I first came across the Macmillan Jurassic Coast Mighty Hike in March 2019, through a Facebook ad. I could have easily scrolled past it, but I have a tendency to see everything as a cosmic nudge from the universe. The idea of participating in a charity walk was instantly appealing.

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. Khalil Gibran

I have a huge admiration for Macmillan nurses and the work they do. They were a great source of support to me when my mother was fighting cancer. The hike coincided with the 10th anniversary of her death so I felt a sense of duty to give back.

I’ve always wanted to do something physically challenging. I had friends who were into all sorts of trendy challenges with intimidating names like Tough Mudder, Wolf Runner, and Total Warrior, which sounded more like torture sessions to me. The idea of a hike seemed like a leisurely stroll in comparison.

I read the ad description:

The Jurassic Coast Mighty Hike takes place on the stunning Dorset Coast along the UK’s first natural World Heritage Site. With stunning coastal views and trails including famous sites such as Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. This is a stunning, and challenging location to hike. The route covers approximately 26.5 miles between Lodmoor Country Park, Weymouth and Norden Farm, Wareham.


I spent the rest of the afternoon googling images of Dorset, Weymouth, and Durdle Door, using a Jurassic Coast map to guide my exploration. I had never been to that area but it looked incredible! I imagined myself walking on the cliffside trails, looking over the stunning coast, having a picnic lunch on the sandy beach, I could even squeeze in a little swim if the weather was nice. It was like planning a holiday but with a side of physical torment.


Except I wasn’t much of a walker. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a couch potato either, I avoided driving and ran most of my errands on foot. I dabbled in jogging and paid my respects to the gym deities twice a month to appease my guilty conscience. But I had never hiked a long distance before. Still, it was just a walk, right?

“It’s a marathon, uphill, with a side order of 3000 feet elevation! Thanks but I’ll pass.” said a friend of mine when I asked her if she wanted to join me.

Another friend suggested I look at their other challenges which were much less strenuous.

My husband was more supportive, albeit with a tinge of scepticism in his eyes.

I was determined not to let negativity deter me so I tossed all my doubts to the wind and clicked the sign-up button! I was going solo.

Jurassic landmark in the middle of a sandy beach

Signing up for the Jurassic Coast Mighty Hike

And so, armed with willpower and a dash of madness, I embarked on a dual task: getting myself into shape to walk 26 miles in 3 months and raising funds for charity.

I started by creating my JustGiving page and felt a surge of pride. It was like engraving my name into the annals of heroism.

I was ready to tell the world. I shared my link with friends, family, and colleagues. There was no turning back now.


Macmillan dispatched a starter kit swiftly, loaded with tons of information about the hike, including a comprehensive training regime and a detailed map of the Jurassic Coast walking route. They also invited me to join their Facebook group, which I promptly did. I spent an hour or so reading posts from previous hikers- the tales were inspiring. Some had completed the hike two years in a row, others had been participating for years. There was also a lot of talk about scary hills and dangerous terrains but I chose to ignore that and only focus on the positives.

green scenery and water reflections with boats on a canal

I learned a lot from the group, there was invaluable advice on training, nutrition, and the world of hiking gear. I went shopping over the weekend, armed with a list of the best hiking boots and socks.

I had never worn hiking boots before and was shocked at how monstrous all of them looked! Eventually, I found a comfortable and decent-looking pair with help from the shop assistant. I also bought a pair of walking poles, as everyone advised. I didn’t think I would use them at all, but they played a crucial part on the day.

My training sessions were limited to the weekend initially. I joined a local hiking group and did a couple of small hikes with them. 7 miles each. It wasn’t bad. I live in a semi-rural area surrounded by beautiful nature and hiking trails but it’s all flatland. I needed a substitute for the mountainous terrain that awaited. Desperate times called for desperate measures, leading me to spin classes at my local gym, which I had previously fled in terror.

I must admit, they helped a great deal and soon enough I started to feel my legs getting stronger.

green scenery and water reflections with boats on a canal

I was really enjoying my walks in nature. Spring was in full bloom and the weather was warming up so I started to go on walks after work.

