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Sign up for a new Scottish walk challenge

Written by Fiona July 02 2011

Breakthrough Cancer, based in Edinburgh, want to raise vital funds. So they have launched a new walking event in Scotland. The Perthshire Trek 2011 takes place on September 9 and 10 this year. The walk heads 16 miles along the beautiful Cateran Trail, in Angus and Perthshire, and it’s most definitely aimed at a wide range of fitness levels, from would-be hikers through to experienced summit baggers.

Walking the Cateran Trail for Breakthrough Cancer charity

I like the idea of new outdoors events, and especially if they are raising fund for charity. But I wondered what this 16-mile trek would entail. How suitable is it for beginners? What will walkers expect to see? Are there any surprises en route?

To find out more I asked Gemma Gillespie, who recently walked a section of the route of the Perthshire Trek 2011. Gemma works for Breakthrough Cancer. She is, by her own admittance, a “novice walker”.

“I like to walk on occasion and a small hill is fine, but mostly I walk to and from the bus stop,’ she confesses. I don’t have a huge amount of experience walking long distances.”

Gemma is 25 and reckons she’s about average fitness – she says “this doesn’t make her very fit”. She attends a weekly Zumba class and she’s just started training for a 10k run. Now she’s also in training to walk the Perthshire trek in September.

Here Gemma, from Edinburgh, reveals her experience walking around six miles of the Cateran Trail, Kirkmichael through Enochdu to Spittal of Glenshee, which will form part of the Perthshire Trek 2011.

Her kit: “Hmmm, I’m little ashamed to say I walked in trainers. I didn’t have a chance to purchase walking boots beforehand so I did the walk in my plain running trainers, which I thought might be disastrous but was actually fine.

“I was lucky though and the weather was fine. I doubt I would have been so happy if it had rained and for the trek in September I’ll definitely be investing in a pair of proper walking boots.

“I also wore a North Face waterproof jacket, Craghopper walking socks and my trusty pink Breakthrough fleece hoody.”

What she liked about the walk: “It was a beautiful route, and a real mixture of walking through lovely farmland and cottages. There were also lovely remote sections in isolated areas with wonderful picturesque scenery to admire, especially the views of Munros.

“I liked that the walk it encompassed both low and high lands.  We also didn’t see any other walkers on the entire route which was nice as we got to enjoy the stunning scenery all to ourselves.”

Did you have a guide? “Craig Little from Wilderness Scotland was our guide.  He will be one of the guides for the full walk in September and he was fantastic. He is very knowledgeable about the area and gave us lots of information. He also really helped to keep our small group motivated when we were starting to get tired.”

How long it took: “We walked for around four hours, at a leisurely pace, stopping to take lots of photos. I found it extremely manageable but still challenging enough to be an accomplishment when we finished. There was no real climbing involved as even though we walked up some steep hills the ascent was gradual and not intense.”

Would you encourage others to do it? “I loved the walk and I think it’s an event that so many people will enjoy. The Perthshire Trek is suitable for all fitness levels so long as people put in some training and preparation beforehand. If I can manage this then so can many, many others.”

Why not sign up for this walk challenge? There is still plenty of time to train for the event. You’ll get fit, see a great part of Scotland and raise funds for a vital cancer charity.

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