Local walkers braved terrible weather conditions to complete a 23 mile forest and fell challenge retracing the steps of the Lancashire Witches and raising over £3,500 for charity.
The walkers undertook the gruelling challenge to raise money for Safe Child Africa, a charity that works to improve the lives of abandoned children in West Africa, some of whom have been accused of witchcraft.
The Witches Way is a beautiful trail but one with a tragic past. Over 400 years ago, a group of women and children, were forced to walk through Bowland Forest to Lancaster Castle to stand trial for the crime of witchcraft. The history of this walk, combined with the tragedy these ‘witches’ faced: intense persecution, torture and later execution highlights the plight of the children Safe Child Africa and their supporters attempt to protect.
Founded by a Lancaster University graduate Safe Child Africa is one of the only charities in the world working to care and protect children who are persecuted, abandoned, tortured and sometimes murdered for being alleged ‘witches’.
Events such as the Witches Way are vital in raising both awareness and funds so they can continue protecting and supporting children accused of witchcraft. Walkers from Lancaster were joined by supporters from as a far as London, Wolverhampton, Carlisle and Scotland to take part in this year’s Witches Way. So far, the team have raised over £3,000 for children supported by the Lancaster-founded charity and they are hoping that total will continue to rise.
This year walkers were met with tough weather conditions, including heavy rain, deep fog and wild winds. They braved the elements and strode on together to reach the finish at Lancaster Castle before sunset.
Lisa Atkinson, the charity’s Fundraising Manager, who also took part in the challenge, said:
“I’m very proud of this year team of adventurers. They were fantastic. The extreme weather conditions added extra difficulty but the teamwork displayed by all walkers really does make it such a special event. The group started as strangers, but encouraged each other to keep going, despite blisters, tiredness and general sogginess they all got through 10 hours of walking. The funds from the challenge, are going to make such a difference. So far the amount raised is enough to run a street-child shelter, providing food, medical care, counselling and most importantly safety, to children accused of witchcraft for 6 months.”