RidgeWalk competition winner

Vicky Welsh is gearing up to tackle the Ridgewalk – 52 miles in 24 hours along the stunning Ridgeway National Trail – in memory of her son Ben. In this guest blog Vicky describes her preparation for the challenge and how she’s using the walk to raise money for Sense, a charity for people living with complex disabilities.

Bring it on!!  Three cheeky words, easy to write from the comfort of home, but am I really up for the challenge that lies behind?

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Having recently celebrated my half century I’m drawn to the thought of the Ridgeway escarpment and the gauntlet thrown down by Sense to complete this diverse and beautiful fifty-two mile route within twenty-four hours.  One (very) long uninterrupted walk through history. After all isn’t stamina supposed to increase with age?

Thirteen years ago I was struggling to walk anywhere without pain – psoriatic arthritis was suspected.  It was a tough time, physically and mentally, especially with three young children to look after.  Plus my husband and I had still not fully come to terms with the death of our second child, Ben, who died some years previously at just four weeks old from cytomegalovirus.  

Gradually my body healed and I discovered Nordic walking.  It has changed my life, revealed the beauty of the countryside around me and the restorative power of nature.  It has even given me a new business – I set up Bristol Nordic Walking in 2010 and we’re now a club of over 400.

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A few years ago a group of us walked the 100 mile Cotswold Way in four days.  No pain, no blisters, just jubilation.  The RidgeWalk would be the perfect next step - and we recently got a dog, a wonderful springer spaniel called Alfie (left).  I couldn’t think of a more eager or joyful training companion to accompany me through the hours upon hours of training walks (in all weathers) that I know lie ahead.

Had Ben lived he would have faced multiple disabilities and we would have relied heavily on the support of organisations like Sense.  Striding the RidgeWalk seems a fitting way to remember him and to raise money and awareness for this amazing charity that works to make sure that no one with complex disabilities is isolated, left out or unable to fulfil their potential.  

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Plus I have persuaded my cappuccino-loving, welly-wearing friend (right) to ditch the wellies, buy some proper walking boots, and embrace the RidgeWalk challenge with me. I’m hoping we will keep each other motivated when the going gets tough. She can educate me about the latest coffee trends and I can enlighten her about Nordic walking."

If you’d like to join Vicky on the ultimate walking challenge of 2019, you can sign up here And get  a massive 50% off your registration fee when you use the code SAVE50