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London Night Hike

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
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There are hundreds of different things you can do to help support worthy charities, but joining in with the London Night Hike for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres has to come with some of the best perks: some of London's most famous and iconic buildings open doors to hikers that us members of the regular public would never get to see behind otherwise.

It's also one of London's most original Friday nights out...

The official walking, or strolling, begins from the starting line at the gorgeous Guildhall, near Moorgate at 7:15 (then again at 8:15, 9, 9:15 and 10:15). Organisers say it will take between 7 and 10 hours to finish - depending on how long you spend it each building as well as your walking speed. This year as well as the 20 mile walk there's a 10 mile walk so even less excuse not to take part.

The 20 mile route takes you on a loop though the Channel 4 buildings and the Argentine Ambassador's Residence in Westminster, the Royal Geographic Society in Kensington, the Maggie's Centre London so you can see what you're helping to support, then back towards central London for the Royal Society of Medicine building, the Royal Institute of British Architects building and the Horse Guards building.

It's not just organisations opening their buildings to hikers who support the night's events, companies like Dorset Cereals and Outsider Tart help feed the crowds, and an expected smattering of celebrities also lend their legs to the cause. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock from 'Sherlock') will be at the starting line waving people off, so he might get stuck at the back of the 2,000-ish strong pack, literally following in the footsteps of long time supporters like Sophie Ellis Bextor, Neil Tennant and Sarah Brown.

The event sounds worth doing in itself, but the reason it exists is to raise the money needed to run the Maggie's Cancer Centres which rely solely on voluntary funding. They say it costs 350,000 to run a centre for a year and 1.9 million to build a new one, so the 689,000 raised from 2009's night hike contributed to some serious cancer caring. Maggies are aiming to open six new centres by 2012, so they need all the help you can give them.

When you sign up to walk you're asked to pay a registration fee and to agree to a minimum fundraising commitment: 30 registration for individuals and 110 for teams of four to six, with individuals committing to raise 200 and groups 800. If that seems a bit daunting they'll give you some suggestions and answer any other questions if you email them: nighthike@maggiescentres.org
One of the ways they make fundraising easier for you is by allowing you to create your own fundraisers webpage where you can keep your supporters up to date about your own efforts and share some of the experiences of the night itself with them. So if you don't think you're quite up for the 2010 hike you might consider supporting another walker at least you'll get to see their photos and contribute.

You need to register before the 17th if you want to walk, so get in touch right now while you're online.
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Why? As well as raising money for cancer you get after dark V.I.P. access to some of London's most famous buildings.
When: September the 17th
Where: The Night Hike starts and finishes at Guildhall, nearest station Moorgate
Cost: 30 registration for the 10 mile, 42.50 for the 20 mile
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