Anonymous donor makes £10,000 fund matching pledge for long-distance hiking trail

John o'Groats Trail
The most northerly point on John o'Groats Trail at at Duncansby Head (Image credit: Getty Images)

A fund-raising campaign to complete the development of a long-distance walking trail in Scotland has received a welcome boost of up to £10,000.

An anonymous donor will match two to one any donations made to the John O'Groats Trail (JOGT), to a total of £10,000.

The money raising campaign was launched last year by the charity, the Friends of the John o' Groats Trail, after an initial £10,000 donation from the widow of one of the first people to complete the 147-mile trail in north-east Scotland.

Rob Pickard walked the trail in 2017, completing it in stages following treatment for a brain tumour. He died in July 2018 and his wife Caroline decided to donate £10,000 to the trail in his name.

Thanks to the couple's story, the JOGT charity decided to launch a fundraising campaign.

Now the charity is delighted by the further boost from an anonymous donor, who has been inspired by Rob's gift.

John o'Groats Trail marker

(Image credit: Chris Heaton/Creative Commons)

Lybster Harbour John o'Groats Trail

Lybster Harbour on the John o'Groats Trail  (Image credit: Getty Images)

What is the John o'Groats Trail?

The JOGT is a 147-mile coastal walking route from Inverness to John o’ Groats, which is the most northerly place on mainland Britain.

The route, which is described as "a work in progress",  heads along shorelines, cliff tops, through back lanes and on footpaths.

Some of it is remote, pathless and challenging terrain. Other sections are already popular walks. 

The walk is meant to be used both by long-distance walkers, including those doing the full John o'Groats to Land's End walk, and local walkers looking for a coastal stroll.

The Friends of the John o' Groats Trail, also known as the Association of Northern Trails Scotland (ANTS), is a Scottish registered charity that develops walking trails and related projects in the northern Highlands. 

With the aim of making the trail accessible to more people, the charity is fundraising for a full-time trail developer position that will take pressure off the volunteers and add a more professional element to the organisation.

Donations to the fund-raising campaign will assist the project's goal to create a fully sign-posted long-distance route. 

Dornoch John o'Groats Trail

Dornoch on the John o'Groats Trail  (Image credit: Gerry Images)

In memory of JOGT walker Rob

Rob and Caroline, from Newcastle upon Tyne, were two of the first people to walk the trail. In 2017, when development of the route had just started, the couple set out to complete the trail over seven different outings. 

In fact, they had started a walking route much further south. Over 10 years, they  walked from Eastbourne to Fort William via the South Downs Way, Heart of England Way, Limestone Way, Pennine Way, the West Highland Way and parts of several other ways, trails, drove roads and canals in the north, south and border country.

They then walked the JOGT, via the Great Glen Way,  and Rob had plans to head to Cape Wrath via the west coast, however he became unwell in early November 2015 and was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

During a period of remission in 2016/2017, the couple walked north over shorted stages. 

Caroline said that her late husband would be pleased that the JOGT is progressing and that a donation had been made in his name. 

You can make donations.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.