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Thetford friends complete 93-mile trek for charity

Thetford 93's finish on Barnham Cross Common
Thetford 93's finish on Barnham Cross Common

An adventurous group of friends have completed a gruelling 93-mile hike from Great Yarmouth to their hometown of Thetford for charity.

Members of ‘Thetford 93’ spent two days of the August bank holiday weekend trekking through countryside, river valleys and villages as they tackled the Angles Way walk.

Thetford 93 at Euston, about 10 miles from the end
Thetford 93 at Euston, about 10 miles from the end

Mark Dean, one of the organisers, said it was the hardest thing he had ever done, despite not being as physically demanding as a challenge he completed with some of the group last year.

“Compared to the Three Peaks Challenge, fitness wise we didn’t have to be as fit, it wasn’t as intense, but mentally it’s the hardest thing I’ve done,” he said.

“You’d see a road sign and it would say ‘Bungay three miles’ and then you’d see a river or something and end up walking seven miles,” he added.

Mark, who turns 35 tomorrow, also found the monotony of the Oulton Broad to Beccles section tough because the winding nine-mile path was ‘straight ahead’ throughout.

Thetford 93 on the last 17 mile leg from Knettishall to Thetford
Thetford 93 on the last 17 mile leg from Knettishall to Thetford

“And we had to walk in single file as well so you couldn’t really talk to anybody,” he said.

Then there was the camping overnight in the woods.

“We were literally walking until we found a place we could put our hammocks up, or some had pop-up tents, and that was hard because you thought ‘why don’t we just get a B&B’, but we wanted to do it the way the Germanic people did and were tracing their steps,” he said.

But, despite countless blisters, sore legs and some seemingly never-ending routes, it was not all bad, with comradeship and the promise of food, including a cooked breakfast if they reached Redgrave by 10am, helping to spur the group on.

Thetford 93's 4am start at Great Yarmouth Train Station
Thetford 93's 4am start at Great Yarmouth Train Station

Mark said: “It was a bit of a pilgrimage and, along the way, we would stop at pubs to have a bite to eat and we’d tell people about what we’d been doing, a bit like back in the day when that’s the only way news could be spread, by word of mouth.”

Highlights of the trip included the catchphrase ‘mileage isn’t the problem, chaffing is’ – prompted by an amusing response to a BBC Radio Norfolk interview – and the warm reception the group received on Barnham Cross Common, where everyone held back so Mark could ‘arrive home’ first.

The challenge alone raised around £600 but recent fund-raising efforts by the group look set to bring in thousands of pounds for West Suffolk Hospital’s My WiSH Charity and the newly-formed Thetford Town Boxing Club.

The Shadwell Estate, where Mark worked for 13 years and fellow walker Dan Lott has worked for around 25 years, provided a support vehicle for the challenge and helped boost funds with a £900 donation.

To donate to Thetford 93, visit www.thetford93.co.uk


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