Day 170 has seen a walk of 8 miles with a climb of 1279 feet.

Today I climbed Arthur’s Seat again. Friends Deborah and Pete, from Worcester, made through the challenge, had been enjoying a 3 week holiday along the West coast with their delightful children Rachel (7) and Elizabeth (9) and had decided to stop off in Edinburgh to explore this great city and wanted to climb Arthur’s Seat. I wanted to be their guide for the day, so met up with them armed with a secret bag of fun-sized mars bars. The perfect boost for any young child flagging on a walk up a hill!!

A view of Arthurs Seat
A view of Arthurs Seat

We started the walk at the Scott Monument and made our way through Edinburgh towards Holyrood Park. The festival was on, which added a huge amount of colour to our walk but also made movement through the city slow and laborious. The throng of people and the cognitive effort required to negotiate busy pavements and streets tired the children and I rapidly. There was some moments of lightness as we walked passed a tightrope walker juggling knifes and fire batons and the odd very clever illusion of men balanced ball on ball and wizards hovering in the air, but by the time we reached Holyrood we were already tired. We took the opportunity for a loo stop and a surprise mars bar for the girls and I. Recharged and looking forward to a little more space on the hill, we set off.

The girls were brilliant on the hill. We had been shaded by the tall buildings of the Edinburgh city centre but once on Holyrood park and striding out towards the hill we were in the full glare of the sun on this most beautiful of days. It was hot work. Very hot. The girls were well prepared by Deborah and Pete with sunscreen applied, sunhats worn and light clothing for the walk, but they were finding the hill in this heat a challenge. I suspected that it was as much the psychological challenge as well as the physical as the volcanic plug of Arthur’s Seat loomed large above us, the walkers already on the top looking like ants in line as they enjoyed the view. It was as the perceived enormity of the task in hand loomed large above us that the second round of fun-sized mars bars washed down with copious amounts of water came into play. It worked a treat because the next thing I saw were two young girls trying to run up the hill with Pete. We caught them up as they paused for breath, perhaps regretting somewhat this sudden burst of energy, and then the walk up the hill became a slow and steady climb through the heat. Up and up we plodded, passing many walkers in their descent as we climbed up this busy hill. Soon enough the girls were holding hands with Mum, Dad and even me as we pressed on up the hill, our faces getting redder and redder in the heat of the midday sun. We reached the ridge and the final gentle ascent to the small volcanic plug up which one scrambled to touch the trig point. At that point young Rachel had hit rock bottom overwhelmed by the weight of people, the heat of the sun and the final little climb ahead. She sank to the floor with a whimper. She just couldn’t go any further. I sensed that this time a Mars Bar was not going to solve this one. So I stepped over and bent down behind her. Lifted her gently to her feet and turned her around to look up at the Trig Point. To see how jolly close it was before turning her around to look to see how high she had climbed. The view was spectacular but the question I had for Rachel was simple as I held her up in my arms and looked again at the Trig Point with her. I spoke very gently into her ear. ‘Do you really want to go home tomorrow knowing that you have climbed this far but never made it to the top of the highest point in Edinburgh. Do you really want to tell your friends that you couldn’t make it to the top? Or would you rather scramble up that last little bit of the hill for a photo at the top that will prove to your friends that you were strong enough to be able to climb to the very top of the highest point in Edinburgh and from which you could see the sea and this wonderful Scottish city sprawled out in front of you? Not only that, I have heard that there might be another mars bar at the top. She replied simply ‘ok’ then grabbed Dad’s hand and Pete led her up the scramble to the top. The girls did so jolly well to get there, so once we had enjoyed the view and taken the obligatory photographs it was time for another mars bar.

Soon enough we were in the descent. The girls noticed how tired their legs became as they worked extra hard to slow their descent but walked down with a spring in their step towards the promise of a good lunch and a post lunch ice cream in the offer. I called ahead and booked a table in the Zizzi restaurant on Mary King’s Close. I had been there before and knew it to be excellent but also tucked away and little known so suspected that it might be one of the few places in Edinburgh that might actually have seats for us all on this day of festivals.

At the top!
All of us, at the top, on the seat!

It was a good call. Zizzi’s had seats for us but we had to get there first. That meant more walking, up past the Scottish Parliament buildings, before negotiating the throngs of people up the Royal Mile. I went back through my list of games that I used to play with Heather and James when they were flagging. The first was incredibly simple and worked a little. I took the girls in hand on this broad footpath, one on either side as we walked , and after ‘one, two three’ I planted my foot and shouted ‘weeeeeee’ as I swung the girls towards each other in a flying arc stopping just before they actually collided. The children giggled and we walked some more and as I sensed a slight flagging I went for another one, two, three and as I counted the girls giggled nervously. I feigned a foot plant and then walked and then did a footplant and swung them. More giggles and we had negotiated the last bit of the walk down from Arthur’s seat. As we approached the Scottish Parliament the pavement narrowed so we had to resort to less energetic games. I tried yellow car budge but there were just no yellow cars in the city centre today! It was slow progress but with the girls once again flagging a little further encouragement and the threat of a fireman’s lift onto my shoulders to be carried up the Royal Mile meant that with a few horrified giggles we made it up the Royal Mile and took the short descent down the close to the Restaurant.

We had a wonderful lunch so very generously provided by Pete and Deborah during which time I had to force back an attempt by a partial seizure to bubble through. I managed to push it back but it disturbed me a little and gave me cause me to reflect on the achievement of the girls. I was tired after a short walk and a little social interaction. The girls must be shattered. They had arrived in Edinburgh on the back of 3 weeks busy holidaymaking and a long journey from the North. They had to be tired and the crush of people brought to Edinburgh every year during the festival made them tire further. Made me tire further. There was so much to see and the constantly moving sea of people surging around us made negotiating a simple route cognitively demanding for young or damaged brains so I completely understood the fact that they were tiring. I was tiring. Yet without even a whimper they plodded on, the only noise being a plea for a helping hand as the energy levels drained from their small reserves. So already tired they had 1279 feet to climb in the scorching heat of a cloudless August summer day and yet still they climbed and again, with hardly a whimper they scaled this old volcano and stood on the top of Edinburgh despite failing energy levels and the significant psychological challenge for a young mind of a large hill to climb on short legs in energy sapping heat. And not only did they climb it but they climbed it with a smile on their faces and a dogged determination to do their very best to achieve this challenge. Well done Rachel and Elizabeth. Today you scaled many hurdles and stood on the top of one of the greatest cities in the world. You can be justifiably very proud. I thoroughly enjoyed walking with you both and Mum and Dad of course.

Yours aye


So the challenge in numbers as a total since the start of the challenge:

Days completed: 170
Total Miles Cycled: 953.11
Total Miles Walked: 945.31
Total Miles Run: 162.33
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 53.53 miles
Total Distance Swum: 5,020 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.2,124.41
Total Height Gained under own steam: 89,707.15 feet
Mountains Climbed: 8
Hills Climbed: 33
Days of Voluntary Activity: 11.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:4!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 14
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 558metres or 11,160kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 9
Press Ups: 783
Pull Ups: 30
Sit Ups: 1248
People Met and Hands Shaken: 588
Pots of tea shared: 35
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 3
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 1084
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 694
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 48 – £9,160

Considering I started this challenge 12 months ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £54.52 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to take on an activity designed to help me Beat the Beast and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or give me a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you
Yours aye

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye