SCF Events Ltd
Calton House
22 Calton Road

0131 524 0350

Email us


Find out more with our 'Walk of Your Life' Presentations!

Sign up now and save £50 on the Entry Fee!

Request Brochures, Posters and CDs


Walker Stories from the Caledonian Challenge 2006

Adventures on the West Highland Way
By Peggy Hamilton

June 17, 2006 was a typical Scottish day, with overcast skies and drizzle. The midges�look like gnats, bite like mosquitoes�were plentiful, and a midge net fashion statement was evident as we waited for the signal to begin.

But spirits were high, and a pipe band was playing Scotland the Brave as we hikers�1459 strong�began crossing under the start banner and activating the tracking chips secured to our wrists. My teammate Al and I (our other two teammates had dropped out several weeks earlier, one of them taking our support team with him) felt our �blood a-leaping high as the spirits of the Old Highland men� as we began the 54-mile trek through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

The trail�at this point slightly muddy turf�went immediately upward into a mountain forest. There wasn�t much time for sightseeing, as the 1459 surged forward en masse and it became a matter of survival to simply keep moving with the crowd. After a couple of miles the faster walkers cleared out, the forest ended, and it became downright pleasant hiking if you could ignore the steady rain and midges. Al and I were making good time.

After the first water stop at Mile Five (thank you, Cub Scouts!) we crossed a stile and the trail turned into a former logging road. Although it was wider than the turf trail, it was littered with rocks and crossed by numerous run-offs due to the rain, making for less solid footing. Recognizing that I couldn�t keep up the pace we�d set on the turf, I sent Al on ahead by himself. We agreed to meet up at Checkpoint One, located at Mile Twelve in Kinlochleven.

Around Mile Seven, as I was fording a run-off, one of those rocks caught my foot the wrong way and sent my ankle inward. I tested it, found it operational, and kept going at a slightly slower pace.

Another mile later a second rock caught the same foot and twisted it in the opposite direction. Again I tested it, again found it still operational, and hobbled on at a much decreased pace, leaning heavily on my trekking poles and beginning to feel very much like an Elderly Person.

That trail looked awfully long . . .

Pretty soon everybody who had started later than I was passing me, many of them asking me if I were all right. After responding repeatedly that I was fine�just a bit slow�I finally had to admit to one especially concerned team that I didn't think I was doing so well. They offered to send help when they reached Checkpoint One and gave me some trail mix, making me promise to eat it immediately. I thanked them, downed the trail mix, and shuffled on. By Mile Ten it had become clear to me that I simply wasn�t going to make it to Kinlochleven. I found a natural turf bench at the side of the trail, called the emergency number we had been given, was told that they had indeed already been alerted to my plight and were out looking for me, and sat down to wait for the meat wagon. Soon I spotted a beat-up old Land Rover making its way along the trail. The driver boosted me onto the passenger seat (by then I couldn�t put any weight on my ankle) and I had a hang-on-for-dear-life ride down the mountain and into town.

My rescuer, president of the Scottish Four-Wheel Drive Society, took me straight to the first aid tent, where a paramedic was waiting for me with ankle wraps and ice packs. After making sure nothing was broken (I�m convinced he was disappointed; last year at that point they�d had two broken ankles and a broken arm while this year had produced only nine other sprained ankles) he pronounced me unfit to continue. My tracking chip was deactivated, and I was officially retired after seven hours, 22 minutes, and 24 seconds. Out of the Challenge, on my own (Al had left for Checkpoint Two while I was riding in that luxury Land Rover) and faced with finding my way back to Ft. William, I asked around until I found that a bus was due in about an hour in the village center, a five-minute (�or in your case, love, ten or fifteen�) walk away, and I began limping away from the checkpoint. Near the entrance I spied a two-woman support team packing up and asked them for a lift to the bus stop. They said they had nothing to do for another four hours when they would meet up with their hikers at Checkpoint Two and insisted on taking me back to Ft. William themselves. I�ve always said that the Scots are the nicest people in the world, and every time I travel there that belief is reinforced!

So off I went on another wild ride, back to Ft. William and the Alexandra Hotel where I�d spent the last two nights.

My luggage and car were still there, and the desk clerk found me a room for another night, then insisted on carrying the bags for incapacitated�I was barely ambulatory by that time�little old me. After an early meal of Chinese takeaway I conked out. I was, as they say in Scotland, �knackered�. At 4:45 Sunday morning I was dragged out of unconsciousness by my cell phone. It was Al. He�d made it to Checkpoint Four (Mile Forty-two) and needed a ride. I dragged my sorry self out of bed, hobbled around getting cleaned up and packing, and headed south. (Fortunately, by the time I reached the car I could put enough weight on my ankle to work the clutch.)

