Ukrainian refugee from Swindon walks 600 miles for charity and plants flag atop Ben Nevis

By Jessica Durston - 17 May 2023

  • Sofiia pictured atop Ben Nevis

    Sofiia pictured atop Ben Nevis

Sofiia Volovyk, a Ukrainian refugee who came to the UK just over 12 months ago, has endured walking from Swindon in Wiltshire to the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis in Scotland.

This 600-mile trip was split into two halves after an injury and the death of the Queen temporarily halted her trip in September last year.

Determined to finish her trek, Sofiia set off 12 days ago, on the King’s Coronation to finish the final 200 miles. 

Sofiia said her endurance walk was undertaken not only to represent the journey that Ukrainians have made as they have fled the war in their country, but also a personal journey of discovery.  

She explains: “I, and many other Ukrainians, have dealt with significant trauma in dealing with the war that Russia started in March last year. Feelings of guilt for having left people behind, feelings of worry for our friends, family and civilians called up to fight on the front line, and in processing our own grief knowing our country is still under daily attack and there is no end yet in sight.”

To show the strength and resilience of Ukrainians, Sofiia said she set her original challenge to start on 24 August - Ukrainian Independence Day.  

Her mission was to walk the length of the country, from where she was hosted in Swindon, to the highest part of the country, to raise the profile of the plight of Ukrainians in the UK. 

Sofiia added: “Despite our challenges, I wanted to prove to the world that Ukrainians are fearless when facing adversity. The walk symbolised the struggle the people of my country are dealing with every day. I am grateful to all those who have supported me along the way and to the UK as a whole for opening their arms, and their homes, to Ukrainians."

The walk has raised over £4,500 for Ukrainian charities and the Ukrainian support group Sofiia chairs - Swindon Welcomes Ukraine. 

The charity that is being supported on the final leg of the walk is Dobro. Dobro are a charity that help children deal with the trauma of the war. The charity organises support sessions for children, helps refugees from the east of Ukraine who have relocated to another part of the country, and they also help families who are living close to the front lines.

A charity spokesperson said before the event: “It will be a challenging journey but all of our thoughts and support will be with Sofiia during this walk."

Sofiia, flanked by a couple of support walkers from the UK and Ukraine, climbed the summit of Ben Nevis on Tuesday 16 May, in deep fog, high winds, over a foot of snow and freezing temperatures.

"The last section is the toughest,” said Sofiia, “you cannot prepare for climbing into freezing clouds, and finding snow on the top. Nevertheless, I raised the Ukrainian flag at the top of the summit and left it there to remind others that you can achieve anything you set your mind to." 

Those that would like to donate to Sofiia’s cause can visit her Just Giving page at

Your Comments

Be the first to comment on this article

Login or Register to post a comment on this article

Subscribe to The Link

Registered in England & Wales. No: 4513027, Positive Media Group, Old Bank House, 5 Devizes Road, Old Town, Swindon, SN1 4BJ