bad cramps in both legs, I nearly gave up. However, with encouragement from Ian and the thought that I was attempting the walk for charity, I carried on. We started and finished at the castle, completing a total of 21 km, nearly 13 miles.
It was a challenge for me and I am really pleased that I was able to complete it. Many thanks to the organisers!