It was another overcast day, and as I drove through Glen Coe and across Rannoch Moore�two places that I consider among the most beautiful on God�s green earth�I couldn�t help but think that it�s no wonder anyone who grew up there believes in �ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties�; nowhere else in the world is so much of a fairyland . . .

Al was waiting for me at Checkpoint Four near Tyndrum, and after filling the car with petrol I bid a sad farewell to the Highlands and turned the car toward Glasgow and other adventures.

St George and his Dragon�s Caledonian Challenge
By Graham Benbow

Caledonian Challenge what�s all that about then? 54 miles in 24 hours that�s only 2.25 miles an hour or 207 times around a standard sized football pitch, what�s challenging about that then?

It�s about:

Each walker completing 200+ miles training over four months:
Walking to and from work. Helping people erect fences.
Administering first aid at a road accident. Calling out the emergency services as two canal boats catch fire. Being stopped by the Police and �interviewed�. Walking in to a lamp post. Getting blisters. Learning about 101 ways to use Vaseline to prevent chaffing � so we are told.

Raising Sponsorship: Encourage sponsorship from friends, family and colleagues. Raising Corporate sponsorship from EDS and Marriott Hotels Glasgow. Holding fund raising events; sweepstake, charity auction, wearing your �kit� to the office.

Beg, Borrow and Buying Kit: Aldi�s did good business in hiking sticks. Undertaking a 1036 mile round journey to take part:
Getting up at the �crack of dawn� to collect walkers from the four corners of the South East London. Listening to �Tom Tom� giving directions to Heathrow Airport. Departing at London 07:30 and arriving at Fort William 18:30. Shipping Gazebos, cooking utensils, foldaway chairs from London. Spending hours burning CD�s that can�t be played on the Mini-Buses Cassette player! Exchanging tales with other Challengers on the Journey north. Visiting B& Q and Sainsbury�s to purchase essential supplies (including 8 bamboo canes, a bright orange bucket and a pasting table � don�t ask!). Taking flak from the locals for wearing St George and his Dragons T-shirts emblazed with the cross of St George. Walking through a Burger King drive through for lunch (essential pre walk protein � not!). Experiencing the Support Team�s Driving abilities along narrow roads in a 15 seater mini-bus heading for Fort William. Breathtaking views of Loch Lomond and Glen Coe, mysterious mountains shrouded in low level clouds.

Registering and partaking in Safety Briefings and Pasta Parties: Receiving your walking number, microchip, goody bag and walkers passport (which required details of your medical condition, any medication, allergies, blood group and next of kin � at which point you think can I go home).

Participating the Safety Briefing, what to do in the case of���..least said the better. The Pasta Party at the Nevis Centre. Last minute emergency purchases. A few drinks in the hotel bar in the company of a traditional Scottish musician, we believe, to calm the nerves and encourage a peaceful night sleep.

Walking the 54 miles: Stage One Fort William to Kinlochleven 12 miles. Dropping off the walkers and re-tiring to Morrsion�s for a superb cooked breakfast (the walkers having had �continental� at the Hotel). Starting in pouring rain at 9 am, the rain was to fall for about 16 or 17 hours of the entire walk, but we were at the front. Being joined by 500 other walkers for this stage start (other had started at 7am whilst the last group left at 11am), and given a pep talk by the event organiser.

Experiencing the Scottish clegs and midges in wet woody valleys. A splendid stage through Nevis Forest on the side of Glen Nevis, and as the weather improved the views got better, entering a nameless Glen, surrounded by Mountains covered in mist and cloud with sunshine breaking through lighting the greens, browns and greys of the mountainsides.
Negotiating a rugged, wet and undulating path, slowly ascending in height. Missing Ben Nevis, which apparently provides dramatic views on this stage! In true British tradition queuing to cross stiles. Meeting up with the support team at Kinlochleven for a most welcoming Pasta Chilli (extra�s for me please) and the nectar of life a hot sweet cup of tea, only to be told you�ve got to leave now! Dispensing of goody bags and drinks for the next stage to the Glen Coe Ski Centre.

Stage Two Kinlochleven to Nevis Ski Centre 10 miles. Descending 1600 feet to the summit of the Devil�s Staircase giving unsurpassed views of Glen Coe and the dominating features of Buachaille Etive Mor and if you looked over your shoulder you could just spy out Ben Nevis behind the Mamores, the range of mountains not another participating team. The rather depressing sight of Checkpoint 2, still six miles away!

Arriving at checkpoint two and receiving a welcoming massage, use of real toilets, more sweet tea, more goody bags, banana and honey sandwiches, a change of socks and the evitable comment from the support team as they count down the minutes of our stop and tell us its �time to go�.

Stage Three Nevis Ski Centre to Inveroran Hotel 12 miles (Bronze) Experiencing the remoteness of Rannoch Moor, dominated by the Black Mount. Crossing the scenic Ba Bridge and the appealing Ba stream with views across the wide expanses of Loch Tulla. Rain falling again that will not stop until the finish. Having been walking for 12 hours and realising you�ve only completed half the route.

