Monday, 31 March 2014

Yachtsman's 'Isle to Isle' Walk

EXPERIENCED yachtsman, Alistair Pratt, will swap the sea for the rugged tracks and hills of the West Coast of Scotland when he tackles a challenging walk from the Isle of Lewis to the Isle of Arran in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support this May.
Along with his faithful black Labrador dog, Tess, Alistair is set to complete the 230-mile adventure in memory of his wife Margot, who sadly passed away from cancer in September 2013.
“This is Tess’s walk for Margot and I am just going with her,” said 69-year old Royal Highland Yacht Club and Royal Cruising Club member, Alistair, who has been busy planning their route since the autumn.
Departing on 1st May from Reef beach near their home on the west coast of Lewis, Alistair and Tess will walk down through the Morsgail Estate, across the Harris hills to Tarbert and onto Leverburgh. From there they will take the ferry across to Berneray and make their way down through North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist before heading to Lochboisdale.
“We’ll then catch the ferry to Oban and walk from there via Ardfern on the Craignish Peninsula on to Skipness on the Mull of Kintyre, before taking the final ferry trip to Lochranza on Arran,” said Alistair, adding that he and Margot had spent many years living on Arran before their move to Lewis 19 years ago, hence the route of the walk. It was also Margot’s wish to have her ashes scattered on the beautiful Reef beach and on the dramatic summit of Goatfell.
“Our aim is to be on the top of Goatfell on 26th May, which would have been Margot’s 69th birthday.”
Although the walk will sometimes see the man and dog duo making their way down the long route on public roads, they will mostly use old drovers or coffin tracks along with forestry roads.
“During the autumn we spent a few weekends with boating friends trying out some of the tracks we plan to use in order to check just how feasible some of the old routes are, and many of them are quite challenging,” added Alistair.
The three-week expedition will see friends also joining Alistair and Tess on various stretches of the walk, with Argyll-based good friend and fellow yachtsman, David Wilkie, not only taking the helm of the campervan, which will follow the pair around to provide an accommodation base on-route, but also joining them for most of the walking.
“I really want to enjoy the walk and take time taking photographs as we go,” said Alistair, adding that anybody was welcome to join them on their adventure and particularly those who knew Margot.
“Tess and I are also planning to write a daily blog of our various tales and happenings as we make our way down to Arran, which will be available via Margot’s Macmillan Tribute Funds website page,” he added.
Well known in West Coast sailing circles, experienced yachting couple Alistair and Margot, had completed three Atlantic passages, as well as voyages around the North of Norway, Greenland and some six visits to Iceland on their yacht, along with exploring the whole of the European Coast and many excursions around the West Coast of Scotland.
A holder of the Tilman Medal for Sailing and Mountaineering in High Latitudes for these past achievements, Alistair retired from running a local education authority outdoor activity centre on Arran and now works part-time at Ardfern Yacht Centre during the spring and autumn rush periods.
“The main reason I want to do this walk is to remember Margot, who for six years handled her illness so very well with such a positive and upbeat attitude. I also want to repay Macmillan Cancer Support for all that they have done, and, for all the support and effort the Macmillan nurses put in at the time when we really needed help.”
It was also important that Macmillan sponsored some areas of the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow, said Alistair, adding that he also wanted to show his support to Macmillan’s work with the hospital.
A charity ‘hog roast’ will take place at Ardfern Yacht Centre on Saturday 17th May in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support as Alistair passes through the Mid Argyll area, for family and friends of Alistair and customers of the Yacht Centre.
Keep up to speed with Alistair and Tess's progress on Tess's very own blog at
Donations to Alistair and Tess’s walk can be made on-line via the Macmillan Tribute Funds website by going to and typing in Margot Pratt in the ‘find a fund’ name section or by sending a cheque addressed to ‘Tess’s Walk For Margot’, C/O Alistair Pratt, Ardfern Yacht Centre, Ardfern, Lochgilphead, Argyll, PA31 8QN. Please make cheques payable to ‘Macmillan Cancer Support’.

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