Stephen Pyke coming off a rain-sodden Ben More

Stephen Pyke coming off a rain-sodden Ben More

If it’s Friday, it must be Drumochter. On a grand tour of the Scottish Highlands, it can be easy to forget where you are.

But for Stephen Pyke, this is no ordinary camera-toting sightseeing trip. The Staffordshire fellrunner knows exactly where he is heading – straight into the record books if his attempt at the fastest muscle-powered round of the munros is successful.

After five days on the hoof, Spyke – as he is known in running circles – has already summited 36 of the 3,000 footers in his quest to beat Glaswegian postman Charlie Campbell’s 10-year-old record of completing the round in 48 days and 12 hours.

Spyke’s aim is to complete the ascent of Scotland’s 283 munros on foot, cycling, and kayaking in 40 days. If he manages his feat, he will join an elite band of 22 souls who have done the full circuit in one go, including the remarkable winter completion of Steve Perry four years ago.

Spyke during his aborted 2008 munro attempt. Photo: Chris Upson

Spyke during his aborted 2008 munro attempt. Photo: Chris Upson

The Stone-based Staffordshire Moorlands member has the right pedigree. In 2008 he attempted the summer solstice record to top the most number of munros in 24 hours, defeated by unseasonably cold and wet Affric weather with 21 of the 31 planned ascents completed. He has also completed the Ramsay’s Round of 24 munros in Lochaber and the Mamores.

Today’s targets are the seven mountain peaks topping 3,000ft (914.4m) either side of the Drumochter Pass: Sgairneach Mhòr, Beinn Udlamain, A’Mharconaich, Geall-charn, A’Bhuidheanach Bheag, Carn na Caim and Meall Chuaich.

Spyke’s venture started on Sunday with an ascent of Ben More on Mull followed by a cycling section and kayak trip with a run up two Glenfinnan munros.

But his toughest challenge is likely to come over the weekend, when he tackles the 18 munros in the Cairngorms, which are still holding a large amount of lying snow. Among these will be the country’s second highest mountain, the 1,309m (4,294ft) Ben MacDui. He is due to complete his round on Ben Hope, the most northerly munro, hopefully in early June.

The John Muir Trust will benefit from the effort, by way of Spyke’s justgiving page. The trust, which carries out conservation work and campaigning for wild places, owns seven of the munros Spyke will be climbing, including Ben Nevis, Schiehallion and Blà Bheinn on Skye.

The challenge has been months in the planning and the runner will be supported by friends operating from a customised campervan on the route.

Spyke with campervan: base for the 40-day attempt

Spyke with campervan: base for the 40-day attempt

Stuart Brooks, chief executive of the John Muir Trust said: “This is an awe-inspiring challenge. We are willing Spyke on to break the record, but in any event taking on all of the Munro’s in one bite is a massive achievement. It is great he has chosen to support the John Muir Trust through this journey.”

Record holder Campbell told writer Dave Hewitt of the Caledonian Mercury: “Spyke has some huge days planned, especially later in his schedule, and I just can’t realistically see some of these days happening, especially when he is jiggered and the wheels are starting to come off.

“However, he may be a totally different beast to me, and by that point he’s mega strong and healthy and holding it all together.”

Manny Gorman wrote on Spyke’s Munro Round 2010 blog yesterday: “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.”

A schedule of Stephen Pyke’s munro round can be downloaded from the blog.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Skye no limit as Spyke’s munro attempt continues
  2. Beinn a’Chlaidheimh no longer a munro: official
  3. Two walkers die in fall on Scotland’s most northerly munro Ben Hope