TWO teachers from Edinburgh will be going straight for their fundraising goal next month, as they set out to travel the length of Scotland without deviating from a single grid line on the Ordnance Survey map.
Sean Fallon, a PE teacher at Woodlands School in Currie, and Darren Burns, a PE lecturer at Edinburgh College, will cross mountains, rivers, motorways and bogs, as they travel almost 500km in a straight line from Mersehead Nature Reserve on the Solway Firth to Redpoint in Caithness “using only human power”.
The friends, who have known each other since they were students at Moray House, are undertaking the challenge to mark turning 40 and to raise money for good causes, including St Andrew’s Hospice, which provided care for Darren’s mum before she died last year, and a new playground at Woodlands Special School.
The pair, who believe the route has never been attempted before, will be supported on the trip by Darren’s mum, Christobel Fallon, 69, a retired GP who will go ahead in a support car dropping off supplies and equipment, taking grandson Cameron, nine, along with her for extra back-up.
The journey, which Sean and Darren expect to complete in 18 days, will take them through some of Scotland’s best loved beauty spots including cycling through Mabie Forest, kayaking across the Moray Firth and swimming waters including Lower Glen Devon Reservoir, the River Spey and River Clyde. They will also have to cross the Cairngorms and Ochil Hills.
Sean said: “This is something we’ve talked about for a long time. Physically it’s going to be a challenge to keep going for that length of time, but it’s going to be a great adventure.”
The PE teacher said choosing a route had been difficult. He said: “It wasn’t just finding one that was passable in terms of terrain, but also one that made it possible to cross motorways and railway tracks safely.”
Sean has been boosting his fitness by walking over the Pentlands from his home in Buckland to the Currie school where he works.
“We’re raising money for Friends of Woodlands School Support our Sport campaign to pay for an all-weather sports area. The current play area is unsuitable for play or sports in wet weather and inaccessible for those learners with mobility difficulties,” he said.
Darren added: “We wanted to do this to celebrate us both turning 40. My mum passed away last year and this seemed a good way to raise money for the hospice.”
The pair, who say their biggest challenge will be kayaking across the Moray Firth, are also raising funds for the RNLI.
Despite careful planning of the route, the duo will not know exactly what kind of terrain they will face for much of the trek until they get there.
“Some of the mountain routes might be tricky and the bogs in the far north could be difficult,” said Darren.
But the challenge has not put off Sean’s mum from helping out. She said: “I drove the support vehicle when one of my other children cycled the length of Chile, but I think this is going to be even more difficult in terms of finding all the remote spots where they need equipment dropped off.”