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Walk Across Wales for Young Minds (@YoungMindsUK)

April 2022, will see Neath College students Rhys Evans, Daniel Germon, Josh Saunders and Sebastian Phillips walk from Aberavon to Holyhead in aid of charity. They will be walking 167 miles across some of Wales’s most beautiful scenery for the mental health charity Young Minds.

The boys all study at Neath College, doing a variety of subjects. Rhys is studying A Level Media Studies, History and Geography; Daniel is studying Enhanced Mechanical Engineering; Josh is working towards a qualification in Construction and the Built Environment, whilst Seb is studying Introduction to AS. The four have now become firm friends.  

The journey will begin at the whale sculpture at Aberavon beach with the finish line at Holyhead Docks, where there is also a whale sculpture. They will use the two-week Easter holidays to complete the walk without missing a day of college and plan to start their journey on April 9th with the hope of finishing on April 22.

The route will take them up through the heart of Wales, through Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Dolgellau, Snowdonia and finally onto Anglesey. During the trip, the boys will be accompanied by a support vehicle consisting of friends, family, and Scout leaders. They have all been members of different Scout groups for many years and have had a lot of support while planning and making this journey a reality. They will be using Scout facilities along the way, staying in a range of different places such as Scout huts, campsites and even a B&B.

Here is a link to the Scouts Cymru website to find out more about them.

To complete the walk on schedule, they will need to average 15 miles a day, with the first day being the longest as they hope to cover over 19 miles. As far as they know, no one has attempted to walk from Aberavon to Holyhead before. The boys have been contacted by local celebrity and fundraiser Captain Beany, who hopes to join them for several legs of the journey.

The group chose to raise money for Young Minds because they know lots of young people who have struggled with mental health over the last two years and feel younger people have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic, in terms of mental health. The boys explained how they and their peers can feel uncertain and insecure, being used to having a structure to their lives, set for them by adults and this has been taken away through the lockdowns. This has added to uncertainty about any plans with holidays and days out cancelled due to Covid-19, meaning many young people didn’t have anything to look forward to. The group feel strongly that exercise and walking helped get them through the pandemic and associated lockdowns. Their original money-raising goal was £1000 but now they’ve decided to be ambitious and raise the target to £10,000.

Before the first lockdown, Daniel had never liked walking and would not go out of the house if he didn’t need to. He feels that since he started walking it’s helped him a lot with everyday life. For Rhys, it’s not necessarily the walking he enjoys it’s more the being out in nature. As a group they decided that they didn’t like walking next to roads because of the noise, they would rather take paths where they can hear the wind, the birds, and the trees because it’s relaxing. For them, this takes them away from the thought of walking and instead, they can enjoy being amongst nature.

They chose to undertake the walk in April because they didn’t want to miss college and the weather conditions should be optimised for walking. One of their biggest concerns about this walk is the Welsh weather. The said:

“The weather is beginning to get more unpredictable, and you never know what you’re going to get. With climate change, we’ve started to realise over the last couple of years that the weather patterns are changing.”

Between now and April, the boys plan on doing a lot of walking. They are aiming to go from Aberavon to Tenby over the February half term, which is around half of the distance they will be covering in April. They are also working hard on their fitness and navigation skills to help make the journey easier.

After they have completed the walk to Holyhead, the group don’t intend to stop walking; they have several ideas about their next adventure; including the 1,200-mile walk from John O’ Groats to Land’s End!

If you would like to support the boys and donate money to Young Minds here is a link to their Just Giving page.

You can also follow their journey through their Walk Across Wales Facebook and Instagram channels, where they will be posting video blogs of their walk.

We would like to wish the boys the best of luck as they undertake this amazing challenge, and we’ll be catching up with them next year to find out how they got on.

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