Thursday, 21 October 2021

Wanderers take on 100km charity walking challenge

FIVE women from Wargrave will attempt to walk 100km in two days for charity.

FIVE women from Wargrave will attempt to walk 100km in two days for charity.

Caroline Atkinson, Charlotte Taylor, Mandy Doward, Gill Jennings and Rosie Hancock, otherwise known as the “Wargrave Wanderers”, will take part in the Isle of Wight Challenge on April 30 and May 1.

They hope to raise £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The women previously raised about £5,000 by completing the Grand Union Challenge, a 50km walk along the Grand Union Canal, in 2014 and the 26-mile London Trekathon last year.

Mrs Taylor, 53, of High Street, said: “We are a group of friends, all of whom have been touched at some point by cancer.

“We enjoy walking and like a challenge, so we have done several charity challenges.

“Caroline, Gill and I have done all three, Rosie did the Grand Union and Mandy is a first-timer, although she trained for the others.

“They have taught us to always prepare — we did a lot of training for the Grand Union but not so much for London and that was awful! The Grand Union was difficult because of the weather — it was our first long-distance walk and it was wet.

“This time we have decided to push ourselves a bit more. This is double the distance we have done before and much more hilly.

“I heard about it at work and though it looked quite fun, plus it’s not too far away.

“When we first told people they said we would never be able to do it but that just made us even more determined.”

The women all exercise regularly and are members of the Nuffield Health gym at the Piggott School and have been preparing with regular walks around the village.

They ventured into the Chilterns to get experience of climbing the sort of hills they will face on their walk round the island and they completed a 19-mile walk on the south coast.

They have to fit training around their jobs and family life.

Mrs Taylor said: “We all work fulltime so some training programmes can be hard to follow, for example we can’t walk on a Friday.

“It definitely helps when you are walking with friends. We always have a good natter, even if one of us takes a book along for when they get fed up with the conversation!

“Our families are very supportive as well. Two weeks ago, we did 13 miles and the weekend after we did 19. Before the event we are hoping to get up to 28 miles.”

Mrs Atkinson, 48, of Bayliss Road, said: “We are feeling as confident as we can be. It will depend a lot on the weather — if it’s quite hot it will be harder.

“As long as we do the training we will be okay and we still have 11 weeks to go.

“We all used to run and we know the health benefits. Even though I’m the youngest, I’d say I’m the most unfit!

“You feel so much fitter when you walk regularly and we all like being outdoors. It’s a good stressbuster and we live in such a beautiful part of the world, we love it.”

As well as the walk, the women will be hosting a charity beer festival in the village. The Wargrave Beer Festival was previously run as part of the biennial village festival and was taken over by the Wanderers, who were then known as the “Wargrave Wrinklies”, shortly before they took on the Grand Union Challenge in 2014.

This year’s festival will be held at the Woodclyffe Hall in High Street on March 4 at 6.30pm. There will be 10 beers from across the UK as well as a raffle and entertainment.

Mrs Doward, 51, of Newalls Rise, said: “We want to raise as much as we can but didn’t want to go around with a big bucket.

“That’s why we are organising events like the beer festival where people can have fun and donate to charity at the same time.

“The festival was founded by Ian Wild and ran alongside the village festival. When it stopped we decided   to pick it up but Ian is still very involved with the beers.

“We turn ourselves into buxom barmaids for the night and have lots of other girls taking part too. It’s very good fun and always well attended.”

The women will be wearing Macmillan T-shirts on their walk.

Mrs Atkinson said: “Macmillan are amazing and create a support network for cancer sufferers and their families. They look after everyone, not just the person with the disease. We’ve all been affected by cancer and this resonated with everyone.”

To make a donation, visit Wanderers

For tickets to the beer festival (£15 each), send an email to

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