Rachel took on a 96-mile trek across Scotland to raise awareness of diabetes. It wasn't for the faint-hearted.
With a little help from my friends - Rachel, left, with her fellow walkers
Diabetes UK is a charity very close to my heart. My dad is a sufferer and is very lucky to be able to monitor and manage his condition so that he can lead a relatively normal lifestyle. I know that others are not so lucky. I feel that diabetes is often misunderstood and not a lot is known about it. I wanted to do something that would raise awareness of it as well as collecting as much money as possible.
My friends, Damien, Clare, Scott, Lee and I, decided to do something together but to raise money for our own charities that were personal to us. Our chosen challenge was to walk the West Highland Way in Scotland, a total of 96 miles.
Once we’d decided what challenge to take on, myself and my friends set out to raise as much money and awareness as possible.
My fundraising began in October 2014. My very generous friend Jules allowed me to take over her house and invite all my friends and family round. I had an afternoon of selling cupcakes, vintage clothing, playing party games such as name the bear, tombola’s, raffles, raising a total of over £500 just on one day.
Over the next few months, my friends and I started training for this challenge. Clare and I started our 17-mile walks each week. (At the time, it seemed gruelling but seem like nothing in comparison now). Damien and I did some training in the Peak District, rock scrambling and hiking to break in our gear.
We also held a Carboot sale to raise a little bit extra. Nearer the time, we held a charity night at The Yeoman of England Pub in Wootton for friends and family.
On Sunday 24 May, we embarked on our epic journey. The West Highland Way is Scotland’s first and most popular long distance route. It runs from Milngavie, on the northern outskirts of Glasgow to the capital of the West Highlands, Fort William and the foot of Ben Nevis. The route passes through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes; by loch and mountain, over moorland and along forest paths. Though this sounds idyllic, it is not for the faint hearted. I had never done anything like this before, so for me, it was a real challenge.
It took us eight days battling through blistering sun, torrential rain, gale force winds, sleet, hail and even flooding to complete the distance, (the equivalent of travelling from Towcester to Brighton seafront), carrying our heavy expedition packs and camping along the way. The whole experience was draining both mentally and physically. The weather most certainly did not help our journey. We soldiered on, powering through the pain, the blisters and the tears to complete the challenge on Sunday 31 May. I raised a grand total of £1,520.
I would like to thank all of the extremely generous people who donated money, raffle prizes, and their support to this very worthwhile charity. I hope you know that my medal belongs to each and every one of you.