Mark's twelve-day chal­lenge comes to an end

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

THE gar­den at Kil­lean Farm, the ferry over to the Isle of Gigha… these are my ear­li­est me­mories, and they are in Ar­gyll, a place that has al­ways felt like home, even though I spent most of my child­hood in ru­ral Perthshire.

But de­spite these early years, there is so much I had never seen. When you get out of a car and ex­plore the is­lands, wa­ter­ways and main­land of Ar­gyll and the Isles un­der your own steam, by foot, by bi­cy­cle, by kayak and much more, there is an amaz­ing con­nect­ed­ness to these var­ied land­scapes.

And what’s more, it gives you a far bet­ter chance to meet the lo­cals, the peo­ple who call this beau­ti­ful part of Scot­land home. I have been blown away by the nat­u­ral beauty and bril­liant ad­ven­ture play­ground that I dis­cov­ered dur­ing the Wild About Ar­gyll ad­ven­ture and film project. Whilst ‘only’ be­ing 12 days, we packed in what many peo­ple would take years to com­plete, in­clud­ing iconic chal­lenges like run­ning the Paps of Jura, cy­cling the Mull sportive and row­ing a Vik­ing long boat across Loch Fyne.

As a phys­i­cal chal­lenge, I knew this would be tough – very used to long ex­pe­di­tions, what was dif­fer­ent this time was tak­ing on up to five sport­ing chal­lenges ev­ery day. The days were long and the nights of­ten short, of­ten so we could catch the early tide, or an early flight from Oban air­port out to ex­plore an­other is­land, like Tiree or Colon­say. But I am not look­ing for, nor will I re­ceive any sym­pa­thy, for this was a dream ‘job’ – to ex­plore and show­case all that Ar­gyll and the Isles has to of­fer when it comes to ad­ven­ture tourism.

My sec­ond daugh­ter is just 10 weeks old, so I was keen not to be away from home for a fort­night, so my wife Nicci and the chil­dren came and road tripped from Kin­tyre all the way to Oban. Har­riet, who will be three years old next week, loved see­ing daddy ‘ work­ing’ ev­ery day, ei­ther gal­lop­ing down Car­radale beach on a thor­ough­bred horse, open wa­ter swim­ming in Loch Lomond or cy­cling the Rest and Be Thank­ful old road. One of my favourite mo­ments was run­ning up the Cob­bler, near Ar­rochar, late in the evening. It was so clear that to the west I could see Ben More on Mull, to the South all the way to Goat­fell on Arran, to the east to moun­tains above Loc­hearn and to the north to Cri­an­larich.

The penul­ti­mate days ad­ven­ture was our only re­ally rainy day, but that didn’t seem to mat­ter as I was ex­plor­ing the trails above In­ver­aray Cas­tle with Moto Scot­land. Mo­tocross cer­tainly lends it­self to be­ing wet and muddy, so apart from my poor film crew and their soak­ing cam­eras, we were all hav­ing a won­der­ful time.

That evening fin­ished with a big event in the Cor­ran Halls, where 250 peo­ple came along to hear the ad­ven­tures from ‘Around the World and back to Ar­gyll’ - but be­fore get­ting there we had an­other high oc­tane lo­ca­tion to film. The bril­liantly nutty and tal­ented Ben Cathro, the Seil Is­land down­hill biker, built a gap jump across a small road – but the re­sult­ing jump was any­thing but small, and my task was to time my cy­cling along the road, so I would be di­rectly un­der­neath him in full flight. Please don’t try that at home!

The fi­nal chal­lenge was on the beau­ti­ful is­lands of Colon­say and Oron­say – to fell run 22 Mac­Phie’s – the hills over 300 feet. In parts a stun­ning route along the cliff edges and along the wide beaches, but in other parts whack­ing our way through chest deep ferns and bram­bles! It was a 6 hour fell run more than 20 miles and a fit­ting chal­lenge to fin­ish 12 mag­nif­i­cent days ad­ven­tur­ing in Ar­gyll and the Isles.

There was a huge amount of in­ter­est along the route from lo­cals and busi­nesses, as well as mas­sive par­tic­i­pa­tion on­line through­out the ad­ven­ture. Thanks to every­one who made this hap­pen and who sup­ported my jour­ney. The fi­nal films will be on­line dur­ing the Au­tumn for every­one to en­joy the wild­ness of Ar­gyll & the Isles, and hope­fully to in­spire many more ad­ven­tures in this beau­ti­ful part of Scot­land. I cer­tainly plan to be back be­fore long, to ex­plore more, per­haps with the fam­ily and per­haps in less of a hurry!

ATIC direc­tor Calum Ross con­grat­u­lated Mark and the team at the end of the ad­ven­ture say­ing: “When we put this se­ries of chal­lenges to­gether we knew it was am­bi­tious. As an or­gan­i­sa­tion we cel­e­brate ex­cel­lence and am­bi­tion, and who bet­ter to show­case these qual­i­ties than Mark Beau­mont? Dur­ing Mark’s talk in the Cor­ran Halls we learned his phi­los­o­phy that we are limited only by our self im­posed bound­aries. Wild About Ar­gyll proved we have one of the best ad­ven­ture play­grounds in the world and Mark’s 12- day chal­lenge and sub­se­quent film will al­low us to en­cour­age many more visi­tors to come and dis­cover their own epic ad­ven­tures here in Ar­gyll and the Isles.”

Mark’s full Wild About Ar­gyll ad­ven­ture and daily blogs are avail­able on line @ex­plore­ar­gyll.

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