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The main reason and inspiration for this challenge is Olivia Giles, you can find out about her, and her Charity, onwww.500miles.co.uk. When you read about her, or get the chance to meet her, I am sure you will understand why I am so inspired by her.
One of the Charity events is thewww.milesforsmiles09.co.uk which takes place on the 3rd October. I was discussing this with Olivia whilst on a wee trip to France. I ascertained that she was trying to get 500 people to do a mile for her, (you can do this!). I asked if anyone was going to do 500 miles for her and when she said no I offered, I hasten to add that I had had a few refreshments! When I reflected on what I had offered to do the next morning I still thought it was a great idea. So here we go!
I am unable to do 500 miles in one as I would be away from the farm for too long, so I am going to do 7 of Scotlands walks, cumulating to 500 miles. The last mile will be done at the Miles for Smiles event on the 3rd October in Edinburgh. The proposed walks are (July) West Highland Way, Speyside Way (August) Great Glen, Fife Coastal Path (September) Kintyre Way, St Cuthberts Way (October) John Muir Way.
I would really appreciate any financial sponsorship, I have 500 wristbands which I wish to give away with every £5+ donation. I am also looking for company sponsorship of £500/walk, any help with this would be superb.
It would also be great if some of you could join me at any time on the walks, I might (will) need some moral support!
PROGRESS SO FAR
7thJuly 2009- Started the West Highland Way!
Milngavie to Rowardenan 26 miles.
DAY 1. Walked the first section from Milngavie to The Beach Tree at Dumgoyne with my wife Noni. It was easy going and the weather was ideal, sunshine and breezy. After a very welcome bacon sandwich we walked to Killearn bridge where we were joined by my Son Alaxander. A gentle walk took us to Drymen in time for lunch. Noni and Alexander decided not to do the next section so I set off to do the Drymen to Balmaha section on my own.The forrestry above Drymen is pretty dull but the views going up, and from, the Conic were awesome (see pics) The route doesn’t go to the summit so I did a quick detour and grabbed a fellow walker to take a photo of me on the Top! Knees were a bit shocked coming down. First time in a long time, I had a soft drink in the pub which was pure nectar.
Balmaha to Rawardenan was a slog. Although its on Loch Lomond side the views are not that good so it was more of a speed march. The breeze thankfully kept the midges away, although I was smelling nicely of "Avon Skin So Soft" the best midgey repellent. Fitness wise it was fine but the soles of my feet started to hurt a bit, got the odd blister so I have some Compeed, specialist blister prevention, for the next stage. Made it to Rowardenan about 6.00.
Next stage is Rowardenan to Crianlarich 20 Miles.
Caught a bit of “Man Flu” which has floored me for a few days, so slightly behind schedule. All being well we will do the next leg Monday 13th July and Crianlarich to Kings House (25 Miles) Tuesday14th July.
Day 2 Man Flu hit me hard but managed to sniffle my way from Rowardennan to Crianlarich on 23rd July. Rowardennan to Inversnaid was fairly pleasant and I teamed up with a charming lady called Jackie from Yorkshire. We chatted away which passed the time. Inversnaid to Inverarnan was pretty nasty, which the guide books had warned us about. This would have been murder in wet weather. Jackie stayed at Inverarnan and I continued to Crianlarich. A steady and fairly easy walk, but mostly uphill! The walk doesnt actually go into Crianlarich so I detoured the halfmile and was picked up by my wife. Still coughing and spluttering but thats another 20 miles for smiles!
DAY 3 Determined to continue, I drove up early on the 24th July to Crianlarich and walked in pouring rain to Tyndrum. I couldnt see much so it was more of a speed march, not particularily hard but up and down. After a quick break in Tyndrum I did the stretch to Bridge of Orchy. This was great and was mostly on what is called "The Old Military Road". The weather from Tyndrum improved, just the odd shower. Went quite fast so feet hurt a bit. I am beginning to realise that unless the weather is good and there are views this walking lark is quite boring! I hitched back to Crianlarich and drove home. Not a big walk but another 13 miles in the bag!
I hope to do Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse (12 miles) and kingshouse to Fort William (23 miles) on 29th-30th July. Kingshouse to Fort William will probably the hardest walk to date.
I am now behind schedule.
Total to do:440
Day 4 Wednesday 29th July.The next stage of the walk was too far o come home at night so I decided to stay a night away. The kingshouse Hotel is the only accommodation at kingshouse and it was fulkly booked so I had to slightly change the plans and go from Bridge of Orchy to Kinlochleven on the first day, thats 21 miles.
