Starting on August 28th, I will be tramping (walking and wild camping) the entirety of the 96 mile long West Highland Way, including a detour to the top of Ben Nevis, over 10 days, in support of Child Poverty Action Group. CPAG works to eliminate poverty by developing and campaigning for policy solutions. Their work is not obviously visible. But their impact is profound. Your donation will help support lasting change.
My fundraising target is 2022, the year the Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that over five million children will live in relative income poverty. Let's smash that goal. Let's change that projection.
Want to sponsor me by the mile? 1 mile = £21.07.
tramping (NZ) / noun [mass noun]
The recreational activity of going for long-distance walks in rough country.
‘ten days of tramping means you have to think seriously about each item you carry’
I started tramping before I knew what tramping was. After finishing a six week run of a play in 2016 I decided I needed a holiday. The only problem was I couldn’t decide where to go or what to do. I had saved a bit of money but Google informed me I hadn’t saved enough. A likely-to-be-delayed flight to a mediocre hotel in a tourist hotspot wasn’t quite the escape I had in mind. And then I had a realisation. I realised I was a grown-up. I realised I could do what I wanted.
I’ve always loved the idea of sleeping in a tent. But never the idea of “camping”. As a child I would abandon my bedroom and spend whole summers under canvas (in the garden). But I would always shudder at tales of camping holidays. Enclosures of caravans, dedicated facilities…nope. I wanted adventure. An expedition! A quest to cast the ring back into the fiery chasm from whence it came!
The same thought occurred to me as I sat staring at a list of budget airlines in 2016. I remembered that I lived in a country with landscapes that inspired an artistic movement. Landscapes I had never seen. So I made a decision. I would use my holiday money to buy really good camping gear. I would go to the Lake District. I would walk where I wanted. I would sleep where I wanted. I would go on an adventure.
Those four days count among the best days of my life. No exaggeration. When I was in hospital later that year, enduring the agony of a ruptured appendix, I would think back to those moments to calm myself. On the second day of my trek I actually cried. Big, fat, genuine tears of joy. Which was quite an achievement given that I was massively dehydrated. (I had run out of water. A mistake I’ve thankfully yet to repeat.) The sense of freedom, the beauty of the landscapes, it was overwhelming. Smiling simply wasn’t enough. I later discussed the trip with a mate who grew up in New Zealand; I discovered that I had been tramping.
I have since been on numerous wild camping adventures. It’s become a part of who I am. And my ambition has grown. The state of disconnected bliss I achieve after a few nights in the wild is unparalleled. It is addictive. I want to go deeper. I want more.
This summer I didn’t even bother to look at flights. I looked to Scotland and discovered the West Highland Way, a 96 mile route connecting Milngavie (north of Glasgow) to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands; Scotland's original Great Trail. I plan to walk the whole thing. Start to finish. Over 10 days. To save on weight, I’ll be ditching my tent in favour of a bivy bag (bivouac). And I’m going to throw in a little detour as well; I’m going to summit Ben Nevis.
I will be doing all of this in support of the charity that I am an ambassador for: Child Poverty Action Group.
I became an ambassador for CPAG in 2013 after attending an event at the House of Lords. Until that evening I had a very limited understanding of child poverty. I had no idea that one in four children in the UK grows up in poverty. I had no idea that families with two working parents could fall below the poverty line. I also had no idea that charities weren't all frontline organisations.
CPAG works to eliminate poverty by developing policy solutions. Their work is not obviously visible. But their impact is profound.
Recently, CPAG successfully led lobbying by a coalition of charities to secure £850m for childcare help in Universal Credit for low income families. They have successfully challenged the Government’s plans to scrap funding for local welfare assistance schemes. They also won a legal challenge to the impact of the Bedroom Tax on families with severely disabled children.
Your donation will not only support CPAG to help those enduring hardship, it will fund lasting change. Fuelled by their vision of a poverty free society, they work towards ensuring every child has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. I am very proud to be an ambassador.
If you would like to stay up to date with this adventure, I will be documenting it via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I may also write something along the way. Who knows! Adventure awaits…
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings