Walking for a Cause: My Memorable Charity Walk from Whitby Abbey to Home
On July 1st and 2nd 2023, I embarked on a remarkable journey that challenged both my physical endurance and determination. It was a two-day, 100-kilometer (62 miles) walk from the iconic Whitby Abbey to the comfort of my own home in Market Weighton. This daunting endeavour, known as the "Whitby 2 Home" walk, aimed to raise funds for a cause close to my heart: the Alzheimer's Society. As the blisters on my feet heal and the dust settles, I can proudly say that I not only completed the walk but also exceeded my fundraising goal, raising over £1,600 (plus gift aid) to support this incredible charity.
Day One: From Whitby Abbey
Section One and Two
It was a beautiful morning on the Yorkshire coast, the crisp morning air was filled with anticipation of the journey I was about to embark on. A massive thank you to Janet and John Evans for allowing us to stay at the beautiful clifftop Foghorn accommodation the night before!
The first section I was joined by my lovely friend Kate, and as we stood before the magnificent ruins of Whitby Abbey we made sure to snap a couple of pictures, and set our walking apps going for tracking.
The walk through Whitby was quiet, being 7am on a Saturday morning, and this continued as we walked alongside the railway lines and under the Larpool Viaduct. We made good time to Ruswarp before going over some beautiful hills, filled with long grass that still had the morning dew that caused us to get a little wet up to our thighs. We had made extremely good time at this point and arrived in the quaint village of Sleights, our first pit stop, so far ahead of time that Carl wasn’t there waiting for us, and so we continued, with Kate staying on to join me for the second leg of the day.
The second leg was to Goathland, but thankfully Carl made a random appearance for us at Grosmont, which was extremely welcomed after missing the Sleights break. He met us at the train station where we restocked our backpacks, and had a snack before continuing.
We left Grosmont alongside the railway line and was passed by the steam train not long afterwards.
This section of the walk was beautiful, but certainly felt long and tiresome by now, especially as the temperature of the day was slowly beginning to creep up.
Finally after 20km we reached Goathland, which was in the midst of having a 1960s weekend. We stopped for some lunch, and Kate waved me on my way as I set off on section three with Tom and Meg (and of course the Golden Girls, Luna and Astra).
We left Goathland and began walking along a beautiful old trail line with trees, a nice an easy start to the section. However it wasn’t long before the purple heather on the Yorkshire Moors surrounded us, and with RAF Fylingdales as the only landmark to our left, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere…and it was extremely windy as we navigated our way through the narrow paths between the heather.
We reached the summit of the moors and took a quick picture, had some sweets, and began the walk down the other side. Before long we were walking through woodlands, with streams and moss covered grounds…it certainly felt like we had stepped into a fairytale land at some points. The woodlands also came as a relief from the direct sun too. This section of the walk ended at Levisham Station, and it was pure woodlands all the way to the end, with some rather steep downward sections we had to navigate. Surprisingly we were still mostly on track, and it was great to see Carl and my next set of walking buddies waiting for me at the station.
A short break at Levisham Station, and it was goodbye to Tom, Meg and the dogs, and hello to Joanne, Jonny and Harvey. Levisham Station is set at the bottom of a valley, and so the three of them were extremely nervous about the hills they had driven down to get there. However my trail went a slightly different way, and although we still had plenty of hills, they assured me that it was not as bad as the road.
Leaving Levisham Station and getting to the top of the first hill gave us some incredible views across the valley and back over towards the moors, of which I had not long been walking. I have to say that these were probably the best views from the entire weekend.
The first part of this section was definitely the most challenging, and certainly the most challenging of the entire weekend. The hills were long and constant, and we were desperate for them to end. Finally we arrived in Lockton, and from then we mostly had downhills all the way as we descended in Dalby forest.
The walk through Dalby was as picturesque as always, though I confess by now I was more concern about my sore feet than admiring the views. Arriving in Lower Dalby we tackled yet another hill, and I was extremely thankful for Jonny allowing me to use him as a human walking stick.
Finally the end was in sight, and at around 7.30pm we finally arrived at the car, where Carl was waiting for us!!!
That night we stayed in a tent in Ellerburn, and had some amazing pizza for dinner. A huge thank you to Joanne and Jonny for organising the camping, and for setting up and taking down the tents for us. My feet were a mess, but thankfully Carl helped me clean them up and get blister plasters on.
Day Two: to Market Weighton
As the second day dawned, my muscles ached, and my body yearned for respite. However, my determination remained unyielding. Carl was the one to join me on this section, and to my surprise I had slept pretty well in the tent, so didn’t have to content with that kind of tiredness either.
Our walk saw us join the Yorkshire Wolds way in Wintringham, where we had some incredible morning views across the Wolds. Our section saw us walking through farmlands, meadows and woodlands, before eventually arriving at the first pit stop of the day, Wharram Le Street. A maasive thank you to Meg for picking up Carl from this section and taking him back to the car.
The solo section!...I always wanted there to be a section on my own. Although having somebody with me on the other sections was invaluable, this was something I knew I wanted to happen at some point over the course of the weekend. I left Wharram Le Street and continuing to follow the Yorkshire Wolds Way, found myself walking along long straight sections that looked like had no end in sight. Eventually I reached Wharram Percy, a deserted medieval village that I had walked around many times with the dogs. Despite being a Sunday it was still pretty quiet and so I made my way passed the ruined church and continued onwards. This next part was tough, and walking up towards Thixendale was extremely hard on the legs, which were already screaming at me anyway. Having made it over the top of Thixendale and into the village I was thrilled to see Carl waiting for me…I wasn’t due to see him until Fridaythorpe. It was an unexpected pit stop, but one I was certainly happy for. I think by this point Carl was starting to worry, as I was less smily, and clearly starting to show my pain.