Arriving at Checkpoint 3, Inveroran Hotel, having completed 30 miles to the welcoming sounds of the ceildh band. Forgetting to change your boots for walking trainers.

Stage Four Inveroran Hotel to Auchtertyre Wigwams 12 miles (Silver) Experiencing the delights of the Scottish midge at nightfall. Wondering were the support team are, nice and warm in a local hostelry we expect. This section sees the eagerly awaited night time stretch, by now the team had split in two groups of four and two. Sleep depravation. Ascending Mam Carraigh to descend into the Bridge of Orchy as evening turned into night, watching the line of head torches following in our footsteps. Not being able to enjoy the views, owing to nightfall, as the route, the railway, and A82 squeeze through this narrow pass north of Tyndrum into Coire Chailein, and wondering why the head torches of those in front were going in the wrong direction? Experiencing the pains, aches and blisters manifesting themselves, but ticking of the miles as we arrived at each water stops and the soup kitchen at Tyndrum. With less than 3 miles to Checkpoint Four were we would join up with the support team once more. Walking along the midge invested River Cononish at 2.30am surprised at seeing trains running on the Oban line and missing the opportunity to stand in historic amazement when at Dalrigh the site were Robert the Bruce was defeated in 1306 by the MacDougalls and went on to hide in a cave to be confronted by a spider. Arriving at Checkpoint Four to the welcome sight of the Support Team, bacon butties and more hot sweet tea, this time we ignored their count down and remained at the checkpoint for an hour, repairing damaged limbs, leaving for the final 12 miles at 04.40, this time minus goody bags!

Stage Five Auchtertyre Wigwams to Stuckendroin Farm 12 miles (Gold) Walking into daybreak above the Fillan valley close to Crianlarich and being eaten by the midges. Walking down any inclines backwards owing to a twisted knee. Ticking each mile off as the finish got closer and closer. Arriving at the finish and being wrapped up in a silver blanket and blagging an early trip on the Royal Marines speed boats on the basis of an early flight back to London. Being greeted on the west side of Loch Lomond by the welcoming committee and wondering why! Being re-united with the support team and a refreshing pint of beer for some, and more tea for others. A white-knuckle ride back to Glasgow and use of the Marriott Hotel�s leisure facilities to shower and freshen up.
Lack of the use of your legs for a few days as the slow process of recovery kicks in.

And then the flight home��

And that was the Caledonian Challenge a stroll in the country!!!.

But most importantly it�s was about fund raising £3,000 in pledges so far for the Scottish Community Foundation with RBSG Community Action Awards still to contribute. We all found the event rewarding, building team spirit, rapport and friendships along the way and the Teamwork, and Personal Achievement was immense. Four team members achieved Gold Awards (54 miles) two members achieved Silver Awards (42 miles) the Support Team earned the walkers gratitude for looking after us.

Roll-on next year for some, but not for most!

St George and his Dragons were Matt Rowe, Paul Backhouse, Darren Perry, Andy Le Marchand, Andy Squire, Dave Tully, Andy Fisher, Steve Carpenter,

The Old Fogies Triumph June 17-18, 2006

In 2005 our daughter Rachel and her English cousins Tuulia and James entered the Caledonian Challenge. This involves hiking 54 miles within 24 hours over the West Highland Way, a hilly footpath that runs from Ft William to Loch Lomond in Scotland. After their successful completion of the this grueling event they quite naturally expected their parents to take on the Challenge in the following year. Thus the stage was set. My wife Patricia, her brother Peter and I could hardly say "no" and disappoint the kids. Our team, composed of one American (me) and two Brits, all in our 60s, would call ourselves The Old Fogies.
Tuulia and James Staff, Peter's children would act as support team. Eila, Peter's wife also volunteered. The support team would have a seven seat van and would meet the walkers at three of the four rest stops where they would provide food, water and clothing changes. It's not easy since they would have little sleep during this period in a cramped up car seat. We all began preparation for the event. Peter who regularly walks around the island he lives on, West Mersea began to walk around twice in day and then three times in a day. Each circuit is 14 miles.Patricia and I completed the Great Saunter, a circuit of the Manhattan Island "shoreline" in one day, 32 miles. Two weeks before the Challenge we covered about 200 miles in 15 days along the SW Coastal Path in Cornwall, England. This is a rugged undulating footpath and the effort not only increased my stamina but toughened my feet. Patricia seemed to start and end the walk with stamina and no blisters.

So on June 17 we three parents were driven by our support team to the 9am starting point just outside Ft. William. In this 10th year of the Challenge each of the 1482 walkers were given a special computer chip which was inserted into a reader at each rest stop to record our individual time for each of the five stages of the walk. This information was posted on a web site so that any interested person could track each walkers progress.

