We once again challenged ourselves to help raise money to support the Heartlands CF clinic based in the West Midlands. They have continued to provide excellent care for their high-risk patients throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Since 2017 each year challenging ourselves to help build awareness of our chosen charity. In 2017 we completed the National 3 Peak Challenge, followed by the 14 Peak Challenge in 2018 and Our Hadrian’s Wall Challenge in 2019.
Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get out in 2020 due to the travel restrictions in place, so this year, and to celebrate, going bigger and bolder yet again.
The Great Glen Way stretches for 118.5km from coast to coast across the Highlands, linking the main centres of Fort William and the regional capital of Inverness. On top of the 120km distance, we also climbed Ben Nevis, just for kicks.
Day 1 – 9 Hour Drive + 40 Mile Bike Ride
As we had such a long way to drive, we decided that our first day would be best covered on our bikes from Inverness to the top of Loch Oich. This 40 miles ride took us nicely alongside the whole of Loch Ness. Although we didn’t see Nessy we did have fantastic views of the valley. Scotland treated us to some of the best weather we’ve had all year.
After a spot of lunch and 4.5 hours of riding, we arrived in Fort Augustus for dinner, a few pints, and some well-earned rest. The sea-side vibes of Fort Augustus welcomed the team with only having a 20-minute ride left to our BnB before an early night.
Day 2 – 28 Mile Walk
Walk 28 miles….sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not as easy as you would think. We set off along Loch Oich on The Great Glen Way footpath and once again, the weather was perfect. We set off at a decent pace (around 4mph) and covered 16 miles after 4 hours. We covered Loch Oich and a good proportion of the adequately named Loch Locky before luckily coming across a natural beauty spot for lunch.
It’s fair to say the second half of the walk didn’t go as smooth, we have now concluded that humans are only built to walk around 20 miles per day….. or something like that. After the 20 mile mark, as your feet start to hurt and the blisters form, each mile seems to get exponentially more difficult. It then becomes a matter of will. You have to keep plodding along as quickly as possible. After Loch Locky we joined the Caledonian canal stretch into Fort Willam for the final 9 miles of the day.
As we ended the last stretch of the canal, we started to see more and more people and a welcomed pitstop at a cafe provided some rest bite for the 3-mile walk to our BnB for the night. Another challenge of walking without a support driver is even when you are finished for the day, you then have to walk to your accommodation or the pub. But we made it, to the BnB and the Pub….of course. A total walking time of 9.5 hours.
Day 3 – 16 Mile Walk + Ben Nevis
Our final day saw a cloudier start so we thought we’d missed out on the chance of getting views from the top of Ben Nevis, if you are a keen hiker you’ll know doesn’t happen very often. That said we set off early doors on the 4-mile walk to the base of Ben Nevis and started our climb and the last piece of the challenge.
As we climbed, Scotland once again blessed us with superb weather as the clouds gave way to blue skies, and with the slight breeze, we heated up nicely. It turns out finishing a challenge on a Saturday, Bank holiday weekend isn’t the best idea as we queued with a range of walkers on route to the summit, but with the weather like this, we wouldn’t have changed a thing.
After 2 hours 40 minutes we reached the top and ate our lunch reflecting on the past 3 days – Scotland is a beautiful place with views pretty much unrivalled in the UK and even before we’ve left we talked about coming back to do it all over again with our families and more friends. It took us just under 2 hours 20 to get down to the Ben Nevis Inn conveniently placed at the foot of the mountain where we rested our legs before walking (again) back to our BnB – We walked in total for 8 hours on day 3, which was enough.
We completed the challenge in just 3 days. Most walking routes say 5 – 7 days, excluding Ben Nevis. I think once again, we pushed ourselves just enough…Thanks to the guys involved Andrew Triffitt, Paul Goode, and Robin Child who accompanied Me (Nick Rinylo) on this adventure.
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We look forward to the next one.