Published: 17 October 2023

 A Powys couple has raised more than £2,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance by completing a 247-mile sponsored walk.

Richard and Julie Siddons, of Llanidloes, decided to challenge themselves to take on the Pennine Journey and not only raise funds for the lifesaving charity, but to tick off a series of walks on Richard’s wish list.

Richard, 62 and Julie, 59, along with their dog Finn, camped in their motorhome and walked consecutively for 18 days, while taking in some of the area’s historic and breathtaking sites.

Starting in the market town of Settle in North Yorkshire, the couple walked along the eastern side of the Pennines through the Yorkshire Dales taking in stretches of County Durham before arriving at the historic Hadrian’s Wall.

They followed the landmark for a further 21 miles before heading down the western side of the Pennines, travelling down the Eden Valley and then skirting the Howgill Fells before arriving back in Settle.

Richard, who works part time as a forester, said it was one of many routes he was interested in walking.

The father-of-two said: “As a youngster I used to do a lot of long distances walks and camping, but I hadn’t walked in decades. Around six years ago, Julie suggested I started walking again and fulfil some of the walks that I was always taking to her about. 

“We completed the Pennine Way in 2020 and this time around we chose the Pennine Journey, which is not as well known and more off the beaten track. 

“Every year we try and do a walk, but we decided this time we would do one for charity. We chose the Wales Air Ambulance as being walkers visiting remote areas, it makes you recognise the importance of the service.”

Richard said he and his wife Julie, who has worked in the Llanidloes Co-op for nearly 30 years, had planned to do an average of 15 miles a day, with the most being 24 miles and the least about nine miles.

He said: “We planned it so we would walk every day but at different lengths, so we could take in the area and enjoy at the same time, rather than rush it. Julie is always in charge of logistics.

“Our daughter Rachael and her partner walked with us for two days and my cousin came up from Leeds. I haven’t seen her for a long time so that was really nice. It was probably our shortest walk, and it probably took us the longest to complete as we were talking so much.

“A highlight was Hadrian’s Wall, which is always a treat and at the end, coming over two of the three Yorkshire Three Peaks. I can now say I have done all three peaks in three years. The sun was out, and visibility was good, so it was a great finish.

It’s an area I particularly enjoy, and it has beautiful scenery. It was a chance to explore the Pennine’s further and it was a good length and challenge.”

The couple set themselves a fundraising target of £500 on their JustGiving Page but managed to exceed that, raising more than £2,000 including Gift Aid for the Charity. 

Richard said: “People have been very supportive, and we are really pleased to have raised so much for the Wales Air Ambulance. People were really interested in our walk and were following Julie on Facebook to see where we were each day.”

Richard is already thinking about his next walk. He hopes to tackle the Cambrian Way route, a challenging walk which goes from Cardiff to Conwy over all the main mountains, including the Black Mountains, across the Beacons, the Carmarthenshire vans, over Cadar Idris and up Snowdonia dropping down to Conwy. 

He said: “I have just under 10 walks I would like to do and although this is challenging it would be great to tick another one off the list while I am still able to.”

The air ambulance service in Wales is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership. The Wales Air Ambulance Charity relies on public donations to raise the £11.2 million required every year to keep the helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.

The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles.