Watford woman's Kenyan trip raises £2,000 for riding stables

First published in Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter - north London

Trekking through the Kenyan desert in scorching heat with a heavy backpack does not sound like a walk in the park.

So spare a thought for Mandy Blande, from Watford, who did just that to raise £2,000 for Penniwells Riding Stables for the disabled, in Edgwarebury Lane, Elstree.

The 53-year-old returned from her 100km trek through the Great Rift Valley in Nairobi, on Monday.

Her adventure included a five-hour climb up Mount Longonot, which she described as "one of the most difficult tasks I have ever done".

The mother-of-two said: "When I reached the top of the mountain, after what seemed like forever, I really did feel on top of the world.

"I also abseiled down a 100ft cliff and did a 26km walk without stopping, despite the sun being 30 degrees.

"The whole trip was just incredible and one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. It was really tough, hardly a walk in the park, but still amazing nonetheless."

Ms Blande first began volunteering at the stables, which helps people with physical and mental disabilities, four years ago.

During her trip, the Byron Avenue, Watford resident spent the evenings camping in Navaisha Park next to zebras, buffalos, warthogs, jackals and baboons.

She added: "I had no shower during my trip so the first thing I did when I got home was have a hot bath.

"I would love to do the trip again in a couple of years.

"I am really proud with how much money I raised for Penniwells because I know it will be put to good use."

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