Mental health campaigner runs West Highland Way for charity

James Semple runs west highland way
James Semple at the start of his West Highland Way Ultrarun in Fort William (Image credit: Semple)

A mental health campaigner has raised more than £10,000 for charity by running an iconic Scottish trail.

James Semple, 22, from Glasgow, completed the 96-mile West Highland Way in 29 hours, 30 minutes.

He was collecting funds for Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

Last year, James attempted to take his own life. Nine months on, he was keen to raise awareness of mental health issues with his West Highland Way Ultrarun. 

What is the West Highland Way?

Scotland's most famous and original long-distance walking trail extended 96 miles between Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Highlands.

It is walked and run by more than 40,000 people annually.

The route includes almost 4000m of ascent and reaches the highest point at 548m   at the summit of the Devil's Staircase in Glencoe. 

James Semple runs west highland way

James ran the 96-mile West Highland Way in aid of a mental health charity (Image credit: Semple)

West Highland Way Ultrarun 

James ran north to south on the West Highland Way. He was cheered into Milngavie by friends and family.

He said: "We had an amazing weekend for the run and the weather was kind to us. I was also grateful for for all the support."

Having long struggled with depression and anxiety, James found that running was a huge benefit to his mental health. He started training in December for the long-distance trail run and ran four times each week, no matter the weather conditions.

He says: “I’ve come to realise how running has given me great pleasure. I find it a release from day-to-day life. It’s something that I’ve become passionate about as the feeling I get from after a run is amazing. It also allows me to clear my head and reset.”

Opening up about his experiences, James has made a powerful video on his fundraising site.

James, who is also an accomplished skier, spoke with his psychologist, who helped him to realise the extreme way he has of dealing with extreme emotions is to harm himself.

James said: “All I want is to live a normal life and be happy. I did this run to show people who feel like this, no matter how low you are, your life is worth living."

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.