Four friends who forged a mutual passion for hiking in Scotland are preparing to tackle one of the world’s most iconic trails, 6,000 miles from home.
Fran Beaton and Jill Smith from Broughty Ferry will join pals Sandra Tindal from Monifieth and Judith Strachan from Birkhill as they bid to complete a 10-day trek to Machu Picchu in Peru in May next year.
Climbing to more than 15,000 feet, the challenge is in stark contrast to their first hike together last year’s 97-mile, week-long walk along the West Highland Way.
Although the friends will be walking for approximately the same duration of time each day in Peru as they did in Scotland, the effects of altitude Machu Picchu is three-and-a-half times the height of Ben Nevis can create problems for even the fittest of individuals.
In addition, camping outdoors and in temperatures fluctuating between minus 5 and 25 degrees, the women will have to endure tough conditions in what remains a developing country.
Fran admits everyone is nervous about their step into the unknown. The South American challenge will all be worth it, however, if they succeed in their efforts to raise £15,000 for Marie Curie.
“This will be a much tougher challenge for all of us than the West Highland Way and we have no way of knowing how we’ll cope, but we’re all determined to succeed,” said Fran.
“Between jobs, children and grandchildren, this felt like the right time for all of us to take on a massive challenge, far from our own comfort zones, to prove to ourselves just what we’re capable of.”
A huge motivating factor for all the group is their support for Marie Curie’s community nursing service which provides free high-quality, hands-on nursing care at home to individuals with a range of terminal conditions in the last weeks of life.
The quartet are appealing to Courier readers to support them by donating items for sale at a pop-up shop on Lochee High Street before it opens next Monday.
Marie Curie’s Petra McMillan praised the commitment and the efforts of full-time mum Fran, midwife Jill, BT employee Sandra and Judith, who works for NHS Tayside at Ninewells Hospital.
“Overseas challenges are hugely important to the charity,” she said.
“Last year we raised more than £2 million nationally this way money that we simply would not generate if we didn’t help supporters tackle their own once-in-a-lifetime ambitions.”
To donate to the cause, visit www.justgiving.com/PaddingtonsPeruGals or call Fran on 07594 710576 to donate to the charity shop.