As challenges go this was pretty extreme. Across the Scottish Highlands. On Foot. In Winter. And bagging the 135 peaks over 1000 metres.
The guy is insane.
Strangley enough, no one had attempted this before; but this is what Mike Cawthorne decided to do. So he started preparations for the mammoth trek across the last of the United Kingdom’s wildernesses. Not only did he have to get fit, but he left caches of food at set points across the route that would enable him to keep moving. He handed in his notice at his job and made his way to the very north of Scotland. His route would take him from the bleak Sutherland Bay, through the Eastern Cairngorms, past Loch Lomond, and onwards to Glencoe. It is one of our most spectacular landscapes, but with that beauty comes genune danger. These places in the winter can be as cold as the Arctic, and suffer days of relentless winds; little did Cawthorne know just what weather he would encounter on his epic walk.
He is a lyrical writer, managing to keep our attention as he battles through all that the Scottish winter could through at him. But mountains are in his blood, and as foolhardy as a journey of this magnitude is, for him it is a calculated risk, with a strong sense of his exact limits. Even though there was no point where I wished I was alongside him in some of the conditions he encountered, his evocative writing means that you feel the wind, taste the rain, shiver in the cold and absorb the view in the sharp sparkling sun as he did. But it is a call to arms too, as the places he crossed are under threat from greedy land owners expecting this wild and untamed land to pay its way. What we have the opportunity to see now may one day soon be gone. It is a well written book on out most spectacular mountains.
He is still insane though…