Louise Evans from Forres, Moray

As the start of the Challenge approached, I found myself in a high state of anxiety. To be fair, this isn’t unusual. Despite this being my 11th start, I still have a healthy sense of trepidation and nerves before setting off every year.

I never assume all will be well, I know there will be the odd curve ball, but usually these can be negotiated and overcome with little difficulty, so I plan and research my route thoroughly. Surprises can be pleasant as well as a pain, but I like to have a contingency. This year, I was feeling quite prepared until Monday evening, when I saw the weather forecast and my heart sank.

Heavy rain and high winds were predicted for the first few days, and I knew I would most likely be alone. I walk solo anyway, but the planned staggered start meant I’d be even less likely
to see anyone. No one to hook up with on those tricky river crossings.

What to do? Panic. Obviously. Cry. Wail. Convince myself I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t look after myself, I should never have entered, what was I thinking! So what if I have successfully crossed Scotland seven times before, I clearly couldn’t do it again this time – the weather would make conditions impossible, beyond my capabilities.

“What are you worried about, Mum? You’ve done it before. You can do it again. Just, one step at a time. Go to the start,” said my daughter, wisely. And she was right. I went to the campsite where I had planned to camp the night before signing out.

I survived the night. The next morning, I took a bus to the Lochailort Inn. I had a coffee. I signed out. And I started to walk. One step at a time. And after 15 days of getting up each morning and taking one step at a time, I found myself on the east coast, stepping onto the beach in Montrose Bay, with five other intrepid Challengers, for my eighth crossing.