Julie and Karen at the finish line of the Lake District trek

I take part in Trek26 every year to honour my mum who had dementia

Popular baker and cookbook author, Julie Jones, is aiming to take on six Trek26 events. Here, she shares the reason for taking on the treks and what crossing that finish line every year means to her.

Mum's dementia

My Mum had an aggressive form of mixed dementia for around 7 years. The symptoms started with the usual memory loss and then worsened very quickly.

Eventually, my Mum had to be placed in hospital under the Mental Health Act and was left completely immobile - unable to speak or feed herself. It was truly heart-breaking to witness.

Julie and her mum, lay down and smiling while taking a selfie

Julie with her mum, who had mixed dementia

It is for her that I have taken on four Trek26 events.

My friend Karen and I have made a pact to take on six in total with the hope to raise £26,000. We’re at £11,500 after four, so it’ll be quite a challenge to hit our target, but we shall definitely try!

Encouraged to keep trekking

When I first started taking on the treks, my Mum was still alive, so my main motivation was to raise as much money and awareness to find treatments for her.

I have kept signing up for the treks since she passed away to help support those who are affected by this terrible disease now and those who will be in the future.

Trek26 Brecon Beacons this year was our 4th trek for Alzheimer’s Society.

Enjoying the challenge

Not only are we aiming to raise money and awareness as best we can, but we have also come to love and treasure these walks.

They’re our yearly bonding sessions as we enjoy the hours walking together and we always sign up for the next year as soon as we've completed the previous.

Julie and Karen taking a selfie while on a trek for Alzheimer's Society

Julie and her friend Karen have taken on an impressive four treks so far

The personal challenge is both hilarious and grueling in equal parts.

There's no doubt at times you could burst into tears, when rain is beating you in the face or perhaps because your legs hurt while climbing a sharp incline on the last mile, but laughing it off really does work.

A word of encouragement and off you go, edging closer to the finish line.

Each walk has been very different, not only in location (we've done the Hadrian's Wall, Stonehenge, Lake District and Brecon Beacons Trek26 events so far) but each differ in terrain and bring their own challenges.

The hill start on the Trek26 Brecon Beacons was certainly an eye opener! The scenery is stunning though, each route well thought out so you can see the natural beauty of the area.

A part of something special

Each trek has been very well organised, there's no chance of getting lost and the rest stops are such a boost to your moral.

Seeing so many trekkers walk the same route, for the same cause, is a special feeling.  

Everyone encourages each other, so if you’re a solo walker, you won't feel alone.

For me, the best part of the whole day is always crossing the finish line. You feel like your legs are completely in pieces but the sense of achievement as you get your medal and glass of prosecco makes it all worth it.

Julie taking a picture of herself in the mirror wearing her Trek26 medals

Julie now has quite a collection of Trek26 medals

I would not say that I am a regular walker so trekking 26 miles each year feels very special. You get moments of aches, of pain and of getting soaked by the rain but overall, it’s consistently such a memorable and great experience.

Our next big trek

The next trek for us will be the Trek26 Peak District in 2023, which, let's face it, will be full of hills!

Karen hates the hills, but what a trooper she is and what a chuckle we have going up and down them.

I document our walks on my Instagram stories (@julie_jonesuk) which really engages my supporters.

It’s always a huge boost to see the donations rolling in mid-walk.  We like to think that we bring the viewer a bit of a chuckle, which will hopefully inspire others to sign up for the walks. 

Trek26 Peak District, we're coming for you. See you next year!

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