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Union Flag Walk 6 & 7 Cape Wrath to John O'Groats then down east coast to Dover

EC CommunityJames Hipkiss

Veterans In Action (VIA) is a UK base charity that helps veterans who suffer the effects of war or who find the transition to civilian life difficult.

VIA are a non-therapy charity and instead use the outdoors and challenging events to help rebuild the confidence, self-esteem and self-belief in the veterans who take part. In the last 3 years VIA has trekked 5,000 miles over the UK with over 100 veterans who suffer. This walk will be done by up to 20 veterans with most doing the whole event and some others doing sections. This is the 6th and 7th Union Flag Walk in a series of 8 which when completed will form the Union Flag over mainland UK and is a 1400 mile trek from Cape Wrath to John O'Groats then following the east coastline to Dover.

The Union Flag Walks are a series of 8 long distance walks that when completed will form the Union Flag over mainland UK. The walks are manned by Veterans who have entered the ALIVE Program and who have served on operations and suffer the effects of war or those who find the transition to civilian life difficult. The purpose of the walks is to provide a platform using the outdoors and the environment we walk in to help those taking part begin to rebuild their confidence, self esteem and self belief. Countless studies in Wilderness Therapy around the world have concluded that a period of walking and camping are a great pursuit to help overcome perceived beliefs and a time to reflect.

The walks are done as a relay with Veterans walking in pairs with walking partners changing each day in order for relationships to build throughout the walk and to learn from each other from their own experiences. Veterans are encouraged to take their time and enjoy the environment they are walking in and to immerse themselves in the experience. Veterans are encouraged to pass on any skills they may have learned to other team members during the evenings and whilst out walking so that new skills can be learned by everyone taking part. As new skills are learned by Veterans taking part on the ALIVE Program, such as canoeing, bushcraft, climbing, navigation and rope work, they will be introduced to the walks so that the walks become more diverse and give expedition planners more scope when planning future events.

The series of 8 walks once initially completed will start over again and this will be a continuous program that will develop using different skills learnt as Veterans In Action moves forward. The walks provide a therapeutic environment which allows the individuals to make the changes they need in order to move forward. Smaller weekend walks will also be done as an introduction to VIA and to doing these larger challenges.