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Hutton Unconformities conquer Scotland’s Great Glen

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The sun shone, but then the heavens opened – it’s a typical story for Scottish weather and one our and all the other teams taking part in the Great Glen Challenge on Friday (August 25) took on with relish.

And it was all well worth it – we’ve hit our £1,000 fundraising target, helping farming charity RSABI to hit its overall £50,000 goal for the event.

With a dry and glorious start to the day for this team event, involving cycling, kayaking, walking and running along Scotland’s stunning Great Glen, everyone from the Hutton Unconformities team was in high spirits.

The event, spanning between Fort Augustus and Fort William, is a great venue, for a start. But also the cause is close to many in the organisation’s hearts.

If you would like to help support the team, there is still time to donate, just click here: RSABI: Great Glen Challenge 2023 (

RSABI provides emotional, practical and financial support to people in Scottish agriculture and it’s unsurprisingly been in demand in recent years and months.

Chief executive Carol McLaren, who was out supporting the teams, says that demand for counselling has trebled, with worries about finance, younger farmers with stress and older people suffering from loneliness.

As well as taking calls to support the farming community, RSABI has also been providing training to others to help respond to mental health concerns, expanding the network of who can help in times of need.

Team captain and our top fundraiser Esther Banks says, “The work that RSABI does is absolutely critical, especially in such a high inflationary environment which only adds to the day-to-day challenges of running an agriculture business. Events like this are so important to raise awareness of the challenges being faced across the sector, especially as we all become more conscious of food security issues.

“So we’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone who has helped support our fundraising, helping us to hit our £1,000 goal for RSABI. It’s not easy for anyone right now, so every little bit is hugely appreciated.”

Our team, led by Esther, a research assistant, and with the fantastic support and organisation of Alasdair Cox, the Hutton’s chief operating officer, had a great time training and were excited for the day ahead – cycling, kayaking, walking and running a total of 90 km along a 49 km stretch of Scotland’s Great Glen, from Fort Augustus to Fort William.

Setting off first, from Fort Augustus, in the fresh morning light, for a 49 km mountain bike trail route all the way to Fort William, was team captain Esther Banks.

Next off the starting block was Environmental Microbiologist Lisa Avery, who had an 18 km hike down the Great Glen Way, also starting in sunshine, followed by Project Coordinator for Glensaugh Climate-Positive Farming Initiative Scot Ramsay, for his 6 km kayak along Loch Oich, and then media officer and runner Elaine Maslin, who had a 17 km leg, mostly along the Caledonian Canal, down to Fort William.

It’s fair to say, Scot was the lucky one – starting and finishing his segment in full sunshine. Esther managed to miss the down pour, but Lisa and Elaine were not so lucky: their bright starts soon descended into constant and at times fairly heavy rain leading to three very soaked participants.

Yet, despite ending the challenge soaked to the skin (including Alasdair, while collecting Lisa from her part of the challenge), everyone had a great day.

“We all had a fantastic time,” says Esther, “and the support from the team at RSABI was amazing, making sure we were all ok, fed and watered, with a fantastic sit-down buffet and winners medals presentation event at the end for all the teams involved. We all felt well looked after and supported and would definitely recommend the event to others next year.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are the views of the author(s), and not an official position of the institute or funder.



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Printed from /blogs/hutton-unconformities-conquer-scotland%E2%80%99s-great-glen on 28/11/23 10:54:14 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.