Adventure Of The Week: The West Highland Wahey
This is a special edition of Adventure of the Week. Normally we try to paint a picture of one of our beautiful trips and if you are like, you are more than welcome to enquire further with one of our team. This week, we are showcasing a trip undertaken by the majority of the team here at Macs HQ. A herculean task with an amazing purpose. Welcome to the West Highland Wahey.
In a Nutshell:
What: The West Highland Wahey was a charity event set up by Macs Adventure to raise funds for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital. Every year Macs Adventure chooses a charity to support and after a couple of staff members had to use their sterling services, we decided that we should repay their kindness with some serious fundraising. You can still donate and the link will be in here several times. Every penny helps massively and you can read more about the great work Glasgow Children’s Hospital does by clicking here.
Where: So, The West Highland Wahey unsurprisingly took place on what many people consider the best long distance path in the UK, the West Highland Way. It started in the wee small hours of Saturday morning in Beinglas, just short of being the midpoint on the West Highland Way. The route then wound its way along the banks of Loch Lomond, down to Balmaha, where you head inland, over the imposing Conic Hill, to reach the start of the West Highland Way and the end of the West Highland Wahey.
Distance: 40 miles. That’s right, you heard it, 40 miles, in one day. Our beloved organiser, Fraser, decided that we had to do something tougher than normal, something that pushed us all and reminded us what we were doing this for, so 40 miles was the distance that was set. There were entry points at 26 miles, 19 miles and 12 miles for those not quite so brave/stupid.
Grade: We would grade this trip as Ludicrous to Idiotic, and while we are all proud to have done it, would not massively recommend that our customers get out and walk 40 miles in one day, unless it is for as good a cause as this. On paper, 40 miles is almost achievable, but when you add in the constant up and down on the route, the more challenging terrain around Loch Lomond and some tiring climbs, 40 miles (and it seems it turned out to be more like 42) becomes a massive undertaking.
Why Walk Here?
The love we feel for our children is unparalleled. There is no feeling like it. When a group of people step in to give your child a life that may have been so different or no life at all, you would do anything to thank them for it. With the money we have raised so far, (generously matched by Neil, our Chief Adventure Officer) will mean big projects can go ahead in the hospital, more little lives can be saved. Each of the people who undertook this mammoth walk can stare at their blistered feet or hobble up the stairs to the office in the knowledge that there will be children born to a better life than expected because of their efforts.
To figure out why walk here, we thought we should turn it over to some of the people who walked it and get their opinion.
Grace – Ops Team – Words can’t describe how amazing a day the walk was but also how tough walking 40 miles of the West Highland Way was!
After camping overnight in Inverarnan, getting up at 3:30am to begin walking at 5am, nothing could have prepared us for how intense this would be. 21 miles in, after having walked up Conic Hill, I seriously considered pulling out as I couldn’t feel my legs or my feet and still had 19 miles to go which mentally destroyed me (and made me cry once or twice)!
But running in to Macs Adventure staff along the way, either walking or at check-points, really pushed me on and I can’t be more thankful for everyone who did! I still can’t walk or feel my feet and legs but it was soooo worth it!’
Mhairi – Customer Experience Team – I shouldn’t have underestimated walking 26 miles. I thought walking would be so easy and boy was I terribly wrong! It was physically challenging throughout and for the last 8 miles I felt like I had cement blocks on my feet. At the toughest moments I kept reminding myself that the pain we were experiencing would be so minor in comparison to what the brave children and families at the Glasgow Children’s Hospital go through, we were walking for such an amazing cause. I couldn’t have done it without my colleagues fantastic banter and stories along the way, it was a great opportunity to really get to know other people in the office and we were so lucky with the weather!
Heleen – Products Team – An unforgettably long day with the team from Beinglas Farm along the shores of Loch Lomond and over Conic Hill to Milngavie. The reward; not only smashing our target and raising over £8500K but the emotional rollercoaster ultimately brought us closer together!
Erin – Customer Experience Team – Our values are: Stay Active, Be Adventurous, It’s Personal, Give a Shit & Have Fun. For me, The West Highland Wahey was definitely a ‘5 Value’ kind of day! It was a real challenge but so worth it for such a great cause and we all had so much fun as one big team out on the trail closest to our home and our hearts!
High Point: Cheering the 40milers on as they arrived into Rowardennan – an amazing feat by 10am! Low Point: When the last tomato fell out of my baguette and rolled away down the hill :(
Sinead – Marketing Team – I will never forget seeing the sunrise at 5am with only the sound of birds in the distance when we still had bundles of energy, excited for what was ahead. Dan’s stories and knowledge of every tree and bird around us kept us going for hours.
Rachel – Ops Team – It was an unforgettable day, it was tough, really tough, but totally worth it as I always had in the back of my mind what it was all for! The best part of the day for me was passing other walkers along the way, who after thinking we were crazy for walking 40 miles, wished us luck and kept us going! My fellow Macs walkers also kept me going, don’t know what I would of done without Phil’s dancing and Sam’s music quiz! Spending 17 hours with your colleagues is a good way to get to know them a lot better!
Graham – Back OfficeTeam – The toughest experience my feet have ever had. Highest Point: Conic Hill (obviously)
Lowest Point: The torrential rain that hit us walking the final 10 mile stretch of the 40 towards Milngavie; around Dumgoyne – was just unnecessary at that point really. A mental challenge as much as a physical one to keep going through the blisters and pain, but such a great day to be involved in!
Planning and Preparation
To plan and prepare for an event like this is no small feat. While a huge number of people chipped in and helped get this off the ground, the real driving force behind it all was Fraser. Here are a final few words from the man himself.
Saturday was simply unbelievable! Walking 40 miles while trying to pay attention to the logistics of 50 fellow walkers, problem solving and making changes along the way was one of the toughest things I have ever taken on. We had a plan in place and had prepared for every potential issue we could think of……except one. Who knew it could actually be sunny in Scotland!! It was scorching all day, which is never great for a ginger at the best of times! With the added hurdles the sunshine brought it helped to create an incredible atmosphere.
40 miles in a day is insane, walking 40 miles in 25° muggy heat, to be honest is madness! I am so proud of everyone involved and sincerely cannot thank them all enough! Our volunteer marshals and first aiders each went above and beyond the call of duty, standing in the baking sun, staying late into the night, encouraging and giving the necessary boost to some, lets be honest, fairly haggard faces. All of our walkers dug deep and powered through tough conditions, clawing, crawling and battling through the miles, determined to put themselves through the pain barrier for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital. They even kept going when the sun disappeared to be replaced by torrential rain for the final couple of hours.
Everyone of them is a hero and there is no one who could have given more. The result of all of their blood sweat and tears is that my name is mud in the office, but they have also raised an astounding amount of money! As it stands we will be handing a cheque to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity of £17,306!! This includes an incredibly generous donation from Neil, the original Macs Adventurer, of £8500!
Everyone had their reasons for taking this on but my personal motivation for putting this together was my son, Arlo, who had a bit of tough start in life and is still a regular visitor the children’s hospital. Being able to carry him over the finish line and watch peoples reactions to seeing him smiling away on my back (while plucking what little remains of my hair out) will remain as one of my happiest moments of my life.
I am gobsmacked by the money we have raised and have never been prouder to work for Macs Adventure!
Update 14th Nov 2019: We have now surpassed £20,000 for the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity! Thank you one and all.