All the best Jenny Graham – for your attempt at the Round the World Record 18000 miles unsupported.

I was at a great wedding a few weeks ago where I met so many interesting folk. Among the guests was Jenny a girl from my Mountaineering Club and a member of the Torridon Mountain Rescue Team. We had a great catch up and I knew she was a cyclist so I was after some information as always about the bike. Out of the tales of pain came her story and how had I missed this? What a great story that starts tomorrow as she sets off to try to be the‘Fastest Female to Circumnavigate the World by Bike, Unsupported’. According to Guinness, the journey should be continuous and in one direction (east to west or west to east). The minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (29,000 km), She is It is an amazing tale and whatever happens Jenny is a lovely lass and a great role model for others. I hope when my Grand kids visit Scotland again they get to meet Jenny and folk like her. It was great getting her story and seeing her enthusiasm.

May the winds be with you, may you keep well and may you stay safe.

Please follow Jenny on her media updates, she is a true adventurer.

In June 2018, Adventure Syndicate member Jenny Graham will embark on an attempt at one of cycling’s greatest challenges: the ‘Around the World’ record. We caught up with Jenny to learn more about how the attempt came about, and get an idea of the challenge ahead.


Can you give us a bit of background about yourself?

I’m a 37-year-old female endurance cyclist from the Scottish Highlands, and was a young adult by the time I was introduced to outdoor sports. Having had my son, Lachlan, when I was 18, the outdoor life was a million miles away from the world I knew, but as Lachlan grew, so did our passion for the hills, and we headed for them at any opportunity – by foot, bike or on skis.

It was five years ago, when planning a bike trip to Romania, that I was introduced to ultra-distance racing by coming across the Highland Trail 550, and life has never been the same since. I began to merge my passion for travelling through harsh mountainous environments with my interests in cycling, self-sufficiency, and limit-pushing, doing events such as the Arizona Trail Race, The Strathpuffer, and LEJOG.

I began to wonder: How far could I actually go? But every time I’ve felt like I’ve been close to finding out, I’ve felt spurred on to do more. It’s like a bottomless pit of discovery!


How is the record defined? 

The record I’m going for is ‘Fastest Female to Circumnavigate the World by Bike, Unsupported’. According to Guinness, the journey should be continuous and in one direction (east to west or west to east). The minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (29,000 km), and the total distance travelled by the bicycle and rider should exceed the Equator’s length. The clock does not stop for any waiting time for transit flights, ferries, or for the duration of the transit. The official Guinness World Record doesn’t differentiate between supported and unsupported attempts, but I hope to break the record for both anyway.

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June 1984 An interesting ascent of the Great Prow in Skye, classic memories.

Interesting day on the Great Prow Blaven Skye.

I was out for another weekends training at Kintail on the West Coast with the RAF Mountain Rescue Team. The weather was great so we planned to get a climb in Skye just over the water it was the mid 80’s. There was no bridge there I was trying to get as much climbing in as possible before my RAF Team Leaders Course and was enjoying it. It had been a good summer and we had got a lot of rock climbs in all over Scotland!

At the times we were chasing some Classic climbs and The Great Prow was in the famous book Hard Rock by Ken Wilson. It was one of the easiest of the routes in the book and many who know these things could not believe it was Skye’s only route in it.  I had  walked in before but the route was wet so we did a long climb on the Buttress which was as they say “character building.”

This was to be the day to get the route climbed as we had two good climbers with us Dave Tomkins also a phothrapher and Stampy who would climb the North Face of the Eiger. We also had a young troop Ross with us for an “experience day” he had just done the RAF MR First aid Course. We had most things covered.

The Friday night in these days at Kintail is always a great night and we stayed in the village hall opposite the pub. They had a fancy dress night in the hall and there was lots of hats and masks left when we arrived along with the debris of the usual party that we tidied up in the hall. Anyway in the morning we had an early start and the troops had some of the masks on as we headed for Skye!

In these days there was no bridge it did not open till 1995 . It was the ferry we went across in complete with masks if I remember mine was a batman mask . The ferryman was laughing as was the garage at Broadford on Skye then it was round to Blaven the mountain our route was on. It’s a great drive iconic with the first views of the iconic mountain always makes me smile. The classic Glach Ghlas Traverse is an outstanding day and how many miss this wonderful scramble and climb and in winter a route to task most of us. Not today we had planned the climb we were after.