I caught a bus to Bridge of Orchy from Balloch. Bridge of Orchy to Inveroran (2 miles)was pretty uneventful a fairly pleasant walk up and over a hill. I then joined the old drove road which goes through Glencoe. Whilst its a good solid road it is made up of small cobble type stones which are eneven this really does become quite a niggle on the feet. The weather and views were perfect, the most enjoyable part of the walk so far. The walk comes down past the ski centre at Glencoe and I stopped at Kingshouse for a quick lunch. Its interesting that actually when walking you dont need lots of food/energy, liquids seem to be much more in demand. So a quick bowl of soup was all that was needed.
I was a bit wary of the next stage to Kinlochleven,(9 miles) as it has the famous devils staircase on it. Actually it wasnt too bad and the views from the summit were amazing. The path over to Kinlochleven was good but stoney, again the feet dont like this! The last section is downhill for a long way. Downhill actually seems to put more pressure on the feet and joints than uphill so a bit of pain, but bearable.The walking poles really take the strain. I had decided to stay in a hotel which on reflection was a bad idea. The £60 bill would have been better spent on the charity, thats a leg!
Day 5 Thursday 30th July. One advantage of the stay at the Hotel was a good breakfast, slightly regretted shortly after eating as the first part of the walk to Fort William is straight up out of the glen, kept burping black pudding. Once out of the glen and onto the tops there is a good road, but stoney. The weather was great for walking, Sunshine and showers. The views never cease to amaze me. Towards the end of the walk there is a section of forrestry which is pretty dull to walk in but the view onto Ben Nevis at the end is great. There was a fairly lengthy downhill road into Fort William which hurt. It felt great to reach the finish sign, another14 miles. Finished!
95 miles in the bag for 500 miles, only 405 to go! I have decided to look into doing some walks nearer to home as staying away costs too much. It looks like I will do the Rob Roy Way (92 miles) next, hopefully starting Wednesday 5th August.
Day 6 Thursday 6th August. Rob Roy Way (Emily writes)Due to Gilly having had an operation on both her feet Alexander and I decided to get out of the house and do some of the legs with Dad. The first leg of the Rob Roy Way was fantastic, the sun was shining and a there was a gentle breeze the weather was, again, perfect. We started in Drymen and finished in Aberfoyle. The walk itself was generally easy with rolling hills and gentle terrain, the path was tarmac and forrestry road. Alexander struggled towards the end but overall we kept up a steady pace and reached Aberfoyle within 5 hours. Another 10 miles done!
Day 7 Friday 7th August. Rob Roy Way (Emily writes) Another beautiful day. Leaving Alexander at home, Dad and I set off from Aberfoyle. With a steep hill to start with, the heat was nearly unbearable but luckily the hills rolled on and the weather darkened slightly. We kept up a quicker pace than the day before however this leg of the Rob Roy Way wasnt as well sign posted as before, however, using a small map and our initiative we managed to stay on track, doubt did cross our mind after about 3 hours of moorland and having not passed a single person...we eventualy saw a very tired cyclist. We passed a small fishing loch which was beautiful. Walking on we reached a forestry track, from there we saw Loch ____ thinking we only had about a mile to go we soldiered on. Reaching a sign we then discovered we had in fact a further 3 miles to walk. 3 miles pavement pounding after the rather gentle past 5 miles of grass and soil was rather sore on the feet, however, an hour later we reached Callander for well earned drinks and crisps. 10 more miles.
Day 8 Saturday 8th August. I went from Callander to Killin in one, which the book says is 21 miles, I dont think so! This is a great walk. Its basically a very well established cycle path, mostly running on roads, old railway lines and forrestry tracks. The weather was great for a couple of hours but my luck ran out and it rained, not very pleasant! The walk up the lochside was lovely. The highlight was Rob Roys grave in Balquidder managed to grab a Spanish tourist to take my photo next to it (see photo). Arriving in Killin, the falls are really great. Sneaked in a few beers waiting for Noni and Gilly to pick me up. 21 miles done.
