Four seasons in one day didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the 23 teams that took part in last week’s Great Glen Challenge, organised by, and raising funds for, the rural charity RSABI. This the fifth year the charity has held this challenge, and its popularity continues to grow within the agricultural business community which supports it with teams willing to run, walk, cycle and kayak their way down the Great Glen in the Highlands.

This year Watson Seeds took the first place in the team competition, with CKD Galbraith picking up the second and third team spots, with two different teams.

Event organiser, RSABI’s Paul Tinson, founded the event in 2012 said: “Congratulations to the team from Watson Seeds who worked fantastically well together to prevail – we were also delighted to welcome a number of new teams to the Glen this year including an impressive contingent of 5 NFU Mutual office teams from up and down the country. They have all done their bit to raise important funds.”

He continued: “It was challenging day in the Great Glen with heavy rain and a strong prevailing wind, but thankfully we enjoyed some sunshine at the finish for all our fantastic teams!”

Starting in Fort Augustus the cyclists took off on a 46km route which followed the Great Glen Way, on both road and track they finished their challenge at Neptune’s Staircase. First home in the cycling was Neil Gardiner from the Bank of Scotland team A, in a time of 1hr 50mins.

Next up was the kayakers, some being complete novices to the sport, and they were monumentally soaked as the rain poured down on them as they made their way down from Bridge of Oich to Laggan Bridge some 6km down the loch, to then have to take on a time trial, again in pouring rain. They were certainly game, and first back in this timed trial was Toby Kirwood, of CKD Galbraith’s team C in a time of three minutes and one second.

In a change to previous years the walking was a timed challenge over an 18km route starting from Invergarry and finishing at Clunes on the banks of Loch Lochy. The walkers didn’t hang around and coming in first was Stephen McGrath from the Bank of Scotland team B closely followed by Kevin Cochrane of CKD Galbraith’s team C.

Finally, after a day of watching their team mates complete their sections and eager to get underway themselves, the runners lined up at Clunes car park and ran 17km along tracks and road to Neptune’s Staircase at Benavie where their teams were waiting to cheer them in. First by a country mile was Watson Seed’s James Addie in a time of 69 minutes and 10 seconds. He was so fast there was a danger of him overtaking the lead vehicle!

The teams, support drivers, and friends all gathered at Benavie for the awards ceremony and a few drinks to oil the aching muscles.

RSABI is a unique Scottish charity providing financial assistance, support and a helpline to people who have worked in land-based employment and through age, injury, illness or misfortune now experience hardship.

As well as aiming to win the Great Glen Challenge team trophy, organisations and businesses compete to reach the highest fundraising total. Funds raised from this year’s event will go towards RSABI’s current campaign ‘Help us help them’, which runs to Spring 2017 in an effort to address aspects of rural poverty.

The unique challenge was sponsored once again by Ledingham Chalmers, solicitors and supported by a range of partners including Royal Bank of Scotland, CKD Galbraith, Bank of Scotland, NFU Scotland and media sponsor, The Scottish Farmer.

Fundraising continues in order to help those struggling in the rural sector in this difficult time. The challenge so far has raised £34,500, but the fundraising page remains open for contributions, and can be found at


Cycling: 1, Neil Gardner, Bank of Scotland team A; 2, Mark Sinclair, Watson Seeds; Jamie Pitcairn, Ricardo Energy.

Kayaking: 1, Toby Kirwood, CKD Galbraith team C; 2, Will Fraser, CKD Galbraith team B; 3, Steven Melville, Laurence Gould Partnership.

Walking: 1 joint, Stephen McGrath, Bank of Scotland team B; 2, Kevin Cochrane, CKD Galbraith team C

Running: 1, James Addie, Watson Seeds; 2, Mark McColgan, EQ Accountants LLP; 3, Dominic Weatherburn, CKD Galbraith team B.