/”> The Skye The Cullin guidebook is a guide covering the the crags across the Cullin Hills of Skye. This is the first edition of two definitive guide books to the island. The guide is packed with classics and obscurities alike, on both single and multi pitch crags, and, of course, covers in detail the famous Cullin Ridge Traverse. It is also packed from cover to cover with great photos, good maps and loads of general interest info. A must have guide for those intending or even aspiring to climb in the area.
The guide covers: Glen Sligachan and Harta Corrie, Northern Cuillin, Coire na Creiche, Coire a’ Ghreadaidh, Coire na Banachdaich and Inaccessible Pinnacle, Coire Lagan, Coire a’ Ghrunnda and Coire nan Laogh, Coriusk Basin, Blaven and Clach Glas, Black Cuillin Outliers and Red Cuillin, Cuillin Ridge Traverses.

[/caption]The weather was great but the walk up to crag is and I quote “Purgatorial” according to the SMC guide. It is up steep screes to the cliff the Prow is situated. A far better way is to descend “Scuppers Gully” by another route but not today.  the walk in is from sea level up to 2200 feet and about a mile and a half a lot on scree.

I had also been up here in winter and the scope for winter climbing is superb and the walk up easier. Anyway we made it to the base of the crag the weather was great and we were enjoying the day. The cliff is imposing and the Great Prow an outstanding feature but there are some hard routes round here with few that let mere mortals like me climb on it.

Two other climbers arrived that is unusual as this part of Skye is usually quite! They were two top Scottish climbers doing a much harder route on a cliff that gets few ascents! We had a good chat and off we went . Climbing was pretty friendly in these days and we were fairly well known as we climbed on most cliffs in these days. It was a great community and most folk knew each other.”> On the Great Prow with the mask

[/caption]The climb – “The Prow” from Classic Rock – very Severe 380 feet East Face of Blaven first ascent 1968.

As always I was a bit worried but the route was fine with some great belays and 4 pitches one was very loose, the top one but we had fun, what situations and great company and I climbed in my mask. We were soon on the top the views of the ridge are stunning and then we started to descend Scuppers Gully back to the bags that we left below the route. On the way down we heard shouting, not the usual but that call that means trouble. On arriving we found one of the climbers on the deck looking pretty rough, he had fallen off or a hold had come of and hit the screes. He was in a bit of shock and we soon sorted it out and had an arm injury. Poor Ross was thrown into the casualty care while we thought about the evacuation. Now it is not far from the road but its awful ground. This was 1984 and no mobile phones so it would have been a long time to get the stretcher and enough man power to get him off.

From the SMC Journal 1985 – June 8 th 1984 –  Climber 21 (m) on the Jib  130  metre three star E1 –  East Face of Bla Bheinn fell 20 feet arm injury , shock/ Rescue by RAF MRT and RAF Leuchars helicopter  28 man hours.

The Wessex helicopter was training in the area and was planning coming to see us and by magic I tried a call on our radio. There was no way we should have got any answer but by magic we did. We got contact and the helicopter was going to refuel and would be straight over. Now the cliff is steep and overhanging in places and soon the winch – man was dropped of with us on a long wire, we had a bit of work sorting out the casualty. More importantly we had the helicopter Neil Robinson stretcher basic but meant we can now move the casualty. There was no way the helicopter could winch here so we moved him to the screes an epic on the loose ground.  We struggled and heaved with him but managed to get into a possible winching position. It was then a pick up by the helicopter not easy with the closeness of the cliff and the turbulence but as always they were great. It was soon over  and we were left to walk down of the hill with his mate. Our casualty was off to hospital and recovered well climbing again within a few months.    It was a good job and could have been a lot different as rarely are there other climbers on the crag in those days.

It was back for “tea and medals” and then I noticed that for most of the time I had my mask on and I got some wind ups from the helicopter crew for that, what did the casualty and his mate think, we will never know but they were glad to see us.”> How are we going to move the casualty discussion.

[/caption]Crazy days,but as I sit here with my ribs still sore and look back a great outcome thanks Dave, Stampy and Ross.

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Farewell old watch – what now for the hill?

In the old days it was map ,compass, watch when I started on the hills nowadays we have gadgets now on our phone that can nearly do all those things! Yet I always carry a map, compass and wear a watch!