I walked every opportunity I could, sometimes in groups but mostly on my own. The prospect of tackling the challenge alone left me apprehensive. Most people sign up with a friend or a partner. I enjoyed my own company, however, this wasn’t a small task. I was worried I might feel overwhelmed by the burden of the challenge, with no one around to offer support or provide that extra push when needed.

Training Hike and walking buddies

A few weeks into the training, a member of the Facebook group suggested a training hike in the area to familiarise ourselves with the terrain. I jumped at the opportunity and set off to Dorset on a sunny Saturday morning, armed with snacks and my hiking gear. We met by the local church in Weymouth. There were at least 20 people, many were already in groups but the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.

That’s where I met Christina and Geraldine, who had travelled from London and invited me to walk with them. We were also joined by Elly who lived in Weymouth and like me was doing the challenge solo.


three women on a hill, preparing for the jurassic coast mighty hike

We were handed a map outlining the route and its various stops. Our hike covered a total of 20 miles buts included a diversion from the original hiking route. The outset was gentle, leading us along the gorgeous seafront promenade. Despite some mild inclines, it didn’t feel difficult as our time was spent talking, laughing, and taking photos of the beautiful views. With each step, my confidence in completing the hike grew stronger. We stopped for lunch at the Smugglers Inn pub in Osmington, where I enjoyed one of their award-winning pies.


pretty country pub in Dorset

As we approached our final stop on the day, located a mile shy of Durdle Door, we caught a distant glimpse of the famous three hills of doom, the subject of much discussion on the Facebook group. From the distance, they looked almost flat and easy to climb.

I had so much fun that day and our little group got on so well we decided to do the challenge together in June. I went home feeling a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the upcoming hike.

I binge-watched a ton of videos of previous hikes. The one from 2018 was in the middle of a heatwave, and folks were practically melting as they trudged along. But the views of Durdle Door were simply amazing, and many hikers took a dip in the sea. I prayed for the weather gods to be on my side.

As the big day approached, I ramped up my training. I was feeling a lot fitter and more energetic than I did 3 months prior.


Girl standing on a hill, preparing for the jurassic coast mighty hike

Setting off: A buzzing atmosphere

The big day finally came! My start time was 8 am, so I decided to travel the night before and sleep in Weymouth. Christina and Geraldine did the same so we met at the registration point and got our passes for the following day, then I joined them at their hotel for dinner before retreating to mine.

I had plans for an early night, but sleep decided to ghost me. In addition to that, my period arrived unexpectedly, leaving me in a whirlwind of anxiety.

After a sleepless night, I drove to Lodmoor Country Park, where I met up with my walking buddies. The energy was buzzing. Breakfast was served so I drank a gallon of coffee to keep me awake. We checked our gear, got some well-wishes from the Macmillan team, and off we went.

lots of people preparing to take place in the jurassic coast mighty hike

2,217 people took part in the hike

The walk started off easy, following the bay before hitting a series of small climbs out of Weymouth. The next five miles were a breeze until
We reached our first pit stop, where Macmillan laid out a feast fit for kings. There was a huge selection of food, energy bars, fresh fruit, hot and cold drinks, sweets and chocolates, water stations etc. There were tables and chairs for people who wanted to sit, but we wanted to keep the momentum so we stocked up and moved on. The weather took a turn for the worse, but I had layers of clothes and a raincoat so I was prepared.

A group of women smiling at the camera

Overcoming Mental Hurdles and battling the elements

We knew the dreaded hills were getting close but we felt confident. We stopped and chatted to other walkers. There were cancer patients among the participants, and I couldn’t help but feel so much admiration and respect for their courage. Some had just finished chemotherapy and others were waiting for their treatment to start but nothing was going to stop them that day. It was so inspiring and I felt more determined to finish the hike.

And then I saw them.

The cliffs of doom. They were bigger than I thought.

