In the early ’70s I noticed that the glasses Elton John wore at the time were similar to mine. I mentioned it to some friends but didn’t think anything else of it.

Fifty years on and these guys have stuck with it …

As a Scout, I went hiking and camping in the Angus glens and climbing in the Cairngorms. I remember the exhilaration of hiking Jock’s Road and the views from the summit(s) of Beinn a’ Ghlò. I learnt to ski and fostered a love of being outdoors. Then other pastimes took over; evenings in the pub, nightclubs , etc.. Hiking the great outdoors went on the back burner for much of the next 50 years.

Moving to London I continued to play hockey, which had been my main sport during schooldays. Ski-ing, golf, sailing, windsurfing and scuba diving took me outdoors again. I often travelled abroad for my work, and took the opportunity to enjoy these sports whenever I could.

I have climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo, and skied the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Was that six day traverse from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn like a snowy WHW? I hope not. I ended up with a bacterial infection from lacerated shins, closely followed by a knee operation for meniscal tearing. Note to self: plan and start training early!

I have tried to instill a love of the Highlands in my children, taking them hiking while they were still pre-teens. We climbed Ben Y Vrackie and Meall Fuar-mhonaidh. Unfortunately the weather was always against us when we tried Schiehallion, so it remains on the to-do list.

Nowadays my outdoor exertions rarely go further than 18 holes. I cycle whenever possible, for transportation rather than recreation. A few years ago I discovered Bridge and developed a passion for improving at this mentally stimulating indoor “sport”. The skis, wetsuit and regulator gather dust in the closet, although perhaps one day…

There’s no doubt I’ll find the West Highland Way challenging. My reasons for doing it? Stuart and I were from Dundee and became friends when we first met in London over 40 years ago. Our group of young Scots exiles made the most of our time in the big city. The fellowship dispersed over the years, but the bonds formed then remain strong.

Stuart’s passing profoundly affected us all. We’ve always been a Band of Brothers, and that’s why we’re taking on this challenge.

Listen to Neil’s interview with Surrey Hills Radio.

Neil’s Walks

Almost Jock’s Road

The final long training day before the actual Hike – 15 miles across the Cairgorms down Jock’s Road. Well, that was the original plan, but Storm Arwen had wreaked havoc on the forests making our original route impassable.
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Lomond Circuit

In the second outing of the weekend, four Brothers returned to the Paps of Fife, where Steve performed the ritual of “Kissing the Nipple”.
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Loch Brandy Revisited

The first of three hikes over the Bank Holiday weekend was a visit to Loch Brandy. The first time for two of us, for others a reacquaintance. Perhaps not a total success, but a good test of climbing endurance.
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The perfect preparation for the West Highland Way? Perhaps not, as this excursion involved more climbing than distance. But the scenery was stunning and eleven adventurers, including four Brothers, had a memorable three days in the mountains of Torridon.
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ABC with STV

STV filmed the Brothers as they went for their third training hike in four days, to Auchterhouse, Balkello and Craigowl (ABC).
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Brothers go to Dunsinane

For the second hike in three days, three of the Brothers head off to climb Dunsinane (including the hill fort) and King’s Seat.
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Bigfoot in the Sidlaws?

A cold and misty hike in the Sidlaws gave us the opportunity to test out some tech. But were there other creatures around?
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