Hiking For Nature In The Scottish Highlands

Cairngorms National Park

Hiking For Nature In The Scottish Highlands

Cairngorms National Park

Each year the team at Kiwano embarks on an adventure designed to challenge us, bring us closer to nature, and raise awareness of the WAR on nature. Last year we walked 100 miles across Wales, and this time we’re reaching new heights, quite literally, climbing 5 out of 6 of the HIGHEST peaks in Britain. Hiking for nature is a creative expression of ‘finding JOY in climate action’. We hope it inspires you to find yours.

Written by Rebecca Woolford

This is going to hurt…

As the leaves begin to turn with the change of the season here in the wild Cairngorms, we are now preparing for this year’s epic hike. Walking the Cairngorm’s four-thousand-footers is described on various online blogs as ‘a magnificent challenge’. These mountains play host to some of the harshest, coldest, and snowiest conditions in Scotland. Let me begin by introducing each one.

Climbing 5 of the 6 highest peaks in Britain across 3 days…

  • Ben Macdui – The 2nd tallest mountain in the UK after the mighty Ben Nevis
  • Cairngorm – With a summit of 4,084ft, this is one of the most well-known summits in Scotland
  • Cairn Toul – This bouldery summit is the fourth-highest mountain in the UK
  • Braeriach – The third highest mountain in Britain, Braeriach is perhaps the finest of the Cairngorms
  • Angel’s Peak – An extremely remote mountain that takes its name from the small green loch

Join Us In Raising Funds For Nature By Visiting Our Just GIVING page HERE.

A tranquil Loch and the snowy mountains at Mar Lodge, both inside the Cairngorms National Park.

Why did we choose to hike here? 3 reasons we chose the Cairngorms.

Firstly, The Cairngorms have a huge significance for us all. It’s the largest National park in the UK, twice the size of the Lake District National. It’s home to a quarter of the UK’s rare and endangered species, which is significant considering Britain ranks 189th in the world for the condition of nature.

Secondly, The Cairngorms National Park is really well placed to help tackle the climate emergency challenges through nature-based solutions. From woodland to peatland and river restoration, projects that are helping to build resilience and bring the wild back are so important I cannot even express it in words. Currently, only 4% of the money from all UK charitable trusts and foundations goes to environmental causes, including climate change. Just 4%!

Finally, it was the lowest impact and emissions choice we could make for this year’s adventure. After living on the road as digital nomads for the past 3 years, we’ve finally found a place to call home – inside the wild and rugged Cairngorms National Park. As we are based here, this adventure avoids a long-haul flight to a far-flung exotic destination.

“When One Tugs At A Single Thing In Nature, He Finds It Attached To The Rest Of The World.” John Muir

The glens through which the rivers run are often treeless, which we have come to accept as normal.

Why raise funds to REWILD Scotland’s Rivers?

Beyond Scotland’s impressive mountains, lochs, and rivers you’ll find a degraded landscape and fragile ecosystems. Once upon a time, a rich, dynamic woodland ecosystem stretched across 60% of Scotland’s land area. Today this number is as low as 4%.

Over many centuries, felling for timber and farmland, combined with too many sheep, cattle, and wild deer have decimated Scotland’s woodlands. Click the video below to hear more about the direct connection between the survival of salmon at sea and the rivers.

“Salmon need the forest; the forest needs the salmon. And Scotland needs them both”.

The Big Picture, Scotland

Today, Scotland’s Atlantic salmon numbers have declined by a bone-chilling 70%!

The salmon, so dependent on clean, cold water, cry out for the woodlands that once shaded and fed them. Many river catchments that would have once been covered with a rich mix of pine, willow, downy birch, rowan, and alder have been stripped, leaving the riverbanks bare, exposed, and less resilient. This has impacted the rivers’ health, making them more susceptible to drought and flooding caused by climate change, and reducing their ability to provide a home for wild Atlantic salmon, as well as trout, and freshwater mussels.

Take action today by giving what you can on our JUST GIVING page here.

A documentary by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture.

