A few years ago, having taken up fell running and read of epic tales of endurance, I had the idea of doing a long distance run in the mountains of Scotland. For some reason the “Road to the Isles “ came into my head: I had once walked along a stretch of it and I was curious to know how far it went. A little research soon unveiled a whole realm of Scottish history of which I had no inkling until then. The Road to the Isles turned out to be just one of a whole network of tracks used for centuries to drive cattle from the Highlands and Islands to the markets in central Scotland. My imagination was fired up: do enough of these old roads still exist to make a long distance run recreating a drove of yesteryear?
A bit more research on the wonderful Heritage Paths website (http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/ ) and the answer was clear – it could be done! The route was devised more or less in an evening : starting in Broadford, which was a gathering place for herds about to be driven south, it would end in Crieff, which was one of the most important markets, and where my mother spent her happiest years as a child. Each day would take me over a different pass on a different drove road through spectacular scenery, slicing across Scotland from north-west to south-east. I would be running through forests, alongside rivers and burns, by sparkling lochs and over heather moors and peat bogs.
The thought became a dream and the dream became reality in 2014 when I finally managed to find enough time to train and work up the courage to undertake this big adventure. I ran the Highland Hoof from 1st-9th September and was really lucky to get fantastic weather for most of the way. I hope you will enjoy reading about the different stages on the website and that my photography does justice to the magnificent views.
I wanted to use the run to raise money for two causes close to my heart. One is a trust set up in memory of my niece Emma who died in 2012. The trust is used to fund special projects and equipment for the Glen Urquhart Childcare Centre, which is in Drumnadrochit where she lived. They were hugely supportive when she was ill and I know she would have liked us to continue to support their work. The other is called the Valenova Foundation (www.valenovafoundation.com) which is based in Ifakara, Tanzania, which is where I did a lot of field work on sanitation. It is a desperately poor area and blighted with malaria. The Foundation is working mainly to improve education, which is expensive and not very widely available in rural areas. At the moment they are raising money to buy a tractor which will be rented out and the income used to pay for school fees, books etc.
So far my generous supporters have donated over £2000 which is an amazing amount for which I am really grateful.