Brian Blessed joins Emma Stone on the Monsal Trail

Brian Blessed joins Emma Stone on the Monsal Trail

A larger-than-life television personality and adventurer has thrown his weight behind a scheme to help care for trails in a national park.

Brian Blessed visited the Monsal Trail in the Peak District to support the park authority’s Walk in the Park event which will take place later this year.

The Yorkshire-born actor, whose career spans six decades, is renowned for his booming voice and eccentric outbursts. He has three times unsuccessfully attempted to summit Everest and holds the record for the oldest person to reach the magnetic North Pole on foot. He has climbed Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro.

The 79-year-old joined the authority’s trails manager Emma Stone on the Monsal Trail in Derbyshire to promote the August event, which the cash-strapped national park hopes will bring in money to help maintain its walking and cycling trails.

The Peak authority said all funds raised will be used to help meet the cost looking after the 34 miles of traffic-free trails, including the Monsal, Tissington, High Peak and Thornhill Trails, which are used by hundreds of walkers, cyclists and horse riders every day.

A spokesperson said: “There are three different walk lengths to choose from and anyone can take part with family or friends, with the dog or on their own. No special training or equipment is needed. It’s all about having fun and raising funds for the trails through sponsorship.”

The maintenance costs £5 per metre per year, not including the viaducts, bridges, tunnels and other man-made structures along the routes.

Mr Blessed spent large parts of his childhood in the Peak District, Britain’s oldest national park, and retains a deep affection for the area.

He said: “I grew up discovering Mam Tor, Back Tor and Kinder Scout.

“I explored the whole Hope Valley – these hills and moors were my jungle! We have to remember that national parks are not ours – they are ours to look after. We all have a responsibility to care for Britain’s breathing spaces.

“I think Walk in the Park is a wonderful initiative and I for one will do whatever I can to support it.”

Further support comes from retailer GO Outdoors, who will email more than 1 million customers, display posters and leaflets in 57 stores across the country and create a special discount for registered fundraisers.

Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming as many people as possible for Walk in the Park.

“We are planning plenty of exciting activities so it’s going to be a great, fun-filled weekend and we want to make it an annual event.

“The idea is to help people get closer to nature and raise some money at the same time for the trails that everyone loves. It will be a good opportunity for local businesses too as it will bring people to the area – we hope they will get involved in any way they can.”

The event will take place on Saturday, 20 August along the Monsal Trail. For pre-registered fundraisers, part of the fee will include two nights’ camping at the Bakewell Showground if required, or a smaller fee without camping. The cost will also cover a range of activities, including fly fishing, guided ranger activities, storytelling, a circus and circus-skills school.

People who sign up to support the event can choose to walk five, eight or 16 miles. Walkers will be asked to raise a suggested minimum of £40 per person in sponsorship as well as their entry fee.

Tickets and further information are available on the event’s website.

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