TWO friends from Annandale are preparing to take on the toughest challenge of their lives in aid of a local charity.
Evan Keir and Ryan Carroll will hike the Southern Upland Way – Scotland’s first and only coast to coast route – to raise money for Nith Inshore Rescue, a charity close to both their hearts.
Their route starts at Portpatrick in the west of Dumfries and Galloway and finishes at Cockburnspath in the east of the Scottish Borders, taking in some of Scotland’s most challenging terrain.
And they hope to complete the 214 mile course in just 18 days.
Ryan, 25, told DGWGO News: “We’ll be carrying all the items we need to stop and make camp every night, so our rucksacks weigh in about 20 kg each.
“We worked out that the distance is the same as walking from Glasgow to Manchester, and the total assent for our hike is the same as Mount Everest – that still hasn’t quite sunk in!”
Based at Glencaple, Nith Inshore Rescue is an independent lifeboat search-and-rescue service operated entirely by highly-trained volunteers.
Like many groups they have faced additional challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, following strict protection measures as they continue to train and respond to those in difficulty.
Healthcare support worker Evan, from Annan, recently joined the charity as a crew member, while Ryan, who grew up in Brydekirk, understands the demands of life on the water from his career as a marine engineer.
He said: “Nith Inshore Rescue has to raise all its own funds to be able to carry on their life-saving work. We’re hoping we can raise £3000 towards equipment that will help keep these heroes safe.”
Although they are both experienced hikers, Evan and Ryan have stepped up their training ahead of the gruelling trek.
The duo, who have been friends since childhood after meeting at Scouts, have added daily gym sessions into their routine, as well as weekly simulation hikes where they attempt to walk their planned daily distance on similar terrain.
They hope to begin their challenge on June 18th and have created a website that will track their progress along the route.
And they are hoping that friends, family and supporters will be able to join them for a stretch of their journey, especially as Evan will celebrate his 28th birthday along the way.
Ryan said: “Training is going well and we’ve definitely improved a lot over the last couple of months.
“It would be nice to see some friendly faces to lend some moral support during our adventure.”