Northumberland climber ascends 50 hills to raise funds for schools charity

Sally marks 50th birthday year with same number of hill climbs after visit to Kenyan school in need

Sally Hutt on Warlaw Pike
Sally Hutt on Warlaw Pike

Turning 50 last January prompted Sally Hutt to decide that the ensuing year would see her hitting the heights.

She resolved to climb 50 hills before her next birthday, which falls today, when she will reach her total by going up Simonside in Northumberland.

Sally, who lives in Stamfordham in Northumberland, has been using her climbing programme to raise funds for the charity Development Direct Global Partnerships.

The charity, run by fellow villager Gill Blissett, twins schools in the North East and Africa.

The aim is to improve conditions for the African pupils.

Sally’s son Fraser goes to Ponteland Community Middle School and the family joined a party which travelled to its twin Wanga Primary School in Mbita in Kenya.

Joanna Dailey Sally Hutt on Bainbridge Hill
Sally Hutt on Bainbridge Hill

Sally said: “It was an eye-opening experience. The children were so keen to learn but many had limited access to clean water and the lack of resources mean that it is a constant challenge for these pupils.

“The trip highlighted how lucky we are in this country with our schools, drinkable water on tap and excellent free healthcare. 

“I took on the hills challenge to raise funds for those in need in Kenya. Small amounts of funding can make a huge difference.”

Sally’s rule on hills was that there had to be at least 100m of ascent from the lowest to the highest point.

She has so far raised £600 towards her target of £1,000 and people can donate on

Sally’s first hill a year ago was Killhope Law between Allendale and Nenthead “in grim weather.”

Sally Hitt on Fleetwood Pike in the Lake District
Sally Hitt on Fleetwood Pike in the Lake District

She climbed some of the hills with family, friends and colleagues, and others alone. “I love hill walking and I used to do some mountaineering,” said Sally.

She has had to juggle the hills between working at Kielder Castle as a visitor services assistant and at the Northumberland Rivers Trust, and carrying out ecological surveys.

“There were times when I thought I’d never do the 50,” she said

“I did three hills in one day on the Isle of Skye and while I was working in Wooler I dragged a colleague out to climb nearby Humbleton Hill.

“On January 4 this year it was Cheviot, which was very chilly and incredibly windy. At Christmas it was Hay Stacks in the Lake District.

Sally hutt on Tosson Hill
Sally hutt on Tosson Hill

“All the climbs have been very different, and on occasions, particularly midweek, I have had the hills to myself.

“I really enjoyed last spring and climbing in the Allendale area with the migrating birds coming back.

“I have saved Simonside until last and it will be a relief to have the pressure off.

“But it has been a great motivator for getting out and I have felt much fitter,” said Sally, who worked for 13 years for Northumberland National Park Authority, which often took her into the hills.

Sally’s countdown in Northumberland has included, as hill 48, Raven’s Knowe, climbed on January 11, and Darden Lough near Elsdon on January 14.

For details on Development Direct go to


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