Teams lace up boots for ‘tough’ Lake District trek in aid of armed forces veterans

Cumbrian Challenge
Taking part in a previous Cumbrian challenge on a Gasway team were, from left, David Pickerden, Mark Holden, Andy Kaye and Dawn Springford

It started with a band of wounded veterans – joined by Prince Harry – trekking across the Arctic to the North Pole in 2011.

Since then Walking With The Wounded – based in Stody, north Norfolk – has thrown a lifeline to scores of armed forces veterans and their families.

And now hundreds of hardy souls are gearing up for their own epic trek across the rocky peaks of the Lake District in aid of the charity.

Among them will be around 35 employees from Norwich-based heating company Gasway and its parent group, Flagship Group.

Cumbrian challenge
Cumbrian Challenge participants take in the views over the Lake District

Gasway’s head of group and electrical operations, Andy Merrill, said he was proud to be taking part in the Cumbrian Challenge, whose ‘toughest’ route spans 28km (17.4 miles) and 1,700 ascent metres.

Mr Merrill, 52 and from Norwich, has been involved in the annual trek since 2016.

He said: “There are always armed forces teams involved from the Gurkhas, RAF regiments and others, and they like it to be tough.

“But if the weather is favourable the views are spectacular and the sense of achievement is fantastic. And there’s nothing more motivating than seeing a wounded veteran walk past you.”

The challenge sees participants hiking in teams on one of three routes. It takes place on May 18 and starts at Grasmere in the middle of the Lake District National Park.

Walking With the Wounded aims to support ex-service personnel  and their families who have “fallen the furthest” - people who are struggling with mental health issues, unemployment or homelessness.

It seeks to reignite their sense of purpose, enabling them to make a positive contribution to their communities and lead independent lives. 

Cumbrian Challenge participants make their way up one of the Lake District peaks

Mr Merrill said he could think of no more worthy charity to back.

He said: “Those who serve, deserve. Life isn’t always easy when you leave the armed forces.

“Walking With The Wounded provides early intervention programmes, speeds up access to therapy and helps to change the lives of veterans and their families.”  

Visit and search for Gasway (, an individual or another team taking part to donate.

Flagship – the east of England’s largest social housing provider – is sponsoring the challenge along with presenting partner Sunbelt Rentals and co-sponsors BAE Systems Submarines, DXC Technology and FDM Group.