The Scottish Highlands: Loch Clair / Liathach. Image: Shutterstock.
The Scottish Highlands: Loch Clair / Liathach. Image: Shutterstock.

Westcountry charity walker sets new heights

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Explorer aims to climb 27 mountains – in just one month!

A Plymouth based explorer will shortly be embarking on a quest to raise £20,000 for Cancer Research UK by climbing an incredible 27 mountains!

Matthew Young is already halfway towards his charity fundraising target and is now due to be leaving the region at the end of this week – so he can get ready for his Scottish trek.

The 44 year old former Plymouth Marjon University student will be traversing the slopes of the highest ‘munros’ on mainland Scotland – and each of the island regions.

A ‘munro’ is defined as being a mountain which is more than 3000 feet high. The term came from Sir Hugh Munro who produced a list detailing the terrain for the highest 283 mountains in Scotland.

Matthew Young aims to raise £20,000 for charity by climbing 27 Scottish mountains.

His table was first published in 1891 which led to a late nineteenth century craze of ‘bagging’ all of the peaks on the list. The first person to successfully complete the challenge was a vicar in 1901.

Hugh sadly never managed to complete all of them himself having died during the influenza pandemic.  

‘I’ve been up to the Lake District to do a lot of fell walking and up to Scotland to do some of The Corbetts,’ says Matthew as he explains how he’s preparing himself for the venture itself.

The Corbetts are the smaller mountains which are around 2,500 feet so I can leave the big ones for the challenge itself. I’ve climbed several other mountains over the years. I enjoy it and I’ve been out walking around the coastline.’

It’s not just long walks which have been part of Matthew’s careful planning. There’s been the fitness training. And the practice expeditions.

And then there’s the kit (part of his clothing includes an emergency locator beacon). His aim is to leave little, if anything, to chance. 

Planning for expeditions: a camper van and a walking kit for emergencies

Matthew is a familiar face for shoppers in Liskeard (Cornwall) where he tirelessly collects money from passersby to help bolster the charity’s coffers.

He arrives at his pitch at eight in the morning and stays in situ until six in the evening. It’s a lot of standing around – a far cry from his walks which can last for a total of several hundred miles.

‘Both my Granddads and my uncle had died of cancer. I had a scare myself. And I had a cousin in Portsmouth who had a leg amputated when she was 20. She died in 2017.’

‘It was around the time when celebrities were doing a lot of challenges so I thought ”I can do that” and so that’s when I started and I’ve stuck with it ever since.’

Over the past five years, the 44 year old English Literature and Creative Writing graduate has raised £14,000 for charity.

Covid lockdowns put all of his trekking plans on hold, but, being stuck at home, simply added fuel to his determination for this latest venture. He expects to be away for the whole of September.

Expeditions take planning and Matthew has made sure he has everything he needs to sustain himself and to ensure a restful night’s sleep. And it’s all in one place: his vehicle. It means he only has to take a very basic kit on his actual walk.

‘I’ve got my van which I’ve converted into a camper and I’ve got the postcodes for each mountain. Once I’ve climbed one then I can get back into the van and head off to the next one.’

A first aid kit, head torch and water bottle (with purification tablets) along with a survival bag for emergencies will be his companions as he heads to the summit. Then it’s back to the van for a well-deserved hot meal, a decent cuppa and a good night’s kip.

‘It’s so good for your mental wellbeing’

Matthew is no stranger to Scotland’s terrain (and its midges) having already successfully walked his way around Loch Ness. The 80 mile challenge included wild camping in a four day trek which resulted in him raising more than £10,000.

His first challenge took place five years ago. It saw him climb to the highest point in Cornwall before setting off on a 687 mile walk to Fort William in Scotland.

If that wasn’t enough, Matthew then climbed Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the British Isles). All in all, it took him a mere 39 days. He raised more than £2000 for the charity.

‘I come up with an idea that’s been done before but I do it slightly differently. I do a bit of training by walking around the coastline and doing some mountains.’

‘My first challenge of walking 700 miles to Scotland. I enjoy it and love being out there in the middle of nowhere on my own. It’s so good for your mental wellbeing and it can be tough when you’re cold, hungry, tired and it’s raining but I kind of enjoy that.’

Other fund raising challenges included a walk from Plymouth to Lands’ End which took him nine days to complete in September, 2019.

The coastal footpath along this section of the south west stretches more than 150 miles. His challenged resulted in more than £3000 being raised. 

‘For next year, I was thinking of a mental challenge rather than a physical one. I was going to try to find an island to stay on for a month.’

‘I come up with an idea and once I have that idea then I have to do it. I know it’s going to be tough but I quite enjoy that.’

His Urban Tiger Facebook page has seen him garner the support of more than 200 people as news of his ventures continue to spread beyond the southwest.

‘A lot of people go through life trying to make themselves more comfortable but I seem to try to make myself more uncomfortable! Wild camping. Sleeping under the stars. I love it.’

‘When you’re struggling then there’s something inside me which forces me on and it’s an amazing feeling when you get to the top of that mountain. On top of the clouds and on your own. There’s a great feeling about that.’

To find out more, visit:

Imagery provided courtesy of Matthew Young.

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