Francis House Children’s Hospice: Trekkers conquer accursed mountains

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

Francis House Children's Hospice: Trekkers conquer accursed mountains
Francis House Albania trek view prior to walking the Valbona Pass

David from Dobcross, Oldham 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.

Francis House Children's Hospice: Trekkers conquer accursed mountains
Francis House Albania Trek Group trek to Thethi

David added:

“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”.

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

Francis House Children's Hospice: Trekkers conquer accursed mountains

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.
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 and services include respite care, home care, sibling support, end of life care, emotional and bereavement support.

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 or visit