A Highland Hike For Wildlife

(Sept 2018)

British wildlife is being wiped out. Over 50% of our biodiversity has been destroyed since the 1970s including some 44 million individual birds. Intensive agriculture and habitat destruction are the main causes and the govt lets the carnage continue. The controversial badger cull is being expanded, foxhunters continue hunting with dogs and the shooting fraternity keeps on killing birds of prey. The latter being most prevalent in North Yorkshire. Fortunately, North Yorkshire also has a wildlife charity that is dedicated to saving wildlife…

Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary rescues, rehabilitates and releases over 3,000 wild animals every year. It exists entirely on public donations so I decided to help by doing another sponsored hike: The 96 mile West Highland Way and camp it all the way. Check out the short video that I made below about the epic work of Alex and her colleagues in Whitby…

The Hike...

The WHW runs from Milngavie just North of Glasgow up to Fort William in the Highlands. I got to Milngavie the night before about 10pm. I found a quiet layby, dropped the back seat and got my head down. I was awakened an hour or so later by car headlights and Meg barking. A policeman was checking out the vehicle and shining his torch in my face! He was Ok though. It turned out he had done the hike himself, told us all about it and wished us well. The next morning, I drove down to Tesco near the start of the hike. I got some supplies and also blagged free parking off them for the week. Being cheeky for charity gets results!

We were soon off on our merry way. We met a german girl early on who was doing the hike the opposite direction – she had come 90 odd miles on a unicycle! Epic. After an easy half-day on the flat, the trail reached Loch Craigallian and began to rise revealing some epic scenery ahead. After 15 miles I was knackered. I pitched the tent at the edge of a conifer forest and slept like a baby.

The next morning, we awoke to gorgeous sunshine. We reached stunning Loch Lomond and began walking along its rocky edge. It was beautiful but hard going. I grabbed my first ever vegan haggis and chips at a lochside pub and carried on to find another pitch off trail. Wild camping is legal in Scotland so no one bothers you. Another day walking along the loch took its toll on my right boot which fell apart late afternoon. This was a problem gaffertape wouldn’t fix. Fortunately it happened close to the Ardlui ferry port. This was a a very basic wooden dock with an orange windsock you had to hoist up a flagpole to summon the ferry from the other side. After 20 minutes or so, a wee boat was chugging across to take us back over. Ardlui was a railway stop with a pub and a marina. We camped at the pub. The next morning we caught a train to Fort William, ironically the end of the trail. Finding a pair of boots size 14 is never an easy task. None of the fancy outdoor shops had any. Fortunately Sports Direct saved the day with 1 cheapo pair! I then got the train back to Ardlui, took the ferry back across the loch and resumed the hike back to Fort William!

Relentless rain then set in for the rest of the week. I met an Irish guy who had camped by a river which suddenly burst its banks in the middle of the night and he had scramble to safety. I was on higher ground on bleak Rannoch Moor. It was a foul night but the tent held firm. Despite the weather, it was a stunning hike. Bridge of Orchy, Rannoch, Glen Coe, Devil’s Staircase and Ben Nevis. The latter I had climbed with Meg back in 2011. It was all fantastic and as I purposely went in September there were no midges! There were great places to eat all the way and great craic with the locals and hikers from around the world. The train ride back to Milngavie was a bonus treat. There were lots of red deer roaming and I spotted my first ever Osprey flying past the train. The conductor on the train also put £20 in the pot. I had raised over £1200 by the end. Job done!  

Final Total inc. Gift-Aid =

£1201.25

50+ donations - Thank you all 🙂

UPDATE 2022:

SINCE 2018, THE SANCTUARY HAS MADE FANTASTIC PROGRESS WITH NEW FACILITIES ON A NEW SITE. IT HELPS MORE ANIMALS THAN EVER. PUBLIC DONATIONS MAKE IT ALL POSSIBLE. IF YOU CAN PLEASE DONATE HERE