Day 9 Wednesday 12th August. The glorious twelfth! Had a great result, a friend from the gym Richard Osprey,asked to join me for trhis leg. We drove up in two cars leaving one in Kenmore and one in Killin. It was great to walk with someone and chat away to pass the time. The walk was an easy tarmac road on the South shore of Loch Tay. It really is a lovely area and I will deffinately go back. Food hasnt been a priority on the walks so far but Richard produced some fine sandwiches which we ate at the side of the loch, it was great! (Huge thankyou to Ray for the picnic) We made it to Kenmore without any major problems, the biggest being that Richard left his trainers at home so he walked the 19 miles in normal shoes, great effort. He didnt let on but I bet he had one or two blisters! Had a pint in the Kenmore Hotel!
Day 10 Friday 14th August 2009. This was the worst so far! I drove up to Pitlochry and took buses to Kenmore. It was raining constantly! I started the walk from Kenmore along a minor tarmac road, easy walking but the rain was persistent. The minor road became a main road and every car and lorry that passed gave me an unwelcome shower, I was soaked. I have to say that the walk into Strathtay was the biggest stumbling block so far, I really had to remember why I was doing this to keep me going. Olivia and "500 miles" were in my thoughts.....tough! The climb out of Strathtay was steep, in mist and more damned rain! But a highlight at the top was sighting, what I think, was a Moose! Someone is obviously breeding them it was a really bizzare moment. It just stood and stared at me, both of us mad! The walk over the top was unpleasant, no visibility and and eary. Wandering off the path could have had serious consequences, luckily I wasnt in a wandering mood. This was bad! Made it into Pitlochry felt, and probably looked, like drowned rat! Got home as quickly as I could, need to forget that one! Sorry no photos, not in the mood!
Rob Roy Way done! Another 75 miles for miles for smiles!
Planning to start the Great Glen next week. For your information there are deffinate times for two of the walks. The John Muir Way will be done on the 2nd ad 3rd October, please join me. St Cuthberts Way will be walked on the last week in September with Johnny Rutherford, anyone else?
Day 11. I set off very early on Sunday 23rd August to do The Great Glen Way. It was atrocious weather at home and I was preparing for a very wet walk! I arrived at Invermoriston, my final destination for this stage, after 3hrs. The weather was surprisingly nice. I caught a bus back to Fort William to the start. The first part of the walk is through the town and then onto the Caledonian Canal. Great walking, nice and flat. First "point of interest" were the lock gates at Neptunes Staircase, quite impressive. After 11 miles I got to Gairlochy and the shores of Loch Lochy. The next 11 miles were probably the most enjoyable I have so far , it was stunning! Having done 22 miles my feet were hurting and I should really have stopped, however, I had to get to Invergarry which was a further 5 miles. I made it but it was hard. I also found out that the Way had been closed beyond Invergarry for Forrestry Harvesting, I was going to have to back track in the morning. Hotels were too expensive so I booked into a Hostel. Back to school, only difference was mixed dormitories and bunk beds, great! No food, drinks etc, self catering, HAD... to go to the pub. Met up with some Aussie girls who were great fun. Turned out that their family were sheep farmers from Melbourne. Had lots to talk about! Baaaaah!
Day 12. 24th August. Managed to get the girls to give me a lift backwards to join up with the walk at Laggan Swing Bridge, so luckily didnt have to wast time back tracking. The weather was still holding out. A most pleasant walk, although on an empty stomach, up to Oich Bridge along the shores of Loch Oich, apart from the bloody midges, thank goodness for "Avon Skin So Soft" ! Had a welcome breakfast at the " Tea Rooms" (in joke for SMTC members)! Carried on to Fort Augustus along the Canal, this is lovely, most tranquil. Arrived Fort Augustus for lunch and watched a group of boats coming down the 6 locks into Loch Ness. Quite a good sight but oh! "The Tourists", everywhere! The next 9 miles were through forrestry above Loch Ness which was up and down but fairly straight forward, feet hurting a little. A wee bonus was looking down on a Tornado flying down the Glen, awesome. Arrived Invermoriston about 4.00pm Decided that doing 20 miles in one day is enough!
Picked up a German Hitchhiker who was going to Spean Bridge to stay with someone she had contacted on www.Couchsurf.com! Interesting concept? Got as far as Glencoe and my car broke down, so ended up getting driven home by an X AA man, talked.....alot! The cars not well! Need a new turbo.....aghhhhhh! Not to worry another 47 miles done. Looking forward to the next stage, Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit to Inverness.
Day 13 31st August. Oh dear, suspicions were right, needed a new turbo so I had to get the train to Inverness. Actually sitting for 3 hrs doing nothing watching some of Scotlands finest countryside was very pleasant. Good old Bristish rail were late but I just managed to catch my bus to Invermoriston.
