Joanne’s story

We have a bit of an allergy-thing in our family… cats, dust, nuts and sesame. Auto-adrenalin injectors, anti-histamines and moisturising creams are a common feature in our house. I love walking so I thought, let’s walk 1000 miles for Allergy UK in 2018. How hard can it be?

I suffer from hay fever and allergy to cats and dust, my husband has eczema and my 10yr old son is anaphylactic to all nuts and sesame, as well as having eczema and hay fever.

We rarely eat out and take a packed lunch wherever we go and my son takes food from home to parties. He misses out a lot but we try and make it up to him with safe treats when he gets home. I have also had to up my game when cooking, I can now make profiteroles and even bagels!

We try not to let severe allergies stop us doing things like flying and travelling but we have to be super-organised by contacting airlines, taking a suitcase of food and staying in self-catering accommodation. To date we have travelled to Europe mostly, including remote mountain huts in Austria. We have hiked in Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia, camped in Germany and Switzerland, skied in Italy and holidayed in Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece and Turkey. This doesn’t come without anxiety but we try to live our life to the full. Traveling further afield presents further challenges, mostly around long flights and access to safe foods, but we will get around to it in due course.

I was shocked to read the statistic from Allergy UK that 1 in 4 adults suffer from an allergic disease and thought raising money for this cause would resonate with many in my community. I also find the Allergy UK alerts on Twitter and Facebook regarding mislabelled food very useful. Part of my challenge was to get families out and about walking with me in the local countryside that encompasses the Cotswold Way. It was interesting to get to know members of my local community and discover that many also suffered from an allergic disease.

I walked mostly in my local area, Bath and the surrounding environs. I walked up Kelston Roundhill 71 times during the 10 month challenge. My walks were mostly 5 miles following routes I devised from OS maps. I also walked the following:

  • Brecon Beacon SAS route  – 15 miles in March 2018
  • Walking for Peace event in Ypres, Belgium to commemorate the end of WWI – May 2018
  • Numerous walks with the kids and husband around Mayrhofen, Austria – including along a glacial lateral moraine and 20km walk – August 2018
  • Walk around mountains near Annecy, France – September 2018
  • 20 mile Bath Skyline walk – September 2018

When I started the challenge I wasn’t sure what I would encounter on the way, but the interest and generosity of the community surrounding the children’s school in Bath was fantastic. Over 400 people joined me on my walks over the 10 months, and I have shared the many routes I discovered with them. I have raised the profile and money for Allergy UK and made new friends as well.  I am undertaking another challenge this year walking 100km in 24hrs again for Allergy UK on 29th June.

If you want further information about my walking experience please see my blog.