A TEAM of walkers whose plans to walk the Great Wall of China were scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic are swapping one great wall for another.

The team of 12, made up of Tynedale Hospice at Home nurses and families of service users, were due to undertake the once-in-a-lifetime trek to the Great Wall on September 19 to raise funds for the hospice.

However, the event fell foul of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team had planned to walk 50km from Gubeikou to Simatai, traversing tough terrain and trekking through remote towns and villages.

They had already raised more than £15,000 for the charity, which provides end-of-life nursing care.

However, the team refused to let the virus spoil their plans entirely - and thankfully, the Tyne Valley has its own great wall to act as a substitute.

Cathy Bates, senior fundraiser, said, “Over a typical year Tynedale Hospice at Home raises over £45,000 from supporters undertaking challenge events. Covid-19 has hit us hard as most fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed.

“The most prominent event in the 2020 diary was the trek planned to China but the team’s enthusiasm for the difference the hospice makes in the community has meant they are still keen to mark the occasion walking Hadrian’s Wall instead.”

On Saturday, when they would have been flying out to China, the trekkers will instead walk a six mile route following the line of the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail from Cawfields to Housesteads.

They will be negotiating a tough switch back of over a thousand feet of ascent (highest point) and descent to test both their calves and their determination.

It is the route Roman soldiers would have taken when patrolling between the two forts.

Colin Earnshaw, Hadrian’s Wall guide, has kindly agreed to lead the way.

One of the trekkers, Barry Glendinning, knows first-hand the difference Tynedale Hospice at Home makes to local families after the Hospice cared for his mum in 2018.

He said“The nursing care team were able to ensure that mum could stay at home in those final difficult days just as she wanted, surrounded by the things and people she loved.

“I will be forever grateful to Tynedale Hospice at Home for the difference they made.

“Although no-one could have foreseen the trek not going ahead when we started fundraising last year, the team all want to continue supporting the Hospice.

“We are lucky to have such a beautiful landmark on our doorsteps in order to mark the occasion.”

The trekkers will traverse the route in two groups, in order to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Donations can be made by calling 01434 606 444 or visiting tynedalehospice.com/donate/.