The Mindstep Trekkers take on Offa’s Dyke in memory of Max Davies
On July 25th I set off on a very personal fundraising challenge for the Mindstep Foundation which we established in memory of our beautiful son Maxwell, who took his own life at just 22 years of age after suffering from clinical depression.
Three years on and eight very good friends and I are on a pilgrimage to trek the 177 miles of Offa’s Dyke national trail, walking the length of Wales from Prestatyn to Chepstow – to raise awareness and funds for a very necessary cause.
The Mindstep Foundation will donate all funds raised to a wellbeing centre at St Alban’s Catholic School in Pontypool, South Wales, where Max was a volunteer teacher during the summer term before he died.
The school is desperate to establish its “Sanctuary” intervention centre and gymnasium. The Sanctuary will provide support for hundreds of young pupils, many of whom face daily challenges that many of us would find it difficult to comprehend.
When we lost Max, we started to look at the statistics: over 80 young men under 27 years of take their own lives every week in England and Wales – 11 every day – over 4000 a year. We were driven to try and make a difference.
We established the Mindstep Foundation to help raise awareness and we are working with the Suicide Research Prevention Faculty at University of Glasgow to help us find a solution and to ensure that no one suffers the loss and pain that we have with Max’s passing.
I am looking forward to the trek with an amazing bunch of guys. It will be a very tough challenge but we will prevail together and enjoy the challenge.
Max will be with us, on our right shoulders, every step of the way…..laughing, joking , spurring us on….. We aim to walk 20 plus miles a day and get to Hay on Wye at the end of the first week and then undertake the rest of the walk as time allows over the summer.
Please donate irresponsibly and support our cause with as much spare cash as you can muster – the wellbeing of all our young people is crucial to their future mental health and survival. Thank you.
Day One – July 25
Today was the start of our incredible journey across the beautiful country of Wales, where we set out to conquer this incredible feat of fitness and exploration. We started out all the way down in Agincourt Square, Monmouth, before boarding the bus across country to the quaint town of Bodfari where the challenge officially began.
We trekked up to Prestatyn along high hills all the way down to the calm coasts; we all remained in high spirits with great tunes and treats along the way and are all pumped up ready for what lies ahead. We managed a solid 12+miles with just under 100 more to go along the rest of the week.
Day 2 – July 26 – conquest continues
It was a brilliant day today. Beautiful weather, high spirits and after a great night’s rest the night before, we were full of energy. After a quick stop to pick up breakfast sandwiches and meal deals for lunch we set off from Bodfari once more, this time heading in the opposite direction towards Llandegla.
Nothing could have prepared us for the challenges ahead. We started our travel at 7:40 AM when we began our first ascent, travelling upwards of 1500 feet over the first peak. That was only the initial first 4 miles of the trip!
The trail took us back down to the valley only to then send us up again another 1000+ feet. We followed along the brows of the nearby hills where we came across a Bronze Age dig site 2 miles later which was followed up by a straight descent all the way back down the other side.
Then we faced the biggest challenge: a 1818 foot climb up the steepest portion of our journey and a continuous 4 mile climb to the Jubilee Tower. We made great progress, arriving at the remains of the structure just before lunch. We settled down, admired the views and marvelled at the astounding feat we had accomplished.
After a brief lunch, we set off to finish the final 10 miles. It was a slow descent down, walking up, over and around a total of 6 more hills, crossing fields and forest in the scorching sun. Each hill was just as hard as the last, we pushed forth and finally made it to the end of our desired journey. 20 miles done today and 34 in total.
We are now cooling off with a cold beverage and showers and tending to our walking wounds.
The fundraising today has also been exceptionally good, waking up to £1200 of online donations and completing the journey with an incredible £3800. We’d like to thank you all for your love and support and we look forward to updating you all soon.
Day 3 – Castle to Castle – July 27
Day 3 woke us in the comfortable confines of Ruthin Castle, where a quick breakfast bap and a bus ride later we were on our way to our last end point. With the wonderful weather on our side, we made great haste as we set off from Llandegla towards our 20 mile end goal of Craignant.
After a steady incline to the brows of the nearby hills, we were faced with a fairly flat climb, which was a blessing for the longest time, allowing our torn tattered feet to recover and not suffer much more injury. Walking along a slabbed path through with the crisp cool air flowing through our lungs we marched on towards world’s end, crossing the ford and facing the first real challenge of the day: a 6.5 mile non-stop trek to Trefor, our halfway point and eating place for lunch.
Walking along a slim goat path along the beautiful slate mountains, sharp stone chippings under our feet dealt us some more damage. After a quick pitstop to heal the wounds, we were off again then following down country lanes to the canal, leading us on to Trefor.
We arrived at Trefor and, just as soon, the rain followed overhead. Resting for 45 mins and enjoying a lunch of fish and chips, we began marching on again towards our final goal. The final 10 miles was a tremendous effort, steep inclines with even steeper declines, winding rolling hills and all along tight skinny, slanted paths. As much as yesterday was an incredible feat of fitness, in the condition we were in, the following day was certainly a challenge and it was starting to show.
With some support from one another and a light sprinkle of refreshing rain we pulled through and faced these great obstacles, making it to Craignant.
We celebrated our momentous effort and the crossing of the 50 mile mark of our trek at our hotel in Chirk where we were joined by 2 more valiant Trekkers. The battle with our blisters is halted for another night’s rest and relaxation.
Our goals are still growing and by day’s end we had received £5285, crossing over the 35% mark on our goal. Thank you for everything you all have contributed so far and please continue to contribute!
Lloyd Davies is Operations Director of the Conveyancing Association and MD of Convey Law