Pulling a 16ft canoe behind you might be one way to guarantee social distancing.
But Ross Dempster, who dragged one for nearly nine hours as part of an unusual charity challenge, wouldn’t recommend it.
“It certainly keeps people at a safe distance,” he said. “But I think if you saw the blisters on my feet, it might not seem like such a great idea.”
Ross, who is managing director of outdoor adventuring company Beyond Adventure, teamed up with colleague Mark French for the gruelling fundraising mission to support a pair of local causes.
They agreed to walk from Aberfeldy to Kenmore and back – about 26 km – with each man towing a 34kg canoe.
Their efforts have so far made £1,700 for local volunteer group Feldy-roo, which has been delivering meals to hundreds of vulnerable, isolated families and individuals, and the Tayside Mountain Rescue Team.
Father-of-two Ross said: “I think this came about because we were all a bit fed up.
“We’re all on furlough and we saw these great things that the local community was doing and we just wanted to play our part.
“I suppose when you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you come up with some daft ideas.”
Ross said he wanted to do a 2.6 challenge, but was keen to try out something different to catch people’s attention and raise awareness of the local groups.
“We’re not allowed to go canoeing just now, because it’s not in the guidelines,” he said. “Hopefully, that will change when phase one comes into effect. But for now, we can’t go on the water.
“But we knew we could still pull them along riverside tracks, as long as we kept it relatively local.”
Leaving at 8.45am on Tuesday, it took about eight-and-a-half hours to complete the return journey.
“The canoes aren’t designed to get pulled over tracks,” said Ross. “The tracks got pretty skinny at some stages, and we had a few dry-land capsizes down by the riverbank.
“But it was a good laugh, and the beautiful scenery really helped.”
He said the last few kilometres were particularly gruelling. “By then, the sun was really baking and our legs were gone.
“Then one of the wheels came off my trolley. It was one of those moments where if you didn’t start grinning, you would be greeting.”
However, that wasn’t even the hardest part: “The most difficult part for us was when we got to Kenmore, where we usually put the boats in the water and sail back down the Tay.
“It looked so beautiful and inviting, but we had to turn our backs on it and try not to think about it. That was really hard.”
“It was a nice way to see the guys again and bounce some ideas off them about the future,” said Ross. “But we’re just waiting to see what happens next. We’re looking forward to hearing from the government bodies and insurance companies about how and when we can safely return to work.”
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