100% of Funds Will Reach A Grassroots Restoration Project

Although Scotland has lost 97% of its original native forest, there is action we can take to restore it. See below to find your JOY in taking climate action.

This year we’ll be climbing 5 out of 6 of Britain’s highest peaks for The European Nature Trust (TENT), as they work tirelessly to restore the Kyle River catchment in the Scottish Highlands, focusing on 200km of high-priority river systems across the Carron, Shin, Cassley, Evelix and Oykel rivers.

Hand in hand with the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust, TENT is working with landowners and proprietors, to take an exciting, and much-needed landscape-scale approach to ecosystem restoration.

TENT’s grassroots approach and long history of rewilding made it the perfect choice for this year’s fundraiser. Earlier this year I also had the pleasure of interviewing Paul, the founder of European Nature TrUst (TENT) to learn more about their impactful work here.

Pictures from last year’s 100-mile trek across Wales raising money for NGO Client Earth, with the support of friends, family, Kiwano fans, Much More Design, Mossy Earth, Tredwell Travel, and more.

A 3-DAY Climb

Day 11050 m of ascent. We’ll begin by climbing high above the deep “V” of the dramatic Strathnethy, making a steady ascent up the nose of this well-defined ridge. Hitting the high plateau, the ground will abruptly level out and broaden. Rising up onto the summit dome we’ll embark on the circuit of the dramatic Northern Corries. From the top, we’ll see all of the mountain climbs laid out before us.

Day 2- 880 m of ascent. On day 2 we’ll be climbing up Britain’s second highest peak. This route will take us to the plateau edge for some spectacular views. As we near the summit, the views will open up across the Lairig Ghru and An Garbh Coire, home to Scotland’s most permanent snow bed. Traversing to the north summit we’ll experience what the local guides call the ‘roof of Scotland’.

Day 31350 m of ascent. This will be the biggest day. It will begin with just over an hour of cycling along a track that goes into the dramatic Glen Einich. From this remote setting, we’ll climb steadily along an old stalker’s path. We’ll follow the rim of the huge and complex An Garbh Coire all the way around, reaching ‘Angel’s Peak’ and passing high above the UK’s most permanent snow-bed before rising to the final summit of Braeriach.

“We are facing nothing less than the collapse of our living world, the very thing we rely on for every element of the lives we lead. We must REWILD the world.” Sir David Attenborough

Mossy Earth, created this fantastic video below which shares the importance of rewilding the Scottish landscape and rivers.

How can you help?

1 – Whether you can give £5 or £50 towards rewilding Scotland, everything counts. To bring back the lost trees, restore the broken rivers, and help keep the iconic species that call the highlands home alive, visit our JUST GIVING PAGE here.

2 – If you can’t give, there are still so many ways to support nature. You could share this article with friends, family, and colleagues. You could reshare our daily updates as we climb from the 16th of October, or simply talk about the need to REWILD Scotland with your personal networks.

3 – Are you a business owner? Then you could help to bring about even more impact. With 100% of the adventure and associated expenses funded by Kiwano, ALL contributions go directly to the project. If you’d like your business to be part of the SOLUTIONS, and get cool content and shout-outs along the way then reach out to me at hello@kiwanotourism.com

4- Grab a pen and paper to draw your Climate action (see below). Connect your passions, skills, and the work that needs to be done to find your JOY. Everyone’s answers will be different and this is what makes it so exciting. Taking action in the face of climate change is too often associated with sacrifice, or difficulty, as opposed to abundance and JOY.

“We can all play a role in the climate movement by tapping into our skills, resources and networks in ways that bring us satisfaction.” Ayana Elizabeth. Watch her incredible TED talk here.

  • Step 1: Draw a Venn diagram to map these questions: What are you good at? What is the work that needs doing? And what brings you joy?
  • Step 2: Note where your answers intersect in the middle part of the circles. This is where to put your climate action effort. This is your gift to the world which only you have. The Kiwano team founded the annual ‘hike for nature’ by doing this very exact exercise.
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