Issy Silkowski from Appin, Argyll
Each Challenge is different, and 2022 was certainly that. It will be remembered for so many good things, but sadly it was my last Challenge together with Les, as he died a few weeks after.
We loved to explore new routes, and even with 13 Challenges under our belts, beginning from Portavadie meant we were able to cover new ground, apart from a couple of small sections. Our journey was much enhanced by the good company of Allen and Fran Mellors, who joined us for the first five days.
The Cowal Way offered three days of varied landscape and terrain before we reached Arrochar, taking a boat across Loch Lomond and joining the Trossachs Way for a couple of days. Loch Katrine on a tarred road (in hot weather) turned into an epic, but the coffee and cake stop at Stronachlacher helped us on our way, and the sunset that night made up for everything.
From here it was cross country along beautiful glens and over bealachs, enthralled by sightings of eagles and ospreys. At Glen Isla there was the treat of finding the local shop also did coffee and cake, and the Strathardle Lodge, which is now a cake school and operates an honesty bar for guests.
We did have some wet nights in the tent but were glad to have accommodation booked now and then. Les always used to say it was a great test of a relationship to spend two weeks in such close proximity, but we never had any worries on that score. Our crossing finished at Scurdie Ness and a memorable display from a pod of dolphins just offshore.
I have such treasured memories of fun times and all the friends we have made during 14 Challenges.
Les Silkowski, 14 February 1958 – 11 June 2022
Les will be sadly missed by his many friends amongst Challengers. He was a Route Vetter (as is Issy) and a tremendous supporter of the event. He will be remembered with a smile, because this was how you met him – he had a big smile for everyone, and it was always a pleasure to be in his company.