A RESCUE dog abandoned in a box on a train track has acted as inspiration for two old school friends’ gruelling 92-mile charity trek.
James Conroy and Tom Gould set off from Mow Cop Castle, on the edge of the Peak District, for a four-day expedition across the Staffordshire Way on Wednesday.
The keen hikers, both former pupils of Thomas Alleyne’s High School, will travel 25 miles-a-day until they arrive at the route’s end – the sandstone ridge of Kinver Edge.
And the 28-year-olds’ mutual love for animals has prompted them to use the walk to raise sponsorship money for the RSPCA.
Mr Gould, from Uttoxeter, said: “We both enjoy the outdoors and go walking and camping pretty regularly and had been planning to walk the Staffordshire Way for some time.
“James came up with the idea of raising money for charity and we were both keen to help the RSPCA’s brilliant work.
“It’s a charity that relies solely on public donations and doesn’t get any additional funding.”
Ground worker Mr Gould’s old family pet, rescue dog Jet, was one of his inspirations for backing the RSPCA.
He wants to help the charity house abandoned or neglected dogs like Jet and preserve under-threat wildlife.
Mr Gould said: “When I was younger we had a rescue dog, a mongrel cross-breed called Jet who had been abandoned in a box on a railway line.
“She was a great dog and lived a happy, long life with us.
“Anyone who takes on a rescue animal is doing a really noble thing.
“And one of the best things about hiking is the amount of wildlife you get to see and there are some animals that need help.
“For instance, I know the hedgehog population is in rapid decline and the RSPCA is doing valuable work to protect them.”
Mr Gould and Mr Conroy, a welder from Marchington, will camp overnight in the picturesque and varied landscapes on the 92-mile route.
And former soldier Mr Conroy’s navigation skills will come in handy as the hikers navigate the ‘traditional way’ – just using a map and a compass.
Anyone who wants to donate to the cause can do so online at choices.rspca.org.uk/appeal/walking-the-staffordshire-way.