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Nick Gardner and the Munro Challenge

In 2020, Nick Gardner, from Gairloch in the north west of Scotland, set himself the challenge of scaling all 282 Munros in tribute to his wife, Janet, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and Osteoporosis.

Nick wanted to do something that would benefit sufferers and carers everywhere. He aimed to raise £50,000 for Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society by climbing all 282 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet) in 1200 days. In August 2022, Nick completed his mission in less than 800 days, raising a whopping total of over £80,000. Nick deservedly won the 'Just Giving Fundraiser of the Year 2022' award in the Endurance category, and also holds the Guinness World Record for the Oldest Person to Bag the Munros.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Nick recently to find out more about his challenge, and how this physically exerting journey helped him push through the hardest time of his life.

Images © Nick Gardner, Jay Golian and Scott Jackson

In December 2019 when my beloved's dementia deteriorated so quickly that l couldn't look after her l was shattered. I was an emotional mess, but fortunately l realised this and decided that I had to find a new focus. To do its job this new focus would have to take me many years. My hobby is climbing, and l had already discovered that mountains had therapeutic properties. Since l live in the north west highlands where we have the best mountains in Britain (arguably, the world) on my doorstep, l had no impulse to climb the Munros further east and south. So, my focus was to challenge myself to climb ALL the Munros in 3 years, beginning when I reached 80 years in April 2020. Although I embarked on the challenge to protect my own sanity, I realised I could link it with charities in connection with Janet's conditions, namely Alzheimer's (Scotland) and the Royal Osteoporosis Society.
However, Covid struck so l couldn't begin until July.

Very quickly l discovered that fellow hill-walkers were interested in what l was doing so, when on the hill, l made it my mission to have a chat with everyone l met and explain my purpose. The response was unbelievable, and l felt humbled by all the love and help that people gave me. Very soon people began to recognise me on the hills and donations to the charities began pouring in. This, of course, gave me even more stimulus to continue with my challenges.

The recognition and awards have surpassed my wildest dreams - meeting Camilla, the now Queen and having a "Thank You" letter from her, meeting the Prime Minister, having a Guinness World Record (oldest person to have started and subsequently completed climbing the Munros), winning the fund raiser of the year in the endurance category of the Just Giving Awards, and collecting £134,000 for the charities.

Being a climber l already had many OS maps, but when I saw the HARVEY maps, I could see how much easier it was to use them, and was very grateful to the company for giving me those that l needed. I am intending to continue climbing until I am unable to walk!

If you want to learn more about Nick's story, check out 'Moving Mountains' which is a film made by students on the FMSU9B8 Documentary Production module at Stirling University, directed by Aoife McKibbin. This film documents Nick's Munro journey and was awarded "Best Short Film" and "People's Choice Award" at the Fort William Mountain Festival in February 2023.

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If you're feeling inspired by Nick's challenge, then take a look at our best-selling book, The Munros: The Complete Collection of Maps. Packed with 282 adventures in 1 book, the detailed maps inside enable the walker to plan their route before setting off, and reminisce on their adventure when they return to the comfort of their home after a day out in the hills.

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