TWO intrepid guides leading a series of fundraising walks covering 1,000 kilometres have reached an important milestone with a rallying cry to supporters.

Keiron Young and Richard Ellis are the leaders of The Big Smile, a campaign backed by The Northern Echo to boost physical and mental wellbeing through the power of walking and talking.

Proceeds from the initiative, launched by a new charity called The Walk & Talk Trust, are being used to supply free pairs of walking boots to children and disadvantaged adults in the North-East.

While fundraisers can pick which walks they wish to join, Keiron and Richard, who come from Consett, are planning to complete the full 1,000 kilometres, trekking across some of the most beautiful countryside in the north.

They embarked on the epic adventure on June 21, with the first 20k walk starting and finishing at Raby Castle, near Staindrop, and they are due to finish with a circular walk from Durham City on August 27.

And now, two weeks after the launch, they have passed the quarter-way mark by completing a walk up Scafell Pike, in the Lake District, where organisers surprised them with a celebratory glass of bubbly at the summit.

As well as The Lake District, the route so far has covered parts of Teesdale and Northumberland and Keiron said: “It’s been fantastic to see the charity in action after months of planning, and we are already seeing the value of people being out in the beautiful countryside, walking and talking.

“There’s been a real camaraderie during the walks and there’s been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to keep the show on the road.

“It’s been more physically demanding than I expected but the challenge of completing the 1,000 kilometres is a great thing to tackle, and we know that it’s all for a really good cause.

“We just need as many

people as possible to support us because the more money we can raise, the more free pairs of boots we can give away.”

Geoff Simpson, chief executive of The Walk & Talk Trust, added: “To walk an average of 20 kilometres day after day is a huge undertaking but that’s what Keiron and Richard are aiming to do for the charity.

“There are plenty of opportunities to join us on the rest of the walks and to support Keiron and Richard on their personal mission to complete the full 1,000 kilometres.”

• To sponsor Keiron and Richard, please go to

• For other ways to support the charity, including by Text Donation, go to