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Perthshire farmer Pete Grewar to walk 105 miles without a break from Black Isle to Blairgowrie

Pete Grewar is training for a 105 mile walk across Scotland to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Pete Grewar is training for a 105 mile walk across Scotland to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Perthshire farmer Pete Grewar is walking 105 miles from the Black Isle to Blairgowrie to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Gayle Ritchie finds out why.

Farmer Pete Grewar is the epitome of fitness.

The 43-year starts his mornings with sits-ups, squats and press-ups and spends his free time running, walking and climbing hills.

He’s in training for an epic 105-mile “farm to farm” charity walking challenge next month, hiking from the Black Isle to West Ardler near Blairgowrie.

The dad-of-three won’t be stopping to get a good night’s sleep, or even taking any mini breaks along the way.

Nope – he plans to tackle the entire route in one go.

Having completed the gruelling Cateran Yomp, a 54-mile hike through Perthshire and Angus, in just over 13 hours in 2019, Pete is in great shape, mentally and physically.

“I didn’t think I’d make the 54 miles but after four months of hard training, and with the help of some friends, I reckoned I was fitter than when I was 17!” says Pete.

“Our team came home in first place, crossing the finish line together in 13 hours 39 minutes.

“I had an individual placing of fifth which I was pretty pleased about. We nailed the Yomp and physically I’d never felt better.”

Pete Grewar – on the left – completing the Cateran Yomp alongside his teammates in 2019.

Pete signed up for the event, hosted by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, again in 2020 but when it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he found his fitness levels slipping.

He needed something to give him motivation and that’s when he began to think up the idea of doing an 105-mile hike.

The Grewar family farms at both Ardler in the Vale of Strathmore and on the Black Isle, 124 miles north by road, 78 miles as the crow files… or 105 miles if you walk it avoiding most of the A9.

“My father has cycled between the farms twice so I thought – I could walk that!” says Pete, who admits his mission has become a full-blown “mid-life exercise crisis”.

“Initially I planned to take four or five days and stay overnight at hotels in Aviemore, Braemar and Glenisla, but life is busy and that didn’t seem like enough of a challenge!

“So I will be walking the 105 miles without stopping for sleep and aiming to finish somewhere between 30 and 36 hours farm to farm.”

Pete trains in all weather conditions.

The plan, says Pete, is to take things “one step at a time” and tackle the walk at a “slow-ish” pace.

He has split the challenge into seven legs ranging from 10.8 to 21 miles, defined by the geography of the route.

Starting from Taeblair Farm at Munlochy in the Black Isle, Pete will make his way south via Farr, Dalmigavie Lodge, Coylumbridge, White Bridge, Enochdhu, and finally back to Blairgowrie and West Ardler.

“I’ll have a very restful 10 days prior to the walk, with early nights,” he says.

“One night without sleep doesn’t worry me. When we finished the Yomp in 2019 I couldn’t sleep because I was buzzing at what we’d just done.”

Pete won’t be walking alone. He’s hoping to have at least one or possibly two friends or family members walking each of the seven legs with him.

His wife Lucy, parents Peter and Annette and cousin Euan are going to be the “support crew”, meeting Pete between each leg with food, fluids, a change of clothes, socks, shoes, plus blister plasters, foot tape and the like.

Pete is a fan of hillwalking in Scotland.

Pete’s biggest fear is being unable to complete the challenge, whether through injury, fatigue or even the weather.

But so far, training – which has to be crammed in between work and family life – has been going well, blisters aside.

“Thankfully I have a very understanding wife who supports these fitness binges!” laughs Pete.

“But no, blisters are no fun and I picked up a couple of crackers during a walk to the top of Ben Macdui in April.”

While Pete has done a few solo training walks, the longest so far being 28 miles, he enjoys getting out with a walking group which was set up for the 2019 Yomp.

“A few new guys joined us for the 2021 event, now running in September,” he says.

“There’s pretty much one, two or three walks happening every week – anything from 10 to about 25 miles.”

Blisters are no fun and I picked up a couple of crackers during a walk to the top of Ben Macdui in April.”

Pete Grewar

The group plans to walk the entire Yomp route on June 5 – the original date of the event before it was postponed until September.

“After that it’ll be a case of tapering the training down before the big one!” says Pete.

“I have a relatively fast walking pace on flat ground. It can be 4.5 to 5mph once I’m fully warmed up.

“During the Yomp in 2019, we were certainly jogging the downhill sections, fast walking the flat sections and walking the uphills.

“I would say we ‘yomped it’ rather than ‘ran it’ and I certainly don’t consider myself a long distance ‘runner’.

“Breaks were pretty short, with a quick change of socks at Kirkmichael and after the dreaded Beanie bog!”

Walking aside, Pete also enjoys what he describes as “general fitness stuff”, doing sit-ups, squats and press-ups first thing in the morning.

“I broke my collarbone skiing a few years ago and press-ups are the best thing for keeping on top of shoulder stiffness.

“Sit-ups are great for core strength and I use walking poles on any long distance walks which really make the difference on longevity and stamina especially on the uphills, so it’s a full body workout when walking and not just the legs.

“Squats are for hip and knee flexibility and endurance.

“Before the 2019 Yomp I was getting a fair bit of hip and knee discomfort, and when a young Blairgowrie physio told me it was due to my age that proved a good bit of extra motivation!

“Basically my legs and joint weren’t used to all the walking and so needed a lot of strengthening up.

“Being busy with work and family life just means fitting in bits and pieces when I can, even if it’s just a bike ride with the kids.”

Pete is walking to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Like many families, Pete’s has been affected by cancer – and that’s why he’s walking to fundraise for Cancer Research UK.

“I have no recollection of my maternal grandfather (Peter ‘Alston’ Arbuckle) although there is a photo of him holding me at my christening,” recalls Pete.

“He passed away with inoperable cancer shortly afterwards.

“On my father’s side of the family both my uncle (Alan Grewar) and auntie (Mary McLaren, nee Grewar) have succumbed to the disease.

“There are lots of excellent and really worthwhile cancer charities out there but I have always felt research into finding cures and prolonging the lives of those with cancer was where I felt happiest about raising money.”

Pete’s fundraising target is £10,000 and more than 20 per cent of that has already been achieved.

“All charities have had a tough year and cancer hasn’t taken a year off so they have some ground to make up for,” he says.

For anyone hoping to follow in Pete’s footsteps, whether for their own walking challenge or those taking part in the Cateran Yomp, he advises starting small and building up distance.

“Anyone can walk a mile, and it’s easy to turn that into two miles and so on.

“Not everyone will attempt 105 miles. That’s just for those that don’t know when to stop!”

Pete’s walk takes place on June 26 and 27.