Spyke sets new record for climbing all the Munros

Starting on Sunday 25th April 2010 with Ben More on Mull, Stephen Pyke (aka Spyke) set himself the challenge of climbing all Scotland's 3,000 ft hills, better known as the Munros, in a continuous round under his own steam - on foot, by bike and paddling a kayak.

On 3rd June, just 39 days 9 hours and 6 minutes later, Spyke touched the summit cairn on Ben Hope in Sutherland to complete the fastest round of the Munros. The previous record was 48 days 12 hours set by Charlie Campbell in 2000.

Spyke is keen that his journey through the Highlands can inspire and encourage people to join the John Muir Trust – the UK’s leading wild lands charity. Please take time to read more about the JMT and even if you decide not to join you can support their valuable work by donating to the Trust at the following Just Giving Page.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 6 - Drumochter

No word yet from Spyke and team on today's progress, but the plan is to complete the 7 Munros on either side of Drumochter Pass, before cycling round to Glen Feshie to get in position for a 2-day stint through the Cairngorms over the weekend, with Spyke hopefully emerging at the Linn of Dee on Sunday night.

PS. These 7 hills have now been climbed, and Spyke and team are camping in Glen Feshie tonight ready to tackle the western Cairngorms tomorrow.

Day 5 - Creag Meagaidh and Monadh Liath

Yesterday, Spyke bagged the 9 Munros north of the Laggan - Newtonmore road: Beinn Teallach, Beinn a'Chaorainn, Creag Meagaidh, Stob Poite Coire Ardair, Carn Liath, Geal Charn, Carn Dearg, Carn Sgulain, A'Chailleach. Towards the end of the day Corbett-meister Manny Gorman tracked down Spyke and support, and penned the following report:
The Spyke is cruising.

With 5 Munros this morning already under his belt, he left Garva for Geal Charn about 3pm with his biking mate Alan, who despite only ever having had one 5 mile run before, was tricked into this 18 mile bogtrot to Newtonmore over 4 Munros along the way.

Fair play to Alan, he not only survived in his near slick treads, but actually enjoyed the hills, the rough ground, the bog and the remoteness in amongst the heavy cold showers scudding over from the west.

I had to work until 4 then drove to Shepherds Bridge and reversed their proposed route, cutting a few corners, and first caught sight of them topping Carn Dearg at bang on 6.30pm. We met up on Carn Balloch, along the broad ridge leading to Carn Sgulain, and trotted gently over the big snow patches and sopping undulating ground, enjoying the chat as we went.

Ptarmigan, mountain hares, plovers, deer - the ground was moving with wildlife, magic.

The sun came out, the wind was at our backs and we were moving steadily first to Carn Sgulain, then quickly over A' Chailleach, just to get caught in a wee shower before a very soft & wet decent down to Glen Banchor to meet up with his van and crew of Sam & John, about 8.45pm.

Spyke is in good form and will be glad of any company on the hills, so don't be shy, give the boy a shove along - he is looking forward to some of his mates coming north for the next week to help out over the still white monster of the Cairngorms and beyond. A task indeed.

Tomorrow he is hoping to do the west Drumochter hills first, then over to the east side of the A9 and stay high until Meall Cuaich, before returning to the road to pick up his road bike then spin around to Glen Feshie for the launch pad into the Gorms.

The route has changed from the plan a bit, and will probably continue to do so as the round progresses so keep checking the blog for updates.

Thanks for the run, keep it going Spyke - hope you had that beer...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 4 - Culra Bothy to Loch Laggan

On Day 4, Spyke ticked off the 7 Munros north of Ben Alder: Carn Dearg, Geal Charn, Aonach Beag, Beinn Eibhinn, Beinn a'Chlachair, Geal Charn, Creag Pitridh.

Today, Thursday 29th April, Spyke is planning the Creag Meagaidh and Monadh Liath hills north of Loch Laggan.

Day 3 - Fersit to Culra Bothy

News just in that Spyke and team have spent the last 2 days clearing out the Ben Alder group of 14 Munros with an overnight stop at Culra Bothy.

On Day 3, Spyke polished of the following 7 Munros in the Loch Ossian region: Stob Choire Sgriodain, Chno Dearg, Beinn na Lap, Carn Dearg, Sgor Gaibhre, Ben Alder, Beinn Bheoil.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 2 - Glenfinnan to Fersit

Spyke successfully completed a massive day today, taking in the 10 Munros running along the northern side of Glen Nevis. Many of these hills will still be covered in snow... Ben Nevis, Carn Mor Dearg, Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Sgurr Choinnich Mor, Stob Coire an Laoigh, Stob Choire Claurigh, Stob Ban, Stob a'Choire Mheadhoin and Stob Coire Easain.

Spyke reached Fersit at 8.15pm this evening, and is staying at the Tulloch Station Lodge tonight.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 1 - Ben More - Glenfinnan

Photos from Day 1

Following a relaxing day spent with the Tait family, who's hospitality was very generous, we camped on Saturday night by Loch na Keal. After a wet and windy night, Spyke set off up Ben More at 6am.

