Why you should get Wild About Argyll with Mark

Between 24 July - 4 August ultra endurance adventurer Mark Beaumont took on on a continuous 12-day epic adventure across Argyll and the Isles. On this ‘Wild About Argyll’ challenge, Mark followed a trail across every corner of Argyll and the Isles. He sailed, open-water swam, kayaked, road and mountain biked and also ran to celebrate some of the best adventure routes on offer. Each day he took on some of the region's most exhilarating activities, including quad biking, off road motor-biking and horse riding. And the grand finale was a non-stop run across Colonsay’s MacPhies – 22 peaks over 300 feet over 20 miles. Mark also spoke to a packed Corran Halls in Oban on Wednesday 3 August where he hosted his talk ‘Around the World and Back to Argyll’.

Mark was followed by an adventure film crew led by Stefan Morrocco of Morrocco Media, together with Euan Ryan and Kieran Duncan who captured the full adventure which Mark will launch later this year.

Having completed such an incredible adventure, Mark would like you to get involved and get Wild About Argyll.

The garden at Killean Farm, the ferry over to the Isle of Gigha… these are my earliest memories, and they are in Argyll, a place that has always felt like home, even though I spent most of my childhood in rural Perthshire.

But despite these early years, there is so much I had never seen. When you get out of a car and explore the islands, waterways and mainland of Argyll and the Isles under your own steam, by foot, by bicycle, by kayak and much more, there is an amazing connectedness to these varied landscapes. And what’s more, it gives you a far better chance to meet the locals, the people who call this beautiful part of Scotland home.

I have been blown away by the natural beauty and brilliant adventure playground that I discovered during the Wild About Argyll adventure and film project. Whilst ‘only’ being 12 days, we packed in what many people would take years to complete, including iconic challenges like running the Paps of Jura, cycling the Mull sportive and rowing a Viking long boat across Loch Fyne.

As a physical challenge, I knew this would be tough - very used to long expeditions, what was different this time was taking on up to five sporting challenges every day. The days were long and the nights often short, often so we could catch the early tide, or an early flight from Oban airport out to explore another island, like Tiree or Colonsay. But I am not looking for, nor will I receive any sympathy, for this was a dream ‘job’ - to explore and showcase all that Argyll and the Isles has to offer when it comes to adventure tourism.

 

My second daughter is just 10 weeks old, so I was keen not to be away from home for a fortnight, so my wife Nicci and the children came and road tripped from Kintyre all the way to Oban. Harriet, who will be 3 years old next week, loved seeing daddy ‘working’ every day, either galloping down Carradale beach on a thoroughbred horse, open water swimming in Loch Lomond or cycling the Rest & Be Thankful old road.

One of my favourite moments was running up the Cobbler, near Arrochar, late in the evening. It was so clear that to the west I could see Ben More on Mull, to the South all the way to Goatfell on Arran, to the east to mountains above Lochearn and to the north to Crianlarich. The penultimate days adventure was our only really rainy day, but that didn’t seem to matter as I was exploring the trails above Inveraray Castle with MotoScotland. Motocross certainly lends itself to being wet and muddy, so apart from my poor film crew and their soaking cameras, we were all having a wonderful time.

That evening finished with a big event in the Corran Halls, where 250 people came along to hear the adventures from ‘Around the World and back to Argyll’ - but before getting there we had another high octane location to film. The brilliantly nutty and talented Ben Cathro, the Seil Island downhill biker, built a gap jump across a small road - but the resulting jump was anything but small, and my task was to time my cycling along the road, so I would be directly underneath him in full flight. Please don’t try that at home!

The final challenge was on the beautiful islands of Colonsay and Oronsay - to fell run 22 MacPhie’s - the hills over 300 feet. In parts a stunning route along the cliff edges and along the wide beaches, but in other parts whacking our way through chest deep ferns and brambles! It was a 6 hour fell run over 20 miles and a fitting challenge to finish 12 magnificent days adventuring in Argyll and the Isles. There was a huge amount of interest along the route from locals and businesses, as well as massive participation online throughout the adventure. Thanks to everyone who made this happen and who supported my journey.

The final films will be online during the Autumn for everyone to enjoy the wildness of Argyll & the Isles, and hopefully to inspire many more adventures in this beautiful part of Scotland. I certainly plan to be back before long, to explore more, perhaps with the family and perhaps in less of a hurry!

AITC is very grateful for the funding and in kind support provided by Argyll & Bute Council, Sustrans, Caledonian MacBrayne, Scotrail, Oban Airport, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Canals, HIE and VisitScotland and to the many businesses and organisations supporting each day’s activities.