Louisa's Himalayan hiking hat challenge

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Louisa Harding accepts a challenge involving the Himalayas, hiking and hats to raise money for Macmillan

This November Louisa Harding laced up her hiking boots and flew half way around the world to raise awareness and funds for Macmillan on a challenging adventure. Here Louisa shares her story.

How did you get involved with Macmillan?

My Husband Steve was diagnosed with Lymphoma (a blood cancer) in January 2011. He was treated in a Macmillan funded unit by Macmillan trained chemotherapy nurses. He received fantastic care from them and I was able to find support and information from their website. After our experience and Steve was officially in remission I wanted to help with some fundraising.


Where did the idea for the Himalayan hiking challenge come from?

As part of Macmillan's fundraising program they offer different types of adventures for which you have to be sponsored to take part, from hiking the 'Three Peaks' to climbing Kilimanjaro. I chose their trek to Nepal, the idea of hiking in the mountains seemed very inspiring.


How did you prepare for the hike?  

We live in a beautiful part of Yorkshire; in 5 minutes I can be up walking on the hills, the dog and I would walk my son to school and just keep going! I did some other cardio training as well, playing tennis and spinning. However, nothing prepares you for the day after day of hiking but the company was so amazing that you forgot all about how exhausted you were and how hard the trek actually was.


What did you do to raise money for Macmillan?

I designed a collection of six handknit patterns for hats 'Himalayan Hiking Hats', these were published as downloadable pdf's that knitters could make a donation for. Part of my personal challenge was to knit a final hat while on the trek and wear it on the last day. I actually finished on the fourth day and photographed a beautiful Nepalese girl wearing the hat. I also persuaded seven lovely ladies on the trek to model all seven hats for me against the stunning Annapurna Mountains. I also pleaded with friends and family for sponsorship...


What was an average day hiking like?

To make the most of the light, we rose at sunrise, around 6am and ate a hearty breakfast prepared by our amazing catering porters. After some warm up exercises we took to the trekking trails - some days it was all uphill - and once at the top, the following days were all downhill. We trekked for about 4 hours stopping regularly so that the group did not get too spread out. Lunch was always fabulous and freshly prepared out on the trail; chapattis, potato curry and salad, amazing as the porters had to carry everything with them on their backs. In the afternoons we headed to our next camp, as soon as we made camp the first thing we did was to put out our sleeping bags and mats and change into our pyjamas. Once the sun goes down, and we had some spectacular sunsets, the sky becomes pitch black and fills with stars. The only way you can see is by head torch or candle light. The evenings were spent in the mess tent. After dinner there was a summary of the following days trek followed by the 'house' doctor's terrible jokes. I was generally in bed about 8pm, exhausted but excited for the next days adventure.


How did you feel when you finished it?

Exhilarated... sad that the adventure was over. I would thoroughly recommend a Macmillan fundraising experience. It's a great way to raise money for a fantastic cause, meet amazing people and travel to parts of the world that you would never normally get to experience.



How much money did you and the hiking team raise for Macmillan?

As a group so far we have raised in excess of £180,000. With the support of family, friends and the wonderful knitting community. I have personally raised over £7,700.


Can people still donate or download your hat patterns?

Yes, you can still download the patterns from my website:


and make a donation to my 'just giving' site:




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