In that moment, I wished we’d climbed them during our practice hike. I would have had plenty of time to bail out with grace! We looked at each other and smiled nervously.

a view of the 3 hills on the jurassic coast mighty hike

As I took the first step, my mind started to wander to all the worst-case scenarios. What if I face-planted at the top or rolled back? Would I start a domino effect with the climbers behind me? How long would it take a rescue team to be helicoptered in? Is it too late to turn back and pretend I never signed up for this madness?

We pressed on despite the mental minefield. The uphill walk wasn’t as brutal as we expected, but the wind was so relentless it turned us into human kites. I felt so thankful for my walking poles, without them I don’t think I would have reached the first peak. Once at the top, rain lashed from all angles, and I struggled to keep my eyes open. I looked down the hill and closed them again. It looked like a death trap. Maybe if I protected my head and rolled down the hill like a human boulder I would get to the bottom unharmed?  Some people resorted to an undignified bum shuffle which looked just as uncomfortable. It was a surreal moment of hilarity and horror and I found myself instinctively wiping away tears from my face, unsure whether they were tears of laughter at the absurdity of it all or tears of sheer terror.

a group of people going down the hills on the jurassic coast mighty hike

The ground was very slippery and one wrong move could result in an accident so we walked slowly in a chain, helped by other climbers. Miraculously, we reached the bottom in one piece, but there were still two daunting hills ahead.

I looked up at the second hill, it looked bigger than the first one. The weather was relentless now and a few brave souls were turning back in defeat. I looked at the collective panic on my friends, their faces a mixture of determination and mild hysteria. With each step, the hill seemed to grow steeper but we soldiered on, encouraging each other all the way. Finally, we reached the top, where the wind was howling, the rain was pouring, and the view was… non-existent. But hey, at least we were alive.

My memory of the last hill is a blur, by this point I was delirious with exhaustion. Upon reaching the summit, we were greeted by the Macmillan photographer who captured a memorable photo of us against the backdrop of Durdle Door. I wished the weather was kinder so we could enjoy the view of this iconic landmark but the sense of accomplishment made me forget the disappointment and my questionable life choices.

a group of women smiling with the durdle door view as a backdrop

From Durdle Door, it was another 2 miles of walking inland through a wooded area until we reached our lunch stop. Having covered 13 miles, we felt hungry and deserving of our meal. The lunch spread was fantastic and included a huge selection of food that catered for every dietary requirement. We filled our plates and sat inside the tent to escape the rain, but the sun came out as soon as we did, and I felt a tinge of regret for not lingering longer on the hill. Our experience might have been different had we climbed during those sunny spells. Oh well. I grabbed a cup of hot coffee and sat in the sunshine, reveling in the moment of tranquility. It was pure bliss.

From there, it was pretty much smooth sailing, with sunshine and blue skies lifting our spirits for the remaining 13 miles. After changing into fresh socks, we resumed our journey. Just a couple of miles ahead, we arrived at Lulworth Cove. As we made our way towards the beach, we passed through the picturesque West Lulworth and its cobblestone streets lined with cute coffee shops and cosy pubs.

pretty green house called the Doll's house in West Lullworth village

This marked the end of our coastal walk. After crossing the pebbly beach, we arrived at Lulworth Cove, another dreaded spot for hikers as it involved climbing 97 steps! But I rather enjoyed it thanks to the breathtaking panorama of the cove and the beach beyond! As I started to climb the sun came out, casting emerald green reflections on the water and making it look like a watercolour painting. I felt grateful to be there in that moment and the intermittent pauses to capture several photos made the climb easier. It was my favourite moment from the day!

Girl standing on a hill with beautiful views of emerald green water

The rest of the journey led us along farm tracks and fields for several miles before transitioning to roads. Walking on the tarmac felt punishing to my feet, my legs were screaming from pain at this point. We reached the second pit stop and the 20-mile mark, and decided to take a longer break. While I hadn’t set a specific target time to finish, I still aimed to complete the walk before nightfall.

