Unspoilt Albanian mountains captivate hospice trekkers

A GROUP of 18 trekkers are expected to raise more than £20,000 for Francis House Children’s Hospice after completing an incredible trekking adventure through the Albanian Alps.

The group, including the hospice’s Chief Executive David Ireland and Director of Care Gill Bevin, embarked on the challenge in aid of the centre that serves families across the North West.

After arriving in Tirana, Albania’s capital, the group was transported through breath-taking scenery to the Valbona National Park before following a shepherd’s paths to the remote Eastern Alps.

For five days they hiked through the Albanian Alps, known locally as the ‘Accursed Mountains’ owing to their wild and insurmountable reputation.

David, from Dobcross, said: “Albania was a brilliant place to go for unspoilt trekking. The mountains are spectacular with phenomenal peaks and climbs.

“It was the hardest trek we have ever done but we had a fantastic group of enthusiastic trekkers with us.”

Day three was a particular highlight, making it over the famous Valbona Pass, which links the two glacier valleys of Valbona and Theth.

At 1,860m high, reaching the crossing was by no means an easy feat, taking nine hours of hard climbing, but the group was rewarded with unparalleled views.

“Walking through unspoilt valleys that have been closed to the outside world for centuries and passing medieval buildings was an incredible experience I will never forget,” added David.

The group slept in traditional guesthouses in remote villages, giving a real taste of local life.

Gill McCulley, from Greenfield, said: “The trek was really tough with steep climbs and descents but the stunning scenery more than made up for it.

“I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit the highlands of Albania with such a great group of people and support such a worthy cause on another of their fundraising treks.”

Gill has so far raised £1,075 and still has sponsorship pledges to collect.

Previous Francis House treks to Jordan, Morocco, and Iceland have raised a staggering £112,000 and the Albania trek is expected to raise more than £20,000.

Francis House Children’s Hospice, based in Didsbury, cares for more than 500 children, teenagers and young adults with life-limiting conditions across the North West.

To register your interest in future Francis House treks, email rachel.astill@francishouse.org.uk

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