Running 100 kilometres through England’s vineyards for the Drinks Trust during English Wine Week 2020

Wine merchant Nik Darlington sets out to explore some of the country’s hidden vineyards

Graft Wine Company founder Nik Darlington will be marking this year’s English Wine Week (20th to 28th June) by attempting to run 100 kilometres over the course of the week around English vineyards and raising funds for The Drinks Trust in the process.

The 100K English Wine Week Challenge is a challenge to everyone to run, walk or cycle as far as they can during the week with the only requirement being that they go via at least one vineyard – or ideally more than one!

The goal is to raise awareness of the country’s wine lands – much of which are hidden from view but are there to be explored if you know where to look – and so encouraging the public to get outside walking, running, cycling among vineyards and visiting producers.

Nik is also raising funds for The Drinks Trust and has a Just Giving page set up if people wish to donate. The Drinks Trust is engaged in vital campaigns for drinks industry professionals affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects in the UK.

Two Strava ‘Clubs’ been set up for cyclists and runners/walkers with the popular running & cycling app so that people can join in and track their own progress throughout the week.

The 100km route

Starting in the Test Valley at the almost-finished Black Chalk winery and vineyards on Monday, 22nd June, over the course of the week Nik will be traversing vineyards in the North Downs, the Itchen Valley, the Lod Valley and the Wey Valley.

The intended schedule is:
Monday 22/6
Test Valley – 22.8km around Black Chalk, Nyetimber, Danebury and Leckford (Waitrose’s own vineyard)

Tuesday 23/6
North Downs – 22.4km around Greyfriars Vineyard, Chilworth Manor, Surrey

Wednesday 24/6
Itchen Valley – 8km along Itchen Valley around Raimes vineyards, Hampshire

Thursday 25/6
Lod Valley – 21km around Nyetimber, Upperton, Roebuck and Blackdown Ridge in West Sussex

Friday 26/6
Surrey – 9km around Denbies vineyards

Sunday 28/6
Wey Valley – 17km loop starting and ending at Jenkyn Place

Black Chalk’s Jacob Leadley will hopefully be joining Nik for some or all of Monday and Wednesday’s runs.

Nik Darlington competing at Denbies Bacchus Marathon

Nik Darlington commented:

“This began as just a way for me to get to know the countryside around me a bit better and discover our local vineyards. The idea snowballed from there!

“Our wine lands aren’t like Bordeaux or Stellenbosch with vines carpeting the horizon. Most of our vineyards are small and tucked away. You need to dig a bit deeper to find many of them, so this is also a way of encouraging people during English Wine Week to get outside and find them.

“There is something so captivating about turning the corner and finding oneself in a vineyard, wherever in the world you are but especially here at home.

“I am a keen runner, but I’ve never run this kind of mileage in this space of time so I’m quite nervous, especially about some of the hills involved along the North Downs, but also very excited about exploring the vineyard, many of which I hadn’t heard of before and some are hard to access but everyone I’ve spoken to has been so kind and supportive.”

Ross Carter, chief executive of The Drinks Trust, said:

“We are always impressed with the challenges people take in order to raise money for The Drinks Trust and Nik’s is truly exceptional. Thank you for your support and what a brilliant way to celebrate English Wine Week. We hope there’s a glass of something waiting for you to celebrate each leg of your run!”

Julia Trustram Eve, marketing manager of WineGB, said:

“What an amazing challenge Nik is doing for The Drinks Trust and to shine a spotlight on the GB wine industry during English Wine Week! He’ll be getting a cheer from all the vineyards he runs past and a huge cheer from all at WineGB for this incredible feat. If you are in the area, do join him! And importantly, please support him and this terrific charity.”

We hope as many as possible will support Nik in raising funds for this excellent charity and his raising awareness of our wonderful winelands in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey.

Find out more

The Strava Club for runners is found here https://www.strava.com/clubs/100K-english-wine-week-challenge
The Strava Club for cyclists is found here https://www.strava.com/clubs/100k-English-wine-week-cycling
Nik’s JustGiving page is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/english-wine-week-100k-challenge

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