Walking for WellChild: The Fan Dance

Posted on the 2nd October 2017

As a teenager Dad was always nagging me to go hiking with him. He was a fell runner when he was younger and so loves the British mountains. I didn’t share his love. However, with ambitions to join the Army, and having watched SAS Who Dares Wins on TV a year or so ago, I relented and we had a crack at the Special Forces’ famous selection test The Fan Dance in January 2017. Having completed that in a semi-respectable time we rapidly arranged the follow up event, the Parachute Regiment’s version of the Fan Dance, Steel Bayonet.

The challenge used to be the final selection test on Parachute Regiment selection. It comprises an ascent up Pen Y Fan’s very steep north ridge, before coming down the main SAS Fan Dance descent, crossing over the A470, following the road on a steep ridge, then coming back on yourself to make an ascent directly up the face of Fan Fawr – no paths involved here! 20 minutes after summiting Fan Fawr and 3 hours and 12 minutes after setting off, my 44lb Bergen and I are back in car park where it all began. 30 minutes break to eat and get some fluids before then embarking on a 10km speed march, Bergen and all, over undulating Brecon Beacons terrain. 4 hours and 22 minutes later and the hardest physical challenge of my life was over. I can see why it’s called Steel Bayonet!

There were times on the challenge where the prospect of giving up was very tempting. The first hour with the full weight of my Bergen on the steep ascent up Pen Y Fan was absolutely crushing. The second ascent up Fan Fawr was possibly worse in physical terms but with the end so close it was easier mentally to crack on. In both instances, however, I kept in mind the fact that I was doing the challenge for WellChild, kept pressing on and even met a few well-wishers (who noticed my WellChild t-shirt / socks) at the top of Pen Y Fan who prompted me to pick up the pace.

I chose to raise money for WellChild due to a family connection to the charity but also the fantastic work which they do for children who are much less fortunate than I was.

The stories I see are truly inspirational and if I can go some way to making their lives a bit better, then I am glad I raised the money for WellChild.


In total I raised £403, which was £103 ahead of target. This was raised primarily through donations from very kind friends and colleagues of mine, as well as a substantial donation from my employer, KPMG. I also ran a sweepstake, whereby I sent information to my colleagues via email who then had to try and determine how they felt I’d get on (I gave a very broad time range for guidance). This was great for both raising additional funds and raising the profile of the event.

I’d say for anyone looking for an awesome physical challenge and a fantastic cause to raise it for, The Fan Dance in conjunction with WellChild ranks way up there.

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