Twenty five determined walkers braved a 4.15am start, a steep climb, high winds and poor visibility to complete a guided sunrise hike up Helvellyn in the Lake District to raise much-needed funds for a Cumbrian charity.
Members of the intrepid group, led by an expert guide from Lancaster-based Adventure Trails, were sponsored to climb to the 3,116ft summit.
And their efforts have raised a total of £3,122, including Gift Aid, for Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS).
“The participants had been training hard and created a real buzz about the event so we weren’t going to let a bit of poor weather stop us!” said qualified Mountain Leader Sean Bolland, who guided the walkers all the way and led the hike following Covid-secure guidance and best practice.
“We set off from Wythburn Chapel car park in the darkness at 4.15am, starting straight up on to the steep climb up Helvellyn. A range of ability meant we split into two socially distant groups as we walked into the pre-dawn.
“Up until half way we managed to get some clear views of the stars, but then the weather kicked in. Buffeted by gusts of 40mph made it much harder going. However, it was absolutely fantastic that everyone managed to make it to the summit. One participant, the stoical Christine Smeaton, a regular CADAS volunteer who is in her 70s, was cheered on by the whole group as she strode the final few yards.”
Among the group were Emma Hanley, 28, of Workington, and her brother, Dean, 31, of Whitehaven, who know people who have been helped by CADAS and wanted to raise money for the charity.
Emma described the walk as ‘fun’, adding: “You get such a feeling of accomplishment getting up there. There were no views from the top but when the clouds broke up as we were coming down the scenery was breath-taking.”
She and Dean are members of the Eat Train Live gym at Workington and eight others from the gym also took part in the hike. Together the members have raised £1,000.
Leigh Williams, Chief Executive Officer of CADAS, said the charity needed £8,000 per week to run its services and that fund-raising had been hit hard in the past six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Money raised from the sunrise hike will go towards the cost of the helpline the charity established in May this year to provide support for people struggling with a wide range of unhealthy, addictive behaviours and towards the vital support services they offer to people struggling with their own, or someone else’s, problematic substance use.
“Given all that has happened in the past two weeks, isolation and social distancing will continue and there will be more financial insecurity,” said Ms Williams. “All of this will impact on people’s mental health and that can lead some to turn to alcohol and drugs to try to cope with stress.
“That makes it even more important we can continue with the helpline.”
Ms Williams explained that CADAS works with children and adults, with people in the midst of addiction and dependency and those in recovery and with those individuals’ parents, carers and other family members. It also does a huge amount of preventative work by running education and awareness sessions in schools and by teaching professionals, such as teachers, social workers and the police, to increase their knowledge of substances that can become addictive and harmful to health.
The Sunrise Helvellyn Hike involved 2,529ft of climbing and took four and a quarter hours to complete.
Ms Williams was in the car park at the end of the hike to cheer everyone in and thank them for all their support. She presented them with a certificate of achievement and a well-earned finisher’s goody bag.
She was full of praise for those who took part. “It was fantastic to see how they got behind the event and supported each other during the walk,” she said.
She said CADAS was hoping to organise a similar event next year in conjunction with Adventure Trails and if anyone was interested in getting their names on the waiting list they could email [email protected]