I was a great follower of the GPS but hardly use it as my phone can do most of it as long as I have a signal and battery power.

Are GPS now to expensive and costly ? Or is that just my thoughts.

I carry a spare battery pack all the time for my technology it will last 12 hours but be careful in the cold . Yet I still feel I need a watch on the hill?

My trusty watch and back up watch even older have had it! The Sunto that we got for a discounted price in 2001 for our Everest trip it has now been retired! The watch pins broke over the years and it is beyond fixing now. It has been a good pal but 17 years out in all weathers with me and like me it has taken its toll!

My battered watch – been with me since 2001 !

So I will be looking for another watch ? Any ideas thoughts!
Make sure you still carry a map, compass and watch along with you and have the knowledge to use the map and compass!

all your technology! Ensure you carry a spare battery fully charged for your phone!

Thoughts and comments always welcome !

My mate Pete Greening watch still pristine!

From Pete – Heavy, you can send your watch back to Suunto (details on how to is on their website). For around £50, you send it back to Finland, they keep the insides, but replace pretty much everything else. Worth doing, in my opinion, especially as those watches from our Everest trip hold so many memories!

I will do this !

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Moray Sea School commemoration plaque at Burghead over the weekend. Great to see that this special place and memories are not forgotten for all the good work they did and still do!

My first weekend with RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue was in Feb 1982. We travelled to Kintail and stayed in a small barn opposite the Kintail Arms Hotel. It is one of the most scenic places in Scotland on the West Coast on the road to Skye. In a dark February in the morning a massive sailing boat was anchored in the bay. It was the Moray Sea School and that was the first time I had heard of them! I did not have time to take it all in as after breakfast I was heading for the winter hills for the first time. I was in awe of everything that weekend.

One of my heroes was John Hinde an ex RAF Mountain Rescue Team Leader he was a legend in the Mountain Rescue world. Not long after he left the RAF he worked for the Moray Sea School and the Outdoor Trust as an instructor and introduced so many to the wild places and the sea. Over the years we met them all over Scotland and on our local crag at Cummingston where they rock-climbed regularly. A few top instructors cut there teeth here and a few of my pals on leaving the RAF worked with them. There expeditions were famous long treks into the wilderness and the bothies and they introduced a lot of young folk to an interest in this way of life. Over the years I have met many who have great memories of this period in their young lives. I would love a photo of the Sailing Ship if anyone has a copy!

There was a commemoration this weekend in my village of Burghead this weekend. Sadly I missed it but here is a little bit of the story!

I for one will never forget seeing their sailing ship anchored in the Bay at Kintail as a young lad! The mountains were covered in snow and the ship was like from a film set.

“The Moray Sea School at Burghead was launched in 1949 as the Scottish counterpart of Outward Bound’s Sea School at Aberdovey. Moray Sea School closed in 1976 when The Outward Bound Trust moved to Loch Eil on the west coast of Scotland. Sadly there has been no recognition that Outward Bound existed in Moray – until now…

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Ed McCann, a former instructor at Moray Sea School and the generosity of former staff, students, family members and local companies, we have successfully raised the £3,000 needed for a commemorative plaque and two information boards.

The plaque and boards was unveiled at Burghead, Moray on Saturday 9 June, followed by a reception at nearby Gordonstoun School.”

A great piece of history saved well done all!

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Scary helicopter ride in Skye?

When you look at the photo below it is just the normal photo of a wild Corrie in Skye. It is

Coire Bhasteir in Skye the Gateway to this part of the Skye ridge. Every time I look at it I see the small gorge in the middle of the photo a place that few venture into.It is a small wild gorge that we flew into in the mist on a call out on Sgurr Nan Gillian in the mid 80’s.

The Wessex a great helicopter in action! Photo D. Taylor

We were told that a climber had fallen on Pinnacle Ridge a great rambling route on Sgurr Na Gillian. Skye Mountain Rescue Team had asked for help to assist and I was picked up with a pal from the Kintail Ridge where I was with the RAF Leuchars MRT for the weekend . We had left early to climb the North and South Clunnies together a big day. The Wessex from Leuchars was up training and we had great liaison with them, they were called in to assist Skye MRT. They called over the radio for man power and picked us up plus my dog. We were half way along the North Clunnie it was barely 1000 we had left early and were going well. We were travelling light, very light and hoping to move fast I was pretty fit at that time.

