Nick Gardner, an 82-year-old man from Gairloch in the Scottish Highlands, has made headlines by climbing all of the Scottish Munros. The BBC reports that Mr Gardner began his challenge to climb all of the Munros (mountains of over 3,000ft) in July 2020, after his wife Janet went into a nursing home.
The Munros were named after Sir Hugh Munro, who was a founding member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club. He lived a full life, serving in the military and travelling extensively, before settling in Scotland to manage the family estates.
He is most famous for mapping and measuring all of Scotland’s peaks over 3,000ft, which he set out to do in 1891. The complete list, known as the Munro Tables, were published in various revised versions until his death in 1919. There have been a few amendments over the following decades, as measuring techniques have become more accurate.
Bagging all the Munros is on the bucket list of many ambitious mountain climbers, with Ben Nevis being one of the favourite places to start. However, it is not a badge of honour many people earn at the age of 82! Mr Gardner’s remarkable feat has also raised nearly £60,000 for charity.
The former physics teacher said he was spurred on to his achievement when he could no longer look after his wife Janet, who suffered from dementia and osteoporosis. Mr Gardner said his mental health would have declined if it wasn’t for his mountain challenge.
He will be donating the money he has raised to the Alzheimer’s Society and the Royal Osteoporosis Society.
During his challenge, Mr Gardner walked 2,000 miles, and climbed 152,000 metres, which is 17 times the height of Everest! He was welcomed on the summit of Cairn Gorm, the final peak, by friends and supporters, who formed a guard of honour with walking poles. He also treated himself to a wee dram or two.
Holding a celebratory drink in each hand, he said: “I am just feeling elated. Words don’t exist to describe how I am feeling. I’ve climbed many mountains, but I have never had a day like this in my life before. Not many people get to experience a day like this. I feel very lucky. I am a very lucky man.”
He added: “The last three days in Knoydart that I did were really tough. Because I had already organised this final day, and for people to join me, I just had to push on through, and I made it. I’ve had no injuries, but my knees are certainly tired. It will be good to give them a rest.”
This inspiring story will hopefully encourage many more people to don their walking boots and discover just how beautiful and rewarding hiking in the Scottish Highlands can be. Mr Gardner said he was keen for more challenges, and will be heading south for the Devon and Cornwall coastal path next.
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