Scottish hiker celebrates 60th birthday with epic 130-mountain challenge

Katy's 60th birthday mountain challenge
Katy celebrated her 60th birthday with an epic mountain challenge (Image credit: Getty)

While many people might choose to throw a party or host a meal for their 60th birthday, a woman from the Scottish Highlands decided to celebrate the milestone date with an impressive mountains challenge. Katy Boocock, of Inverness, completed an 1,800km long journey, including 80km of ascent, to reach the top of 130 mountains. The total ascent is the equivalent of nine times the height of Mount Everest.

The 38-day adventure was self-propelled, which means she hiked, cycled and kayaked to and between all the summits on Scotland’s mainland known as Archies, which are at least 1km tall. The feat aimed to raise funds for the Archie Foundation, which is a charity that supports children and their families in hospitals in northern Scotland.

Katy, a retired NHS paediatric physiotherapist, said: “My Archies round was the best 38-day birthday celebration ever. I had a magical time in the mountains and with many friends who joined me to walk, cycle and kayak.”

Katy also praised her husband Peter Ferguson, who provided support throughout the challenge in the couple’s campervan.

“Peter has been amazing," she said. "He has been a great support and I couldn’t have hoped to achieve this challenge without him.”

Katy Boocock and a friend during her 60th birthday mountain challenge

Friends met Katy and walked sections of the challenge with her (Image credit: Getty)

What are the Archies?

In 2015, a relay team, including Katy, completed a round of the so-called Archies to raise funds for The Archie Foundation. The Archie round was developed as a fund-raiser for the charity, which supports the Highland Children’s Unit.  

Archies are defined as mountains on Scotland's mainland with a height of at least 1000m and with a drop all round of 100m. There are 130 spread across the country.

Katy, who wore inov-8 trail shoes during the challenge, said: “I really enjoyed the relay round of the Archies with many friends and acquaintances in 2015 and I thought it would be a very cool to do another round of the Archies but this time as a solo challenge.

“I also wanted to continue to raise funds and awareness for The Archie Foundation. I’ve seen first-hand the work the charity has done at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness in the children’s unit and how that has added value to the children and their families.”

Katy Boocock and two friends climbing Ben Wyvis

Katy hiked her final Archie mountain, Ben Wyvis, with friends (Image credit: Getty)

Katy’s 60th birthday mountain challenge 

Katy started the Archies on Beinn Ime in the Arrochar Alps, near Loch Lomond, on June 1. She celebrated her birthday on July 4 reaching two Archies in Torridon in north-west Scotland. She finished on Ben Wyvis, her 'local' Archie, on July 8. 

She spent between eight and 14 hours completing the challenge each day. Most nights saw Katy sleeping in the campervan but she also made use of various bothies, where convenient, and wild camped on several occasions. Each day, she was joined by different friends, who walked, cycled and kayaked with her.

Katy said: “I am very grateful for the amazing support and team work from friends going above and beyond. They have been out in totally crappy weather, driving miles to bring kayaks, carrying tons of camping gear in to meet me, keeping me laughing and giving me loads of encouragement. They have also brought me delicious cakes, sandwiches and meals.”

Katy Boocock at the summit of Ben Wyvis

The final summit of Katy's Archies round was her local mountain, Ben Wyvis (Image credit: Getty)

The weather was very mixed and started with sunny, dry and warm conditions before long days of torrential rain, hail and strong winds. She managed to keep to her challenging daily schedule, even when the weather forced a major change. She did not take a single day off. 

She said: “Mostly the weather was kind but there were some very tough times during the 38 days including being totally soaked through, facing epic hail and wind and a period of feeling and being sick and not being able to eat much.

"Overall the logistics all worked smoothly although I did have to make an adjustment when the weather proved particularly difficult."

Katy and Peter Boocock hug at the summit of Ben Wyvis

Katy thanked her husband Peter for his amazing support throughout the challenge (Image credit: Getty)

While Katy is no stranger to outdoors challenges, the Archies round was one of her most audacious yet. She has competed in numerous orienteering competitions, mountain marathons, ultra running races, adventure races and more.

As she hiked to the summit of her final Archie on Saturday, surrounded by friends, she reflected: “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my 60th birthday. I wanted to mark the milestone with an adventure and the Archies have been brilliant.

“I am not very good at hosting parties but I am good at spending time outdoors, whether it’s running, walking or cycling.

“The Archies is such a great round and it has been such a good challenge. It has also been fantastic to meet up with so many different friends day after day. It has been the longest birthday party ever.”

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.