Trek and mountain challenge to help Riley

Determined walkers: Martin Hutchison (left) and Nick Findlater are pictured with Riley.'Contributed photograph

Determined walkers: Martin Hutchison (left) and Nick Findlater are pictured with Riley.'Contributed photograph

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TWO MONTROSE hillwalkers have set themselves a steep challenge to raise funds for local lad Riley Murray.

Nick Findlater and Martin Hutchison are aiming to walk the length of the West Highland Way in seven days and, the day after finishing the 96-mile route, are planning to climb both Ben Nevis and the nearby Munro Carn Mor Dearg. Starting this Sunday, they hope to have completed everything by the following weekend.

Friends of Riley’s mum and dad, Trudy and Dale, Nick and Martin are both experienced walkers and climbers and came up with the idea to help the family while they were on the hills.

Nick said: “We do quite a bit of hillwalking and it was during an afternoon while we were out that I was talking about when I did the West Highland Way myself. We decided to do the walk again together and then decided we wanted to do it for charity, and it then seemed logical to contact Riley’s mum and dad.

“We’re doing the walk in seven days, which is pretty standard, and when I did it two years ago I saw Ben Nevis at the end and thought at the time I’d like to climb it too so with Martin it was a natural progression. I’ve a book by Cameron McNeish which also talks about doing Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg, to that’s how we decided to do the two peaks.”

At 4,409 feet and 4,012 feet respectively, scaling both Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg after a 96-mile walk is no mean feat, but Nick said that he and Martin are up to the challenge.

He added: “The climb will take about seven to 10 hours and we’re expecting there to be heavy snow. There was supposed to be a group of us going up Nevis but we postponed that because they weren’t as experienced. I’m crossing my fingers that it thaws, and won’t be disappointed if it does. We’re intending to wear kilts for the walk, but probably won’t wear them up the mountain.”

The funds raised will go towards the continuing costs of Riley’s care, following a life-changing operation two years ago to alleviate the effects of cerebral palsy and give him some independence from his wheelchair.

Trudy this week said that Riley progress continues to be “huge” although he is a little underwhelmed by his ‘celebrity’ status following his mum and dad’s fund-raising campaign to take him for treatment to the United States.

She said: “His independence is coming on in leaps and bounds. He can now walk short distances with his crutches and he can now walk longer distances, run and even jump with his walker. His strength and confidence have improved immensely.

“No matter where Riley goes, people are always shouting ‘Hi Riley, you’re doing great”. He always looks mystified as to why they know him. He has no idea what the big deal is all about.

“We’d also like to thank everyone once again for their support and thank everyone very much who has already sponsored Nick and Martin. The lads are hoping to post regular updates of their progress on Riley’s Facebook page along the way.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to Nick and Martin’s expedition can do so through Paypal at dalemurray@sky.com, Riley’s First Steps on Facebook or via Nick by telephoning 07540 194726.