Last year was the first year for our Buttermere Horseshoe Challenge event, a sponsored hike around the beautiful Buttermere Valley.

One of our amazing hospice nurses Lesley Cole, took part with her Husband Gary and their friends, and as we have just started promoting this years challenge for Saturday 12th September, we wanted to share with you Lesley’s story.

“Being a keen walker (and also a hospice nurse!) I had no hesitation in signing up to take part in the Buttermere Horseshoe Challenge and supporting this wonderful charity I have had the pleasure of working for since 2011.

My husband and a few friends were also keen to join me, and so we set out a training plan. Our first major training day was to walk the half horseshoe route to get an idea of what we’d signed ourselves up to.  It took us 9 1/2 hours to do less than half of it…oh dear, what had we signed up too?! We knew from then we had to take our training more seriously.

Our next training day was Scafell Pike. I’d never been up before and it was on my bucket list. It was hard work but we completed it and survived, along with 2 extremely smelly dogs that found a dead sheep to roll around in…at least it kept the crowds away from us!  Helvellyn was next, and the views from the top were absolutely stunning. Others we tackled as part of our training were Catbells, Barrow fell, Outerside, Rannerdale Knotts and Blake fell.

After countless fells and months of training, the weekend of the walk finally arrived. We had accommodation booked for the night before the big day (so we could have a lie in) and the night of the walk so we could have a wee drink or 2 to celebrate our achievement! It was a camping barn in Buttermere and the owners very kindly gave us a discount knowing the walk was to support Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

So off we toddled the night before, 2 car loads full of camping gear, food and drink. We had a well behaved night before which included a pub meal, no alcohol and a game of ‘Game of Thrones’ Monopoly.

Through either excitement or nerves, none of us had a great night’s sleep. 7am next morning at the Croft House Farm Café, we met the event staff from hospice and Lakeland Mountain Guides and also the rest of the participants. It was such a beautiful sunny morning, with only a very slight breeze.

There were over 40 of us in total taking on the challenge. Our group were all very well prepared with all the gear and enough food to last us a few days! Immediately we knew we weren’t the fittest in the pack and we soon became part of the slowest group with Kevin as our guide.

The weather conditions were perfect when doing the initial climb up through the forest and heading up

Red Pike. This was probably the toughest climb of the entire planned route. Out of breath but managing not too bad, we were pleased to say that the training had paid off!

As we started our first climb, the weather changed and the wind started to get stronger, a very different climate to what we had just left at ground level. Soon people started to struggle to walk against the wind and it became almost impossible to move! Some of the Lakeland Mountain Guides headed towards the summit to assess the situation.

With wind speeds up to 65 mph, the safety of everyone had to come first and so they had no option but take us all back down. We stopped at the tarn on the way down, caught our breaths and had a snack while the guides came up with a Plan B to enable us all to complete a challenging hike.  They decided to do Rannerdale Knotts as anything else was too unsafe with the high wind speed.

We arrived at the bottom just before midday, the pub looked so inviting and so we headed straight there.  After a few beers and a bit more of our packed lunch we spent all afternoon wondering where abouts we would have been if we’d continued…

Once fed and very well-watered we went back to the barn and finished our game of monopoly. I lost!

Although we were disappointed the walk hadn’t gone to plan, I feel we were truly blessed.  We definitely had someone looking out for us that day. We also had a little Robin that followed us around all weekend.

Through signing up to do this walk not only have we have been to so many beautiful places that we wouldn’t have been to otherwise, but as a group we also raised an amazing £1,678.00 through our amazing family and friends sponsoring us. This money will help support everyone who receives hospice care in our communities.

I cannot describe the feeling I get on the fells and mountains other than absolutely magical.

We are looking forward to completing the entire route later on this year when isolation is over and our new normality has arrived, there will be no better place to celebrate our health and happiness than on those beautiful fells.

Reach for the Moon and you’ll land among the stars xxx

Lesley Cole

For more information on our Buttermere Horseshoe Challenge, please visit