In 2017 I took on several different challenges to raise money for Parkinson’s UK. These included the Alternate Three Peaks Challenge – climbing the equivalent height of the three highest mountains in the world 85,500 feet. The Welsh Three Peaks – Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan in 24 hours.
A lot of hard work and time went into these challenges plus a few others and a lot of money was raised. However, there was a downside, and this was the fact that I was walking purely to achieve a goal and complete a challenge.
The fun had gone from my walking. I wanted to return to walking for pleasure, exploring my beloved South Downs and teaching map reading to anyone who would listen! So, I vowed never to set myself a challenge ever again!
2018 was a relatively quiet walking year due to serious health issues which, thankfully, cleared by the end of the year. However, at the beginning of September 2018 I got involved with a Mental Health campaign. I suffered from PTSD and have always found the outdoors helped me get through the bad days. I was asked to put a picture up on Instagram that reflected how I coped. What I put up was a picture of me hugging a Trig Pillar.
This one picture led to me hugging every Trig Pillar I visited and along with my ‘trademark’ bandanas, dark glasses and #HugATrig hashtag.
Move on to the start of 2019 and my new found passion for hugging Trig Pillars continued and the pictures appeared on Instagram on an almost weekly basis. It was however, by the beginning of May that a thought came to me and I started totalling up the metres climbed to reach them all.
The thought was triggered by seeing photos of people online who were taking part in the Everest Anywhere challenge. This is an annual challenge to climb the equivalent height of Everest in the year. I realised that by the end of June I would could have climbed the height of Everest purely in the pursuit of Trig Pillars.
Suddenly, without even planning too or even wanting too, I had set myself a challenge to complete 8848m of climb to HugATrig by the end of June.
Which conveniently brings me to this past weekend when I finally achieved my unexpected challenge and completed 8848m walking to Trig Pillars just so I could give them a hug and feel the love.
So which was my last Trig Pillar? Well it could only be one – the one where it all started in September last year West Harting Down Trig. It was nice and somewhat eerie to return here – it almost felt like a homecoming. Unfortunately, it also reminded why I hate challenges – the anti-climax that it was over, even if was not intended.
So the Statistics for those who care:
- 47 Trig Pillars
- 5 months & 16 days
- All of them, except for two, were in the South Downs National Park or close surrounds (Surrey Hills AONB). The exceptions were one in Wales and one in Yorkshire.
So why have I mentioned all of this? Simple –
Many of the older people I am actively encouraging to get outdoors and walk are often discouraged when they see pictures of walkers completing the National Three Peaks or cycling from Lands’ End to John O’Groats. They have this belief, albeit misguided, that challenges are only for the super fit and young.
A challenge is anything you want it to be. It could be to walk just one mile – see Mandi’s One Mile Challenge. It could be as simple as having a walk a week for a year or six months. Maybe like me you don’t want a challenge to encourage you to walk, but I bet very soon you will start to realise – if I do one more hill, I will have achieved this or that!
Oh, and how do I overcome the anti-climax? Simple – I will continue hugging Trig Pillars just because they are there and look lonely!
If you want hints and advise on getting outside regardless of your capability, then please contact me. You never know I could change your life forever!
And finally – a big shout out to all by sponsors and supporters: