Their story, in their words….
Arriving at the port in Dover, after getting off the coach, we were excited in finally carrying out our challenge of a 40km hike within the Dreux countryside in France. The challenge was to finish the walking part of the expedition within a day, but first we had to make it to our temporary accommodation in France.
After the two-hour Ferry journey, we arrived at the port in Calais around midday as planned, deciding not to waste any time we headed straight to the first train station which was just less than an hour walk away so we could catch the train to get to the Gare du Nord. We arrived at the station early, so we decided to take a break from carrying all our luggage around and get a drink from the train station café. This was our first mistake. Unknown to us at the time, we had waited at the wrong train station and the next one was a further 30 minutes away and there was no way we’d make it for our pre-booked train. After an initial panic and surge of annoyance in this little error we sat down to collect our thoughts and had to come up with a new route on the spot. We used what we had at our disposal within the station like maps, information screens and help desks to create another route to the same location with a different train. In the end we took an extra train, passed the first station and switched to finally get to the Gare du Nord a little behind schedule. By 6pm we were on the train from the Gare Du Nord to Montparnasse and then we travelled to Dreux by the Metro trains, finally getting to the tiny motel room around 10pm.
Aching from the day before we were hesitant about the oncoming expedition, however we both managed to leave the room at 9am and set off for the hike. Walking through the towns and fields of Dreux, we made good progress despite it being above 25 degrees all day. Motivating each other during the course of the day, we had high and low points throughout, the main issue being the heat and rationing our own water. However, after each checkpoint we would rest and get up in order to finish what we started. In the end we got back to the room around 9:40pm meaning we’d been walking for over 12 hours altogether with a total distance of 42km.
All though we felt a sense of achievement in completing the hike there was still the issue of getting home. With tired muscles and our luggage on our backs we made our way back to the ferry port in Calais. We couldn’t afford to miss the ferry because it was the last of the day and we didn’t really feel like staying another night. By the skin of our teeth we finally made it onto the ferry at 7:30pm with a view of the country we would be leaving behind.
If we’d learnt anything during our time it was that things don’t always go according to the plan and anything could change at any point. This wasn’t important, as long as we remained focused on our goal and worked as a team rather than individuals, our challenge became an experience we and our charities would benefit from in the long run.