Ten staff members from Tarff Valley recently took part in walking the Southern Upland Way, from Portpatrick in the West to Cockburnspath on the East Coast, to raise money and awareness for RSABI.

RSABI is a charity which provides emotional, practical and financial support to individuals and their families across the agricultural sector including farming, crofting and growing.

As 2018 is the 21st anniversary of Past RSABI Chairman, Arthur Anderson’s RSABI Centenary walk along the full 212-mile route, Gregor Caldwell, Chair of the RSABI Ayrshire Volunteer Committee, and Andrew Leggate thought it would be fitting to recreate the walk, to keep the name of RSABI in the public eye and have a bit of fun at the same time. Supporters in the region were invited to join them on the various stages.

Tarff’s support kicked off with Lisa Hannah, Kate Burton, and Sarah Ferguson walking from Portpatrick to New Luce (22.5 miles) on Tuesday 29th May. It was an incredibly warm, sunny day but despite the heat, the girls powered on to complete the stage without incident.  In Andrew’s RSABI blog, updated daily, he mentioned that he took a wrong turn and walked an extra 2 miles… even with a map! Things could only get better.

Julia Graham was next up on Wednesday 30th May and took on New Luce to Bargrennan (17.5 miles). Julia must have had her speed walking shoes on, being first to finish the section! She commented that the route was tough going with the newly laid rocky paths, but her determination pulled her through!

Sales Manager, Steven Ritchie, tackled Bargrennan to St Johns Town of Dalry (22 miles) on Thursday 31st May. In the words of Steven, it was ‘brutal, but what an experience!’. He assures us that the next time it comes to doing such a big challenge, he might not be so blasé about doing “any part of the route”!.

Friday 1st June was the BIG walk, a marathon trek of 26 miles over the hills from St Johns Town of Dalry to Sanquhar. Craig Rudd put his game face on and completed the first 7 miles in 2 hours,  but started to feel the burn for the next 7, trying to reach the peak of Benbrack. After getting severe cramp at 15 miles, at which point the end seemed impossible, Craig pushed through and carried on. Despite missing the final check point, running out of water for the last 8 miles and taking one wrong turn, he eventually made it to the finish line (the first one back!). Undeterred, Craig managed to go golfing the next day – we still don’t know how he did it!

On Saturday 2nd June, Scott Gallacher and his son, Harry, took on a shorter, but no less challenging section, walking 8 miles from Sanquhar to Wanlockhead, completing the route in 2 hours 35 minutes. Gregor’s blog mentions the boys as being the pacesetters for the day!

Friends, Fraser Morrison and Scott Nicholson, took on the 21 miles from Beattock to St Mary’s Loch on Monday 4th June. With the good weather breaking, a downpour right at the start soaked them to the skin. However, the boys plodded on to complete the section! Fraser commented that Gregor and Andrew were in high spirits and applauds them for attempting the complete challenge!

Tuesday 5th June saw Jim Ritson taking on St Mary’s Loch to Traquair alongside teams from Scottish Power, Davidson and Robertson and members of RSABI. All in, Jim walked 13 miles and said he had a great day, adding how glad he was to have trained before the event!

Finally, on Thursday 7th June, our last walker, David MacDonell, walked from Galashiels to Lauder (12 miles). To keep up the pace, David took along his dog, Rollo, which we understand had a very enjoyable day and made lots of new friends!

Tarff staff covered 141 miles of the Southern Upland Way, and would like to thank those who generously sponsored their efforts. Overall, the Tarff team has raised almost £1,200! It was a mammoth task but everyone who took part said how enjoyable the experience was and how delighted they are for Gregor and Andrew who went on to complete the challenge and raise over £10,000 (& counting!) for such a worthwhile cause!