Spyke completed the descent off Ben More two hours later in still wet and windy conditions and was then onto the bike to Fishnish and canoed to Lochaline looking like a true professional.

Thanks to Tony Hammock from Sea Freedom Kayaks (www.seafreedomkayak.co.uk) the paddle across went extremely smoothly with thankfully no swimming involved !!!. Whilst myself and Jamie had a fun ride across in Iain Thornber's RIB supposedly to give moral support, but really there for the giggle and photo opportunity in case of any mishaps.

There was a quick porridge stop on the mainland at Lochaline and then a 56 mile bike ride to Glenfinnan, with Chris Upson generously taking the westerly wind in the latter stages.

JC and myself now sitting in the van with a short 4 hour wait for Spyke to come down from Sgurr Nan Coireachan and Sgurr Thuilm.

Photos will be loaded later as battery is low and in good old Spyke style he forgot to check if the cigarette lighter socket worked before we left !!!

Thanks to everyone for their help today.

ps Spyke returned from another wet and windy few hours on the hills at 8:15pm. Camping tonight in Glenfinnan. Heading for Glen Nevis tomorrow for a climb over the Ben and eastwards towards the Easains peaks above Fersit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Exchange send off!

The send off at The Exchange went really well, many thanks to all who turned up to wish Steve good luck and have a couple of beers. A big TA!! to Craig who has contributed a couple of cases of Wadsworths finest, to our provisions, which reminds me, back to worrying about where it is all going to go in the van, and even more worrying how will we find when we need it!!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Canoe Training

Following his trip to Skye, Spyke took to the seas off the Gower to hone his sea canoeing skills, despite Sams' best efforts to drown him(sorry teach him capsize drills) he has returned home to hopefully complete the van conversion!!!!

Back from Skye

Delaying a planned Easter trip to Skye by a week was worthwhile. The aim was that Stephen Watts and I would recce the Cuillin ridge - my first trip on these hills - in preparation for climbing it on my round towards the end of May. After a couple of grey claggy days we had three superb days out on the Cuillin and Blaven. We finished the trip last Monday with a south-north traverse of the ridge, completing eight Munros in bright sunshine before the forecast cold front came in and we spent an hour or so in cold wind and clag floundering around trying to find the chimney that would take us onto the west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean. We eventually got there and I was able to complete the last Munro of my first round. Barely time to celebrate at the Sligachan Hotel before heading south to continue preparations for the second round.

Last minute preparations

The trip to Skye was followed by a couple of days kayaking practice on the Gower peninsular. I'm just about getting the hang of paddling in a straight line but with the water in the Bristol Channel like a mill pond I've had minimal experience of paddling in rough water so I'm crossing my fingers for calm weather this coming sunday. If not I could be providing some entertainment for spectating supporters in the accompanying RIB on the crossing from Fishnish to Lochaline. I should at this point put in a plug for Tony Hammock of Seafreedom Kayaks in Oban who has kindly volunteered his services to escort me across.

Now back home, I'm tearing round trying to get all the last bits and pieces sorted out before we set off north on friday... (still) finishing work on the van (any suggestions on best way fit upholstered seat cushions to a rock'n'roll bed?), collecting the borrowed bike rack (thanks Mike) - now need a new number plate for it, van to go in for servicing wednesday, bikes in for servicing at the BikeShack in Stone (thanks Trev) plus a selection of spare parts, chasing up bits of kit, wondering how the growing pile of kit will ever fit in the van (and that's before I've seen the pile of kit and food shopping that John and Sam have accumulated)...

I have to say in some ways I'm just looking forward to getting out on the hills.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

25 April fast approaching...

April fool's day and less than four weeks to kick-off. Deadlines are fast looming now for getting everything in place for the start. I don't think I quite realised how much organisation would be required when I decided late last year that I was definitely going to give the Munro Round a go.

The main headache has been the camper - it was clear early on that I would need a campervan to provide road support and with time on my hands after redundancy I decided to convert my own VW T5 van. Well, after a two month delay to get a pop-up roof fitted, I've spent some long days in the last month trying get it fit for the Round - I'm indebted to my Dad's many year's experience and his dry workshop. My estimates of how long some of the job's would take have proved optimistic - I hope this is not a sign of things to come...

Thankfully getting support has been easier. John Clemens has committed himself to drive the van for the duration of the round and act as cook, washer, driver, communications manager, etc. A fantastic help as well as saving me the trouble of managing the logistics of different drivers coming for different weeks. Many friends have offered their support on the hills as well as their invaluable assistance and advice in the build-up. Not least among the advisors, current Munro record holder Charlie Campbell has offered insights that only he could.

The Exchange Pub in Stone now beckons for more discussion of the round with John and Sam. Updates to follow...