Couple Take On Munros At All 4 Points Of The Compass

On Thurs 20 August a couple from Lanarkshire started what may be a unique charity challenge - to bag the most northerly, southerly, westerly and easterly Munros in a single trip. Over eight days Ruth Elliot and Andrew Fitzpatrick will climb Ben Hope, Ben Lomond, Sgurr na Banachdich and Mount Keen, travelling between these far-flung hills by bike. 

Ruth, Andrew and Ben, 165 kb
Ruth, Andrew and Ben
© Ruth Elliot

'I came up with the idea to avoid Ruth forcing me to climb Mount Elbrus' says Andrew.

'Ruth tends to do something each year to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Last year she did Kili. This year she tried to rope me in to doing Elbrus, but after reading a few reports (of non mountain related difficulties) I was determined not to. I wanted an alternative in the UK, but was keen to avoid the usual charity hill circuits. The Three Peaks can only take so many boots.'

Sutherland Landscape - east from Ben Hope towards Ben Loyal. , 128 kb
Sutherland Landscape - east from Ben Hope towards Ben Loyal.
© feepole, Nov 2011

From the northerly outpost of Ben Hope to wood-fringed Ben Lomond in sight of Glasgow's tower blocks; the Cuillin ridge to the Cairngorms; the four peaks are as varied as they are distant from one another.

'The geography of Scotland has been kind to us in that the Munros involved are not the most challenging' explains Andrew. 

'At least we are not faced with a list that includes the Inaccessible pinnacle, An Teallach, Ben Alder or Ben Avon. That would have involved longer days. The cycling will be a challenge. Neither of us are cyclists. It remains to be seen whether we have bitten off more than we can chew with that aspect of the challenge.'

To prepare for their journey Andrew and Ruth have been familiarising themselves with the hills and travelling - by car - the big road distances in between.

'I have driven these roads before - generally on the way to hills - but it is quite different to view them with the cyclist's eye!' says Andrew.

'There are more uphill sections than I remembered.'

South Cuillin from Sgurr na Banachdich, 107 kb
South Cuillin from Sgurr na Banachdich
© mjstephens2001, Dec 2009

On the road they'll be spending nights in bunkhouses, with tents as a backup. Support with food and gear is being provided by two friends in a van.

As for training?

'We've both been putting the miles in on the bikes' says Ruth.

'Whenever possible we have headed out together though with our schedules this hasn't always been easy. I've done a lot of time in the gym. I've also spent a lot of hours out on the bike on my own and mentally I've found that challenging. Whatever the next few days throw at us at least we'll not be going it alone!'

Mount Keen from The Goet, 81 kb
Mount Keen from The Goet
© Dan Bailey -, Sep 2013

'The big shock for me was getting back on a road bike at the start of the year - for the first time in 25 years or so' adds Andrew.

'They have made cycling a lot harder than it was when I was in my 20s! I have enjoyed the training - mostly because I have shed nearly three stones and improved my hill fitness while still enjoying a half or a glass of wine. All hill walkers should get a bike!'

Looking northwest from Ben Lomond, 81 kb
Looking northwest from Ben Lomond
© Dan Bailey -

Ruth and Andrew are using the trip to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and have already more or less doubled their initial target of £5000.

'Type 1 diabetes came into my life six and a half years ago when my youngest son Ben was rushed to hospital, seriously ill, and diagnosed at just 18 months old' says Ruth.

'Type 1 diabetes is a treatable condition. It is possible to lead a healthy full life. However this takes a LOT of work. It affects every minute of every day. For Ben this means multiple blood tests, canula changes, monitoring/weighing/counting everything he eats. Exercise, excitement, emotions, changes in the weather can all make type 1 tricky to control. For Ben and every child and adult affected by type 1 we need a cure, and until then better treatment options. '

  • If you want to make a donation see their page on Justgiving


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