A steep climb out of the glen woke me up! The weather was great, I have been so lucky, it has done nothing but rain at home. The walk to Drumnadrochit is through Forrestry with the odd gap to view the Loch, which I have to say was fantastic.
I am afraid that I have gone for the Hotel option again, I do love big Aussie birds sleeping above me but I do like my comforts. I arrived at The Drumnadrochit Hotel feeling surprisingly great, so had a few beers and a very good dinner.
Day 14 1st September. Good friend Schteeeeve Collier(SMTC) announced his arrival at Glenside this evening so I had to get home asap! Early breakfast and a bit of a speed march was required. Again there was a steep walk out of the Glen and onto forrestry. Had a chat with Noni on the phone on the way up, put my phone back in my pocket, ear phones on and carried on. Somehow my phone fell out, only noticed about 3 miles down the line. I stopped everyone going in the other direction and asked them to look out for it. There was a long stretch of tarmac which is not good for walking on, so sore feet. Luckily the route then goes through some amazing heather/scotts pine territory which I believe is home to Black Game, brilliant! A short Forrestry Trail finishes on top of the hills overlooking Inverness, this is an amazing view. The route then took me through the suburbs of Inverness which are great, its a nice town! On nearing the finish the walk does some Island hopping through the park, most unusual and nice. I eventually arrived at the finish at Invernes Castle; got some Yankee tourist to take my photo; raced for the train station; caught an earlier than anticipated train, in order to get back to entertain Schteeeve (manic!) Meantime Noni had phoned me and spoken to 2 guys following me on the trail who had picked up my phone....brilliant! Hopefully they will send it on. I managed to get home early evening, great fun with Schteeve! Best walk so far
Thats it 81 miles, The Great Glen Way.... done!
Day 15 Monday 7th September. Set off with Noni to do the first leg of The Fife Coastal Path. We drove to Kircaldy and caught a train back to North Queensferry. Very nice to have time together and to have Noni involved again, she has been hugely tolerant! The weather was great, which is amazing given the constant rain we have had over the last 5 weeks. Biggest mistake was not getting Noni breakfast, she managed the walking but not the hunger! The walking was fairly easy but we really dont like tarmac and towns. When we were actually on the coastal paths it was really great. Managed to find a bakery in Aberdour and we had a roll in the Train station. Having fulfilled her hunger pains we than had an issue over the stations loos being closed, oh the joys!
We made good time walking approx 3mph, this is a good speed and Noni did very well. I know she was in a bit of pain towards the end of the walk but no complaints. So nice to have her with me. We made it to Kircaldy early evening and drove back through the towns and villages we had walked, a great sense of achievement. 18 miles
Day 16 Wednesday 9th September. On a mission, I had a dinner appointment at 7.00 Faslane with the Royal Marines so I had to do this one quickly, I had 20 miles to do and I was 1.5hrs away from home. I drove to Elie and caught a bus back to Kircaldy. The weather was great, a cool breeze and sunshine, ideal. So head down and march!The walk itself was lovely apart from walking through Leven, not nice! Part of the walk was on beeches which was really fantastic. Made it to Elie in 5hrs, which is 4mph, a good speed. Raced back home quick shower and made it to the Officers Mess. Another 20 miles done.
Very sadly got let down by a sponsor so had to delete £500 from my total. Having said that everyone is being so generous, huge thankyous.
Day 17 Friday 11th September. Drove over to St Andrews early doors to have breakfast with our very good friends Sandy and Frippy Fyfe who live at Kinkell. Great to catch up and a very good breakfast, big thank you Sandy, it set me up perfectly for the day. I left my car at Kinkell as its virtually on the Way and Sandy very kindly drove me to Elie. Another great day for walking, clear skies and a cool breeze. This walk is I think is the best I have done so far. The fishing villages and beaches are great, well worth a visit. Some of the walk is actually on the beaches, luckily the tide was out! I romper stomped the walk although it took a bit longer than expected. Frippy was waiting with a well earned cup of tea. Another 22 miles
Day 18 Tuesday 15th September. Managed to get Noni to come on this leg, its all quite difficult wth school runs etc We drove over to Sandy and Frippys and left the car with them. Great weather again, I really have been lucky. A short walk took us into St Andrews where we had a naughty bacon roll, or two! Walking through the old town and University was really nice. I think we wished we had been clever enough to have gone there. The sea food Restaurant on the front looks fab, we have booked an afternoon with Sandy and Frippy in November to have lunch there. Although we are not golfers the Old course and R and A are quite special. A boring tarmac cycle track took us to Guardbridge and ont Leuchars. We watched a couple of jets taking off and landing, very noisey and powerful! I wouldnt like to be a Taliban up against one of these! The walk then goes through a major forrest which Noni found utterly boring and she really got quit pissed off! The walk then becomes tarmac again and goes into Tayport. Noni had a well deserved chocolate stop and we carried on to The Tay Bridge. Sandy was there to take us back to our car and on the way back he fed us parma ham and beers, fantastic! It was great to have Noni along it was so nice to be able to blether along way. Another 21 miles done and The Fife Coastal Path finished, (81 miles).
