Trekkers tackle ‘Accursed Mountains’ for Francis House

Francis House group on finishing last walk at Thore Pass in the Albanian Alps
Francis House group on finishing last walk at Thore Pass in the Albanian Alps

A group of 18 trekkers have returned safely to the UK following a trekking adventure through the Albanian Alps.

The group, including Francis House Children’s Hospice chief executive, Revd David Ireland, and hospice director of care, Gill Bevin, embarked on the challenge in aid of the Didsbury hospice that serves families from across Greater Manchester.

After arriving in Albania’s capital, Tirana, the group were transported through breath-taking scenery to the Valbona National Park. From there they followed shepherd’s paths to the remote Eastern Alps.

For five days they hiked through the Albanian Alps, known locally as the ‘Accursed Mountains’ owing to their wild and insurmountable reputation.

David said: “Albania was a brilliant place to go for unspoilt trekking. The mountains are spectacular with phenomenal peaks and climbs.

“It was the hardest trek we have ever done but we had a fantastic group of enthusiastic trekkers with us.”

Day three was a particular highlight for many of the group, making it over the famous Valbona Pass, which links the two glacier valleys of Valbona and Theth.

At 1,860m high, reaching the crossing was by no means an easy feat, taking nine hours of hard climbing, but the group were rewarded with unparalleled views of the two beautiful valleys.

“Walking through unspoilt valleys that have been closed to the outside world for centuries, passing medieval buildings was an incredible experience I will never forget,” added David.

At night, the group rested in traditional guesthouses within the remote mountain villages, giving them a real taste of local life.

Fundraising officer and trek participant Rachel Astill said: “Surviving the Accursed Mountains feels like a huge achievement.

“With gruellingly steep climbs and such rugged terrain, the Alps certainly threw plenty of challenges in our path – but they also provided unforgettable experiences and such warm hospitality. Our memories of this beautiful country will stay with us for a lifetime.”

Previous Francis House treks to Jordan, Morocco, and Iceland have raised a staggering £112,000. All participants pay for their own place, ensuring every penny in sponsorship comes directly to the hospice. The Albania trek is expected to raise over £20,000.

  • Francis House is holding a public Open Day on Saturday, November 2, from 10am until 4pm. Tours of the facilities and refreshments are available. For information call 0161 443 2200.