Hello and welcome to my blog. If you’re a newcomer, pull up a chair and come on in, there’s plenty of room, unlike inside the mini-van that took five of Shoreham Fort’s Friends off to start their
gruelling 50 mile sponsored walk from Fort Nelson, Fareham, to Shoreham Fort.
Packed inside are Craig Searle, Hayley Cropp, Tony Gilfrin, Andy Vincent, Gary Baines, Julie Searle and Phil Penfold.
Craig had spent the preceeding ten months meticulously planning the route which would take in Forts Southwick, Widley, Purbrook, and Farlington Redoubt. Called the Seven Forts Challenge, the aim was to complete the route in 24 hours.
After a great send off at Fort Nelson, they set off at 10.50 a.m. on 24th
For the first mile, the Trafalgar Drummer accompanied them, then it was heads down.
All that marked them out from other members of the public was their Friends of Shoreham Fort hoodies, and Tony Gilfrin’s crocodile onesy; worn to celebrate the fact that they had almost reached their target of raising £1857, the amount representing the year in which the Fort was built. Shadowed by Phil and Julie in the support bus, they made great progress, but the walk along the shingle beach from Bognor to Littlehampton, took its toll. By the time they had reached Littlehampton Fort, Gary had injured his knee, Hayley her back, and Craig his calf muscles.
By 4.00 a.m they had reached Ferring. Then the rain set in. Tired, wet and injured, the support team fought their own exhaustion to lift the walker’s spirits. Meantime, back at home, Sharon Penfold who was posting their progress on the Friend’s Facebook page said, “I could just tell that morale was going through the floor.”
Nevertheless they trudged on, supporting each other and taking strength from friends and family who cheered them on.
They finally arrived at Shoreham Fort at 8.20 a.m. They had completed the route in 22 hours. “ I never in a million years thought I would do it. It’s an amazing feeling,” said Hayley.
For the next few days, the walkers nursed their injuries, tended their blisters, and slowly re-gained the use of their legs.
They are still trying to raise their target of £1857, and donations can be made in person at one of the Fort’s volunteer days or online.