Appeal to recreate world’s first assault course

A UK appeal is hoping to raise funds for Royal Marines and their families by re-creating World War II era training in the Scottish Highlands.

"Survive the Yomp" is a 30-mile trek through the Scottish Highlands supported by Royal Marine Commandos. Photo: Commando Spirit
"Survive the Yomp" is a 30-mile trek through the Scottish Highlands supported by Royal Marine Commandos. Photo: Commando Spirit

For a three-year period between 1942 and 1945, approximately 25,000 trainees from across Britain undertook stamina training at Achnacarry House, in the western reaches of the Highlands.

Now, over 70 years later, Commando Spirit will return to the area with a series of gruelling fundraising challenges which so far have raised over £800,000 for Royal Marines and their families.

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Commando Spirit are now reconstructing the original commando assault course, complete with zip wires, Tarzan ropes, crawls, mud runs and even toggle rope bridges.

The Scottish event will be part of “Total Commando”; the world’s first Commando Festival designed to give participants an authentic experience.

Events included in the programme will be assault and endurance courses along with a 9-mile hike, as well as Survive the Yomp in September 2016 - the 30-mile trek through the Highlands emulating the challenge that every trainee Commando must conquer in order to earn their Green Beret.

In addition, fundraisers will be treated to field craft lessons and authentic Commando “scran and wets” (food and drink).

The appeals’s crowdfunding campaign is live on Indiegogo and has raised 12 per cent of its necessary funding, after being online for just eight days.

Achnacarry House and its grounds in the Highlands was the home of an elite Commando training centre from 1942 until 1945. Photo: Commando Spirit

Sally-Anne Hunter, Founder and Director of Commando Spirit, said: “The fact that it’s the birthplace of the Commandos is absolutely the most important aspect of the event. On top of that it’s the rugged, remote and stunning countryside that attracts our participants to run 30 miles or march nine miles in the footsteps of the commandos.

“The most exciting thing we have at the moment is the crowdfunding campaign and we’ve had a great response. We’ve been out on site with historic documents and veterans who trained at Achnacarry. We’ve found the locations where the first toggle bridge and death slides were put up and can guarantee a tough experience.

Those who contribute to the Indiegogo campaign will receive a range of incentives, from branded mugs and T-shirts to a special tour of Achnacarry with a Commando Spirit buddy or the chance to have your name as a founder sponsor on one of the events.

Commando Spirit’s previous events include the dramatic Take The Leap abseil, which has been held on the Titan Crane in Glasgow and the Shard building in London. Those who prefer water can try the Escape the Dunker underwater escape training, which sees participants escape from an upside-down helicopter that has crash-landed in the sea.

Troops train at Achnacarry during the early 1940s. Photo: Elizabeth Shardelow

So far, the Achnacarry event has big-name support from the Achnacarry Estate, KPMG, VisitScotland and the Royal Bank of Scotland, amongst other well-known backers, yet needs more supporters to ensure the new Commando Spirit Achnacarry events go ahead next June and September.

Commando Spirit Founder and Director Sally-Anne Hunter. Photo: Sally-Anne Hunter
Achnacarry House. Photo: Commando Spirit