Oldham minister conquers 'accursed mountains'

Date published: 30 September 2019

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

Among them Revd David Ireland – minister of Union Street United Reformed Church in Oldham and CEO of Francis House Children’s Hospice – with trustee and member of Oldham Mountain Rescue team, Dr Andrew Taylor.

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 from Dobcross 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 1860m high, reaching the crossing was by no means an easy feat, taking 9 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. 

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.  

Based in Didsbury, Manchester, Francis House Children’s Hospice cares for more than 500 families of children, teenagers and young adults with life-limiting conditions from across the North West.

The hospice supports families from more than 30 Clinical Commissioning Groups including north Manchester, Oldham, Bury, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, Tameside and Glossop.

Services include respite care, homecare, sibling support, end of life care, emotional and bereavement support.

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