Are you free for 12 days next February?

The family of fundraising

I am pretty fit already but to get ready for the ‘climbing’ bit I thought I’d better
practice on a few hills close to home. The steeper the better and as I teach at Box
Hill School 3 or 4 times a week what could be better than ‘running’ up Box Hill
itself ‘after school’.

Stepping stones over the water, to cross over for the walk up Box Hill

Though I try and vary the route, to prevent boredom, I generally go straight up from
the ‘Stepping stones’ Car Park. As the name suggest the River Mole is at the bottom
with concrete stepping stones as a means of crossing it. This in itself has added
another hazard to overcome.

Most people with Parkinson’s have varying degrees of what they call ‘postural instability’. So try to cross wet, slippery stepping stones when one has difficulty balancing is a new challenge. The water looks deep….and cold.

It takes me about 45 minutes to get to the top (the viewpoint), some 570 ft and 290
steps, and back again. I do say that I am getting faster and it is easier each time I
ascend. I walk using two trekking poles. This is to help me get used to using them.
With Parkinson’s I find they greatly help my stride. I also wear my faithful walking
boots so that my feet are once again used to wearing them (I have done a lot of long
distance walking in them e.g. The Pennine Way).

view of Box Hill and surrounding countryside

Thus far I have met few walkers on my climbs. Maybe it is too late in the
afternoon, or during a working day, or the wrong route? At the view-point, however
there are always a few hardy walkers out and about admiring the view (plus the
occasional ‘Darby & Joan’ coach outing to ‘viewpoints of surrey’).

Anyone wearing the right gear and toting a rucksack usually gets questioned by me.
The viewpoint is on the North Downs’ Way, and having spent 5 days walking that
route, I naturally presume that anyone in full walking regalia is doing the same. The
usual response is ‘no, I’m training for this charity or that cause on this route or that
trek’. This unfortunately means that I am not unique and that there are a huge raft of
people out there walking/climbing/trekking for charity!

We all exchange notes, training schedules, training routes, amounts raised and
challenges to be conquered. Thus far there have been treks to the Himalayas, Andes,
Great Wall of China, South Africa …..and of course Kilimanjaro for charities ranging
from ‘Help for Hero’s’, ‘Parkinson’s UK’, ‘Great Ormond Street’ to name but a few.
It does give one a warm ‘I am not alone’ feeling.

Another point is that since I decided on this trek I am inundated by people saying they
have done it or know someone who has. One of my neighbours did it 20 years ago
along with Mount Kenya and as part of his honeymoon took his newly wedded wife
up Mount Meru. I am also amazed by the numbers who are climbing Kili between
now and next year. 3 this October and 2 the week after our ascent.

On a downside, though, I have met more potential climbers who had mooted their
eagerness to participate and (a) have never been heard of again or (b) jumped in with
both feet and then withdrawn. Still there are 4 places up for grabs on our trip….

so if you’re free for 12 days next February……?


Photos with thanks to Surrey Dweller on Flickr

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