Last weekend I joined Trekstock on their 10th anniversary trek along the Jurassic coast.
While the 30km distance alone makes this a tough challenge, the nature of the undulating terrain had us ascending over 1700m, greater than climbing to the summit of Ben Nevis and that’s before we even get started on storm Hannah gracing us with her presence!
Getting down to Dorset was really easy by train which definitely makes me keen to go back and explore some more. From London Waterloo I took a South Western train to Wareham station. Finding some fellow trekkers en route we shared a cab together and a 20 minute drive later found ourselves in the seaside town of Swanage where we set up camp at the YHA.
This was my first ever stay in a youth hostel and this imposing Victorian villa has just recently undergone a £1.5 million refurbishment. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was.
Our bedroom window offered stunning sea views over the award winning beach at Swanage - the only blue flag beach along the entire stretch of Dorset Jurassic coast.
After checking in we had a wander around town and stopped for hot chocolates at a little cafe down on the seafront before heading back for dinner and a team briefing.
The trek was organised by Charity Challenge, a leading UK tour operator helping people raise money through charity bike rides, runs, treks and climbs in the Uk and overseas.
The funds raised from this event were to support Trekstock, a cancer charity for young adults in their 20’s and 30’s. Through exercise support, practical advice and an active online and offline community, Trekstock's programmes tackle social isolation, improve quality of life and provide young adults with the tools they need to get moving again after cancer puts their life on hold.
When I moved back to London following my cancer treatment in the North East, Trekstock gave me the opportunity to enrol on their Renew programme which gave me 3 months of free gym membership and a personal trainer to assist in building up my strength. They have also given me access to yoga classes, meditation, the chance to take part in a radio interview with BBC Radio 5 Live about my experience and to meet up with others of a similar age who have been through a cancer diagnosis. They are a fantastic charity and I was thrilled to join the trek to give back and say thank you for their support.
Saturday morning came around and we all rose bright and early, eager to go. Sadly for us Storm Hannah crashed our Jurassic jaunt right on cue, the wind and rain had stirred up trouble overnight and by morning the team leaders had to break the news that the original start of the route, via famous sights Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, was no longer going to be a safe option.
Instead we were driven to Corfe Castle and wound our way past the ruins and through the pretty village streets lined with picturesque stone cottages. Through beautiful English countryside under brilliant blue skies and then onwards out towards the coast.
By the time we reached the sea, the wind had really picked up speed and as we made our first ascent a gust knocked me clean of my feet!
This was where the real challenge began. Battered by gales of up to 55mph we snaked our way gingerly along the coastal path. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time and the scenery was just stunning.
My trek back pack was kindly sponsored by a wonderful company Millican who design high quality, sustainable bags for independent spirits and conscious travellers from their headquarters on a small farm in the heart of the Lake District. The Journal section of their website is a great source of travel inspiration and stories.
10 hours after we first set off, we made it back to base and celebrated with a glass of prosecco at the finish line followed by a team dinner in Swanage.
As a group of 30 our efforts raised an incredible £25,000 for Trekstock, thank you so much if you contributed to this!
In the pub later that eve, a few of us hatched a plan and decided that, legs willing, we would try and make it to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove the next morning before leaving for home . . . and that we did.
How beautiful?! . . .
I’m so pleased we had time to visit, it really is a beautiful spot and has left me craving a trip back to explore some more.
After all that extra walking there was just enough time to reward ourselves with a Sunday roast before catching the train back to London.
I had such a great weekend! It was a privilege to walk alongside such wonderful, kind, open and inspiring people and a pleasure to connect, exchange stories, create memories and share the experience together.
Those who have had cancer, those who still have cancer, those who have had friends and family members touched by the disease, those involved in research, education, spreading awareness, and offering support through charitable work.
My Just Giving page is still active to collect any final donations, if you wish to do so please click here. Many thanks. x
I created a page after my treatment to document all of the wonderful charities that helped me as well as tips and advice that may be useful to someone else going through a breast cancer diagnosis. You can find that here.