The Final Stretch: Pushing Towards the Finish Line

The route continued along more roads until we reached the final challenge: Knowle Hill. Yes, another hill!!! My heart sank when I saw it but knowing we were close to the end gave me the energy boost I needed. The last two miles were a pleasant stroll towards the beautiful Corfe Castle. As I walked past, I turned for a final view of the ruins before reaching the finish line.

We did it!

After 13.5 hours of walking, we reached the finish line under a glorious sunset, where we were greeted by a crowd of supporters cheering and offering congratulations.

Walkers of jurassic coast mighty hike walking towards Corfe castle

I received my medal and was invited to join in drinks and food, but I was feeling too sick to eat anything. I said goodbye to my friends and sat down briefly pondering whether it was a good idea to drive back home for 2 hours in my exhausted state or book a room in a hotel. My brain was screaming for a hot bath and my comfy bed but my legs were in full-on rebellion mode.

I traded my walking boots for a comfier pair of plimsolls and drove home. By then my legs were so sore they were questioning their life purpose but despite the cramps and the red toes, I didn’t have any swelling and not a single blister. I sent a silent thank you to the shop assistant who recommended my wonderful boots. They really made a difference. I slept like a baby, knowing my mum would be proud of me for believing in myself like she always taught me and surmounting such a formidable challenge.

Reflections on the journey and lessons learned

The Macmillan Jurassic Coast Mighty Hike was a transformative journey that taught me valuable lessons about resilience, purpose, community, gratitude and goal setting. Facing the physical and mental challenges I encountered made me discover fortitudes and capabilities I didn’t think I had and deepened my sense of empowerment and my love for the natural world. The camaraderie among fellow hikers and the friends I made highlighted the importance of connection and giving back to others. I am not sure I would have completed the walk had I been all alone, there were many moments when I thought about turning back but my walking buddies were really amazing and kept me going.

Embracing mindfulness and presence allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the journey and feel gratitude for my body and what it can achieve.

This challenge also marked the beginning of my passion for hiking and I have since been back to the Jurassic coast several times and climbed the dreaded hills in much better weather conditions.

Girl standing on a hill with backdrop of Durdle door view

Jurassic Coast mighty hike: practical information 

How can I sign up for the Macmillan Jurassic coast hike?

you can register directly at the Macmillan official website. 

There is a registration fee of £25.

How much money do I need to raise to participate in a Macmillan hiking challenge?

You will be required to raise a minimum of £250 for a Macmillan event. If you sign up for multiple challenges, you will need to raise funds for each event. You are encouraged to start raising funds as soon as you sign up and if you haven't met your target, you can continue raising funds for a few weeks after you complete the challenge.

Are there different hiking routes available for various fitness levels?

You can do the full marathon or the half-marathon hike. Details of the hike and routes are available on Macmillan website. In addition to the Jurassic Coast, Macmillan organise other challenges in many other stunning areas across the United Kingdom.

What advice would you give someone who has never done this challenge?

Don't overlook the importance of training. Many people abandoned the hike midway because they underestimated the task and didn't prepare enough. It's crucial to push yourself, train across various terrains, and understand your body's limitations.


  • Geraldine

    April 27, 2024

    Thank you for sharing your memories of our amazing hike, it felt like stepping back into those hiking boots as I read through the journey of our epic climb. I don’t think I would have made the finish line without you, Christina and Elly. Let’s do it again!

  • Christina

    April 29, 2024

    Thank you for this amazing post.
    It was a pleasure to walk with you all , taking the plunge to do it was life changing . The friendship , support and laughs from that day will live with me forever . Let’s do it all again .

  • Melanie

    May 1, 2024

    Wow! That’s amazing. I love doing hikesor walks for charity, but that’s a while another level and distance.

  • Ginger

    May 1, 2024

    Another hike to add to my to my bucket list! The trail looks stunning too. Love a good challenge, thanks for sharing your memories and tips!

  • Padma

    May 3, 2024

    Thank you for sharing this. I am not much of a hiker, but this sounds so good! Dorset has been on my list for visiting for a long time.


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