A Perthshire man and his Alaskan husky dog Luna recently completed a 5,000-mile trek across Canada for charity.
Michael Yellowlees, from Birnam, trekked across the vast country in aid of Highlands-based rewilding cause Trees for Life.
The pair finally reached Canada’s Atlantic coast on Sunday, after a nine-month-long journey which began on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in March.
The 32-year-old musician has raised nearly £40k for the nature charity.
More than 1,100 people have donated to his JustGiving page.
Well-wishers congratulated Michael and Luna on the finish line at the remote Cape Spear Lighthouse in Newfoundland.
‘Restore the Scottish Highlands’
Michael, a native of Birnam and a former pupil of Breadalbane Academy, has Canadian roots and travelled to the country in 2020.
He befriended Luna while working with sled dogs in Vancouver before setting off on his journey.
Covering up to 50km per day, their adventures included encounters with black bears and snowstorms while crossing the Rocky Mountains.
However, halfway through the trek, pup Luna vanished into the wilderness.
After a week-long search aided by local volunteers, the two were reunited when Luna suddenly reappeared at his side.
The poor pup had chewed away her lead which had been tangled in forest undergrowth.
Michael said: “Apart from that horrible scare, the journey through Canada has been amazing and so too have the people.
“I’ve been marched into towns by pipe bands, applauded by crowds lining the streets, and inundated with offers of food, clothing and shelter.
“It has also been emotional.
“The huge population of people of Scottish descent in Canada is partly a consequence of the highland clearances, which were accompanied by ecological destruction.
“Canada is a beautiful land with an abundance of woodland and wildlife.
“This journey has been about raising awareness and funds to help restore the Scottish Highlands to a flourishing ecosystem as part of our contribution to tackling the twin global emergencies of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
Congratulations from political leaders
Political leaders in Canada and Scotland also expressed their admiration for Michael’s impressive venture.
Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau said: “My best wishes on the successful completion of your incredible walk across Canada, Michael.
“Michael chose Canada for this mission due to the many Scots who left their homeland generations ago, settled here, and contributed significantly to the fabric of our country.
“He was also inspired by the many and vast beautiful natural environments Canada continues to enjoy and protect.
“Despite the challenges faced by the pandemic, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michael for his inspirational adventure.”
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney – also Michael’s local MSP – said: “I warmly congratulate Michael on the astonishing feat of endurance he has accomplished in support of a cause to which he is devoted.
“Michael has demonstrated the power of individual action to raise awareness of this vital issue of our day.
“His commitment to restoring our natural environment is an inspiration to us all. I have had the privilege of knowing Michael and his family for many, many years.
“He is a shining example of the tenacity and inspiration that his family have brought to all they have done”.
‘Restore the Scottish Highlands’
Trees for Life volunteers have established nearly two million native trees at dozens of sites since the charity was established.
Steve Micklewright, chief executive of Trees for Life, thanked Michael on behalf of the whole charity.
He said: “We want to say a huge thank you to Michael for walking across Canada for the last nine months and raising so much money for our work rewilding the Highlands.
“His achievement has been amazing.
“His journey is a powerful reminder that rewilding offers hope for tackling the nature and climate emergencies, while benefiting people and local communities.”
People can support Michael and Luna’s fundraising drive for Trees for Life by donating here.