Updated: Apr 12
The Lone Walker
This week we are pleased to be able to introduce to you a special guest post on our blog from Andy Cole aka The Lone Walker. Andy blogs on Facebook and his expedition to climb Ben Nevis to raise funds for Lochaber Mountain Rescue while raising awareness about mental health and depression are what first drew us to The Lone Walker’s cause. You will know from my previous post, How Walking Can Help Mental Health, I shared my own personal story of my depression and how hiking has proved a lifesaver.
How the great outdoors saved my life and it could save yours too.
Lochaber Mountain Rescue
I would like to share with you my story of how the outdoors has saved my life. As a survivor of depression, I found solace in the mountains across the UK. I chose to walk up Ben Nevis every day in October to raise awareness about depression and mental health and how good the outdoors can be for the mind, whilst raising money for the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team.
The outdoors has saved my life and as we know mountain rescue teams across the UK, save lives every day and are all voluntary based. I wanted to raise money for the Ben Nevis mountain rescue team as the mountain is so busy. My challenge was to walk up there every day while meeting new people and raising awareness about depression, by talking about my own personal battle.
Depression is a silent killer but as many agree, the outdoors is so good for the soul and mind. When I turned 40 I wanted to do something memorable so I chose to walk Ben Nevis every single day throughout October. Regardless of the weather, I achieved this.
The most common path I used was the pony track as this is the most popular route I kept a daily log of my mindset and took many pictures as I ploughed through each day. Over 300 miles and a total ascent equivalent of 7 times the height of Everest.
Three years ago I was diagnosed with severe depression. I never left my flat for nearly a year and a half. I had lost my own sanity, but my doctors actually recommended walking in the hills as part of my therapy. I took this advice and with the help of friends I was soon out walking among the fells of the Lake District. This made me feel a lot better. I really enjoyed and wanted to reach new heights both literally and mentally. I have since walked the mountain ranges across the UK and in particular, spend a lot of time in the highlands.
For me, the most inspiring people I have met have to be the mountain rescue teams. The hard tasks they undertake often in incredibly varying and dangerous weather conditions. Everyone is always so professional, yet so friendly and efficient. These teams are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and are ready to help those in need, regardless of the commitments spending time with family, work, etc.
Britain’s Highest Mountain
Now that I have scaled Ben Nevis several times, my dream destination to climb is Britain’s newly discovered highest peak, Mount Hope. Researchers have discovered that Britain's highest mountain is, in fact, Mount Hope in the British Antarctic Territory. The survey, which incorporates new satellite data shows that Mount Hope is 337 m (1,106 ft) taller than previously thought. If I can achieve this I would also get to waddle with all the penguins too.
Isle of Skye
One of the funniest moments that I have had would be pitching the tent up after a long drive on to the Isle of Skye. It was dark when we arrived and we didn’t check the ground properly before erecting our camp. At about 2:30am nature was calling me in other ways...and I stepped outside the tent door barefoot not realising the pile of cow dung just beside the opening of the tent. You can guess the rest, but I ended up washing my feet in the Atlantic sea under the starriest night in the skies I have ever seen.
Reconnect with Nature
I recommend everyone getting outside just that little bit more. Whether it be for a walk around the park, along the beach to like me into the mountains. The skin is waterproof so it doesn’t matter if it is a little wet. Sometimes in the worst weather, I have seen the best sights.
Lochaber Mountain Rescue
You can follow Andy’s adventures and donate to the Lochaber MRT on their Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andy-coley1
Pin the image below to read later and come back to this post in the future. Pinning also shares the love for other adventurers.