Stansted residents complete 24-hour charity trek across Essex countryside

WHILE most people dug out their sunglasses, cracked open a cold beer and threw some food on the barbecue during last weekend’s mini-heatwave, spare a thought for a group of hikers who took on a more laborious challenge.

Walking for 24 hours straight in temperatures of up to 27�C to complete a 100km trek may sound like madness to some.

But the method behind it was a particularly poignant one for six Stansted residents who left their indelible footprint on Uttlesford’s countryside.

As charity escapades come, this was certainly no walk in the park. Just ask Simon Clifford.

The 49-year-old, who completed the amazing feat alongside five other pals to raise money for J’s Hospice and MacMillan Cancer Support, told the Reporter it was a challenge he was not sure he wanted to repeat.

“We could not have picked a worse day for it with the heat,” he said. “It was an incredibly tough experience and one I will not forget in a hurry because we all felt pretty rough at the finish line.

“There are no words to adequately describe what we went through – gruelling does not even come close.

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“But the pain we felt and the hours of suffering we experienced are nothing compared to the weeks and years that people going through cancer and life-limiting diseases endure, so it was quite emotional.”

Mr Clifford was joined by Shelley Beattie, 45, and her husband John, 48, Natalie and Jack Bowie, 30 and 33 respectively, and Jon Tann, 33.

There was also praised for 14-year-old James Beattie, who completed the first 28km, slept overnight at ‘base camp’, and then re-joined the group for the final 22km after spending the day at school.

His 50km effort was hailed as “absolutely extraordinary” by Mr Clifford.

The group set off from their favourite haunt, The Cock pub in Stansted, at about 6pm last Friday evening.

They hiked through the village to Elsenham, Ugley, Rickling, Manuden and Farnham, before looping round Upwick Green, Farnham Green, Stansted Airport, Takeley, Dunmow, Braintree and back again.

It took them 23 hours 35 minutes in total and they returned to The Cock at 5.40pm to rapturous applause.

“Everyone was clapping and cheering when we arrived back in the pub that evening,” Mr Clifford said.

“There was a real community feel about the whole effort and all the donations we have received show just how much people care.”

So far almost �6,000 has been raised for the two charities, but Mr Clifford is hoping that could rise to �7,000 with the backing of Reporter readers and donations from those in the local community.

To get behind the group’s fund-raising efforts, visit