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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Ratcliffe

All In A Good Cause: Mel & Ian's Charity Trek Around Anglesey

It’s been three weeks now since my husband Ian and I returned home following our epic trek around the Anglesey coast path in memory of and to mark the first anniversary of the passing of my lovely dad Norm. Throughout his life, dad always had a great love of nature and the outdoors, especially getting out in the hills. Many a happy weekend was spent roaming the mountains in The Lake District or Wales or trekking up hill and down dale in the Peak District of which I have so many fond memories. It was these precious memories that first inspired us both to undertake a spot of fundraising for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice in Blurton, Stoke on Trent, where dad spent the last two weeks of his life. The care Dad received during his stay was second to none and we thought it would be a lovely idea to help raise funds for the hospice which is very much reliant on public donations and fundraising. We wanted to do our bit to give something back and to help the wonderful team continue to help support and care for those individuals facing life threatening illness and their families. Families like ours. With the decision made Ian quickly suggested that we embark on a bit of a challenge… a short stroll around the Anglesey coast path. Just a mere 130 miles (which turned out to be 145 miles) over 11 days! Challenge accepted! And just like that a fundraising target of £2000 was set and our training and a great deal of planning commenced.

On Sunday 16th April donning our brightly coloured Dougie Mac t shirts we set off from Beaumaris laden with our heavy rucksacks, a little trepidation yet much excitement for the journey that lay ahead. Eleven days (11 stages) exploring the ‘blessed’ isle and what a journey it turned out to be. Despite the ‘variable’ weather forecast and a few light showers on the first two legs, the rain held off during the days and downpours came and went during night time hours. All in all, perfect walking conditions. I had felt nervous and a little hesitant about the walk from the start, naturally dad had instilled in me a love of walking, but Ian and I had never walked such a distance consistently over 11 days. However, we both had steely determination and the reasons for completing the walk were never far from the front of our minds. It was also a deeply emotional time especially on legs 2 and 3 that celebrated Dads Birthday one day and the first anniversary of his passing the next. As we started to clock up our miles though, the focus on those difficult times ‘shifted’ to happy memories as we passed through places dad loved and happy times spent on family holidays on Anglesey with a deep feeling of gratitude to such a wonderful man. What better way to celebrate dad’s life? With all this in mind, we immersed ourselves into enjoying the experience fully. And on the days where things felt too much we remembered the reasons we were there. ‘It’s all in a good cause’.

Exploring Anglesey via the coast path was a remarkable experience. The path is well marked and the scenery so diverse and breathtakingly beautiful. Each day brought something new to take in. Some days the path would veer inland from the coast along winding country lanes lined with hedgerows bursting with flora and fauna, other legs took us through woodland, across farmland full of new born lambs and around estuaries. Back on the coast, we were almost fooled that we were abroad – ‘warm sunshine, blue skies, crystal blue bays, white sandy beaches, and a ‘hazy’ Snowdonia on the distant mainland. Towards the north of the island the landscape became more rugged, wild and remote. The landscape ever changing. With so much to see and take in, the beauty of the island and its abundant wildlife was indeed a welcome distraction, taking the focus off the many miles being trodden daily. Some days the walking was easier with very little in the way of ascent, on others it was constant up hill and down dale with the phrase ‘are we nearly there yet’ coming to mind. We didn’t need to refer to the guide book to ascertain how far we’d covered as the sore feet and aching limbs were a fine indicator, not forgetting the odd blister – thank goodness for blister balm! On particularly long days it was a relief to see our destination appear on the distant headland knowing that recovery and refuel time was ‘just around the corner’, not forgetting a good night’s sleep before heading out early again next morn.

The highlights of our adventure certainly overshadowed any difficult days. My glee at seeing porpoise swimming in the sea off Point Lynas was one of many memorable moments as was family and friends arriving to join us on route for a leg or two. Being chased by a herd of cows – well that’s another story and bitterly cold nights camping, not so enjoyable, but these only added to an unforgettable experience. The greatest highlight of all? People’s kindness and generosity. To all who very kindly donated, sent messages of encouragement and support or stopped to chat along the way, thank you. We hit our £2000 target whilst on the walk. In fact, we smashed it and the total now stands at just over £4000 including gift aid. This will make such a huge difference. Would we do it all again? In a heartbeat.

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