Friends train for Kilimanjaro climb on Arthur’s Seat

Joan McDaid and Jude Gray on Arthur's Seat
Joan McDaid and Jude Gray on Arthur's Seat
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MOST people using Arthur’s Seat as a training ground are getting ready to tackle a Munro or a long-distance run.

But for two Edinburgh friends, it is preparation for climbing one of the world’s most notorious mountains – which at 19,340ft is 23 times higher than the city attraction.

Joan McDaid and Jude Gray will travel to Africa in January to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, the continent’s highest peak, with the hope of raising thousands for two charities close to their hearts.

And the pair admitted they might have a slightly tougher time than their morning trips to Holyrood Park.

Joan, 52, from Inverleith, said: “People laugh when we say we are climbing Arthur’s Seat as training.

“But we just tell them Kilimanjaro is lots of Arthur’s Seats on top of each other.

“Jude’s a more experienced hiker than me – the hardest thing I’ve done is the Moonwalk, but we’re looking forward to it anyway and it’s for a good cause.”

The climb will be another feat the duo have achieved in tandem – they were both married and gave birth to their first children within a week of each other. But Joan stressed the bid was not a ruse to get a free trip.

“We’ve paid for this ourselves, and anything we raise will go straight to the charities,” she said. “We didn’t want it to be one of these things where the money raised basically pays for us to have a free holiday, I think people would be sceptical of that.

“Of course, we hope to get a bit of enjoyment from it as well. People who know folk who have done it say it’s quite random who finds it easy, it seems to be all about adjusting to the altitude. You can be superfit and love hiking but still find it a struggle, or never have done anything like it before and sail through.

“We’ve booked through an organisation in London and I think there will be about 100 going. It takes something like five or six days to get up and then a day to get down again.”

Joan, who has just completed a landscape gardening course has chosen the British Heart Foundation as her charity to donate to, while Jude, 42, a finance worker from Craigleith selected Myeloma UK in memory of her father who died from the disease.

“They’re both great causes,” added Joan. “There wasn’t any particular reason for choosing BHF other than I’ve known a lot of people with heart disease, it affects so many.

“It’s a wonderful charity and when you think of the work they do and the difference it could have made to people living 30 or 40 years ago who could still be alive today.”

To support either cause, visit www.justgiving.com/Joan-McDaid or www.justgiving.com/Jude-Gray.