The first stage was 12 miles and pretty easy. Peter was constantly urging us on and eager to complete the walk in 18 hours. I made up a chart to show my own progress to a 24 hour performance. Patricia, who probably could have finished in 16 hours stayed with me through the whole walk so that we could finish together. The second rest stop was at Mile 21 after the Devil's Staircase. This involved a long steady climb to the high point of the footpath and was quite a tiring effort with numerous false tops. The weather was almost always cloudy with periods of drizzle. Rain gear was required at some points. The scenery was impressive with treeless green hills and mountains beneath moody grey clouds and mist. By the end of this stage some walkers began to drop out. By Stage three, at Mile 29, walkers deteriorated further. My feet were sore and inspite of the training we had completed in the two weeks prior they were hot and red. I had to make a go/no decision about walking the remaining 25 miles. A marshall suggested I visit the First Aid department at the other end of the rest tent. A young Scottish foot repair person put vaseline and hospital gauze pads on the bottoms of both feet. He used tape to hold the pads in place. To my own amazement my feet felt alot better. I really did not want to quit. I had invested considerable emotional and physical effort to get this far. So the will to continue was strong. Now with diminished pain the path ahead was clear. I took some Paracetemol, an over the counter pain killer, two times during the walk. Now I popped a third one to make life a bit easier.

The organizers had prepared a nice rice and chicken dinner for the walkers at this point. It was the only stage without our support team. They would meet us at the final rest stage, Mile 42. After I decided to press on with Patricia, Peter felt comfortable enough to go on alone and make the best time he could.
The fourth stop, was the nightmare stop. Most of us arrived in the wee hours of the morning. It was dark and rainy with mud and midges everywhere. We had head nets, insect repellent and headlamps. The headlamps were especially useful beacons for the the midges just encase they couldn't smell us. A clever midge could zoom in under the head net and the ones buzzing around me were geniuses. Walkers were in various states of exhaustion. People were limping about or just quiting altogether. The First Aid department and the masseurs were doing their best to repair the damage.

Our support team was particularly wonderful and were at our beck and call. They cheered us up and encouraged us. They brought us food, water and medical supplies. They made suggestions on what to take in the last 12 miles of this grueling endurance test. Usually around 10pm I get sleepy. But not on this night. Perhaps it was adenaline, perhaps the will to finish. At around 2am we set off for the last leg. James joined us. Those final five hours crept by, minute by minute, mile by mile. It was windy and wet. The trail markers were not always clear and by this time walkers were spread out thinly along the footpath. At times there were no headlamps visible, ahead or behind us. The organizers had placed signs and lights at most critical turning points...but not all of them. Finally the clouds seemed to brighten up a bit. By 4am we turned off the headlamps. It seemed like we would never see Loch Lomond but at last we crested a hill and there it was. After some more twists and turns in the trail we reached the final check point tent. We returned our chips. Someone swathed us in aluminum blankets and we awaited the Royal Navy raft which would ferry us across to the other side of the Loch. Here crowds of support teams, volunteers, rescue works and British army soldiers gave us all a big hand and cheers. We each received a gold medallion on a purple ribbon...though its actually made of brass. Of the 1482 walkers who started, 1061 completed the walk. That is about 72% of those who began it. I cannot think of a better measure of the determination of the human spirit. Patricia and I finished in 21 hours and 50 minutes. Peter completed the walk about 40 minutes earlier and waited for us at the finish line.

This was physically, the most difficult day in my life. I tested the limits of my endurance and determination and now I have bragging rights for the rest of my life. As we age we often impose limits on ourselves. Sometimes society imposes these limits. On occassion, it's a good feeling to test and exceed those limits. After returning to London I had our medallions mounted and framed. They will have a place of honor in our home. In time, the brass may tarnish but the memories never will.

I should mention also that this was a fund raising event for Scottish charities. Therefore we want to extend a special thanks to those who contributed financially in the name of the Old Fogies. In addition to our support team we also want to thank our daughter Rachel for preparing trail snacks and giving good advice and Slawek for helping us get and return the Van.

One final note. Many trophies are awarded. A winning runner might complete in under 12 hours. I was especially interested in the Oldest to Complete prize. On July 4 Rachel phoned me at a restaurant near Christchurch to tell me that I had won in the "Oldest Individual to Complete" category. For someone who had never won a trophy of any kind I was thrilled.

The RBS Caledonian Challenge

2007 Results

2006 Results

2005 Results

2004 Results


Grants Made

Photo Gallery (2006)

Photo Gallery (2005)

Photo Gallery (2004)

Log In



forgotten password?

Useful Links

Equipment, gear, advice and tips; check out Useful Information

The Route

Check out 54 miles of the most spectacular Scottish scenery! Go to Event Info