Off again and the final push of this section got me over the hill and into Fridaythorpe. I was sore, but still in good spirits and ready for some lunch and a proper sit down.
The lunch stop not only had Carl with me, but Leanne who was there ready to tackle this next section with me. A quick thank you to Mandy and Paul for dropping Leanne off in Fridaythorpe, and for joining us at the picnic table before we set off.
The lunch rest had been welcomed, but I cut it short through fear of seizing up. Upon leaving Fridaythorpe we made a wrong turn (the only one the entire walk), but thankfully we noticed quickly and were soon on the right path again. The first half of this section was lovely, with the usual Wolds ups and downs, and some beautiful scenery. However this section was tough on my feet, and even more tough on my hips. Leanne allowed me to lean on her as we tackled a large hill in the approach to Millington, and with Millington as the final pit stop before home, I was starting to see the end in sight. However disaster struck, and along the tops, overlooking Millington below us, my hip decided to lock, and I could not walk at all. The pain was unbelievable and I was fighting back tears…though the noises coming out of my mouth were not muted. I tried to stretch it out, but no matter what I did I could not make my hips move in any way without unimaginable pain. At one point me and Leanne looked at one and other, and genuinely feared that this was it…
Ten minutes passed and I was still in the same place unable to move, I’m surprised more walkers didn’t pass us. Finally I had stretched myself enough to get myself moving, and with little steps I shuffled myself along the track slowly. The more I moved the easier it became and we eventually made it to the bottom of the hill and into Millington, where Carl and a group of friends were waiting to cheer me on!
I arrived in Millington for the pit stop and instantly threw my rucksack off my shoulder and laid on the floor with my knees pulled into my chest, trying to help stretch out some more. I was in pain, and still had another 15km to do, I was seriously questioning if I needed to call it quits.
Carl had to physically pick me up off of the ground as I had no energy and was in so much pain, and I could see it in his face he didn’t want me to continue.
Leanne decided to stay on and walk the final section with me too, and Meg, who had walked Day one Section three, also decided to join me for this final section too. It was clear from the beginning that I was struggling as I limped my way out of Millington and back onto the Wolds Way track. Clearly still worried, Carl waited for us at Nunburnholme, accompanied in the car by Kate, but I was on a roll and was too scared to stop and seize up, so we gave a wave and kept going. The hill out of Nunburnholme I already knew was a killer, and Carl had decided to stay parked at the bottom until he knew we were okay. Linked arm-in-arm the three of us helped each other to the top of the hill, and with a quick wave to Carl and Kate from the top, we continued our way.
Our next aim before home was Londesborough, and a final hilly section just before reaching Londesborough let me know it was mostly down hill the rest of the way.
I was delighted to be met by Lesley at Londesborough, who had come to help raise my spirits and walk that last few miles with us. It must have worked, as between that and the knowledge that home was so close, I found myself walking faster than I thought I would have been at this stage – in fact the ladies even commented at my sudden speed (I confess I was in pain but desperate to make it).
Arriving at the edge of Market Weighton I was greeted by Carl, my mum and what felt like a group of people – I was so tired by this point I struggled to register who exactly was there. I had been sent a medal from Alzheimer’s Society, and at this point my mother handed it to me. She then offered me a lift, claiming I had made it to Market Weighton…but I refused, the challenge was not to Market Weighton, it was to HOME…and I had not made it this far to get in a car for the last kilometre. That final kilometre with everyone walking with me, including the dogs, was strange in some ways, as I knew I was so close to my house, and yet somehow the entire journey I had just been on felt like strange dream already.
Arriving at my home in Market Weighton, I was greeted by a wave of emotions. Exhaustion mingled with a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment. The support I had received throughout the journey, both in the form of generous donations, the kind words of friends and family, and of course the support of those who walked with me and help with the pitstops, reinforced the belief that together, we can make a difference.
Sitting in my garden having just finished, I removed my boots and socks to let me feet breath, and I think those who were there to greet me got a little more than they bargained for. I was swollen, bruised, and blistered, and after sitting down for only a few minutes was already beginning to seize up, especially on the hips which were both throbbing in pain. Everyone didn’t stay too long, and I managed to have a small bite to eat (I was feeling too sick for something too big), and then Carl helped me up to the shower and then into bed.
The Whitby 2 Home walk was an experience that will forever remain etched in my memory. Raising over £1,600 (plus gift aid) for the Alzheimer's Society exceeded my expectations and demonstrated the generosity and compassion of those around me. I cannot thank everyone who donated enough for their generosity!
As I write this almost two weeks on, I am still struggling to walk fully, my toes and feet are still bruised and blistered, and my hips still aches. Though my blisters may fade, the memories of this extraordinary journey and the lives touched by our collective efforts will endure. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Alzheimer's disease and the chance to inspire others to support this worthy cause. Despite my pain and discomfort all this time after finishing, I have no regrets at all.
As I reflect on my walk from Whitby Abbey 2 Home, I am reminded that it is the steps we take, both physically and metaphorically, that shape the world we live in. Together, let us continue to walk towards a brighter future, where the burden of Alzheimer's disease is lifted, and the power of unity prevails.
Dedicated to Rose Berry (December 1940 - September 2020)