The Bhaister Gorge !

We were travelling light as it is a big day of 17 Monros planned.

We had hoped that day to get the route completed I had done it once before. It’s a huge 18 – 20 hour day but we were young and fit. Within 15 mins we were picked up on the hill and heading for Skye.

The weather came in as we were heading from the Sligachan Hotel to the hill. This who know Skye is complex ground and as we gained height we got caught in the mist and ended up in the Bhaister gorge!”> Andy Lawson photo the Gorge[/caption]It wa

It was so tight with a river below us  and we soon realised we were not in the main Coire and had an epic backing out of it. Mick Anderson was the winch man (sadly now gone) and we had a conflab. I had been in this gully before it is now in the scrambles guide but not the place for a helicopter in poor weather.

The Gorge from Pinnacle Ridge photo from Andy Lawson thanks !

The rotors looked so close (they were)but we got out, it was some great the flying. In the Wessex I was at the door with Mick he was talking them out of the gorge. It was then the weather cleared and we were out and dropped of near the first pinnacle on  ridge.

It was steep loose ground scary ground but I was never so glad to be out even on the hill.I was so glad to get out on the ridge and myself and Teallach (my dog) got winched down. If I remember the Skye team were impressed. We were just glad to be alive. Our poor casualty had a badly broken ankle but was glad to get sorted and we got him down a gully still full of snow, interesting in lightweight boots?

The casualty got taken into the Corrie by stretcher there was still snow about and then picked up by our helicopter with us to Broadford Hospital in Skye . Poor Skye Team had to walk off, but we had to go with the helicopter, which we were glad off. It was then a quick re – fuel at Broadford and we then got another call – out to a ship with an injured fisherman crewman near Mallaig. In these days mid 80’s there was no night vision goggles and we spent the night in a hotel in Mallaig and then next day back to Kintail to rejoin our team! The dog shared 5 star attention with us!

In the morning we were dropped at Kintail to meet the team and for “tea and medals ”

Little did we know then that these were some of the best days of our lives?

“Queen’s words sum these days up! ”

Queen – Days of our lives!

A busy weekend and a big learning curb again. Three weeks later I broke my ankle playing football and had a pin and plate in for two years. I was back on the hill after the plaster was off with a boot and a trainer on in Arran, getting strange looks. Its crazy now looking back. These were the days!

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A insight into a different World of Cycling and meeting two icons Mark Beaumont and Alan Hinkes of the Outdoor world.

Yesterday I travelled from Ayr through the wonderful scenery of the Galloway and Borders on my way to the Keswick Mountain Festival. I passed many of the places where my Dad and Mum took us hill walking over 50 years ago The Merrick, Corserine and many others and the little villages are so part of my love of the wild places and the people who work and enjoy them.

Looking towards the hills I grew up with still magic with lots of great memories thanks Mum and Dad.

The hills are looking stunning just now so green and the early morning air was warm and full of birdsong. Sadly the rivers could do with some rain but can we complain? This area near my home town of Ayr and many of the villages were in the past mining villages. Sadly this is where many of Scotland’s finest lived and worked. Nowadays the pits and work has gone and Scotland lost some incredible people many moving away or abroad to seek work. I understand that things change but there was little thought of what happens to the people after the jobs are gone. When you see the old mines and the villages it is hard to believe that this was once a huge centre industrial Scotland now lost. It is good to see that the forestry in Galloway is stunning and many take advantage of the walks and cycle paths the forestry is now a great asset for the people. Loch Doon dominates this is a beautiful place my memories of Boys Brigade camps, midges, snow, rain sun and learning about the hills I wish I could have stayed longer.

I stopped at Annan to get a lift from David one of the “Cycle to Syracuse team”and to collect Colin the man behind the idea of our Cycle in memory of the Students in the Lockebie tragedy where 35 from Syracuse University never made it home . It is a commemorative cycle from Lockerbie to Syracuse University on the 30’th Anniversary of the Lockerbie tragedy. It is about “looking back and looking forward” to the future and the memories of those lost an effected by this sad period.  (Please go to the Facebook page for more information and if you can please like it.)

Loch Ken stunning scenery.

It was great to be driven in Dave’s car ( posh) a change from the van and we were soon heading for the Lakes a short drive from Annan.

The Keswick Mountain Festival a massive festival nowadays. Big Bobble Hats !

