More than 600 walkers, including families from Princes Risborough and Cuddington, joined Rennie Grove Hospice Care to celebrate a decade of the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge.
The spectacular walk, the last section of the Ridgeway National Trail, offered an opportunity to walk 7, 11 or 20 miles and raise vital funds for the hospice charity, on Sunday, September 9.
It was ideal walking weather with outbreaks of sunshine and a cool breeze as participants of all ages tackled the first two peaks of Whiteleaf Cross and Coombe Hill, while some persevered through more windy conditions to make it up to the top of the final peak at Ivinghoe Beacon.
Multitudes of mums, dads, kids, friends, colleagues and dogs showed their support for a vital local cause by taking part and thoroughly enjoyed the friendly and encouraging atmosphere of the event, which could not have taken place without the support of local volunteers and businesses such as the event sponsor, Origin and transport providers Arriva Buses.
Super-fit David Thomas and his son Zachary, aged 6, from Princes Risborough were taking on the 20 mile challenge despite having undertaking a mud run the day before. David said: “We are still tired from yesterday but wanted to do the Chilterns 3 Peaks too so we plan to make it all the way to the end.”
The MacBeth family from Cuddington and the McGough family from Ilmer, also took on the 7 mile challenge with their six children whose ages ranged from 5 – 12. Proudly displaying their medals at the finish line, parents Clare Macbeth and Gemma and Chris McGough said: “It was a gorgeous walk with beautiful views and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It really helped the younger children to be walking together in a group and was very achievable for a family walk. Next year we’ll be aiming for the 11 mile route.”
Friends Aurora, Debbie, Karen, Laura and Jackie travelled from Wingrave, Watford and Clapham to take on the 20 mile challenge. Debbie said: “I’m a Macmillan cancer nurse and Laura is a radiographer so we know about Rennie Grove. We are all based at UCLH in London and are looking forward to the walk.”
Rennie Grove’s own Family Support Team were planning on getting to know each other better during the walk and had brought along partners, children and dogs too.
Mandy and Becky from Wendover and Weston Turville were undertaking the 20 mile route as part of their fitness regime. They said: “Although we walk locally we are keen to use today as a good opportunity to learn new routes.”
Align Design and Construct who are working on the HS2 project in the area brought a team of 15 people to undertake the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge. Jordana from Align’s community engagement team explained, “We are walking today to do something for charity and for the local community”.
Upon reaching the seven mile mark, many took the opportunity to reflect in Rennie Grove’s Memorial Woodland in Wendover. Those who were taking part in memory of a loved one could hang a memory tag with a personalised message on one of the trees as a dedication to their special person and take a moment to remember the good times that they had shared.
Friends Claire Beever and Heidi Bradley from Loosley Row near Lacey Green completed the 7 mile route with their children Tommy (10) and Jack Beever (12) and Christian (10) and Amelia (14) Bradley.
Speaking at the finish line, they said: “The countryside was stunning and it’s great that the event is so accessible for families giving them the chance to walk together. We will definitely take part again.” Claire’s husband, Dom, and Heidi’s husband, Alex, were both carrying on to complete the 20 mile route.
Arriva buses took seven mile walkers back to their own vehicles parked at Princes Risborough School whilst those walking on to complete the 11 mile route revived and refuelled before boarding the bus to Tring station to complete the final four miles on foot. Those who were taking on the ultimate 20 mile challenge trekked on to complete the entire route from Princes Risborough to Wendover and then continued on, joining the 11-milers at Tring Station before the final push to the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.
As participants reached the end of the challenge at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon, there were smiles all round and a great sense of achievement.
Rennie Grove shop volunteer Sandra Haine together with her husband Charles and Jerry Hall completed the 20 mile route: “It was a great day out. There was a really good atmosphere and spirit among everyone taking part and it was the perfect chance to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the countryside. The whole event was really well organised and the marshals were all so friendly.”
Speaking at the start of the challenge, Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s Chief Executive Stewart Marks said, “People arrived promptly and set off very enthusiastically on their Chiltern hills challenge. It’s great to see so many people taking part in a community event whilst raising funds for charity. Rennie Grove depends on the support of local people and we are so grateful for all those who have turned out today.”