Day 19. 18th September. I need to make up a few miles as the totals of the official walks are not exactly 499 miles. I decided to walk back from Alexanders school to home. This is about 18 miles and takes in a part of the West Highland Way. Gilly was home for the weekend and decided to come to. She needed to do some exercise as she has been off games due to an operation she had on her feet. The walk through town was pretty boring but Gilly chatted away which was great. We had a quick bacon roll in Milngavie before heading up the West Highland Way. Gilly did really well, walking at a good speed and no complaining. We met Noni at The Beech Tree and Gilly went home with her. I did the last 4 miles on my own.
I am doing the St Cuthberts Way on Wed, Thurs, Frid with Johnny Rutherford which should be great, cant wait. I then do the John Muir Way with Paddy my brother on Friday 2nd Saturday 3rd October . Nearly done!
Day 20 I met up with my old mucker Johnny Rutherford at his home near Kelso first thing for a bacon sandwich, great! We got a lift to Melrose Abbey where The St Cuthberts Way starts. Johnny had researched the walk both by walking some of it and on the internet so we had a good idea of what to expect. We decided to do a big first day Melrose to Morebattle some 25 miles. It was felt that we should hit the Cheviots head on on day 2 over a shorter distance.
The weather couldnt have been better, sunshine and a cool breeze. The first climb is straight up through the Eildons, what a view! Coming down into St Boswells and along the Tweed was magical. We didnt seem to stop chatting, it was great to catch up. Leaving the Tweed into Maxton took up up hill onto the old Roman road, again nice easy walking and good scenery. Noni had packed us some goodies which were devoured in seconds at Lilliards stone. I have learnt the hard way that eating too much at lunch time when walking is bad news! We got a bit of a fright at the Jedfoot Bridge with a steep climb. Its great to walk with someone who is very fit as they act as a pacemaker, on my own I would probably had one or two rests! I have to say its a great feeling when you push yourself. After this the walk was fairly easy and we came down into Morebattle pasing Cessford Castle. One or two pints in the pub went down well!! A big thankyou to susie for picking us up and providing a huge lasagne. 24 Miles done
Day 21 Susie dropped us off at the Pub, luckily it was closed but we managed a quick photo. We knew the first part of this walk would be hard. We were on a steep climb almost immediately up the Cheviots. We took it in turns to lead which kept the pace going, both determined not to be outdone by the other! Arriving at the summit of Wideopen Hill was great, another photo opperchancity. It was very windy! Steadt ups and downs thereafter into Yetholm and up to halfway house. A bit of a climb took us to the Border on Whitelaw. Lots of fooling about trying to cross the border! A jolly walk down into Hethpool took us onto a fantastic Grouse Muir. It was superbly managed and loads of covies were a tribute to the management. Sore feet took us down into Wooler where Susie and the girls met us.
Day 22. A car problem meant we took Johnnys girls to school, dropped my car at the Lindisfarne causeway, the tide was out.We then went back to Wooler. The weather was good but threatening to rain, but it luckily didnt. A pretty uneventful morning took us to St Cuthberts Cave, where we had lunch and the obligatory photo. Shortly after lunch we came over the hill above Fenwick and saw Lindisfarne, hugely deceptive! Its actually about 10 miles away but appears much nearer. The walk goes down towards the Causeway acros fields over the A1. A bit of excitement was had phoning for permission to cross the main East Coast Railway line, a train passed seconds after we crossed!! We startedc the causeway to Lindesfarne in good spirits but its a boring old trudge. We could have gone on the Pilgrims Path across the sands which Johnny thought his feet would have loved, but I needed the miles. We made it in good time but with sore feet, tarmac walking! Susie picked us up and dropped me off at my car, she is great. St Cuthberts Way done with a great man! 62 miles
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