WITH breath-taking panoramas of rolling hills, picturesque rivers and sweeping moors greeting the eyes at every turn, the Yorkshire Dales have long been a magnet for ramblers from right around the world.
Now, walkers can not only enjoy some of the country’s most spectacular scenery but push themselves to their mental and physical limits while raising money for a good cause.
Oxfam’s Trailtrekker 2012 gives hikers the chance to walk 100km non-stop through England’s second largest national park. This unique challenge, which starts on May 26 next year, is officially launched today in partnership with The Yorkshire Post.
Aching limbs, horrendous blisters, sleep deprivation and inclement weather are guaranteed but so is an emotional, life-changing and incredibly rewarding experience, the organisers say.
Trailtrekker goes from strength to strength and 2012 is expected to be another record-breaking event. This year, 648 trekkers in 167 teams raised £380,000 for Oxfam to tackle poverty around the world.
They hope for double the number of teams next year and to raise nearly £1m.
Oxfam’s James Terry said: “This event really is an epic adventure which offers a once in a lifetime chance for people from all walks of life to achieve something amazing in one of the most famous and beautiful settings in the country.
“Although the route is challenging and requires real determination, the sense of personal achievement on completion is unbeatable.
“We hope that next year’s event can beat our record breaking success this year, with over 645 trekkers taking part and raising an incredible £380,000 for Oxfam’s work helping overcome poverty and injustice around the world.”
The epic walk, which has been brought forward from its usual Bank Holiday slot to avoid clashing with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, includes bronze and silver finishing lines for the second time.
The bronze finish line is at 40km and the silver line at 65km for those who do not wish to tackle the full 100km course.
The route starts and finishes in Skipton then, heading north-west from the town, walkers will trace the route of the Bradford Canal and slowly climb to Malham.
Joining the Pennine Way, they cross Fountains Fell and then the 694m peak of Penyghent.
Those going for the silver and gold awards then push further north to Cam Fell before looping back south through Langstrothdale.
As they continue through the night, walkers aiming for the gold award pass through Buckden and work their way south back to Skipton over Malham Moor.
Each team of four should set their target times according to their expertise with hiking and the Yorkshire Moors terrain.
However, those with a more competitive streak may wish to know the course record is 13 hours and 26 minutes – set by the Sydney STARS team in 2009.
Entrants agree on one thing – that the Trailtrekker walk can be a life-changing experience.
Laura Mitford, leader of the “Three and a Half Pints” team in 2011, said: “Trailtrekker was a fabulous experience, one I won’t forget.
“I think the organisation of the event, both on the day and in the lead-up was fantastic, and it was a pleasure to be involved in such an amazing event.”
Anne Harrison, of the “You’ll Never Walk Alone” team, added: “I was unsure about whether I’d have the stamina to complete the walk but with great team spirit from walkers and our support crew and encouragement from the volunteers I was spurred on to the end. It was a very emotional experience.”
Hikers must compete in teams of four and collect at least £1,400 in sponsorship. Oxfam hope 300 teams will take part.
The entry fee is £180, but a discount of £60 for team entering before December 16 and £30 before January 17.
Details have been posted online – at www.oxfam.org.uk/trailtrekker.
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