Trekkers to take on tough Hadrian’s Wall challenge for Chronicle Sunshine Fund to help children with disabilities

A team of hikers will be trekking across Hadrian's Wall in aid of charity
A team of hikers will be trekking across Hadrian's Wall in aid of charity -Credit:TimMcGuinness/ChronicleLive

A team of trekkers are taking on a major challenge along one of the region’s most iconic locations - all in aid of a North East charity that helps children with disabilities.

The 13-mile trek on Hadrian’s Wall, which will take place on Friday, May 24, will begin at Thirlwall Castle. Over eight hours, the team will explore areas such as Walltown Country Park, Walltown Crags, Caw Gap and Winshield Crags, where the group will reach the highest point of 1,000ft.

The hike will continue east to Steel Rigg, one of the most pictured parts of the trek due to its stunning views, film sets and historic wonders such as the recently felled Sycamore Tree, before climbing up onto Housesteads Crags and Housesteads Roman fort, which offers a real feel of the environment the Romans endured nearly two thousand years ago. The trek, in aid of The Chronicle Sunshine Fund, will be led by Challenge Northumberland, whose expertise and vast knowledge of the area will guide the team through the historic route.

Director Nev Duncan said: "Challenge Northumberland are delighted to be supporting The Sunshine Fund on this amazing trek challenge in 2024. The route we are supporting is both stunning and very challenging, the climbs to the highest points on Hadrian's Wall are truly breathtaking in many ways.

"Your efforts will be rewarded with panoramic views towards the borders, Cumbrian Coast and the Tyne Valley, in our opinion the toughest and best 13 miles of Hadrian's Wall. We look forward to seeing everybody in May 2024."

Each trekker pledges to raise at least £250 for The Sunshine Fund, and all money raised will have a direct impact on improving the day-to-day lives of local babies, children and young adults living with additional needs in the North East, which has the highest level of disability in the UK, making up 29% of our population, according to statistics taken from a House of Commons report on disability published last year.

Proceeds from this fundraising event will go directly towards supporting families and local communities by funding life-changing equipment for children. This equipment includes sensory toys, indoor and outdoor play, walkers, powerchairs and accessories, car seats, adapted beds, specialist seating, mobile hoists, iPads, laptops and eye gaze technology.

The charity has seen a 43% increase in applications in the last 12 months, demonstrating growing demand. The Sunshine Fund’s support goes further than funding equipment, as it also puts on various free events throughout the year which allow children to access inclusive activities where cost and accessibility are not barriers. It also provides a helpline where parents, carers and professionals can access support, guidance and signposting where appropriate.

The Sunshine Fund says it is incredibly grateful for the support it has received on this trek, not only from Challenge Northumberland, but also from the team at North of Tyne Mountain Rescue, who provide first aid cover on the day if needed. The North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team is made up entirely of unpaid volunteers who support the police and ambulance service to search for and rescue people in need.

Like the Sunshine Fund, it is funded solely by charitable donations and receive zero statutory funding. The team was first formed back in the 1970s as a North of Tyne Local Education Authority team in response to an increase in the number of incidents occurring on the hills and fells of Northumberland as outdoor activities such as climbing and hill walking grew in popularity.

The Sunshine Fund adds: "We are one of the longest standing charities in the region and have overcome challenges such as a global pandemic and now the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. As demand in equipment grows and fundraising becomes more and more challenging, we are so grateful to anybody who supports us, and we’re incredibly appreciative to both the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team and to Challenge Northumberland for their involvement in our trek. Of course, we hope we won’t need to use Mountain Rescue’s services but the reassurance knowing that they’re there if we do need them is reassuring."

Keith Briggs, team leader, said: "We are delighted to support this trek for The Sunshine Fund. This area is a bit of a hot spot for call outs due to its popularity with walkers so we are happy to be on hand. Details of all our activities can be found on the North of Tyne MRT Facebook page, and donations can be made via our website"

The Hadrian’s Wall Trek is just one of many fundraising events and challenges organised by The Sunshine Fund. For example, their much-loved Sunshine Run 5K is returning to Newcastle Quayside on Wednesday, June 19, from 6pm and invites runners of all abilities to come and #PaintTheToonYellow to support local children with disabilities. You can find out more at