Scottish walker, 82, completes mission to climb every Munro

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA</span>
Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

An 82-year-old man said he felt “like a child on Christmas Eve” as he set out to scale the final peak in a mission to climb every Scottish Munro.

Nick Gardner embarked on the challenge in an attempt to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) after his wife, Janet, 84, who has since moved to a care home, developed both conditions.

The grandfather of four set off in July 2020 to begin his impressive feat of scaling the country’s 282 highest peaks and on Saturday was destined to bag his last Munro, Cairn Gorm.

“I really am absolutely ready and really excited about finishing the final Munro,” Gardner, from Gairloch in the north-western Scottish Highlands, told the PA news agency.

“I feel like a child on Christmas Eve. There will be a lot of my friends and some of my family joining me, so it’s going to be a big day.”

Gardner, who describes himself as an “experienced walker and climber” on his JustGiving page, had previously never climbed a Munro.

Munros, named after mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro, are Scottish mountains with an elevation of more than 3,000ft (914 metres).

Nick Gardner is hugged by his daughter Sally McKenzie after reaching the top of Cairn Gorm
Nick Gardner is hugged by his daughter Sally McKenzie after reaching the top of Cairn Gorm. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Gardner, a former physics teacher, will have climbed more than 152,000 metres by the end of his challenge – the equivalent of climbing Everest (8,848 metres) about 17 times.

He will have walked an astonishing 2,000 miles, a similar distance to the trek between Edinburgh and Greece.

Having made headlines with his impressive feat, he has also smashed his £50,000 target for the charities, raising £59,640 as of Saturday afternoon.

Before the last hurdle of his mammoth challenge, Gardner said: “Doing this final climb, I imagine, is going to be very emotional.”

He added that having been “knocked for six” when Janet had to be moved into care, the challenge had prevented him from having a mental breakdown.

Related: Highland hounds take on Scotland’s Munros as mountain hikes rise in popularity

Staff and volunteers from Alzheimer’s Scotland and the ROS were due to join Gardner for the final climb, as were his two daughters, four grandchildren and some friends.

A piper was arranged to play at the summit as the group arrived.

Gardner’s daughter Sally McKenzie has nominated him to Guinness World Records as the oldest person to climb the Munros.

Having completed seven Munros in the 10 days ahead of his last challenge, Gardner said on Saturday that he was looking forward to giving his knees a rest.

“The last three days in Knoydart that I did were really tough,” he said. “Because I had already organised this final day, and for people to join me, I just had to push on through, and I made it. I’ve had no injuries, but my knees are certainly tired. It will be good to give them a rest.”