Every year, our parent pub company New Dawn Pubs plans an annual charity challenge in order to raise much-needed awareness and funds for a local charity. So, this September, on what turned out to be the hottest days of the year, a group of 21 intrepid walkers, 2 support drivers, and 2 dogs embarked on an incredible journey to circumnavigate the Isle of Wight on foot, covering a staggering 103km over three days.
This inspiring challenge was undertaken to raise funds for two worthy charities. A local charity, which also happens to be our sister pub, The Gomshall Mill’s main supporting charity – Cherry Trees; a children’s charity located in Guildford that offers respite to families, and adventures for children with disabilities. And, due to the current climate, we felt it important to also support a national charity whose focus is on working tirelessly to end fuel poverty in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: National Energy Action. The charity offers advice and support to fuel-poor households, as well as advocating for policy and regulation to protect the most vulnerable households.
The diverse group of walkers represented four different companies within the New Dawn Pubs family, including Insta Group, The Barley Mow Pub, and 1st Call Trees, demonstrating the strong sense of community and shared purpose that binds us together.
Day one kicked off with a ferry ride from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, where the group wasted no time and set off straight from the boat. They covered an impressive 19.5 miles on the first day, starting at East Cowes and finishing at Sandown, very much setting the tone, and pace, for the rest of the challenge.
Day two presented the toughest terrain, with a steep hill to conquer right from the start, a few wrong turns, followed by five hours of cliff walking with no shade or protection from the overwhelming heat. The group, who had splintered out at various paces, persevered through 28 miles of challenging trails, their determination fuelled by the 2.5 hour pit-stops to fill up on much needed water, electrolytes and calories, teamed with desperately needed re-applying of plasters, and taping; plus, of course the knowledge that they were making a huge difference to others. The day ended on a high note with a refreshing swim in the ocean, a much welcomed reward for their hard work, aching muscles, and sore feet. This was the support drivers’ busiest day, having to rescue various members of the group who were showing signs of heat stroke.
Day three brought the final stretch of the journey, with 17.5 miles to complete the challenge. Despite blistered sore feet and tired legs, the walkers pushed through passing hundreds of holiday-makers who were enjoying relaxing days at the beach over refreshing drinks, and cooling off in the sea, their spirits buoyed by the camaraderie and steely-focus on the finish line, which at many times felt like a mirage, with the end-point never quite coming into view!
The group crossed the finish line with the first finishing a few hours ahead of the final finishers. Tears of jubilation and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride were felt at the finish line, having completed a remarkable feat of endurance. In all, the team raised over £17,000 which will be evenly split across our two chosen charities. Their journey exemplified the spirit of community, bonding, resilience, and dedication; which are values that lay at the heart of our pub family.
We applaud the incredible efforts of all the walkers who participated in this challenge, and we encourage everyone to do a little bit of good for a local charity, should they be able to, the feels of giving back to our community is wonderful.