Family’s sporting fun while climbing French mountain

A FAMILY from Henley climbed a 2,300m mountain in the French Pyrenees, playing seven different sports along the way.

Robin Bennett and his children Jude, 17, Victor, 16, and Hortense, 13, and Jude’s girlfriend Ellie Howlett, 17, took part in the challenge to raise money for Sport Relief during their summer vacation.

They tried their hand at football, cricket, rugby, basketball, badminton, boxing and swimming as they climbed the Pic du Montaigu.

Mr Bennett, 53, a children’s book author who lives on Queen Street with his children and wife Helene, said: “I’m really glad we did this. We got to the part of the holiday where the excitement was fading so it was something for the kids to keep them from getting bored.”

The family, who were accompanied by their springer spaniel, Cooper, set out on Wednesday morning last week.

Mr Bennett said: “It was a little worrying at first as it was a drizzly gray day. It felt more like England in November than the French Pyrenees in summer.

“We asked people who came down if there was cloud cover above.”

The family played cricket at the foot of the mountain because it was flat.

Mr Bennett said: “A lot of French people came by and were quite confused. I don’t think they really knew what cricket was, let alone why we were playing it at the foot of a mountain.”

After a short climb, the group played badminton with a few cows as the only spectators. “They seemed to enjoy it,” said Mr

They then played rugby, boxing and basketball before Ellie injured her knee and went down the mountain with Jude.

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The rest continued the climb and rejoiced when the sun came out just before reaching the summit and they took a very quick dip in a glacial lake.

Mr Bennett said: “Cooper was right there but I really had to take heart. It was colder than any water I had ever been in. Victor got in somehow, but only up to his knees.”

Reaching a plateau near the summit, the family blew up an inflatable goal and there was a penalty shootout.

Mr Bennett said: “We almost lost the ball on the second kick. Victor took it a bit seriously and it took a lot of deflection from one knee. It shot down the mountain and we just managed to catch it.

“Hortense was the winner, although it was a bit of a coincidence. The gate was so tiny that it was difficult to score.” After a pause, they climbed to the top.

Mr Bennett said: “We had to steal to get back up. I had to lure the kids with promises of chicken nuggets we bought at McDonalds.

“We ate them upstairs. They might have been cold and clammy, but they tasted amazing.

“When we got to the top it was amazing and we had a really nice sense of accomplishment.”

The group then went back down the mountain.

Mr Bennett also climbed the mountain 10 years ago and said: “It was tough then, but this was really tough. Last time I didn’t do any sport.”

The family raised £827 with the challenge, which was earmarked for Move 22, an initiative encouraging people to walk, run or cycle 22 miles during the 12 days of the Commonwealth Games.

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