Great Wilderness Challenge

This coming Saturday sees the 26th annual Great Wilderness Challenge, a popular charity event for hillwalkers and runners held in the northwest Highlands.

Upper Glen Affric, 123 kb
Upper Glen Affric
© Dan Bailey

Hitherto staged in the hills around Poolewe and Aultbea (aka the Great Wilderness), the event has for this year only been relocated to Kintail. As usual there will be three different routes suited to varying degrees of ability: An 8-mile course in Gleann Lichd; 10 miles around the Falls of Glomach and the classic 18-mile circuit around Beinn Fhada. Walkers and runners both use the same courses.

Matt Sullivan of Deeside runners wins the 2010 25-mile course, 98 kb
Matt Sullivan of Deeside runners wins the 2010 25-mile course
© Susan Kirkness

The event, which must be entered in advance, attracts a regular repeat crowd and about 500 people take part every year. Over the first 25 years of its life over £2.5million has been raised for charity, mainly the Highland Hospice.

The history of the event is expained on the Great Wilderness Challenge website:

'In early 1986, plans were afoot to provide hospice care in the Highlands for the first time. The Highland Hospice Appeal was set in motion to raise funds for the project, and a Highland-wide campaign was launched in support of this initiative. A small group of friends in Poolewe and Aultbea, some of whom had recently lost relatives to cancer, decided to do something to help. A sponsored walk was the vehicle chosen to raise funds, and arrangements were quickly made to organise what would become known as the Great Wilderness Challenge.'

'The event was originally intended as a one-off, but such was the popularity and success of the first that [it became] an annual event held every year since. Over the years the event has grown, and to accommodate the ever increasing entry demands several other routes were gradually introduced. Over 500 now participate in the event each year.'

For more details and to enter see the Great Wilderness Challenge website.

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