13 September 2022

Walkers go the extra mile for Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge 2022

Around 800 walkers registered to join our annual Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge on Sunday (11 September). The challenge, which started from Princes Risborough School, saw walkers take on one of four routes that were 6.5, 8, 10 or 18 miles long. Initial indications suggest that almost £52,000 has been raised to fund vital care and support for local people living with life-limiting illness, with further sponsorship still coming in.  

First to leave from the start point were the walkers tackling the longest route – 18 miles from Princes Risborough School to Ivinghoe Beacon. They set off in foggy conditions at around 8.30am, heading in the direction of the first of the peaks, Whiteleaf Cross.  

Among them were Emma Robertson from Hazelmere and Adam Bunce who lives near Wendover. They were waved off by Emma’s children, Lucy and William, who planned to meet them at the end. Emma and Adam relished the challenge of the longer route saying: “We thought about choosing the 10-mile option but decided to really push ourselves and sign up for the full 18 miles. It’s our first time taking part in the event. We have seen it advertised in the past and this year we decided to go for it!”  

Emma Robertson and Adam Bunce

Many of the walkers had personal reasons for taking on the challenge. Including Roger Bryan, from Hughenden Valley, whose wife was supported by Rennie Grove in 2019. He was walking with Madiria Dowden from Cheshunt, to raise funds for Rennie Grove to ensure that other families can receive vital care and support when they need it most.

Madiria Dowden and Roger Bryan

Possibly the biggest group assembling at the start point was ‘Team R Benson’. Staff at the company, which sponsored this year’s event, had signed up in their droves, with a total of 25 walkers joining their team. Before even leaving the start line their online fundraising had raised a total of £2,620. Linda Faulkner, Bid and Marketing Manager at R Benson, had organised the team. She said “It’s a great opportunity for some team building while supporting a fantastic cause. Many of us in the team have seen a loved one supported by hospice care so it’s a cause that we could all really get behind.” 

R Benson 18 mile team

Joining some of the walkers at the start line were their four-legged friends. Dave Foulds from Great Missenden was walking with his friend, Bill, and his spaniel, Henry. After completing the challenge four times in the past, Dave had returned for the spectacular views and the chance to meet others on the route, as well as the opportunity to raise money for a great local cause.  

 Bill Smith, Dave Foulds and Henry the dog

When they reached Whiteleaf Cross, the walkers were met with a rather foggy view, but a very warm welcome from volunteer marshals, Martin and Kate, from St Albans. As longstanding volunteers who both fundraise for Rennie Grove and volunteer their time to drive patients to day services at Grove House, it was their third time marshalling the Chilterns 3 Peaks event. They were on hand to offer directions to walkers and dog biscuits to their canine companions!  

Marshals Martin and Kate Shuttlewood

We caught up with Nick Henson from West Wycombe, who was taking on the 10-mile challenge, at Whiteleaf Cross. After completing the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge in 2016 he had returned, drawn by the views and the chance to support a local charity.

Nick Henson at Whiteleaf Cross

As the fog started to lift, temperatures rose while the walkers pressed on to Coombe Hill. After passing the Chequers Estate, they ascended the peak to the monument at Coombe Hill, which provided the perfect setting for a quick break to enjoy the view, refuel with a snack and to take a picturesque selfie.  

Hazelmere Runners stop for a photo at Coombe Hill

Taking advantage of the opportunity to stop were Rhys Page, Sara Page and Meg Knight – three generations who were taking on the three peaks together. Sara and Rhys had travelled from Surrey to join the challenge with her mother, Meg, who lives in High Wycombe and had completed it a few times in the past. They were enjoying the challenge, the route and the weather as it began to brighten up.  

Rhys Sara and Meg at Coombe Hill

Joining them at the top of the second peak was Jo Swerling who has supported Rennie Grove for a number of years after her father, Graham, was cared for by our Hospice at Home nurses before he died. She said “Rennie Grove is very close to my heart. I have organised fundraising events in the past but I have never walked this far to fundraise. I’m enjoying the day and finding it a real challenge. I signed up for the 18-mile route because I’m determined to do it!” 

Jo Swerling cropped

While those on the longer routes pressed on towards Tring and Ivinghoe Beacon, back at Princes Risborough School, 6.5 and 8-mile walkers were arriving back to complete the route and collect their medals.   

People started to arrive at Ivinghoe Beacon about five hours after the first walkers had left. At the finish line, Emma Kitley from Harpenden said: 

“It was my second year taking part in the Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge. I walked the 10-mile route and it was great to take in all three peaks, but with the bus ride in the middle. I loved it and hope to do the full route next year. I love long distance walking, especially for a great cause like this.”  

Emma from Harpenden (1)

Completing the 18-mile route was Jillian Currie from Aylesbury who had walked in memory of her mum, Jill. She said:  

“I signed up for the challenge while my mum was being cared for by Rennie Grove’s nurses earlier this summer. She was really pleased that I was taking on the walk to fundraise for Rennie Grove.  

“She sadly died at the end of August which made today even more poignant. On the day she died I reminded her that I had this walk booked and she asked me to say hello to her. I wrote ‘Hello Mum’ on my t-shirt for the walk and thought of her the entire way.” 

Jillian Currie

Tracey Hancock, Director of Fundraising at Rennie Grove Hospice Care, said:  

“It was wonderful to see so many people out walking and supporting this event, after a couple of years of disruption caused by the pandemic. It really is a team effort and it wouldn’t be the success that it is without our wonderful sponsors, Origin Doors and Windows and R Benson; Arriva buses, whose staff generously volunteered to transport walkers back to their cars at Princes Risborough School; all the dedicated volunteers and marshals who direct people on the day and, of course, the walkers who take on the challenge. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for helping us to raise vital funds to support local people with life-limiting illness.” 

Our next challenge event this autumn is the Herts 10k, which takes place in Harpenden on Sunday 9 October. To find out more or to sign up, click here