A group of university friends are bringing the might of the Roman Empire back to the Peak District in December as they trek across the famous landscape dressed in full Roman soldier regalia.

The seven 40-somethings, who met at Staffordshire University 30 years ago, are returning to the Peaks for their 30th annual trek – and this year will be raising funds for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

Each year the group don costumes for their charitable trek, with Artic explorer Captain Scott, characters from Monty Python’s Holy Grail and many more getting the treatment since they started dressing up for  the occasion in 2011.

Organiser Jeff Nicholls says their intricate costumes, if somewhat impractical, always capture people’s imaginations.

“We’ve always found that dressing up really draws attention to our chosen charity and the people we encounter along the way are always very interested in what we’re doing,” said Jeff, 49, an NHS Manager from Exeter.

“After we’ve finished our ten-mile trek, even if we’re soaking wet and freezing cold, we always stay in costume for the obligatory post-trek drinks too. We do a put a lot of effort into getting the detail right so it’s always great fun and does turn a few heads.

“Everyone is always so supportive and they really get into the spirit of it – we’ve been so impressed by people’s generosity. And because we’ve been doing it for a few years now, we often get recognised by locals who say ‘here they are again’.”

With custom-built shields courtesy of materials donated by New World Timber and Iain Clarke Furniture, this year’s costumes promise quite the spectacle.

Each year the group pick a theme, with this year’s inspired by the legacy the Romans left in the Peak District. They hope to answer the famous question immortalised in Monty Python’s Life of Brian – ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ – once and for all by traversing the roads whose origins date back to the days of the Roman Empire.

“Our trek will take us across some of the roads that were initially built by the Romans and we’ll be finishing at the remains of a Roman fort - Navio – near the village of Hope,” said dad-of-two Jeff.

“It just so happens that the fort is very close to The Traveller's Rest pub at Brough, so it's worked out quite well.".”

What began as an annual get together for the tight-knit group, who are now scattered across the UK and Europe, evolved into a fundraiser with various charities benefiting over the years.

“For the past 30 years we’ve always come to the Peak District and we’ve always stayed at Pindale Farm Outdoor Centre. I’d often come here when I was at University and we all love the landscape so it became a tradition.

“We don’t really get to see each other through the year so it began as an opportunity for us all to get together and have some fun. After about ten years, we decided it would be nice to do something for charity as a part of it.

“We come here and enjoy the beautiful landscape every year so we thought it would be good to give something back to the charities that do such important work locally. So, after doing some research ahead of this year’s trek, I found Bluebell Wood and we’re very much looking forward to raising as much as possible.”

The Romans are coming to the Peak District on December the 11th so if you chance upon them trekking across the rolling hills, feel free to say hello and get a selfie.

The group consist of Jeff Nicholls, Nick Humphreys, Phil Nisbet, Graham Wilson, Jon Ward, Adam Garside, and James Howes – and you can support their efforts here.

Samantha Wood, Head of Fundraising at Bluebell Wood, said: “A group of Roman soldiers marching across the Peak District on a cold Saturday in December will be a sight to behold and we’re in no doubt that they’ll get a very warm welcome from everyone they encounter.

“It’s such an inventive and fun way to raise funds and we’re incredibly grateful that they have chosen to support local children and families at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice this year.

“Best of luck to the group from all at Bluebell Wood  – we can’t wait to see the photos!”