Last month, Tony and Ryan Sheppeck, together with long standing family friend Martin, completed the Coast-to-Coast walk in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, an organisation that is close to our heart and continues to provide groundbreaking support to cancer sufferers throughout Yorkshire.
When planning our route across the country we opted to go against the grain and hike in a westerly direction. This meant that our start point now became Robin Hoods Bay, with the finish line more than 192 miles away at St Bees. Between us and the finish line lay three National Parks (The North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District) as well as countless other obstacles, all whilst enduring harsh October weather.
After a great deal of preparation and planning, October 5th finally came, which meant one last night of rest at a bed and breakfast in Robin Hoods Bay followed by the beginning of what soon proved to be an epic journey for everyone involved. Initially, we had planned to trek the entire distance using gear and tents, but after the initial 2 days, which saw us cover over 40 miles in cold, windy and torrentially wet conditions, we made the disappointing but ultimately necessary decision to ditch the gear and use B&Bs from that point onwards. This proved essential, as we were fast becoming exposed to a real risk of illness and injury.
Fortunately, the weather picked up somewhat after this, and we were able to proceed through the countryside. By day five we had traversed along Swaledale to within 2 miles of our halfway point at Keld, taking in some truly stunning sights of the Yorkshire Dales along the way.
Over the following days we were able to continue our good progress, covering more miles in the company of close friends and colleagues who spurred us on our way. Tom, James, Nick and Shannon, joined us for a ten-mile stretch on the Sunday afternoon and this brought us within reach of the Lake District. On day eight of our journey, we made the ascent to the highest point on the Coast to Coast route at Kidsty Pike, some 780m above sea level. We dropped down in to Patterdale as the sun set and turned in for the night.
Morning came, and with it a change of plan. We made the ambitious decision to tackle the third highest peak in England, Helvellyn, which stands at 950m above sea level. This meant crossing Striding Edge, a ridge that is notoriously difficult to pass in any circumstances for hikers, which had to be added into what was already a gruelling sixteen mile day. This was certainly one of the most difficult days of our journey, but ultimately one of the most rewarding.
Once our final climb was completed, a mere 26 miles separated our team from the West Coast, St Bees and finish line. The next morning, we tackled Haystacks, and the following day, covering the final 10 miles drew, we were able to reflect on some of the challenges that we had faced in our 11 day journey.
Needless to say, our final approach to the beach was emotional to say the least, and on the 15th October, we finally arrived at St Bees and were received with an ovation from family and friends following eleven days of struggle. That same afternoon we exceeded our final fundraising target of £6000, a total that continues to rise above £7500.
We could never have raised such a terrific amount of money without help from a number of sources, and here we have to thank a number of people: Doncaster Racecourse, which allowed us to carry out a bucket collection on St Leger Day, and of course the help of Sophie and Kimberley Davies, Anna Molloy, Shannon Oades, Chelsea Wardle, Rachel Walls and Gillian & Sophie Pickard, whose commitment and dedication meant that we were able to increase our target fivefold.
Our thanks go out to all the people that helped us along the way, and finally to all the staff at the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, who continue to deliver the highest standard of care and treatment, pioneer new research in the field and provide a lifeline for many people suffering from cancer every day.