A pair of experienced hiking guides are taking on the challenge of a lifetime as they prepare for a charity walk covering the entire length of the Cleveland Way.

Friends and business partners Ben Osborne and Gareth Phillips plan on taking on the 109-mile walking route over three days, while raising money for the North East Autism Society (NEAS).

Ben, from Gateshead, said:

From set-up to finish we’re on the trail. We’re not booking into hotels, we’re not going home, we’re on the trail until we finish.

Ben and Gareth, who together form Take A Hike UK, will start from Helmsley on Thursday 20th June, making the most of the longest day of the year.

Although both are experienced hikers, Ben is a qualified mountain leader and Gareth is training to become one, neither of them have taken on a single walk of this length before.

The pair will need to walk up to 15 hours a day, sustained by carbohydrate drinks powder, cereal bars and ready-to-eat army ration meals, and they could burn between 10,000 and 15,000 calories each over the course of the trek.

Food and water make up most of the weight Ben and Gareth will carry with them, as there are stretches of the walk as long as 15 hours where they will have no access to water. Otherwise, they have reduced what they carry to only the necessities, going without spare boots and using only bivouac bags as shelter when they need to rest.

Ben said:

We need to cover 36-miles a day to do it in the three days we’ve allotted ourselves, but I would like to think on the first day we’ll see a good 45-miles covered, while we’re still as fresh as we can be.

“It’s also useful because it brings us to a good town to stop in, otherwise we’ll have to stop on Urra Moor which is the highest point on the moors and is very exposed.”

Despite the arduous nature of the endurance walk, Ben and Gareth are keen and feel ready to see the challenge through.

Ben said: “I grew up in Teesside and I regularly walked parts of the Cleveland way with my dad when I was a kid. Never the full thing, but it was something I’d always had in my sights.”

Gareth, from Consett, likewise fell in love with the route after joining Ben as a guide on a Cleveland Three Peaks trek.

Ben said: “Both of us knew what it needed to be, we both wanted to do an endurance walk, but we thought we should keep it in the region.”

He added:

There’s so much on our doorstep again, so we wanted to bring awareness that it’s a stunning route as well.

Ben and Gareth’s championing of the region also applies to their choice of charity to support through Take A Hike.

“As much as Take A Hike is a commercial venture, we want to make it a charitable company, because that’s what we enjoy from it, giving something back,” Ben said.

The company offers guided hikes, both for the public and for companies that want to boost teambuilding or wellbeing, and wants to help people raise funds for local and regional charities.

Ben said:

We want to become champions of local charities and channel vital funds towards them. NEAS in particular is a good fit for us.

“Now that diagnosis is becoming more widely known about, autism is something that is increasingly affecting everybody and it’s an important cause because of that, but one that gets overlooked because it’s not a physical difficulty. It needs support.”

As well as raising money for NEAS through this challenge, Take A Hike is also organising a Yorkshire Three Peaks trek in September, working in association with NEAS and encouraging participants to raise money for the Society.

Ben said:

We don’t just want to deliver the event and move onto the next one, it’s about building the relationships with local charities and companies.

Ben and Gareth will start walking from 9am on Thursday 20th June, and post regular progress updates through Take A Hike’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

To follow their updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/takeahikeuk, or to donate to their fundraising page, go to https://www.justgiving.com/page/takeahikeforautism

Ben said: “The best thing for us is just engaging with the posts, giving us some likes and letting us know people are watching and rooting for us, but obviously donations would be fantastic.”