Have you ever travelled from Kinbuck to Kinabalu? No, me neither. But I’m going to have a good go (sort of …).At the beginning of the year I committed to simplifying my life and spending my precious free time doing the things I really enjoy, which for me includes walking, cycle touring and camping. By ‘simplifying’ I mean consolidating my hobbies: focusing on two or three hobbies, and getting fit enough to enjoy doing them. So in an effort to fight the winter excesses I’m getting in training for two trips that have been on my bucket list for a while.
First, I’m aiming to compleat climbing the Furths (the 3000+ foot mountains of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland) by climbing the remaining 13 peaks in the Republic of Ireland. I have a week’s trip planned in mid-May: hopefully enough time to climb Lugnaquilla, Galtymore, Brandon and the wonderfully-named Macgillicuddy’s Reeks, a challenging and airy ridge combining ten jagged peaks.
While in some ways this will be the completion of a 20 year quest to climb the highest mountains in Great Britain and Ireland it also represents a first for me. I’ve never before been to Ireland and am soon learning that mountain and place names are just as baffling and unpronounceable as many Scottish Gaelic names. I’m also relishing the chance to discover Ireland’s scenery and culture in an intensive, albeit brief stay.
My second trip is to cycle Scotland’s new coast-to-coast (C2C) route from Annan to Edinburgh over a long weekend in June. I’m going to take it at a reasonably leisurely pace – around 50 miles a day – and wild camp along the way. However, I’m not going to stop in Edinburgh but I’m going to carry on and cycle near enough to home … finishing at the tiny village of Kinbuck in Perthshire.
Which brings me back to my starting point, a journey from Kinbuck to Kinabalu.
I’m going to walk and cycle to raise funds for my daughter’s ten-week volunteering expedition to Malaysian Borneo this summer. She’s been selected to help with the valuable work that Raleigh International, a sustainable development charity that works with young people to support lasting, positive change in some of the poorest parts of the world. She’ll be helping to provide clean drinking water and sanitation to remote communities, assisting entrepreneurs to start up new green businesses, maintaining Borneo’s incredibly rich biodiversity and helping to connect rainforest and other conservation areas. On top of that she’ll undertake a challenging three-week expedition that may even take her to the peak of Mount Kinabalu!
Give or take a little height or distance my 6,000 metres of ascent up the Irish 3000-footers and 165 miles cycling across Scotland more or less equates to a sea-level to peak climb of Mount Kinabalu and a coast-to-coast journey across Borneo. With a little artistic licence it’s a bridge from Kinbuck to Kinabalu.
I’m certainly going to be challenged: to get fit for starters, and then to climb Ireland’s highest mountains on successive days and cycle almost half the length of Scotland. My daughter Georgia is also going to be challenged. At 17, this will be her first major trip away from home by herself, meeting new people, doing new things and exploring the world. She’s really benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh awards, gaining in confidence over the years and has now almost finished her Gold award. But more than that, she’ll be making a real difference to the lives and livelihoods of communities far from home: offering practical support, sustaining communities and forging genuine friendships.
If you’d like to give some encouragement to me over the next couple of months — as well as contribute to the valuable work that Raleigh International will be doing this summer in Borneo — then please consider donating to Georgia’s fundraising page. Any donations you can offer, however small, will be very much appreciated.
Look out for further posts from me over the next couple of months tracking my progress as well as some post-expedition reports from Borneo later in the year.