A GROUP of eight including two canines ran 100km between three castles.

James Marshall, alongside five of his friends and two dogs, took to the Three Castles Path that connects Windsor to Winchester, via Odiham.

Finishing in their home city, the team ran 50km a day across two days, unsupported apart from two pop up cafes.

Mr Marshall told the Chronicle: "The route is a little more spartan as you come down the Candover valley. We do all live in Kings Worthy, so it was superb to finish such an epic route in our home city.

"This we all did to raise funds for the Samaritans and so far, have raised in excess of £2,000."

Mr Marshall later told the Chronicle: "With many lock down projects this was quite an epic. It all started when my friends had seen the new Three Castles Sign at Abbotstone during the lock down, it said Winchester 7miles and Windsor 53 miles. Initially we just thought how amazing it would be if we could run it, then after a lot of lockdown training later, it became a reality that we could run it. We had done distance running as a group before, but never on our own, not as part of an organised event.

"Five of us from Kings Worthy, Jo Lowres, of Frampton Way, Dan Conroy, of London Road, Steve Benwell, of Mount Pleasant, Richard Mitton, of Colley Close, and James Marshall, of Lovedon Lane, set off from Windsor Castle on Saturday the 10th of July.

"The Three Castles path is a historic route, linking Three Castles all used by King John, Windsor, Odiham and Winchester.  The first day covered 50 km, running from Windsor firstly to the Lookout in Swinley Forrest for a sausage roll breakfast, this section included running through the Windsor Great Park and also Ascot racecourse on race day, both are easy to do, just follow the signs. After our breakfast, the second leg took us past the RMA Sandhurst, HMP Broadmoor, Horseshoe lake at Yateley and finally The Chequers pub at Eversley Heath for a soup, macaroni cheese and pint of beer. Third leg of the first day took us further South through Hazeley Heath to Hartley Whitney for an excellent slice of cake and cup of tea in the Courtyard café, before the final and hard slog along the Basingstoke Canal to Newlyn’s farm at Hook for the end of the day.

"After a well-earned curry and sleep in Hook, the second 50 km day started on the Canal with an extra member of our group, Julie Mitton, for a run to Odiham Castle, which is a ruin, but really interesting to see. Once the canal finished at Greywell we carried on through the ancient footpaths of north Hampshire to Ellisfield for an excellent pop-up café specialising in sausages, bread rolls and tea for breakfast, also picking up our seventh member, Freddy Marshall, also of Lovedon Lane, a Springer Spaniel.

"After refuelling, cross country, still on excellent foot paths to Lower Wield and were welcomed in most kindly to The Yew Tree pub, for a richly deserved pint of shandy at noon, not lunch yet as that is too come. This beautiful path then follows through Upper Wield and then, Abbotstone Down for a second pop up café with excellent savouries and more tea, and our eighth member, Peggy Conroy also of London Road, who is also a Springer Spaniel.

"It’s getting warm now and we are nearer to home, but the next leg takes us to Itchen Abbas and the Plough Pub for some excellent pre booked sandwiches, trout and sausages have never tasted better at 4pm.

"Last leg, and in the rain, took us into Winchester for a run past the Cathedral, up the High Street and then to finish at the site of the Great Hall now, but the Castle for King John.

"A hundred km over two days, over very well-kept paths though such beautiful scenery, you just have to think of the significance of what you have seen, Castles, Ascot Race Course, RMA Sandhurst and then historic five path junctions on this ancient footpath. To finish in our home city of Winchester, we don’t go fast, seven hours of running a day. This was not done for us though, collectively we raised £2,500 for the Samaritans who have told us that this will fund 500 calls into the charity for people in the most extreme and desperate need of help.

"All in all, no better way to explore an area so close to home that is magnificent and for such a good cause."