Tess the Labrador and her owner Alistair Pratt completed a 230-mile walk from Lewis to Arran at the end of May, so far raising £13,680 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Walking in memory of Alistair’s wife and Tess’s mistress Margot, who sadly passed away from cancer in September 2013, the duo set off from their home near Reef beach on the west coast of Lewis on 30th April and had made their way to Goat Fell on Arran by 24th May.
“This was always Tess’s walk for Margot and I just went with her,” said 69-year old Alistair, a yachtsman and mountaineer.
The pair walked down through the Morsgail Estate on Lewis, across the Harris hills to Tarbert and onto Leverburgh, before taking the ferry across to Berneray and making their way down North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and on to Lochboisdale.
“From there we caught the ferry to Oban and walked to Ardfern on the Craignish peninsular, before we headed off to Skipness on the Mull of Kintyre for the final ferry trip to Lochranza on Arran.”
With mixed weather conditions along the journey and three particularly gruelling days heading into gales, Tess and Alistair didn’t always have the easiest of conditions for their adventure.
Alistair said: “We had three pretty horrible days with gales and rain in your face when we were in the Highlands, but we battled through it together and on the whole we were lucky with the weather for the duration of the walk and it all went very well.”
Alistair said that the longest day of walking saw them cover over 20 miles across the moors of Lewis and Harris.
He continued: “One of my biggest concerns was how Tess’ paws would cope with such a long walk everyday and I am pleased to say that her paw pads held up very well.”
Although the walk sometimes saw the pair making their way down the long route on public roads, they mostly used old drovers or coffin tracks together with forestry roads.
They also had various friends joining them along the way, including David Wilkie from Kilmelford who helped drive the campervan for accommodation purposes, along with John and Jane MacInnes of Tayvallich and David’s wife Lynn who joined them for some of the walking stages.
A charity hog roast was also held at Ardfern Yacht Centre (AYC) as Alistair and Tess passed through the Mid Argyll area, which raised some £4,016 towards the grand total.
AYC director Joanna Ashton said: “I would like to sincerely thank all of our customers and friends of Alistair and Tess who attended the hog roast and who gave so generously towards this valuable cause,” she said.
Tess’s blog also proved a real hit with many during their journey.
“She proved to be a whiz on the laptop with some interesting updates and observations on the daily happenings as the walk progressed,” said Alistair.
“We still have money coming in now and I know Tess will be up for more challenges in the future, so we need to see what adventure comes next,” added Alistair, who retired from running a local education authority outdoor activity centre on Arran and now works part-time at Ardfern Yacht Centre during the spring and autumn rush periods.
Donations to Alistair and Tess’s walk can be made on-line via the Macmillan Tribute Funds website and typing in Margot Pratt in the ‘find a fund’ name section.