The M6 was busy but we were soon in the Lakes how incredible these hills are and I have some great memories of grand climbs and walks and a few rescues in the past. It was busy as the Mountain Festival was on and we were meeting Mark Beaumont the world-famous record-breaking cyclist who was giving us some time from his busy schedule to advise us and he was speaking at the Festival.

We also had several members from the “Feachan Flyers” the local Cycle group who are a great help on our journey to Syracuse.

Keswick festival was a massive canvas village  a huge change for me from the early days and we had wander round the site some lunch and then waited for Mark’s arrival. Also speaking was Alan Hinkes the first Briton to climb all the 8000 meter peaks. What a lovely man and though he was speaking within half and hour he had a good chat with our group. Alan is an Ambassador for Mountain Rescue England and Wales and plays an active part in supporting Mountain Rescue which is of great benefit to the organisations to have a man of his calibre supporting the cause. Maybe Scottish Mountain Rescue could follow this lead?

Alan Hinkes

Mark arrived introduced himself and then went off to do a sound check for his chat later that evening. He was soon back and we had about two hours of fantastic, advice, chat and information. I am lucky to have met many icons but what a man Mark was he is a humble guy but so approachable and interested in our cycle.

It was a surreal two hours and impressive rarely have I met someone as positive and willing to share of his hard-won knowledge. “Knowledge is power” is not in Mark book, he has a love of the bike, the people and many other things in the outdoors. He is not just a cyclist but a mountaineer, rower, arctic explorer and  few have pushed endurance as he has in the world. He is a true Ambassador for getting folk healthy and out in the fresh air. He also is clearly aware of the positives on activity on mental health and what we are trying to achieve with our Cycle to Syracuse for PTSD and other issues. He portrays an incredible life with praise to all from his family to his support team and the influence of team work in achieving his aims. He took us through the dark periods in his adventures and how he pushes his body to places that we can only imagine. I could have listened to him for hours. Yet he still had time to speak to so many who recognised him and wanted a word and photos. So many of our sporting icons could learn from Mark. Thank you Mark it was a superb afternoon and stay safe and maybe you will get some time for your young family and have a break?

It was soon time to leave the journey back was split by getting sized for my kit for the trip then off on the road. I had been a bit fed up with my “wimpy rib” keeping me off my bike but being with Mark and the others was another great experience.

Thanks to all.


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A look back at the Ayr Advertiser Walk 1965 / 1967!

From the age of 11 as a young boy I did the Ayr Advertiser Walk this was race walking (big in the 60,s )and it started in Ayr from Ayr Grammar School

and went over the local Carrick Hills. The route was about 13 miles and about 800 feet of ascent. It was a huge event then for Youth Organisations with lots competing and we trained hard for it. Every week for months we were out training with our team from the Boys Brigade after tea it was hard work.The hardest part of the walk was the climb up over the Carrick hills. I completed in this for 3 years 1965 – 67 and our team won the team event for our age twice.

Our team and I were trained by a member of the church who used me to go of fast over the hill and I can remember being in bits, “hitting the wall” at the old Butlins Camp, four miles from home. I had collapsed exhausted and give my all at 11 years old and 6 stone and Dad and Mum were there to see me. I had little stamina then and was out of it that first year.

I wanted to give up but was told in no way a “Whalley” drops out by my Dad, he was a great runner in his day and Captain of the Hares and Hounds at Edinburgh University. Mum was in tears for me as Dad got me on my feet and hastened me on. It was a hard lesson for life at the time but one that I never forgot, poor Mum was in a state and wanted me to pull out of the race. This was a hard test but that experience was to help me in the really hard times on the mountains when I was exhausted, my Dad’s words were in my head pushing me on.

Yesterday after a stunning warm drive to Ayr I had planned to cycke the route but my ribs are still sore after my fall on bike! I took my car round it! The hill though only 200 metres high was steep in places and I remembered the pain and exciting days we had here growing up.

I stoped at the top of the road at the viewpoint and there were grand views of Ayr and Arran in the sun! What a mess was left it was sad to see the bottles, cans and rubbish left I took some back and cleared up a bit. Why oh Why? The ground is so dry and there is another big horse fire near my home in Burghead!

It was then back to my sisters for a grand tea and a wander by the river Ayr folk in swimming in the evening sun! Then we watched the football after sitting outside in the heat !

Good memories that help make you who you are?

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