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81-year-old man plans to climb 282 mountains

Nick Gardner
Nick Gardner plans to hike 282 mountains non-stop in a charity fundraiser (Image credit: Nick Gardner)

An 81-year-old retired teacher has set himself the enormous challenge to hike 282 mountains.

Nick Gardner is climbing all of the summits with a height of more than 3000ft in Scotland. 

So far, he has ticked off 87 of the mountains known as Munros (see: What is a Munro?) – and also raised more than £26,000 (around $37,000) for charity.

Nick started hiking in honour of his beloved wife, Janet, 83, who has Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. He explained he was devastated when Janet needed to move into a care home full-time due her declining health.

He said: "I couldn’t look after Janet anymore and I was so upset. It felt like life was over. I was absolutely bereft. 

"I knew that I had to find a focus on something to give me a reason to get up each day and to give me back a sense of purpose."

Initially, the impetus for hiking was for his mental health, then Nick read an article about a daughter of an Alzheimer’s sufferer who had set out to walk and raise £10,000 to give back to the charity that had helped her mum. 

Nick's initial target was also to raise £10,000 but he has now hit £26,355, which is being donated to Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society.

Nick Gardner

Nick Gardner plotting a route to the top of his next peak (Image credit: Nick Gardner)

Nick's three peaks challenge, too

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month (see our Mental Health Awareness Week case studies for more info), Nick is also taking on a three peaks challenge to climb the UK's tallest mountains of Ben Nevis in Scotland, Snowdon in Wales and Scafell Pike in England in less than 24 hours.

He will walk with Ross Hyslop, of Scout and About, which combines climbing mountains and camping out with mental health counselling.

Ross met Nick by chance on a Munro. He said. “I am so blown away with Nick. I am totally inspired by his quiet determination and his steady, strong pace."

They are also rising money for the same charities. 

Nick, who lives in north-west Scotland, said: “Janet and I had 30 wonderful years together and  the sadness I have felt has been overwhelming. I lost my soulmate. Losing Janet has been the biggest mountain I have had to climb. 

"My 282 Munros challenge has given me a great focus. The Three Peak Challenge is to raise funds and awareness about what we can do to carry on and how to look after our mental health. I am so grateful for all the support and new friends I have made along the way.”

If you would like to make a donation to Nick’s fundraising please visit his fundraiser page.

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.