Three generations of Ridgway family battle Covid, blisters and record-breaking temperatures for Rugby charity

Three generations of the Ridgway family battled the elements to complete an 87 mile walk to help a Rugby charity.

Sophie and Jan checking the trig point on Whiteleaf Hill near Princes Risborough.
Sophie and Jan checking the trig point on Whiteleaf Hill near Princes Risborough.

Jan Ridgway was joined by daughter Sarah and granddaughter Sophie for the gruelling 87 mile Ridgeway Walk.

She didn’t let her two replacement knees put her off the challenge, which had to be put on hold for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Jan said: “Then, as I found myself president of the Inner Wheel Club of Rugby 2022-23, it seemed an ideal time to go ahead and raise funds for my chosen charity ‘Rugby New Directions’.

Sophie and Sarah by the Thames near Goring.

“This wonderful local charity provides supported living for people with learning disabilities in several residences within our

community.”

The ladies started training for the walk, which stretches from Overton Hill near Avebury, Wiltshire, to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire.

“As ‘Team Ridgway’, three generations of Ridgways were walking ‘The Ridgeway,” added Jan.

“We set off from Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire on July 6 to walk 87 miles to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire allowing ourselves 11 days walking and one rest day.

"With two replacement knees and considerably more years under my belt I was definitely the weakest link!”

The walkers completed the trek on July 17 in a heatwave that was building up to record temperatures in the UK.

Jan said: “It was a wonderful experience but not everything went according to plan.

“On day one Sarah tested positive for Covid and had to return home; thankfully she was able to re-join us on day six. Then Sophie produced some evil-looking blisters on both feet.”

After a sweltering day three and covering 12.5 miles, Jan succumbed to heat exhaustion and was unable to walk on day four.

She added: “Thanks to my son-in-law Richard, who came all the way from Kent to join Sophie, the walk was able to continue.

“As the temperatures climbed, we decided to send the backpacks to our next destination by taxi each day. On one occasion they went missing. Fortunately, they turned up in our host’s shed!”

The team received support from Jan’s brother and sister-in-law.

Jan went on: “Paul and Trish moved our bags on when overnight stays were too far from the trail for exhausted walkers to contemplate and dropped us back in the right place the following day.”

Sarah regularly reminded her family that ‘teamwork makes the dream work’.

“We managed to enjoy every day’s stunning scenery, glorious

wildflowers, butterflies and birds,” Jan said.

"We met lots of interesting people and visited quaint, unspoiled

villages, the likes of which I thought had ceased to exist.

“As the temperatures increased so did our mileage covered, and we reached the summit of Ivinghoe Beacon accompanied by close family members who had come to retrieve their loved ones and take them home.”

They celebrated in style with a bottle of fizz - and an ice cream.

Jan said: “Unbelievably, and in spite of everything, we covered 107 miles in 11 days and so far, we have raised over £1,600 for Rugby New Directions.

“We’d all like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported us and who gave a donation, it made it all worthwhile.”

To donate to the walkers, visit https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/21089