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King of mountains

PUBLISHED: 14:32 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:47 23 August 2010

IN TRAINING: Pyrenees bound Andrew Clarke.

IN TRAINING: Pyrenees bound Andrew Clarke.

A SOLICITOR will follow in the footsteps of allied servicemen who escaped from France during the Second World War by completing a four-day trek across the Pyrenees. Andrew Clarke, 39, of Battle Street, Cobham, is taking part in the Freedom Trail, a gruel

A SOLICITOR will follow in the footsteps of allied servicemen who escaped from France during the Second World War by completing a four-day trek across the Pyrenees.

Andrew Clarke, 39, of Battle Street, Cobham, is taking part in the Freedom Trail, a gruelling walk across the mountain range which starts on July 10.

Mr Clarke will be one of 15 Royal British Legion supporters raising money for the charity. The trek involves a combined ascent and descent of 20,000 ft.

It commemorates the exploits of mountain guides who sheltered and led escapees across the mountains between France and Spain more than 60 years ago.

"The reason why I want to do it is a combination of both the historical side to it, and the physical challenge of crossing the Pyrenees," Mr Clarke said.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to do a rather exciting expedition. It will really bring to life what people had to go through, escaping from occupied France, and the sacrifices that French people had to make in order to help them."

The group will travel a total distance of 45 miles, across what was one of the hardest wartime escape routes.

Warned by two blasts of the driver's steam whistle, allied servicemen would leap from a train just before it crossed a bridge into the southern French town of St Girons.

There they would be collected by waiting French guides, and were hidden in barns before beginning the tough walk to freedom. Mr Clarke said: "I am massively looking forward to it. But I know it is going to be very tough.

"I have been training in the Lake District hoping that will help but I have been very daunted by the physical challenge of it.

"We will be trekking to heights of up to 9,000ft across the Pyrenees."

In the days before the expedition, members of the group will take part in memorial services and meet descendants of the mountain guides.

To sponsor Mr Clarke on his epic trek through the mountains, contact him on 01474 814238 or visit his fundraising page at www.bmycharity.com/

andrew2009.

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